Tuesday, 15 May 2012

In the Shadows

Every now and then I rediscover an appreciation for an art and then like a maniac I indulge in it for a condensed period of time and long to be able to create the same, but of course I can't do everything! I do however need to be constantly inspired seeing as though what I do involves a lot of imagination. I am incredibly visual and things not only stick better in my mind if I see them, but also I write from my photographic memory and it's the little details in each image that spur on a brand new idea.

Image from We Heart it
I once read in a very helpful book that when we write, we must write with our most honest voice and explore our 'shadow selves', the darker parts of ourselves. It is important to question and pick through what it is that makes us, us. Things have much bigger impact if they are somewhat curious or bizarre and for myself in particular, I admire things that are beautifully tragic, or tragically beautiful, however you wish to see it.

I've done a lot of this 'shadow self' thinking and I've often discussed with friends how we sometimes love to feel odd, different, a little dark (in a Tim Burton way) and sometimes even melancholic. I'm a sucker for putting on a sad song if I already feel sad, I'll wallow I admit - but how else can I describe that emotion if I don't explore it and really feel it?

Image from the movie Sleepy Hollow

But more to the point, dark things can be poetic and beautiful or at least on the surface, visually stimuating. I pick myself apart a lot, especially in this blog, if you hadn't noticed already!

I'm working on a collection of poems at the moment (amongst a tirade of other projects) and I promised myself I would write it with that voice, delivering the dark and the beautiful that rise up within like a serpent in those silent moments. Each poem will be set in 'darkness' or night time to be more accurate, with all its unsettling connotations as well as its magical ones.

My favourite show as a little girl wasn't My Little Pony but Knightmare and my favourite Roald Dahl story was The Witches. My favourite movies were films like Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and The Lost Boys and at five years old my ears pricked up the first time I heard the song "Poison" by Alice Cooper. But of course, I don't just have a gothic's heart and managed to come into adulthood quite tame despite my querky interests as a child. I complimented them with the fluffier things in life like Disney, Sylvanian Families and Motown music (the rocker in me won the battle in the end) - the 'light' side of ourselves is just as important. 

So to make this blend work in a creative way, I sift through art until it strikes that chord and I think 'that's my style'...this week, two things have popped up: shadow theatre and ballet. I love shadow theatre and it's an art that I didn't really take heed of until I came across an amazing performance in Exeter. It was winter and it was late at night and on the side of the old town church, a dark fable was shown from a projector, the giant shadows twisted and danced upon this perfectly chosen building and I was enamoured. I unfortunately didn't get the name of that performance or the company that displayed it but I did find this shadow animation on YouTube which gives you the idea of shadow theatre if you've never paid attention to this sort of thing before. It's pretty and enchanting and I admire just how much work and creativity has to go into something like this.

The second thing that had me "ooh" and "ahhh" was Angelin Preljocaj's ballet interpretation of Snow White which showed last week at Saddler's Well Theatre in London. This darker, sexier version is something I really want to see and could be inspiring on so many levels. I'm absolutely gutted that I wasn't home to see it but I'm hoping it'll come back sometime in the not so distant future.

Snow White Ballet Performance

 “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

― Carl Jung

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