Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Stripped bare.

I suppose the only time the "real" me emerges is when I am about to step into the shower; when all my clothes, jewelry, "statements" are removed, then surely we are shown without any pretensions whatsoever. That person is the me before I attempt to create a persona for myself - in Jungian terms to present to the world the character I wish to be seen as.

For what a lot our clothes say about us If I see a woman in a long, flowing dress, long dangly earrings, long, flowing hair and ethnic jewelry, it says "I am a creative free spirit" to me. And a man in a battered hat, cords and an old fleece (particularly if he is also sporting a beard) says,"I am my own man and I don't care what I look like." The woman with shoulder pads, tight fitting suit and high heels - "Don't mess with me!" At least that is the image they are trying to project.

The fact seems to be that without our clothes were are uncomfortable (yes, I know most of us live in places where the weather is wrong for nudity), could it be because the real person is one we don't necessarily want to show to the world?

These thoughts occurred to me on the drive back from Tesco this afternoon. You never know what is going on in the minds of drivers who pass you on the road! They were prompted by a David Hockney painting would you believe.

"Bigger Trees near Warter" is a Hockney painting which measures a staggering fifteen feet by forty feet and he has given the painting to Tate Britain, where it goes on show today. Painted on fifty separate pieces of canvas it occupies three walls in the gallery.

How does this relate to my earlier thinking? Well all the trees in the picture are bare. The artist had to rush to finish the painting (in three weeks) so that he caught all the branches before they came into leaf. In fact he raced against the onset of Spring in 2007 because he did not want the emerging leaves to hide the beauty and detail of the branches.

It is very beautiful - each and every branch and twig stands out in such detail.

Then I thought how foliage similarly defines a tree and hides its imperfections. It is only in Winter that one really sees the shape, the beauty, the flaws and the secrets. I would never have seen the long tailed tits nest which you see above had it been on a leafy tree - only when all the leaves are gone and the tree is stripped bare is all revealed.

The farmer searched long and hard for the nest of our resident carrion crow (don't ask why, tis best not to know), never found it until all the leaves fell and the crows were long gone - there it sat in the topmost bough of an alder in the plantain.

There is such beauty in a bare tree and Hockney has captured that in the same way that great artists through the ages have captured the beauty of the naked human body.

There may well be somewhere on the web where you can view this picture - if not then like me you will have to hope that one day you can see it in Tate Britain. It is flanked by two identical photographic images of the same scene - and I dearly wish to see it - fully clothed, I might add.

Don't think this post is necessarily in praise of nudity. Somebody once said that after forty everything begins to move South - and I am sure they are right - so I will keep my persona if you don't mind - although I do feel it is sad that we are mostly reticent about removing our clothes.

##Don't read the title as "water", I haven't spelt it wrongly - Warter is obviously the place where the trees are.


Crafty Green Poet said...

what a lovely nest! I love seeing the trees bare almost as much as I love them in their autumn foliage...

Yes i think clothes play a huge role in people's construction of an image and persona

Crafty Green Poet said...

what a lovely nest! I love seeing the trees bare almost as much as I love them in their autumn foliage...

Yes i think clothes play a huge role in people's construction of an image and persona

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Poignant painting of realizing we don't need all the trappings to define who we are. That by ourselves, we are most telling. (I do like a topless beach, however. One of my favorite things about Europe and the Caribbean. Even a saggy body.

Studio Sylvia said...

One can find a view of the painting here http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/nov/23/hockney-tate-britain-trees
I have admired his work. One really has to look deep to find the core of many elements in nature. The joy is in the reveal. We look at the ocean and see blue but if we really observe there are the lights and darks,blues, greens, aqua, the swirls of froth, the air bubbles as the waves hit the shore etc. Looking at the trees, is as you write, a revelation when the leaves drop. Me? well, once all the trappings are removed, there is just me, no jewellery, no clothes to hide the imperfections. Nope, that's a sight that is definitely not shared with the wider community and I don't know about the joy when I look in the mirror at this time. However I do like the core of me, the artist within trying, to have a voice. That is my joy. Hopefully that will be fully revealed in time. Which in turn, makes me wonder about the core of others. Ponder what it is, the core, that others around me, have wrapped securely. Being honest, sometimes in the hustle and bustle, i don't delve and only look at the trappings. Mmm!

jinksy said...

