Illuminated Found Poetry Art Work

Based on medieval Illuminated manuscripts and icon work, I create illuminated found poetry pieces inspired by poems I find within the text of favourite books, combined with my photography, illustrative drawing and painting, to tell profound stories of the inner landscapes of human experience.

Based on medieval illuminated manuscripts and icon work, I create illuminated found poetry pieces inspired by poems I find within the text of favourite books, combined with my photography, illustrative drawing and painting

To tell profound stories of the inner landscapes of human experience.

My work can be found in the very enriching, and extraordinary, Gabriel Fine Art Galleryan oasis of peace just a few steps away from St. Thomas’ Hospital. Situated in the Victorian Old Paradise Yard, in a converted Buddhist Centre (an area frequented by William Blake), the gallery hosts art events, and displays collectable artworks all year round.

Awakenings, an Illuminated Found Poetry Art Work, by Melanie Gow, based on Brave New World, that combines my photographs with drawing and painting, inspired by poetry I find within the text of favourite books, to tell profound stories of the inner landscapes of human experience.
Awakenings, an Illuminated Found Poetry Art Work, based on Brave New World

Illuminated Found Poetry Workshops

I run workshops too, where you can create Illuminated Found Poetry pieces that combine photographs with drawing and painting, inspired by poetry you find within the text of favourite books.

Finding poetry inside the text of favourite books to create a new work, and illuminating it with pictures and art is an absorbing and fascinating art form that helps unleash your creativity – any age can achieve profound and beautiful work.

Illuminated Found Poetry for Children – the same as above with age appropriate materials and expectations.

Rapture, an Illuminated Found Poetry Art Work, by Melanie Gow, that combines my photographs with drawing and painting, inspired by poetry I find within the text of favourite books, to tell profound stories of the inner landscapes of human experience.
Rapture, an Illuminated Found Poetry Art Work, based on Brave New World

I also give teaching demonstrations: £150 for half a day (approximately 2 ½ hrs) within 15 miles of Windsor, or £200 if further afield.

Or £350 for a full day (approx. 5 hrs teaching).

Once a year, I run drop-in sessions for the Illuminated Found Poetry work – payment is by donation

These are held in my home in Windsor, during September over the Windsor Artist Open House Trail weekend. Tea and biscuits provided.

She Closed Her Eyes, an Illuminated Found Poetry Art Work, by Melanie Gow, based on The Somnambulist by Essie Fox, that combines my photographs with drawing and painting, inspired by poetry I find within the text of favourite books, to tell profound stories of the inner landscapes of human experience.
She Closed Her Eyes, an Illuminated Found Poetry Art Work, based on The Somnambulist by Essie Fox

If you require further information or if you would like to book me for a workshop or demonstration, please contact me:

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Travel is the Kintsugi Art of Life, It’s How The Gold Gets In

Travel does more than heal the wounds, it expands you, it’s kintsugi – it’s how the gold gets in.

I have long been fascinated by Kintsugi, meaning “golden joinery”, it is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with powdered gold and other precious metals. It’s a soothing philosophy of embracing damage and repair, and making something more beautiful for having been broken.

When I was asked to write a piece for Wanderlust about travelling with my children across America in response to my father dying, I thought of travel as the Kintsugi art of life.

People travel not so much to get away as to come home, to themselves. In the slipstream of the unknown you become aware of every detail, in the intense ferment of new stimulation you awaken, and in being flayed by the tumult of unfamiliar all that has made you who you have become is stripped away to reveal who you are, flaws, and defacement, and scars and all.

For us, from LA to New York over seven weeks, the gold dust added to the restorative sap of wandering, the flecks of pure ore, were the people we met; in a random, chance encounter you feel the touch of humanity, in the hand that is extended grows trust, in a stranger’s smile is acceptance.

I carried all the broken pieces of myself outside and held them out to America wordlessly, and the serendipity, generosity and kindness on the road taught us that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. And, we were still OK.

Travel does more than heal the wounds, it expands you, it’s kintsugi – it’s how the gold gets in.

