Poetry for me, either provokes or unlocks imagery from my own life experiences. I particularly admire those artists who seem to be able to seamlessly and naturally, incorporate the written word into their work. I'm thinking particularly of Antoni Tapies, Cy Twombly, Georges Braque and Jean-Michel Basquiat. It seems to me, an incredibly difficult exercise of balance, to incorporate words into imagery without the process becoming one of simple illustration. On the other hand, the balance can swing towards calligraphy as in, Somhairle MacGill-eain 'Bhlabheinn' (Sorley MacLean's, Blaven) and Meg Bateman's, 'Fhir luraich's fhir alainn' ('Oh Bonnie Man'). I persevere against the many failures and partial successes.
In my collaborative work with Iyad and Azim Rehmat Din (below), Azim's calligraphy inhabited my imagery with ease, much more ease than my earlier work based on the poems of Hugh MacDiarmid. The 'Wall Portal' was my first such attempt, followed by the Machair series. When music and poetry come together, as in The Waterboys, 'Stolen Child' after W. B. Yeats or Martyn Bennet's tribute to Somhairle MacGill-eain 'Hallaig' (Music page) I find it much easier to let go the impulse to incorporate the written word. Meg Bateman's 'Naomh' remains my one true success in combining word and image.
Perhaps this success is due to a combination of working with the poet and also a personal and deeply felt affinity for the subject matter. I also feel the 'The Stolen Child' was another such success. The lack of the written word and the wholehearted concern with the underlying sense of surreal, sadness and loss contributed towards this.
During lockdown I continued to work towards a long cherished project, Somhairle MacGill-eainn, 'Coin is Madaidhean - Allaidh' (Sorley MacLean's 'Dogs and Wolves'). To date all I have achieved are notes and sketches (see below). I suspect that this might well be a massive undertaking involving some form of photo-silk screening. This remains for the future.