Thursday, 1 March 2012

Theme Day - Singing the body electric


Across the cacophony of sound, I bellowed to Jane, 'You look so much more at ease in these surroundings than in an art gallery'. She beamed, dabbing one of her myriad of brushes into the splodges of colour on the palette over her shoulder, 'I'm a worker!' she shot back, returning to her canvas, the shroud of concentration masking her face yet again.

I winced at my own feebleness. How could she do it? The noise was intolerable, the heat suffocating, and the dust incapacitating. But she revelled in it. It set her on fire, like no other workplace.


Maybe, Walt Whitman had been onto something back in 1855, with his paen to the electrifying nature of a calling:

I sing the body electric!
The expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists,
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist and knees, dress does not hide him,
The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.

The bending forward and backward of rowers in row-boats, the horse-man in his saddle,
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open dinner kettles, and their wives waiting,
The female soothing a child, the farmer's daughter in the garden or cow-yard,
The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell strikes suddenly again, and the listening on the alert,
The natural, perfect, varied attitudes, the bent head, the curv'd neck and the counting;
Such like I love, I loosen myself, pass freely, am at the mother's breast with the little child,
Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march in line with the firemen, and pause, listen, count.

Today is the first of the month and Theme Day for the City Daily Photo Blog community. Click here to visit participants from around the world
This is my contribution to the Signs Signs community.

32 comments:

brattcat said...

you are always one of the first to kick off theme day and you always set such a high standard for the rest of us.

Lesley said...

I'm afraid I would need a little more quiet to be creative!

Jim said...

Good one for theme day.

Photo Cache said...

i echo lesley's sentiments.

SIGNS

Julie said...

Yes, me too, although I am not particularly creative. However, Jane thrives on it. She was totally engaged. I loved seeing the change in her, from her gallery persona.

Pat said...

Wow - so impressive! To work in that noise AND to accomplish a piece of art!

JM said...

What a great entry on the theme. All shots are very... powerful! :-) Well done, Julie.

Carole M. said...

were you present for the photographic experience or ...? Very profound somehow; yes seemingly not the calming environment but certainly added fire to the belly of the artist who needed to absorb the surrounds for real rather than from an image. I might imagine that offers a whole different perspective to her art. Great photos!

cara said...

Fab photos. So much to look at - and I like her paintings very much.

Emma Dalloway said...

Sometimes I listen to the quite patter of other keyboards rising above the office partitions. Im sure what we are doing is all affecting the world in some little way, but it seems so less tangible than makin' stuff in a steel-smelling factory.

I like your picture of the circuit boards. The factory workers must think you and your painter friend are insane. It all seems so weirdly romantic from the outside....

NixBlog said...

Great photos, Julie. The artists in the factor are quite amazing as is their artwork!

RedPat said...

Wow - what a setting!

Ann said...

Her work is definitely impressive. I wasn't feeling up to it last Sunday. Must keep an eye out if they do it again, looks good. Wonder if its an annual thing.

Julie said...

This is their second 'annual' thing and they are hoping to keep it going. It is an impressive sight even without the open day. I will nip down there again to stock up the archives.

Jilly said...

First I totally agree with Brattcat. This is a stunning post on every level. We have a photography exhibition in Gorbio at the moment where the guy photographs people on worksites, motorways, roadworks and at night. He is actually a motorway worker himself and a v good photographer. But this is something else - the artist - I agree - how hard that must be but obviously she is totally inspired. I didn't know the poem so thanks for that too. And superb photography, Julie x

Peter said...

Love the industrial strength setting. Where was the workshop?

Mark said...

Fantastic theme day post Julie.

Chrissy Brand said...

A truly wonderful theme day post- great photos from first to last and poetry too-many thanks Julie.

Chrissy from Manchester: a photo a day at Mancunian Wave

Luna Miranda said...

impressive! what an interesting venue to paint. i guess artists can work anywhere as long as they are inspired.:p

Lachezar said...

Great story and photographs as always from you!

PerthDailyPhoto said...

The first image is very 'high voltage' Julie! You can see by the quality of her paintings that Jane is totally inspired by her surroundings. Brilliant images for today (and always), I see what you mean by the 'no show' on the theme portal, wonder why that happens, oh well maybe next time it'll sort itself out!!

Julie said...

I am not sure why it happens, Grace. I get it every time now, and have done so for the better part of a year. I just work around it.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Industrial stuff is so energising I think. Am starting a new series on Trainworks tomorrow at SW coz I like engines too.

I especially like your top shot however, because it is such an ordinary scene given presence. And the poem too.

VP said...

Excellent images and post, 'I Sing the Body Electric' was for me an album by Weather Report and I was barely aware of the Whitman's original poem...

Jane Bennett Artist said...

Thank you Julie! Impressive photography and you've included one of my favourite poems! I've finally posted about the Open day http://janebennettartist.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/slow-return-from-fire.html.
I've now nearly finished the large canvas of Chris quenching a chisel which was next to my easel.Painting here is exhausting and needs as much physical strength as artistic ability, but I wouldn't swap it for a pristine white walled studio!

Halcyon said...

Electricity is something to be respected. Love these shots of the people working!

Clytie said...

These are amazing and beautiful shots, Julie! I am amazed that the artist was so at home there ... What amazing art (hers AND yours)!!!

EG Wow said...

Excellent choice for Theme Day.

Steffe said...

A fine series here.

cieldequimper said...

I think I can hear the noise!

diane b said...

Her work is amazing.

diane b said...

Her work is amazing.