Almost as if we need to break in order to expand. Then this gorgeous sculpture by British artist, Paige Bradley, whispered its message of expansion from the deep reaches of my memory. Paige Bradley broke a wax sculpture she spent 6 months making, cast the broken pieces in bronze, then reassembled them with a lighting engineer to produce this startling sculpture; with a hint of Kintsugi light shining through the cracks.

She says, “I want to advocate healing and empowerment for people around the world. I want my art to be a forceful voice to help those who suffer from illness, repression or exploitation. My sculptures express a depth and variety of the physical, emotional and spiritual that we search for as a human race. Simultaneously, I want to provoke us to feel painful truths we keep bottled up inside. I want us to remember we are all the same. And, it is this understanding that can heal us all.”

And so I wrote this month’s piece .. please go and read my article on Wanderlust here

Please see this work, Expansion, on Paige Bradley’s website

“From the moment we are born, the world tends to have a container already built for us to fit inside: A social security number, a gender, a race, a profession or an I.Q. I ponder if we are more defined by the container we are in, rather than what we are inside. Would we recognize ourselves if we could expand beyond our bodies? Would we still be able to exist if we were authentically ‘un-contained’?

“Art is not entertainment. Art is not luxury goods. Art is culture. It is you and me.”  – Paige Bradley

The Ultimate Sacrifice

My next door neighbour used to tell me the overwhelming memory from her childhood was the sound of mothers crying. Her mother ran the local grocery store during the First World War and the “It is my painful duty to inform you” letters to anyone in the area were delivered there. At six years old, she only remembered a village weeping.

Blood swept lands and seas of red, by ceramic artist, Paul Cummins, and stage designer, Tom Piper, 29th October 2014

My next door neighbour used to tell me her memory of her childhood was the sound of mothers crying. Her family ran the local grocery store and during the First World War all the “It is my painful duty to inform you” letters to those left home were delivered to her mother, who had to hand them over to her friends and neighbours. At six years old, my neighbour only remembered a village weeping every day.

Blood swept lands and seas of red, by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper, 29th October 2014, Melanie Gow photography
The Headstone

This evolving art installation piece commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War I has brought together countless people, including my sons and I, and united their thoughts with one simple vision; opening on August the 5th 2014 to mark the day Britain joined the war, poppies were added every day right up to the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, Armistice day, to represent the people lost to war.

Blood swept lands and seas of red, by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper, 29th October 2014, Melanie Gow photography
In Memorium

Every poppy represents a person; someone who had a full life, a family, certainly a mother, maybe even their own children, and they belonged to communities. Look closely at one, just one, poppy and when you feel like you’ve understood that then step back and look at the whole.

Blood swept lands and seas of red, by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper, 29th October 2014, Melanie Gow photography
Lone Survivor

To convince that many people they need to make the ultimate sacrifice, and kill others, takes concerted force; and to then get them to act on that conviction takes a lot of forces working with a single intent.

One that uses all its resources to reach invidiously into the real lives of quiet homes, and it fires up, riles, frightens and silences where it needs until is has a consensus. Then it deploys numbers and ranks and units to the battle cry.

Blood swept lands and seas of red, by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper, 29th October 2014, Melanie Gow photography
Eternal Rest

The politics and morality, ideology, and technology, economics, histrionics and motivations all manifest themselves in the conflict. A nation acts.

Blood swept lands and seas of red, by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper, 29th October 2014, Melanie Gow photography
Pooling Ebb

War memorials, on the other hand, aren’t meant to be acted on in any way. They exist as a statement in hindsight, they are meant to be absorbed, then processed, then learned from.

A war memorial that meets art and theatre production can bring together people with little other in common besides proximity; it can aid communication wordlessly, effectively, within an ever-widening community, with needs and values as diverse as the individuals. It can even facilitate true accountability – between strangers.

Blood swept lands and seas of red, by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper, 29th October 2014, Melanie Gow photography
Tide of Sorrow

Where the blood meets the wall it seems to have soaked into the time-worn stone, like memories in our conscience.  This art makes order out of chaos. It creates a reverent and sympathetic response to the passion and pain of war, it makes us feel alive, present and in the moment.. To be able to powerfully connect to people and things, with all who see it is the uncomplicated force of moral judgement.

