Writing Teachers – solo writing at Maitland Regional Art Gallery

What do you do when you are the only writer to attend a scheduled meeting? Write! Take every opportunity to explore the space and enjoy the freedom of writing.

Maitland was relaxing, and provided a number of pleasant surprises – despite the disappointment of absent and unwell teachers. My creative stimulus for this meeting followed on from recent classwork on memory and metaphor: people would be asked to choose between the concept of ‘life’ or ‘heart’ and write an extended poetic or prose metaphor linked with an artwork.

Roaming the galleries while waiting, I was pleasantly surprised to find a series of rich and exquisitely detailed etchings, wood engravings and watercolours by Lionel Lindsay. Moving through the space, I was captivated by the character portraits, flowers, birds and cat images. Confrontations between kittens and magpies, roosters and goats, magnolias and fuschias, a church in Seville and the burning ghat in Benares (Varanasi).

Limited in number, the watercolours were dispersed across the walls. I was drawn to this image of flowers in a field and began a close inspection and meditation from several paces back to gather words and ideas.

I drew up two columns and recorded my impressions of the artwork. Later, in the cafe, I jotted down links to sustain the metaphor.

This was followed by 30 minutes of free writing, with momentary re-reading to check for words and ideas.

Perhaps reflective of my typically optimistic outlook, the ‘flowers’ I chose was actually a work titled Thistles from 1918.

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