When I was very young, I read a poem that stuck with me for the rest of my life: ‘There is an Instant’. It was written by Guillermo Valencia, a 19th century Colombian poet and statesman. The poem moved me deeply and stayed in my mind ever since. When I started working for this exhibition, having originally chosen the theme ‘Old Barns’ the poem resurfaced from my memories in a very loud way. The feeling of nostalgia took over, the feeling of what was and is not anymore, but the spirit of what was we can still feel in there.
Looking for instance through the doors of an old and dilapidated barn, you sense the presence of others who have been in it before you, the generations of families who cherished, worked and stored so many hopes in it. These are nostalgic places imprinted with stories and memories we never had but can sense.
This is to me the strength and symbolism of barns, their tangible link to the past. ’There is an Instant’ which talks about the moment when the sun sets, is a metaphor to that end of life, a mission accomplished in a beautiful and generous way, full of nostalgia and filled with feelings of what is about to end. For only a few minutes we can enjoy the sunset but the spiritual effects of admiring it persists for long, just like our memories. I see in both a crumbling barn and a sunset the stillness of existence, a silence that invades the moment. They both symbolize the completion of a journey, the successful completion of a day’s work…
There is beauty in decay! I see so much ART in old pieces of wood in old barns with their raw and worn-out look. They have a soul that seems to want to tell stories of gone by times. They remind us they were built with great sweat and affection, reflecting the dreams and heritage of their builders. I wonder at the hard but honorable work that went on inside what is now a sagging ruin.
‘Melancholic Stillness’ is my painted version of the Chicamocha Canyon (Santander, Colombia), which in the native Guane language means ‘Silver Thread under the Moon Light’.
‘A LOFT WITH NO HAY’
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