As artists, we always dream that this could open up the ability to create a new and, perhaps, a better world.

The generation that won that war went on to create the fairest society in British history; free healthcare for all at the point of delivery, free education, welfare, affordable housing, nationalised infrastructure. There are many lessons we are asked to think about; what are we doing with the sacrifice made by so many.

Rememberance isn’t only about those who fought.

That is what I think of in the two minutes of silence.

Flowers and Friends: Walking With Angels Talk at Norden Farm

The Walking With Angels talk at Norden Farm took on its own life. It was very gratifying to find it was “Sold Out” and 10 extra chairs had to be added, the tickets were free so we mean sold out in that every available seat was taken.

Walking With Angels at Norden Farm, by Melanie Gow, photographs by Becky Young, full house

The Walking With Angels talk at Norden Farm took on its own life. It was very gratifying to find it was “Sold Out” and 10 extra chairs had to be added; the tickets were free so we mean that every available seat was taken.

Even lovelier, the Box Office staff really appreciated those few of you who couldn’t make it in the end calling to let them know. They told me this is very unusual with free events, and your consideration allowed those who came hoping for a space to be accommodated flawlessly.

Before the event.

I was doing last-minute Tech checks when I glanced up at the balcony above and saw a smile I couldn’t be sure was really there, as the only person I know with that smile wasn’t meant to be here. Sue is like Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, she spreads smiles like rose petals down a bridal aisle, and there she was smiling down on me.

We met on the walk in the heart of the Masetas, and stayed together to the Iron Cross when she had to leave. Sue is a florist – not surprisingly, bringing love, and joy, and flowers into the important occasions in our lives – and it was so enriching to have her to share this night with. Here we both are, next to the picture of a rose cradled by an ordinary wall because I saw that rose through her eyes when Sue took a photo of it.

Her celebration of flowers is infectious; the myth of Aphrodite tells of flowers springing up under her feet as she walked and, in essence, it is the same with Sue. She brought that one bloom alive in my heart in the instant that she noticed it with her love for it.

Walking With Angels at Norden Farm, by Melanie Gow, photographs by Becky Young, Sue Stephenson and Melanie Gow

The title of the picture is Round Every Corner because there is extraordinary beauty around every corner if you look for it. No matter how hard the walk was there was always something beautiful and inspiring if you just chose to see it, even if it was only a rose blushing in the early morning light in the shelter of an ordinary wall.

The elegant simplicity of that rose and Sue’s beautiful spirit became the perfect encapsulation for that thought.

Did you know that when Aphrodite was told that her beloved Adonis was fatally wounded by a boar, she hastened to the spot and sprinkled nectar into his blood, from which immediately flowers sprang up – it may be a myth, but knowing Sue I can see why someone would be inspired to tell a story like that.

Walking With Angels at Norden Farm, by Melanie Gow, photographs by Becky Young, Ben introduces the evening

The Event Opened

My admirable Teen 1 introduced the evening so competently, and against the interruptions of the general announcements over the speaker. It is remarkable that he can stand up and speak to a room full of people so inspiringly. I asked him a couple of weeks ago if he thought the walk had really had any lasting effects, he replied; “yes, I used to have a cut-and-paste patter and a mask I wore, but now I actually feel confident.”

In the audience was a friend, and fellow artist, Caroline Crawford, who is the most thoughtful and supportive woman, and an inspirational mother. Having her there was very special, it means a great deal that people want to hear this story and she brought a bunch of the most gorgeous flame coloured Ruffled tulips to remember the night by.

It was the night for flowers as my Happiness, Hope and Gratitude picture of sunflowers, which were like cheerleaders lining our way waving their pom-pom heads, was just the message someone wanted to hear. Sunflowers are said to represent enlightenment but they remind me of the Maori saying, “Face the sun and let your shadows fall behind you”.

