Just Looking

In the garden

Cookery shows on TV have always been popular but art on television has always seemed a bit niche. As if art is a bit highbrow (which has always made me cross.)

Now people who haven’t picked up a pencil since school are telling me they’ve got hooked on BBC4’s life drawing, or Grayson’s Art Club, or that they have just started sketching or making a scrapbook of things they see on their walks. As a generation, we’re getting creative. As the world slows down, there is more room to listen and look. The birdsong and blossoms have been incredible this year. Were they always like this, and we were just too busy to notice? Or are they deliberately shouting out their beauty to simultaneously tease and soothe us poor humans?

Whatever, we’ve become more attuned to our senses and the world in front of our eyes. More than a few times lately, I’ve found myself standing in the sunshine or on a walk down a shadow-dappled road or gazing out of the window at the moon, just looking. Not trying to draw it or take a photo, or make the moment mean anything – just looking.

The world is already speeding up again and perhaps soon it will be business as normal, as if this slow time had never happened. Will nature recede back into the background, while cars and shopping and technology take over? Will we stop noticing these moments of heart stopping beauty? Will the sketchbook pages curl with neglect and end up shoved to the back of a cupboard? Oh, I hope not. I don’t want to lose this everyday immersion in the quiet beauty of the natural world, even in the city. As artists I think we have a duty to hold on to this sense of wonder and to remind ourselves and anyone else who might be listening, that there is huge power in this stillness, this ability to forget ourselves and just look around us.

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