What is the Purpose of Art?

John O’Donahue, an Irish poet, writes in his inspiring book Divine Beauty that  ‘ The poem is shaped to enter and inhabit forgotten or not yet discovered alcoves in the reader’s heart’.  As I read these words I am acutely aware that all creative endeavors have this core purpose. I have experienced on many occasions how an artwork can transport the viewer to places unknown.

One memorable occurrence, which I later believed to be Stendhal’s Syndrome, happened to me twice in 2006 in Shanghai while standing in front of the paintings of acclaimed Chinese artist Zhou Chaing Jaing. I wrote about this unexpected and life changing experience in my first book Gleaner or Gladiator The Struggle to Create. At the time I fell into Chaing’s work in a dizzy spell that felt like I had fainted while still standing. It was very unsettling yet I knew I had just had a unique spiritual encounter with his painting.

I was sensing the truth of the artist and it opened my eyes to seeking out more creative people who instill this essence into their creations. I found that to create art work that can affect the viewer on many levels an artist is required to dig very deep and take risks. This can make them vulnerable to self-doubt and also the critical words of others.

For myself, as I endeavor to grow in purpose, I find the only way forward to be in the present and explore and rejoice in the beauty of the world I live in. This may be idealistic in today’s world but at the beginning of each day, as the poet W.S Graham writes, I try to ‘Listen. Put on morning and waken into falling light ‘. In this way I am inspired to live each day expecting only the best to happen.

Below ..new work in the Bird Series..

Bird Series