“The beginning of wisdom, I believe, is our ability to accept an inherent messiness in our explanation of what’s going on. Nowhere is it written that human minds should be able to give a full accounting of creation in all dimensions and on all levels. Ludwig Wittgenstein had the idea that philosophy should be what he called “true enough.” I think that’s a great idea. True enough is as true as can be gotten. The imagination is chaos. New forms are fetched out of it. The creative act is to let down the net of human imagination into the ocean of chaos on which we are suspended and then to attempt to bring out of it ideas.”
― Rupert Sheldrake


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Solaris 1 and 2

solsolaris 1

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I was first introduced to the films of Andrei Tarkovsky at art school, in the film club.  I didn’t get it.  I was young and full of energetic distraction.  Now, a few decades on, I cannot get enough of his work.  His films feed every cell, atom and neuron in my art-brain.  The combination of imagery and music, texture, light, fire, rain, darkness, colour and sound, hit the melancholic spot which is vital to me.  The point where melancholy and ecstasy fuse and spark to create a feeling of euphoria, light and depth.  The alchemy of these elements is so profound, I can watch his films and be transformed for hours, and perhaps days.  He reminds me why I paint.  His films defy intellectual labeling or description, though of course many people have written at great length about him and he has been copied and has influenced so many filmmakers and cinematographers,  painters, photographers and poets.  The new version of ‘Blade Runner’ makes many cinematographic allusions to his work.

“Some sort of pressure must exist; the artist exists because the world is not perfect. ”

“We can express our feelings regarding the world around us either by poetic or by descriptive means. I prefer to express myself metaphorically. Let me stress: metaphorically, not symbolically. A symbol contains within itself a definite meaning, certain intellectual formula, while metaphor is an image. An image possessing the same distinguishing features as the world it represents. An image — as opposed to a symbol — is indefinite in meaning. One cannot speak of the infinite world by applying tools that are definite and finite. We can analyse the formula that constitutes a symbol, while metaphor is a being-within-itself, it’s a monomial. It falls apart at any attempt of touching it.”

His films are meditations on moments.  Moments of varying lengths. I watch them and my mind is slowed to the measure and pulse of his work.  If I watch them, they teach me to watch my own life.  To hear sounds differently, to contemplate and to examine every moment, both visual and aural.  To meditate on wind through leaves, the sound of a tea cup stirred by a spoon, or the water pouring from a kettle into a mug.  Everything is transformed.  Tarkovsky teaches me to lead an examined life, and to notice the passing of time.

A poet like Tarkovsky is a person who uses a single image to express a universal message.  All his imagery is open to interpretation.  His work teaches, in today’s parlance, mindfulness. It is metaphysical, spiritual, elemental.  As much as every individual life is subjective, and no two people have exactly the same perceptions, though some are closer than others; every person may interpret a Tarkovsky film differently.  Or not.  In my perception, life doesn’t make sense, in so many ways.. it is a mystery; consciousness, being, dreams.. Therefore, why should art make sense when the whole of existence and what lies beyond doesn’t make sense.  But the mystery is beautiful.  And Tarkovsky magnifies this melancholic beauty.

To the modern capitalist internet-led world with all its notifications, pings, vanity, instant gratification and short attention spans formed to respond to the endless stimuli and  pursuit of the next digital high, Tarkovsky’s oeuvre is the perfect antidote. It would not be an exaggeration to say his work reminds me why I am alive and what I am here to express.





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Sun Ra

Painting on canvas board. A journey into abstraction.  https://www.etsy.com/listing/565415619/sun-ra?ref=listing_published_alert

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If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say

Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the nightsky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,

Like this.

If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,
or what “God’s fragrance” means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.

Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.

Like this.

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.

Like this. Like this.

When someone asks what it means
to “die for love,” point

If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.

This tall.

The soul sometimes leaves the body, the returns.
When someone doesn’t believe that,
walk back into my house.

Like this.

When lovers moan,
they’re telling our story.

Like this.

I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.

Like this.

When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.

Like this.

How did Joseph’s scent come to Jacob?


How did Jacob’s sight return?


A little wind cleans the eyes.

Like this.

When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he’ll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us

Like this.

From ‘The Essential Rumi’, Translation by Coleman Barks.

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Two recent paintings

The Gift and Blue Forest

Both paintings are on canvas board. 10 inches by 12 inches or 26 cm by 31 cm..

In my Etsy shop.


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Some wonderful photos of the great man.

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Angel painting

Painting for peace.  Angel painting in my Etsy shop.


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Charleston Farm House

Occasionally I feel the pull, and take myself for a few hours to Charleston.  It’s one of my happy places.  Nestled in the gentle undulations of the south Downs it feels a world away from ordinary life.  A haven, once you have escaped the non-stop traffic of the A27.  It feels civilised, romantic and calm.  I walk the gardens, sometimes take a tour of the house, wander around the lake, imagining all the people who comprised the Bloomsbury group and the conversations they must have had in their own meanderings around the grounds.  I love to walk up into the Downs and enjoy watching the changing cloud formations as they inform and influence the light and contours of the hills.

Yesterday there was an event there, a short story book festival, a marquee selling books and the cafe had relocated to the marquee.  My son, 13, who was not at all impressed by my insistence that he love Charleston as much as I, informed me that ‘this is not the sort of place a thirteen year old kid likes.’ I said I understood, but told him to look at the way the ivy clung to the old brick wall, or the way the clouds and sunshine light up the Downs, or to look at the dahlias; their intense reds and oranges made all the more brilliant by the back drop of the grey louring sky.  He was even more unimpressed, and pulled his hoodie over his head,  but he cheered up when I bought him a hot chocolate,  a brownie and some butternut squash soup.

It occurred to me that we may not have intense light in England in the way that Spain does, but we have a way with light.  We learn to use light in the darkness.  Highlighting statues with gentle spotlights, or using light as interventions in nature with fairy lights or votive candles thoughtfully placed..




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Blue Madonna

An original painting by me. Blue Madonna. 25 cm by 25 cm. 10 inches by 14 inches. Acrylic paint on canvas. In my Etsy shop.

Copyright Alice Mason 2017


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