Curating Memories – Silence and Noise
This week, my memories have been inspired by artists — Edmund de Waal, Agnes Martin and No.1 Son’s best friend.
I spent an evening at the Barbican listening to potter and poet Edmund de Waal tell us stories about his journey along The White Road, A Pilgrimage of Sorts, an autobiographical portrait he paints through his passion for porcelain. In speaking about his journey of making white things, the artist touched upon the fullness of silence in his world of white, which by his account is anything by minimal.
Engrossed and enraptured, I yearned to be in that world he described, but white sticky glue infiltrates my world of white at the moment. With a husband who is always on an airplane and two almost independent young men who require parental input at the most unexpected times, there are too many moving parts in my household and by default, I am the glue that works so very hard to hold it all together, barely. Because then there’s the fridge that needs stocking, the household supplies that have to be replenished and the soul sucking churn of the paperwork required to keep it all running. And finally, between Facetime, messaging, emails or phone calls, the treadmill of digital communication that I rely on to coordinate these moving parts mocks the silence I seek and leaves me anxious at the same time.
The following day I squeezed my viewing of abstract American painter Agnes Martin’s retrospective at the Tate Modern into a busy day of a full week (noise, noise and more noise) but I was determined to get to her before the exhibition closes this weekend. My timing was uncanny as her large 72 inch by 72 inch, square grid canvases enveloped me in the silence of their whiteness to recall Edmund de Waal. Agnes Martin’s silence was also full — hers with the richness of her finely drawn grid lines and her luminous washes of white and pastels. And in absorbing her silence, I realized that despite being in a noisy phase of life, there are times when it will be possible for me to hear silence through the sticky white mess and this thought gave me great comfort.
And the final addition to my collection of memories this week is one filled with the joyous sound of music. I went to see, hear and listen to one of No. 1 Son’s best friends, Jonah Hauer-King, perform in a jazz gig. An accomplished actor and musician, he and No.1 son have known each other since they met on the playground at junior school. In their short lives, they have been there for each other through good times and bad, already creating memories of their own. Jonah sang, played the guitar, led his band and talked to us. With great success, he filled the room with an inter-generational audience and cut across the decades with his music. Noise can be good too.
N.B.: This post was originally published on My Contents Have Shifted.