A Renaissance of

Art & Consciousness

with

Mary Attwood

 

 

Awaken the Senses, Intellect & Soul 

 

How we look at Art transforms not only what we see in the image before us, but what we see through it. Our vision can extend to ‘see’ the world, and our place in it, in broader and deeper ways. Today, the challenges we face in modernity call for a renaissance, a rebirth, of how we ‘see’. We are governed by a very linear vision, seeing only in one constricting way. It is a literal and reductionist view that rests on the surface of things, and in so doing we miss the mystery of life. The contemplation of and participation with works of art can recover deeper qualities in us and refine our character, how we act, think, and behold the world. The purpose of great Art contains something larger than we are able to, but guides us to places that are both rapturous and unbearable, so that we may redeem them, and can face them nonetheless.   This is particularly relevant today where we avoid acknowledging the presence of bad or darkness.  As our world becomes increasingly war-torn, hostile, angry and emptied of meaning, the images may be shown across media, but there is a blindness to what is really going on, and an avoidance of real conversation about where we might be and where we are going.

In an age where the general consensus seeks to eradicate the past, cancel culture, and control everything by removing the hands-on approach of organisations from policing to healthcare, this obsession with so-called ‘progress’ is driving us forwards blindly.  We have become more removed from the phenomenological experience of the world, from common sense, from pragmatism, and from the sacred, and have replaced humility with hubris. In the absence of the ability to recollect, contemplate and value what might have real value, our hindsight is skewed.  Unable to recover what was great from the past, we cannot develop true foresight and therefore we walk forwards into darkness.

In contrast to our own time, what lay at the heart of the Italian Renaissance was the value of looking back. Not for nostalgia or to slavishly copy what went before,  but to draw on the brilliance of past to inform the future. As Professor Frances Yates writes;

The great forward movements of the Renaissance all derive their vigour, their emotional impulse, from looking backwards . . . The classical humanist recovered the literature and the monuments of classical antiquity with a sense of return to the pure gold of a civilisation better and higher than his own. The religious reformer returned to the study of the Scriptures ans the early Fathers with a sense of recovery of the pure gold of the Gospel, buried under later generations.”

As a result, the Renaissance became one of the most extraordinarily creative and brilliant periods in our history, brimming with imagination, philosophical knowing, and an honouring of the divine, whose ideas were shaped into its literature, great architecture, sculpture and paintings we see today. The eye was understood not just as a mechanical function of the human body, but as a metaphor for seeing and knowing in a number of different, but distinct ways. These different ways of seeing / knowing were not in conflict with one another but were mutually beneficial.  Works of Art were created to awaken the senses, intellect and soul of the viewer – the whole person. Through participation with a work of art, the beholder could see more fully – both outwardly into the world – and within themselves – and with that seeing, paradoxically avoided seeing too much.

While the Renaissance humanists saw works of Art as embodying their ideas,  Art across millennia points to something through and beyond it. The appearance of works of Art change over time, as they are crafted by the different ideas, philosophies and culture from which they come, and each with its ability to communicate something other than that which we think we know. While Art offers a portal into the ineffable, to the spiritual and soulful, it does not take us away from the world; rather it re-engages us with it. As an embodiment of human creative skill and Nature, Art brings hidden realities into visual and imaginative perception in a real and tangible way with each image possessing its own unique qualities, qualities that evoke the same in us; empathy, compassion, beauty, joy, rapture, love, fear, horror, the sublime … qualities that help shape who we are.

“Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts; the book of their deeds,

the book of their words and the book of their art.

Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others,

but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.”

John Ruskin

 

Great art is more than just cleverly arranged pigment or stone. It is brimming with an entire corpus of wisdom. The great buildings, paintings and statues that have arisen over centuries and still inspire wonder in us today, carry with them the essence of another time which can still touch us today. The great works might have something important to tell us, if we stop for a moment to hear and see them. And at the centre of it all, Art tells the story about us – about what it means to be human while the artist / architect seems to engage in something almost magical that we do not see. Works of art are, in the words of Dr Iain McGilchrist more like people, living beings, than objects. They are implicit and embodied. But since they come to us without words, we have to cultivate different ways of seeing, knowing and listening in order to see them anew. It is this quality of attention which holds the power to not only change what we see in the art, but transform us and our world.

The ways in which we are moved by Art is encouraged in all sessions whether courses, The Art of Seeing, or gallery visits. Through  either dialogue, conversation, reflection, quiet contemplation, written description, ekphrasis or historical research, the openings Art encourages in us might provide more honest conversation, the cultivation of love and beauty without the avoidance of darkness, pragmatism, common sense, and a sense of the divine.