Life classes at art school stopped me from ever seeing clothes in quite the same way - it's always the body underneath that gives character to the overall picture.

jinksy said...


Try this site, folks, for starters! You can see lots of views of the painting by hovering over various smaller pictures.

Leenie said...

Thanks for the note on the painting. I found it on the web and it is amazing. I love Hockney's quote, "There are no dull days, only dull people." He sounds like a fascinating person.

The crows' nest is a beauty too. Crows are such clever birds. And they don't seem to worry about clothing. ;)

Arija said...

Weaver dear, I gave up dressing to impress or match the occasion or the dinner setting I had created long long ago. Now I wear what I am comfortable in and if others don't like it, that is their problem. Makeup went out the window some 20 years ago, I prefer to be who I am and enjoy the tme of life I am in. For a long time I have fund that a smile from the heart is the most becoming wardrobe in any situation.
Luckily I live where it is possible to give my skin a good airing so I take it into the garden to give it a dose of sunshine or wind or a bracing freezing cold. We are sielded from the grandchildren whose artistic senses it may offend by a row of trees and between the Prof nd I, there is no pretence.
I feel very comfortable in my own skin and wish for no one elses.

Winter trees have always been my favourites, it is only when the cloth of gold is shed, that we see the soul.

steven said...

weaver - perhaps it's his accent . . . perhaps it's that he's a yorkshireman . . . . perhaps it's that he's an extraordinarily talented person. but i'm so excited by your description of the piece of work he's offered up to the tate.
that's not to say that your own stripping bare of yourself isn't equally exciting (and i'm not being base there either) as i often wonder what sense people have of us as we blog and present something of who we are but not all. have a lovely day in the dale. steven

Raph G. Neckmann said...

What a very interesting progression of thoughts - and on a drive from the supermarket!

It made me ponder about why I wear my pinstripe suits - and I think it's to constantly remind me of escaping from accountancy and relishing the freedom of our family business. (And I reckon they look quite stylish too!)

I saw a fascinating programme about Hockney a few months ago, this may be the painting he was working on, out in the countryside. Wonderful!

I love the winter landscape too - one not only sees the shapes of each tree, but also the lie of the land beyond, with its dips and hollows, which is wonderful to look at and to paint.

Cloudia said...

I like living in Hawaii because clothes are less important.

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

dinesh chandra said...

Hi the lovely nest but in a post you writing about the huge role of a human being,s construction of amges in a beutiful way such the potrait of a nacked human body, but it is in a manner not depicted the nuidity in it.


Dinesh Chandra

Heather said...

What a treat to be able to see that beautiful nest after the leaves had all fallen from the tree. I think trees are wonderful to look at all year round - each season has special merits. I can't envisage living in surroundings where there are no trees. I must try to get a sight of that painting - it sounds amazing.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Well, you certainly "mix it up" around here don't you?! I've had a look at the picture and like it very much. I see you've been given a few web addresses already but my is:

Nudity seems to be something that is always more suitable for someone else. Our Victorian forebears managed to give us a prudish nature (despite what might have happened behind the scenes), which is as much to blame as the climate I think!

Golden West said...

Your photograph is striking. I love the pale pink of some branches and how the nest is shaped almost like a heart.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Love that Hockney quote (thanks Leenie) - there are no dull days only dull people! Food for thought there.
Do read Arija's comment - it gladdens my heart to read such a thing - thanks to you all for your comments - as usual you have made a fine discussion.

Rachel Fox said...

It's a bit like the quote that goes something like 'there's no such thing as bad weather - only in appropriate clothing'. Attributed to lots of different people I think.