Posted in Paintings in Progress

The Memory Theatre-an artwork in process

I’ve made some memory stations and begun the memory practice.  Maybe I’ll try to memorize Jerusalem (at least parts of it) by William Blake.  The organization of the space and creating the stations is not separate from the work of sketching out the composition on the canvases.  The placement and spacing are important. DSC02838memory stations 3

I imagine the paintings might take the form of a still life that opens onto a vast landscape. Blake had a vision that beheld the universe in a grain of sand, infinity in an hour and the celestial city built on the rolling green English countryside.  I want my art to share some of this all-encompassing perspective.

The fields from Islington to Marybone,

To Primrose Hill and Saint John’s Wood,

Were builded over with pillars of gold,

And there Jerusalem’s pillars stood.

I’ve found that memory practice leads to amazing experiences.  It is a way to attune to subtle influences and bring to conscious awareness the too-often suppressed messages from the unconscious.  In her brilliant book, the Art of Memory, Frances Yates quotes Cicero’s recollection of the poet Simonides, who was said to be inventor of the memory art:

…persons desiring to train this faculty (of memory) must select places and form mental images of the things they wish to remember and store those images in the places, so that the order of the places will preserve the order of the things, and the images of the things will denote the things themselves, and we shall employ the places and images respectively as a wax writing-tablet and the letters written on it.

DSC02844memory stations 9 white