Walking With Angels at Norden Farm, by Melanie Gow, photographs by Becky Young, face the sun and let your shadows fall behind you

Two others in the audience, photographer David Wright and his stunning wife Lyd, came to the very first talk, I am really touched that they were willing to hear the story again. I can’t wait to hear theirs when they walk the camino. There were friends, family, colleagues, surprises, and supporters there, and brand new friends made through the evening. Right at the end, Teen 1 spontaneously turned and gave me a huge hug. Captured here by my generous friend, colleague, photographer and artist, Becky Young, along with all these other pictures from the night.

This is one of my favourite moments from the night.

Walking With Angels at Norden Farm, by Melanie Gow, photographs by Becky Young, surprise hug from Benjamin Gow for his mother

It is wonderful to stand and tell the story to a room full of people, and the more I do it the more I really want to publish a photographic book of the walk so I can get the story to as many people around the world as possible. But, I will have to publish it independently and raise the budget – and that takes confidence.

I thought hard about an ethical way I could raise the budget in line with the values of the experience, and I believe it would be to ask for donations. This will allow people the freedom to give and at a level they are comfortable with, in exchange I am offering to send a digital version of the talk. I put the proposal on a print out, and planned to ask the audience at the end of the talk what they thought.

But, I didn’t have the confidence to ask people to help me.

Walking With Angels at Norden Farm, by Melanie Gow, photographs by Becky Young, table at the back

When I was clearing away at the end I found anonymous donations in my box anyway. How extraordinary is that? It brought me up short and is as clear a message as can be.

If others are prepared to back this I am just going to have to lean into the fear and do it, as I said in my New Year’s Resolutions: “The thrill of soaring has to begin with the fear of falling”.

Thank you, I truly appreciate the confidence.

Walking With Angels at Norden Farm, by Melanie Gow, photographs by Becky Young, anonymous donations

With thanks to Norden Farm for hosting the talk, and all their support throughout the exhibition – this runs in the Gallery until the 5th of April 2014

With thanks to Becky Young for all the photographs here, and her immeasurable support.

Walking With Angels In The Gallery At Ice

The Walking With Angels Exhibition is being Launched By The Gallery At Ice, with a talk on the 6th March 7.00pm If you’d like to attend my talk please register your interest www.thegalleryatice.co.uk/walking-with-angels

Photographic Exhibition in The Gallery at Ice 13th February – 14th March

The Gallery at Ice are launching the Walking With Angels Collection

Walking with Angels Ice evite

 

If you’d like to attend my talk please register your interest  @  www.thegalleryatice.co.uk/walking-with-angels
More about the Walking With Angels Exhibition @ www.thegalleryatice.co.uk/exhibition

 

Walking With Angels, The First Exhibition and Talk

The Walking With Angels exhibition is an attempt to take your hand on our walk, the talk is my attempt to tell you the story of our journey

Walking with Angels Exhibition and talk, by Melanie Gow, Maidenhead Town Hall, October 2013
Come and enjoy a talk on our Camino de Santiago pilgrimage to accompany the Walking With Angels exhibition of photographs, in Support of Open Kitchen.

I am fortunate enough to be given the Rendezvous Cafe space in the Maidenhead Town Hall by Art on the Street to mount a photographic exhibition of a walk with my two sons, 12 and 16 years old, over the Pyrenees and across Spain to The Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela.

We walked for 33 days, across nearly 800Km, on an extraordinary pilgrimage that has been taken since the 9th century.

In fact the path is older than that, it follows the Milky Way and, before Jesus was born, pagans were walking across northern Spain in a born-again ritual. They would finish at Fisterra (the end of the world), burn their clothes, and watch the sun fall into the infinite sea next to La Costa de Morta (the Coast of Death). This ritual symbolized a pilgrim’s death and rebirth.

Tradition has it that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried in Santiago de Compostela. The Way of St. James became one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times, together with Rome and Jerusalem, and a pilgrimage route on which a plenary indulgence could be earned.

