30th March

It’s all a matter of perception… isn’t it? (Part 2)

If you read last week’s blog post, you’ll be expecting this… if you didn’t, ‘SURPRISE!’  Last week me and fellow tweep, Angie Shawcroft, painted a scene at Chatsworth, with surprisingly different results.  This got me thinking about the whole idea of perception and style, and what leads us to interpret the same place or scene differently.

Arch leading to Peterborough Cathedral

Last Friday, I coerced another fellow tweep, Dean Harkness, @Deanus, into taking this a step further with regard to writing.  We met in Peterborough on a fantastically sunny day, most of which was spent chatting and lounging around getting take-outs!  However, we did both do some wordy stuff.  Our scene was outside the cathedral on an area of grass bordered by ancient houses in buff coloured stone.

I suggested to Dean that we both write

Dean's piece of writing

something – a poem or a piece of writing – about the setting – no other rules, just as it was, as we saw it.  Dean had actually got wind of these blog posts and had anticipated me asking him to draw something, as he is, first and foremost an artist, illustrator, book cover designer and sculptor… (a very talented man, as you will gather), but, he does like to write and has written some amazing poems.  Fortunately, he’d had the foresight to bring a pad and pen, as well as his drawing gear.  The following is Dean’s piece of writing.

Peterborough Cathedral ~ Dean Harkness

We are lucky on days like these. Summer makes an early visit. Smiles go  from budding to full bloom. We connect through the ether, travel, and connect again. Now here – we sit – no home to either of us but we are at home. Sharing  this space – this sun-soaked patch of ground at the base of a tower of honey coloured stone to honour the busiest bee of all – with those whose home it is. A  shoal of toddlers chitter and chatter while they form an un-orderly cue and depart. Friends so pleased to be here, sit on coats, giggle, gossip, and make arrangements to do less… soon!

And here’s my interpretation of the same scene:

Peterborough Cathedral ~ Abi Burlingham

Musing under honey coloured stone,
a buttermilk kiss,
a polka dot dress,
arch within an arch within an arch
opens on to a sun-drenched March
where shadows cast by buildings
older than time
slice up the green.

Hark, there is a Deanus
whose thoughts swim
beneath the European accent
of the polka dot dress.

They gather, chatter,
while pigeons peck and rock their heads
on silver-sheen necks
and a cocophany of school kids burst forth
from this once sacred space.

There is less of it now –
the feeling,
and Dickensian dramas fill the gaps,
the horse and cart,
the old man standing in the shadows.

And yet,
they gather here
in this space
under the arches and spires that pierce the sky,
and soak up the afternoon sun.

My piece of writing

These pieces are reproduced as they were written. I guess we spent about fifteen / twenty minutes on them – not long at all.  We both found it really interesting that, although Dean chose to write in prose, and mine took the form of a poem, there were similarities in our peceptions of colour, of the gathering of other people, out for the sun, and of the gaggle of school children.  We even both made reference to each other, which I thought was intriguing!

It was a fab day and a fab experiment.  Thanks, Dean, for obliging and for writing such a lovely piece!  If you’d like to see more of Dean’s work, here’s a link to his website and to his blog.

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14 responses to “30th March

  1. Not sure how I missed your last post. Anyway, I sometimes wonder (not in a weird way) what it would be like to see the world through someone else’s eyes – do we all smell the same smells and taste the same tastes? – and I suppose this is a similar thing really. What a good job we’re all different, otherwise the world would be a very dull place. Oh, and I love the drawings from the previous post. I always wanted to be able to draw but am hopeless at it . . .

  2. Ah, thanks Dan – re the drawings bit! Yes, always fascinates me that we look at the world through our own stained glass window. I actually think it’s rare for people to see things in a really similar way – more often than not, our observations show our differences I think. Thanks for the comment Dan!

  3. I love these collaborations, Abi – they remind me of the ‘artist’s date’, as described by Julia Cameron in ‘The Artist’s Way,’ but with added companionship – two artists briefly travelling the way together. More please!

  4. Thanks for this Abi & Dean. I like that you did this just for the joy of it without any other purpose other than a see-what-would-happen. (I confess to getting just a little excited when I saw you’d include a rhyme in your piece)

  5. Ha ha! Thanks Martin! I sneak hidden rhymes into my poems all over the place – this one, not so hidden, crept in without me even thinking about it – good job it wasn’t April ;o)

  6. I was going to leave a comment almost identical to Dan’s! This exercise appealed to me because I too always wonder (and exactly, Dan, not in a weird way) what it would be like to see/feel/taste/smell the world through someone else. It’s one of the things that drives me to write and experiment with different POVs. So fascinating, so interesting to get the glimpse into two different POVs of the same scene. Very cool. And an amazing place to visit, too!

  7. Hi Julia! Thanks, and yes, I get what both you and Dan mean, and I agree, one of the joys of writing from different people’s POVs is that we get to examine this and explore the possibilities… oh, I do love my job ;o)

  8. What Dan and Julia said! I probably waffled on about this in my comment last week, but we do an exercise in my writing group where we all write on the same topic for 5 minutes, and it’s amazing to hear how different everyone’s takes on it are.

    I love both your pieces, but my favourite line has to be yours, Abi, about the polka dot dress. So vivid. Love the photo too! Sounds like you had a fab day.

  9. Ah, thanks Em. Yes, she was lovely – the girl with the polka dot dress – and really stood out and captured my imagination. Glad you like the pic – that was one of those unplanned ones where the lad suddenly appeared and only just snapped him in time!

  10. Hiya Abi!

    I’ve actually posted a blog about our day out too now, but this is so much better. You’ve captured more of the day, and your poem captures more of the sense of the day too! You’re a writer; I’m a word annoyer 😉

    Love all the comments. And the picture of the guy on the bike is just right.

    Looking forward to the next experiment… and can’t wait to see what form it takes!

    I may have to get my own back on you for springing the writing exercise on me. Not sure how though…. maybe drawing and painting again, but instead of two different drawings we could see what happens when two people work on one.

    Thanks again for the gorgeous day, and for everything. There is now a sparkling piece of crystal on the very sunny kitchen windowsill above the sink. I spend a lot of my time there, as it’s the only window with a view, and as you know, I love being in the kitchen.

  11. Ah! That’s lovely. Really glad you like the post – I love your piece of writing equally! Am now getting excited about the challenge you have in store for me… working on the same pic sounds intriguing! So glad you’ve found a nice spot for the fluorite too… it can twinkle while you bake 🙂

  12. I thought both pieces of writing were beautiful and even though Dean’s was written in prose style it was a piece of poetry. I can remember having a heated discussion with friends at school about how we probably perceive colours differently and they said that red is red and didn’t understand my point. I could have referred them to your blog if it were now. It’s an intriguing issue.

    Can’t help but say that had you met a few days later the scene would have been so very different, snow, hail, driving winds. Glad you planned it right 🙂

  13. Thanks Ros, blimey, we did pick the right day then! Perception of colour – yes, you are so right. We do see colour differently. A good example of this is between mine and my mum’s perception of colour – we see tones quite differently – blue/grey, green/brown – of course, I think my mum’s is wrong, she thinks mine is! With perception though, we are both right, which was your point exactly!

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