Discover

a Renaissance of

Art & Consciousness

with

Mary Attwood

 

 

Awaken the Senses, Intellect & Soul 

How we look at Art transforms not only what we see in the image before us, but what we see through it. Our vision can extend to ‘see’ the world, and our place in it, in broader and deeper ways. Today, the challenges we face in modernity call for a renaissance, a rebirth, of how we ‘see’. We are governed by a very linear vision, seeing only in one constricting way. It is a literal and reductionist view that rests on the surface of things, and in so doing we miss the mystery of life. The contemplation of and participation with works of art can recover deeper qualities in us and refine our character, how we act, think, and behold the world. The purpose of great Art contains something larger than we are able to, but guides us to places that are both rapturous and unbearable, so that we may redeem them, and can face them nonetheless.   This is particularly relevant today where we avoid acknowledging the presence of bad or darkness.  As our world becomes increasingly war-torn, hostile, angry and emptied of meaning, the images may be shown across media, but there is a blindness to what is really going on, and an avoidance of real conversation about where we might be and where we are going.

In an age where the general consensus seeks to eradicate the past, cancel culture, and control everything by removing the hands-on approach of organisations from policing to healthcare, this obsession with so-called ‘progress’ is driving us forwards blindly.  We have become more removed from the phenomenological experience of the world, from common sense, from pragmatism, and from the sacred, and have replaced humility with hubris. In the absence of the ability to recollect, contemplate and value what might have real value, our hindsight is skewed.  Unable to recover what was great from the past, we cannot develop true foresight and therefore we walk forwards into darkness.

In contrast to our own time, what lay at the heart of the Italian Renaissance was the value of looking back. Not for nostalgia or to slavishly copy what went before,  but to draw on the brilliance of past to inform the future. As Professor Frances Yates writes;

The great forward movements of the Renaissance all derive their vigour, their emotional impulse, from looking backwards . . . The classical humanist recovered the literature and the monuments of classical antiquity with a sense of return to the pure gold of a civilisation better and higher than his own. The religious reformer returned to the study of the Scriptures ans the early Fathers with a sense of recovery of the pure gold of the Gospel, buried under later generations.”

As a result, the Renaissance became one of the most extraordinarily creative and brilliant periods in our history, brimming with imagination, philosophical knowing, and an honouring of the divine, whose ideas were shaped into its literature, great architecture, sculpture and paintings we see today. The eye was understood not just as a mechanical function of the human body, but as a metaphor for seeing and knowing in a number of different, but distinct ways. These different ways of seeing / knowing were not in conflict with one another but were mutually beneficial.  Works of Art were created to awaken the senses, intellect and soul of the viewer – the whole person. Through participation with a work of art, the beholder could see more fully – both outwardly into the world – and within themselves – and with that seeing, paradoxically avoided seeing too much.

While the Renaissance humanists saw works of Art as embodying their ideas,  Art across millennia points to something through and beyond it. The appearance of works of Art change over time, as they are crafted by the different ideas, philosophies and culture from which they come, and each with its ability to communicate something other than that which we think we know. While Art offers a portal into the ineffable, to the spiritual and soulful, it does not take us away from the world; rather it re-engages us with it. As an embodiment of human creative skill and Nature, Art brings hidden realities into visual and imaginative perception in a real and tangible way with each image possessing its own unique qualities, qualities that evoke the same in us; empathy, compassion, beauty, joy, rapture, love, fear, horror, the sublime … qualities that help shape who we are.

“Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts; the book of their deeds,

the book of their words and the book of their art.

Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others,

but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.”

John Ruskin

 

Great art is more than just cleverly arranged pigment or stone. It is brimming with an entire corpus of wisdom. The great buildings, paintings and statues that have arisen over centuries and still inspire wonder in us today, carry with them the essence of another time which can still touch us today. The great works might have something important to tell us, if we stop for a moment to hear and see them. And at the centre of it all, Art tells the story about us – about what it means to be human while the artist / architect seems to engage in something almost magical that we do not see. Works of art are, in the words of Dr Iain McGilchrist more like people, living beings, than objects. They are implicit and embodied. But since they come to us without words, we have to cultivate different ways of seeing, knowing and listening in order to see them anew. It is this quality of attention which holds the power to not only change what we see in the art, but transform us and our world.

The ways in which we are moved by Art is encouraged in all sessions whether courses, The Art of Seeing, or gallery visits. Through  either dialogue, conversation, reflection, quiet contemplation, written description, ekphrasis or historical research, the openings Art encourages in us might provide more honest conversation, the cultivation of love and beauty without the avoidance of darkness, pragmatism, common sense, and a sense of the divine.

 

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