Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Sky is a Canvas

The sky is too great, too apparent, too compelling a canvas not to have drawn the attention of the greatest of artists. And what we see drawn on it is too powerful, too vivid, too varied, it imitates the range of human emotions and experiences so closely, yet so enormously, that it can only be the work of an artist. It can express calm, quietude, the love of beauty, anger, terror, despair, new life, authority, madness, dizzy colour, soul-destroying blackness. We recognise it all and feel it, respond to it all, more strongly, more broadly, than we respond to those same feelings within ourselves. The sky can tell us what we are and what we feel, it can tell us things about ourselves we didn’t know.

The sky can tell stories, and not just our own stories. Is it possible that the clouds have no narrative? Do they move about, around one another, heap up, disperse, attack each other, cover and reveal the sky, collide, stream and curl away to nothing, take on the colours of flame, anger, hatred, love, jealousy, the Virgin Mary, the deep ocean, the Jamaican sand at noon, the boiling, melting of a volcano, the gently mixing shades of a quiet river, the darkness of doom, all to no purpose? Can it mean nothing?

There are many stories to be read in the sky, stories told by the great artist who wrote painted them there. But I have never been able to read them. It should be possible. Not easy, but possible, to read the stories in the sky and to know that they are true.

The sky is a great canvas, and the artist is the observer.


James Higham said...

It might be a canvas but it's a bit tricky getting up there to paint on it.

CIngram said...

Maybe I can persuade the Arts Council to give me a grant for a very long ladder.