Monthly Archives: July 2014

lost in translation

Wednesday 9 July 2014

it took me twenty four hours [well, three days] to finally decide on a title for this piece… which translates timewise as eight hours per word, or one hundred and two minutes per letter, four hours per vowel, three hours per consonant.

titling art [paintings] can be a tricky and solitary task – well, if i could say it in words…

i also had to write some other words to go with the title words. i thought about it all day on sunday. some thoughts completely take over your headspace, the more you try to refine them the less sense they seem to make. incorrigible.

a weekend lost in my own world of translation. wordblock. grasping at floating fragments of thoughts, ideas, words, sounds, meanings, coaxing them out of retreat, trying to make them perfect…

the ‘show & tell’ with Artworks was helpful, and always fascinating and exciting to see what the other artists have done. it was suggested i read some Pablo Neruda poetry, which subsequently got me thinking about the issues in reading poems in translation.

i found this archived article, The Poetry of Neruda [october 1974] on The New York Review of Books website an interesting read.

Para que tú me oigas
mis palabras
se adelgazan a veces
como las huellas de las gaviotas en las playas.

So that you will hear me
my words
sometimes grow thin
as the tracks of the gulls on the beaches.

that’s the beginning of the poem Para que tú me oigas [So that You Will Hear Me] by Pablo Neruda, translation by W S Merwin in ‘Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair’ [Penguin Classics 2004]

* interestingly, Google Translate translated it as this:

For you to hear me
my words
sometimes grow thin
as the tracks of the gulls on the beaches.

the waves

Tuesday 1 July 2014

sea waves painting 1, on wood panel

i’ve been reading The Waves by Virginia Woolf (a vintage Penguin paperback). it’s weird how books seem to find me at certain times, they just turn up (or i happen to be more receptive to them), i never go out intentionally to buy them… by all accounts, this is one of Woolf’s most accomplished and complex works of fiction, although it’s not really a novel, but a slowly unravelling, rambling prose on the passage of life.

there are some beautiful descriptions of everyday things and clever turns of phrase, stream-of-consciousness thoughts, acute sensory experiences, all the wonder, anxiety, hope, doubt – all human feelings and responses, really… the use of language is very poetic, rhythmic and performative, and Woolf at the time referred to it as a play-poem.

sea waves painting 2, on wood panel

i am finding it quite difficult to differentiate between the characters’ ‘voices’ [or Woolf’s voices], their thoughts and interactions with others (a group of six friends as they pass through life from childhood to old age, together and apart). the punctuation and paragraph structure is quite confusing, and i lose a sense of ‘place’ and narrative continuity, to the extent that i want to mark their passages with highlighter pens. it was never going to be easy…

perhaps this is an intentional paradox or conflict in the book, that true life never runs smooth, there are always situations and events, conversations or encounters, that will change things…