Friday, March 07, 2008

"Sparing Some Thoughts For Endings"

Tonight, painter Ben Johnson puts finishing touches to his Liverpool Cityscape in the Walker Art Gallery.
On Tuesday, a friend and I watched his progress and listened as he told how his masterpiece was created; it's an incredible story and a fabulous one for Liverpool.

Johnson's been working on the painting for three years, originally in London, now in Liverpool. He's used 670 different colours, 25 separate stencils for each group of buildings, taken 3,500 photos, had 40,000 visitors, and one building took over 3 months to draw...
Johnson describes himself as a public servant, lucky to indulge in his craft; this indulgence, he says, is only due to support given by others and he's clearly delighted and grateful.
And in his painting, no building stands in or casts shadows; this is because he believes we, like his buildings, all have the right to be seen as clearly, as vividly as possible...
The end of the painting of Cityscape is in sight; Johnson's feelings must be mixed....because good or bad, endings evoke response , endings breed varied emotions...

On a totally different scale ( but nevertheless, important to me) ....I have an "ending" myself next week. I'm"retiring" from my two creative writing classes after almost 7 years; I shall miss them HUGELY...not just the planning, researching, the writers, the writing...not just the buzzzzz of designing workshop exercises ( which I've particularly loved), or the recording of an entire class's work for the radio, or the making of an anthology, or the merry lunches at Christmas.....or watching a scientist smile as he creates a shady character or a nurse write dialogue that provokes and stirs and certainly thrills us:

BUT I shall miss 34 lovely folk who have gelled and taken delight in each other's work and company... There's the men: Liverpudlian Ron, Irish Neil, Mike the Jazz man, Welsh Desmond and more, all of 'em..and the women: the Lizs's, (Liz, who ran the NY Marathon, Liz, who paints in colours as bright as her words, Liz, who decades ago, ran a theatre in Sydney ...lots of Lizs) Sylvia and Kay, who ALWAYS do homework, Gill who slays us with sly-dry humour, Jean who creates illusions and images with her truly magic writing, Joan with her voice like rich gold honey, Derek whose analysis always goes the extra intriguing distance, journalist Elizabeth, who once worked with Stevie Smith....and then there's Anthea, Lucy, Ann, Marg, and those who've been and gone, like Deb who went to Turkey and Annie who had 4 sons and made Birthday Cakes and Jonathan the poet and Liz ( another!) who sat in her car in the carpark and smoked a cig and returned with a "masterpiece"..and ....I COULD go on, I could mention "everyone" because "everyone" made up the Whole..
AND YES, yes, I'll miss the talking, the fun of learning, the sharing of ideas...I'll miss the blossoming of someone's quiet confidence, the laughter, and sometimes, even the tears...


Blogger Lucy said...

I'm not surprised you'll miss them!

But you won't retire from here, will you?

Good to see you again.

10:21 am  
Blogger Jan said...

No, don't suppose I will....
ANd I certainly don't want to say the words:" never again" re my teaching, coz I enjoy it so much....but sometimes one needs to peer up a different avenue for a while..even if it gives a very similar view!

2:05 pm  
Blogger elizabethm said...

Ah, I was just going to ask why you were stopping and you have answered that question already. what are you going to do with the time instead?

8:21 pm  
Blogger Caroline said...

I hope that this week and your goodbyes go well. Having had the pleasure of meeting one of your your classes, I can see why you'll miss them.

Take care x

10:54 am  
Blogger Jan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:41 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Wot I'll be doing will be looking up avenues ( so to speak) and probably being lazy but HOPEFULLY not!

Ive got out of sinc with my postings but I do want to write about your visit to us t'other week, also your writing/work.
As you know, we enjoyed it HUGELY .

12:41 pm  

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