Over five years ago in July of 2005 I finished three small sculptures I called “Still-a-Life” as a play on the phrase “still life” that is used to describe a painting of natural objects. The idea was to emphasize the notion that life is ever present even in apparently inanimate objects.
Then, to honour the physical beauty bestowed on humans through the process of growing older, and, to give additional meaning to Rilke’s writing on patience, I placed the carved bases of the three sculptures (minus the shells, stones and already weathered pieces of wood) outside directly on the ground beneath a tree. There they stayed through the years, through wind, rain, sun, heat, cold and insects, and slowly accumulated a fine layering of dirt, moss and a new patina on life.
…all progress must come from deep within and cannot be pressed or hurried by anything. Everything is gestation and then bringing forth.
To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life, in understanding as in creating.
There is here no measuring with time, no year matters, and ten years are nothing.
Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of Spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. IT DOES COME!
But it comes only to the patient, who are there although eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide.
I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am Grateful: PATIENCE IS EVERYTHING!
Rainer Maria Rilke
This week, after lightly sanding and oiling the “aged” sculptures, I re-photographed them on my lawn. Maybe because it is that I’m well into my 60’s, but don’t they look richer now; more deeply beautiful; more alive even?
And…… what’s good for the artist is equally good for the gardener. This past week also had patience rewarded in another way: the harvesting of broccoli later steamed and ladened with butter. So, so tender. Oh, wow.