Longing and Art
Within the many conversations I have had with people I am curious how differently we all view the world around us. Sometimes people comment my images as peaceful, soft, serene, abstract... sometimes I hear that they have melancholy, silence, solitude or loneliness and for some, perhaps sadness in them. I appreciate feedback like this tremendously as it can spark the most meaningful conversations. To open up my perspective I sometimes remind myself of these words and try to look at my own images through others’ eyes. But though I fail to see sadness or melancholy, I do see longing.
"Vaasa" © Päivi Maria Wells
I have often wondered why do I have such a deep need to create images and I think a big part of this is in my sense of longing. For much of my life I have struggled with the idea of belonging. Since young age and even in most familiar surroundings, I often had a feeling of being an outsider, of not belonging. This conflict between inner and outer worlds created a deep rooted restlessness and an urge to seek an inner purpose in life from early on. Later in life I have come to realise that this sense of longing will always be with me no matter where I am. I fully acknowledge it now and rather than being a burden I now accept it as a fuel for my curiosity and a driving force in much of my life, especially that of creativity.
"Anchored - Ankkurissa" , © Päivi Maria Wells
Photography is my creative outlet and a way for me to document my inner experience. For me this is a natural way of being in this world and a way to communicate how I see the world around me. It is the sense of longing that has forced me to push my boundaries with my camera, to push myself out to the world and into myself. To create what wants to be created. And what I have found on the way is something ever so precious. There is nothing more satisfying than quietly and slowly observing the unfolding of life around us. Sometimes blurry, noisy and in constant motion, other times silent and clear. Photographs taken during these times are mere by-products of this inner experience. It is in these experiences where my mind is no longer lingering on thoughts and I am fully focused and present in here and now, that I finally feel a deep sense of belonging. It is here where I draw a sacred circle.
One of my favourite writers and the author of "The Way We Are - Dark tales from the Himalayas" Yoshay Lama Lindblom have said that even though we may not all be spiritual, it seems that we all seek enlightenment. The only difference is that some seek it intellectually, some romantically, some through familial fulfilment and some through creativity. I find a great wisdom in her words. That we are all seekers in our own special ways.
"Somewhere Around Midnight" , © Päivi Maria Wells
"Northern Wind- Pohjoistuuli", © Päivi Maria Wells
There is a place in the heart that
will never be filled
and even during the best moments
and greatest times
we will know it
we will know it
there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled
and we will wait
in that space
No Help for That by Charles Bukowski
"One Evening by the Sea", © Päivi Maria Wells
More of Yoshay's words can be found here:
Keywords: by the water, charles bukowski, intentional camera motion, long exposure, longing, melancholy, photography, sense of belonging, solitude, yoshay lama lindblom
Longing and being an outsider are mutually exclusive.
As your work so beautifully demonstrates, longing is an inherent part of a romantic disposition. And I don't mean Hallmark. It is a profound state and a hard one to express. It is often linked to nature.
Being an outsider. I don't see how it is possible to have an artistic sensibility and not be on the outside, to varying degrees. Artists are lead by visual acuity, they observe, from the outside. No more so than a photographer, particularly one who understands how to link technical skills with artistic drive so as to express a deeper set of personal and emotional meanings.
As you suggest, if you didn't have longing, and also, an awareness of yourself as an outsider, you wouldn't be half the artist you are. In fact you wouldn't be one at all, and your audience would be the poorer for it.
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