Monday, February 19, 2007

could he make a picture and get them all to fit?

In my world there are a few main types of art.
-That which tells a story
-That which allows you to tell the story
-That which is the story.

In visual art I totally reject the claim that abstract art is not art. That kind of claim is ignorant. Sorry, if you are one of those people who believe abstract to be "lesser than", but you're narrow minded. Abstract art allows the viewer to tell the story, to re-interpret, to invent and to dive in. Abstract art is not always my cup of tea, but it's important.

That art which tells the story is different to abstract. The art which tells a story has it all planned out from the word go - it's a straight forward narrative, and there is certainly merit in that. It might be a historical account, a dance or a slice of the madness within. It allows the viewer to sit back and ponder the life and times of what was happening when the art was created. It's also important.

Then there is that which is the story itself. This is the piece of elusive art that captures by controversy, or by titillation, or because it's simply famous - and fame breeds fame. Also important, people respond to it.

Music is the same. Sometimes I don't want the lyrics, because I want to make my own story up, and sometimes I just want a bit of fame-whore pop to get senseless too - but sometimes I want to be told a story. For me there are a few wonderful storytellers through music out there - Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell... so many more. But in recent years Paul Kelly has really captured my imagination. He reminds me of being young and having a story read to me. He reminds me of being a bit bewildered and excited by something which takes me outside of myself and also for reminding me of the things that are intrinsically me, maybe just because I'm Australian. When I think of Paul Kelly, I think of Melbourne and her stories nestled in the spaces between buildings and drifting along the power lines of the outer suburbs and then outwards again into the wide deserted landscape of the 'country'.

When it was Australia day I wanted to write about how being Australian is really only ever defined by the stories we tell. I got caught up in other things - but I really believe that our stories are all we really ever have. It's what this country was founded upon - Dreamtime stories and dances and myths and song and...art. Then stories of settlers and their struggle with the land and the stories of immigrants and their young families, of exclusion, sadness, wisdom and triumph. Now, the stories we tell are the ones which feature everyday maladies of being young, or old, in love or ...just reality.

That's what I like about Paul Kelly. He has a story to tell - and it feels real. This song is one of my favourites. I always wonder what happens next...

To Her Door - Paul Kelly

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