“THE TREES WAVE, THE CLOUDS PASS”
Virginia Woolf on Life, Art and buying suspenders
From letters, diaries and novels
“Where to begin? That was the question….one line placed on the canvas committed her to innumerable risks…as the waves shape themselves symmetrically from the cliff top, but to the swimmer among them are divided by steep gulfs and foaming crests….still the risks must be run, the mark made….”
The above, from Woolf’s novel TO THE LIGHTHOUSE, belongs to her vivid description of the feelings of a young woman artist, faced by a blank canvas.
Virginia Woolf herself never painted or drew. But closeness to her artist sister Vanessa Bell, (“Do you think we have the same pair of eyes, only different spectacles?”) and to art critic Roger Fry, stimulate her passionate curiosity. In letters to Fry, and to the French artist Jacques Raverat, she tries to compare writing and painting. Perhaps, in a way, we can think of Woolf’s writings as a bridge between the worlds of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and the literary Anglo-Saxon world.
Woolf feels that what she does best as a writer is to recreate visual scenes. She retains joyful memories of childhood summers in St. Ives, Cornwall. “…. of hearing the waves breaking, one, two, one, two, and seeing a splash of water over the beach, and hearing it breaking behind a yellow blind. …It is of lying and hearing this splash and seeing this light, and feeling…. the purest ecstasy I can conceive.”
Elsewhere, her entertainingly frank confessions (“I hate buying clothes. In particular, I hate buying suspenders…”) offer refreshing insights into the tribulations of being a woman in London in the 1920’s.
With paintings by Vanessa Bell, and by Spencer Gore, Robert Bevan and other members of the Camden Group of Artists.
THERE IS ALSO A VERSION OF THIS PERFORMED TALK WITHOUT IMAGES, ONLY A SCRIPT.
“A superlative talk…I was riveted throughout…..and compliment you on the elegantly constructive development.. I could have listened for hours” (Gravesend Arts Society)
”An excellent public performer, able to deal with a complex topic in an engaging and lively way” (Walton and Hersham Arts Society)
”We appreciate your research, vision and presentation skills” (Fife Arts Society)