Tuesday 16th August 2011
“HALF an hour perhaps? Left at the roundabout.”
We were on our way back from somewhere. The project was already over-subscribed. Taking on any more just wasn’t possible. We would have a cup of tea, maybe discuss working with them at some future date, make our excuses and go.
It was a warm, still day. Ben’s car donned slippers approaching the old, stone buildings. Meadow slopes and stately trees. A pond, dozing in the afternoon lull.
“Reminds me of when I was in hospital with a collapsed lung. Similar view.”
We signed in. They were expecting us. She’d be with us shortly. We waited.
All grin and bounce: every inch an artist.
“Good timing. There’s three or four in the art room. I’ll get you that cup of tea in a minute. Did I tell you about the minibus trip?”
We stayed for a good hour. While Ben discussed cameras and all things colourful in the studio, I conversed with the soft-spoken gentleman whose email to the website had started all this.
“It is kind of you both to come and see us, Marcus. Sorry about that stroppy email, but I’ve always been a cussed so-and-so. What do you think? Will you be able to get anything useful out of us?”
Some days you just know.
Four of the hospice’s out-patients contributed words and images to Art from the Heart. We went back several times, stayed for lunch, shared the banter, wandered the grounds. The lads looked through lenses, picked up pens, and came up with pieces of rare lucidity.
“Don’t go easy on us,” advised the octogenarian so-and-so.
Nor did we. That’s why we were there: to frame and shape, to press for the best. As one of the artists said, ‘You’ve got to go in and find out for yourself who are.’
A sort of brotherhood emerged, a kinship. Ben and I arrived with sharpened tools; they cut into the meanings of life. And, throughout, the art room boss drew us into a sequestered grove of discovery with her quicksilver humour and full-length trust.
All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.