It fell out of fashion for hundreds of years until 1987 when Paulo Cohelo wrote about it, then a German comedian brought out a book, then a Korea woman did the same, then Martin Sheen made a film, and now my son’s have walked it with me  ..

The exhibition is an attempt to take your hand on our walk, the talk is my attempt to tell you the story of our journey.  The exhibition contains some art photographs, snap shots, a few mini stories and portions of our map. It was a life-affirming, extraordinary experience, an unexpected pilgrimage that built us from the ground up and the inside out.

To have walked it with my sons was to walk with angels.

Walking with Angels Exhibition and talk, Maidenhead Town Hall, Exhibition on all October 2013.

The Camino isn’t just a long stroll.

In some ways you get stronger (our calves are solid) but in many ways you get worn down, the food is inadequate, the water can make you sick, the heat, the blisters, the constant mental challenge to get up and walk again, each day.

The relentless stimulation of changing environments, the need to make a decision everyday for that day, for that moment. The unpredictability, the ease with which your journey can be stopped.

At the beginning when people ask are you going to Santiago the answer is “yes”. By day 10 the answer is “I hope”

Walking with Angels Exhibition and talk, Maidenhead Town Hall, October 2013

Your walk every day is long, tiring, challenging, across vast landscapes (some staggeringly beautiful, some harsh and unforgiving), hours of sensory deprivation, a focus on the physical, grounding!

Then you walk into a town, and the church is the only thing to see so you go. The incredible capacity of the human spirit is celebrated in the stonework, the glass, the ornament, the sculpture, the gold. The music is extraordinarily sweet.

The very best of our creative and spiritual capability is concentrated in one overwhelming small step through a door.

Everyday ends in what really matters, a shower, a chance to wash your clothes, good company, food, a little wine and a bed.

Such is the journey: every day a toil of physical labour and personal challenge, slowly across great tracts of land, saturated in nature, that grows ever more intense towards Santiago.

With pockets along the way of immense human excellence, the redemptive power of art and culture working at full brightness. The kindness, compassion, honesty, courage, lightness, companionship and openness of people on the way.

Every cell in your body, every thought in your mind is engaged, concentrated, moved.

Walking with Angels Exhibition and talk, 10th October, 7 pm, Maidenhead Town Hall, Exhibition all October 2013

Every day begins again, on a journey towards an end that you can’t be sure you’ll make, you’re not sure why you are trying, and you have no idea how it will grow each day.

It is a pilgrimage towards you.

Our Camino was perfect, it was extraordinarily hard, mentally, physically and emotionally, but every day we experienced real joy, incredible coincidences, laughter, and miracles

33 days of life lessons. And, time together.

When we arrived in the square in front of the Cathedral one of the first things we noticed were the number of people on the street, homeless or just begging. Having spent a month living a frugal life out of choice, the lack of choice for others was highlighted.

I am extremely pleased to be allowed to give this night to Open Kitchen, a charity providing food and help for people in and around Maidenhead who can not afford to feed themselves properly.

Indigent stasis in Santiago

At one point I had to go across town to pick up something and as I dropped down behind the pergola on Avenida de Xoán XXIII I found a different world, a quiet unassuming row of neat spaces, each square of cardboard marking where those who carry all they have on their back everyday have few options.

I had just spent 33 days carrying little more than a change of clothes, what I needed to keep clean and manage my blisters, and my camera. I have slept with no covers, eaten frugally, and lived communally.

I felt a poignancy at the ease with which I was able to give up my frugal life on the road, but a pilgrimage for one is an indigent stasis for others.

Open Kitchen provide non-perishable food to families who are unable to afford a proper meal every day for themselves or their children. We currently provide for up to around 40 families each week.

Your “entrance fee” will go to their bank

10% of any sales on the night will be donated to Open Kitchen.

A further 20% is dived between Age Concern for hosting the exhibition and Art on the Street CIC for creating the opportunity for this, and other artists to enjoy an exhibition space all year.

Visit the Exhibition at the Town Hall,  St Ives Rd, Maidenhead SL6 1R

THE EXHIBITION IS ON ALL MONTH


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