In my first year of secondary school, the music teacher attempted to get us - a gaggle of jabbery and unruly 11 year olds - interested in classical music. It seemed like a hopeless task - except the music he picked was Pictures at An Exhibtion, the music composed by Modest Mussorgski for pictures by his friend Viktor Hartmann. Recently I've been inspired to do the same for some of my own paintings (see 'I Want to Sleep with Emmylou Harris' in the last newsletter. This song was written to accompany a painting I did of Bathsheba Everdene (timbradfordart.co.uk/new-work/493069_bathsheba-everdene.html). That ‘of’ is quite ambiguous, in the sense that the original motivation was to do a painting of Julie Christie as Bathsheba Everdene.
I’m now 50 years old and you’d think I’d have worked this out before now. But I don’t seem to be able to control my subconscious mind most of the time.
I watched Far From the Madding Crowd at my friend Ian’s house and I was bewitched by the sight of Julie Christie as Bathsheba Everdene. Such unattainable beauty was enough to make a country boy go mad – or leave for America/Australia or spend the rest of my days writing sad folk songs.
But as I began painting – and Julie Christie did appear through the mist of my imagination now and again – I kept noticing one of teachers who took my history A level class (1780 to 1850) in our last two terms and who used to say the phrase “working class consciousness” in a lovely, slow Welsh accent. Every time I hear those words I go a bit funny – though in this day and age it’s not the sort of thing that people talk about much, which is bad for political discourse. But good for my state of mind.
There are other people in there too, I reckon, but my subconscious mind doesn’t cough up all its secrets at once.