Saturday, July 18, 2009


Not the best photo in the world, but after I took it I realized it corresponded to a verse I return to again and again:

I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
            - from The Circus Animals' Desertion, William Butler Yeats

The enterprise of art-making is heroic and clownish together, in the sense that final transformation eludes us, and what we end with are more or less interesting failures, or approaches to what remains out of reach. There are other verses which describe the same process which I will be posting on Saturdays for awhile as I find the images that go with them. 

What are your touchstones?

Edit: This is not a sculpture - it's just stuff piled on a roof in the miniature village which is the Antiques Centre.


Totalfeckineejit said...

Well chosen Susan,they are the touchstones too of my favourite magazine in the whole world
My touchstones are not words but the night skies, herons and hares and Red Kites.

ArtSparker said...


Thinking about the red kites.

Jasmine said...

Its an interesting picture. I really love the idea of sculptures that are made out of unused things. Ladders always lend mystery to a picture. Yeats is a favourite of mine.

Shame the stag couldn't have been more gracefully placed. I always feel sad when I see dead heads. It would be nice to find a way to give them back their dignity and make them naturally beautiful again, liberating them from the legacy of the trophy hunter. Just a thought (I mention this as I think if anyone could do this you could Susan).

My touchstones come from nature and the living too, but if I was to choose a poem it would be a passage from Blake's 'augeries of innocence' or Robert Frost:

Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf a flower
Yet only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
And Eden sinks to grief
So dawn goes down today
Nothing gold can stay

ArtSparker said...

Jasmine -

Thanks you for sharing the quote. The moose head is sad, I think it reflects the folly of the human heroic project - as if by killing something else, one doesn't have to die.

Jasmine said...

I knew you would understand :)

Caio Fernandes said...

what a picture !!! i loved this .
i was thinking about my touchstones .....i felt so miserable .... but the first thing of my mind was my aquarium with amazon plants and fishies , so green and lifes protecteds , submerses ...silently lifes being reproductin .... and more lifes coming out , so distant of the world . this is painting , poety , sex , love , death , universe .all into that cube of glass .
touchstones ... what weird to think about it .
woods always come to my mind too .

ArtSparker said...

Caio - Yes, large things contained in small things, this is in the famous Blake Poem which begins "To see the world in a grain of sand", and also in the German idea "Das Grosse im Kleinen (zu) finden", to find the large in the small.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to be back visiting again.

Approaches to things that remain out f reach..

toying with just that right now.

herhimnbryn said...

Touchstones. I have always enjoyed several. Some poems ( that were told to me as bedtime stories when I was little). The seasons, a hand held, a wooden box made by my Grandpa...........
Thankyou for the quote, I shall go find the poem now.

ArtSparker said...

D - good to see you back, I have been thinking about you.

H- The wooden box sounds wonderful

lettuce said...

don't you think it gets closer than that, sometimes?

I'd like to see other pictures of the sculpture.

touchstones - certainly my garden

ArtSparker said...

L- I like the incomplete and the imperfect, so interesting failures are fine with me - Masterpieces put me to sleep . That is, "interesting failures" is not a perjorative.

I should have said where the photo was taken, it's just a random collection of stuff at a wonderful store. I have edited to note this.

Tom said...

I've never thought about it, but i love trees and rocks and digging in the dirt...these things make me happy. I agree with you about a moosehead...what a sad shape.

mum said...

i agree - it's always a failure compared to what you were attempting. But if it's a good failure, you discover all sorts of things you never expected. I think if your own work doesn't surprise you anymore, that's when you're in trouble.

The pile of stuff was interesting; the shop must be great.

word verif suggests paste(?) So: paste.

Best from Graulhet

ArtSparker said...

Tom - I hear you about the dirt. It may start in childhood with the digging to China project. That's geocentric, of course -

ArtSparker said...


Yes, perfection = death. As I believe I was reading recently on another blog...