Patterns in the wallpaper

Fuchsia is in bloom in the garden of a friend. April seems an early time for it.

It evokes a jumble of images that crowded into the mind.

It evoked a windswept beach with clouds tumbling across the sky with Atlantic waves breaking on the beach. It evoked a headland with tufts of grass and clumps of fuchsia. Oddly, it evoked a pond, the surface of which is coloured by lilies and by reflections of the sky above.

The evening skies changed appearance as the light faded, tones and patterns that were not repeated.

The pondering of patterns evokes childhood imaginings when the print of the wallpaper or the weave of curtains could shape themselves into dragons or beasts of the night, but might just as easily become horses or the animals of everyday farm life.

There was a capacity for imagination in those years that faded with the advent of maturity.

Are there not countless people who had such thoughts, or similar ones as children?

There was a capacity to create the extraordinary, the unreal, from the things of ordinary reality. Thought, and a viewing of things through half-closed eyes, could transform the world around into something magical.

Dragons and horses inhabiting the wallpaper and the curtains belonged to a world that was a magical place where reality had not yet crushed the power of imagination, where strange and unusual beasts might be found in the bedroom of a small boy.

Anything is possible in the realms of the imagination; the unexpected, the unlikely, the absurd, they are all acceptable.

The radio presenter on RTE this afternoon asked what was people’s favourite art gallery.

I think I would have chosen the Tate at Saint Ives in Cornwall, a place that is a reminder that artists have a capacity to stir again the power of imagination.

It looks over Porthmeor Beach, a beach visited on a family holiday fifty years ago, and not visited since. It is a place where there is a mingling of memories from childhood years with a jumbled recall of many galleries visited in the intervening years.

The painters who sought colour and light in Brittany would have enjoyed the Cornish landscapes. The work of the abstract artists who gathered in Cornwall were a reminder of the capacity of the mind to go beyond the perceived reality, the images conjure a spectrum of moods and recollections.

Discerning shapes and patterns is a reminder of a childhood capacity for unreality, for being able to see things that were not there


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