Art, Environment, nature, New Work, painting

The Song of The Earth

I have been listening to Der Abschied, the closing part of The Song of The Earth by Gustav Mahler. The songs in Song of The Earth, a composition for two voices and an orchestra, are based on several poems written by poets of the Tang dynasty.

This particular version was conducted in 1952 by his friend Bruno Walter. It is a moving piece made all the more powerful once you learn that Mahler didn’t live to hear the work performed.

Kathleen Ferrier’s contralto voice is incredible and sadly she was gravely ill with cancer when she performed it for this recording. She died the following year aged just 41.

Tragic, beautiful and addictive listening!

The Song of The Earth (July 5th 2021), oil pastel and chalk on paper by Joy C Martindale

This piece continues my project responding to recordings of The Song of the Earth.  For this work I listened to a version conducted by Long Yu which pairs Mahler’s symphonic song-cycle with contemporary compositions by Xiaogang Ye that draw on the texts in the original Mandarin.

The title ‘Everywhere the Lovely Earth Blossoms Forth’ is a line from Mahler’s version of The Song of the Earth. The songs talk of the beauty of the earth but the words today take on a new troubling poignancy as our awareness grows of the destruction the human race  has unleashed on the natural world. 

Man-made climate change threatens us all with developing countries and the poor currently facing the greatest threat. How can we work together to create a fairer and more sustainable future? Art can provide new and unexpected routes into reflective dialogue that brings the heart and soul into engagement with tackling climate change issues. 

“There’s a guy I worked with in Canada who once told me important issues first go into your head and that’s interesting and fascinating. Then they go into your heart and that’s exciting, then into your gut, which is really worrying, and then into your soul.

“When it goes into your soul, you can’t get it out, no matter how much you try, and you have to do something about it.

“I think that’s what happened to me with climate change. First of all, I found it fascinating, then it was all very exciting to try and understand and see where it was happening, then it was really troubling. Now it’s in my soul and that’s what gets me out of bed every day.”

Dr Gabrielle Walker 

https://thewaterline.global/news/climate-change-is-in-my-head-heart-and-soul-we-have-to-do-a-whole-lot-more/

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Art, Article, Discussion, Joy C Martindale, Mental Health, New Work, painting

Happy International Day of Happiness to Everyone

Slightly Happier (Dec 2020), gouache and acrylic on paper, by Joy C Martindale, 41 x 31cm

When was the last time you felt happy?

My children have just discovered The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and I felt happy when I laughed myself into hysterics at a funny scene. Does that count?

I felt happy yesterday when I was on a train reading a magazine. I was reading that visitors to the artist Lala Rukh’s house were greeted by ‘two unmistakable seasonal smells: in winter, log-fire smoke and in summer, jasmine and lime wafting in from the garden.’* One sentence was enough to transport me there. The feeling of happiness that came with it was strong but momentary, does that count? In this strange and unsettling time, which has impacted on every aspect of our lives, I think it has to.

I think it is possible to equate positive emotional experiences – those little, everyday mood boosting moments that bring us joy – to happiness. Before the pandemic, perhaps happiness was something that shined with promise on the horizon; a state of being that could be obtained if we worked hard enough for it, but now when the future has become an unknown quantity and our focus has been pulled up short, it is our day-to-day experiences that we feel most acutely attuned to. With this has come a greater awareness of our moods and the fleetingness of them. Think of all the moods you can be in all in one day – an anxious mood, a sad mood, an angry mood, a calm mood, a dreamy mood and so on. Something positive that can come out of this imposed day-to-day existence could be the realisation that if we can let go of the pursuit of happiness as a panacea, we may become more open to acknowledging those nuggets of happiness we are already experiencing in our everyday lives.

So, even when we might feel sad, lonely, anxious or unhappy as we have probably all felt at some point during the pandemic, it is possible to experience happiness as part of these emotional experiences too.

More reading: Dr Daisy Fancourt and Research Fellow Alex Bradbury (UCL Epidemiology & Health) have tracked the everyday experiences of 70,000 people asking them each week how they are feeling.  

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2021/feb/analysis-we-asked-70000-people-how-coronavirus-affected-them

*Quote taken from Lives of the Artists: Lala Rukh By Mariah Lookman. Tate Etc Issue 48, P108

Scott Mills ‘This is Scott Mills on R1. How much do you love this?’ (talking about Jerusalem (Remix) by Master KG) 

Chris Stark: ‘Oh mate, every time this comes on, I feel slightly happier. And that’s a good thing.”

Scott Mills: ‘That’s kind of important right now.’ (04/11/2020)

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