‘The Act of Seeing’

As some of you will know, I went to see the Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy recently and loved it. While I was there, I bought a book ‘A Bigger Message – Conversations with David Hockney’ Martin Gayford. In one of the conversations, Hockney talks about enjoying the act of seeing.

And I’d like to quote some more: I’ve always had intense pleasure from looking. When I was young, as soon as I was old enough to go on buses on my own, I used to go straight upstairs, where it was blue with smoke in those days – I survived – and would go right to the front of the bus so I could see more. In a car, I always want to sit in the front for the same reason, because it is such a pleasure. Early on, I realised that not everybody gets that. Indeed, I’ve come to think that most people just scan the ground in front of them. As long as that’s clear and they can move forward, they don’t bother about anything more. Looking is a very positive act. You have to do it deliberately. Hockney

It’s this act of ‘deliberate looking’ that was the essence of the River of Stones organised by Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita at Writing Our Way Home in January. I took part and am grateful to Fiona and Kaspa for the opportunity. I enjoyed the experience so much, although noticing and properly focusing on something each day was more of a challenge than I expected. But it was great fun to add a small stone to the river each day and read other people’s stones. You can read my stones from Januaryat River of Stones – I’m delighted that two of them will appear in a book Fiona and Kaspa are publishing later this year.

I gained so much from the stones experience that I thought it would be nice to share it with some of you. I’m going to call mine  String of Pearls and I’d love it if you posted your pearl in the comment box. All you have to do is look and see, notice and focus, write something.

Here’s mine for today: The orange of the blackbird’s beak glints and flashes as he douses himself with water. Frenzied droplets fly and scatter around the bird bath.

Hope some of you will give it a go – I’m looking forward to reading your pearl and threading them onto the necklace .

One other thing – make sure you come back on Tuesday 24th April when I’m taking part in Fiona Robyn’s blogsplash My Beautiful Thing to help celebrate the publication of her novel ‘The Most Beautiful Thing’.

Don’t forget to post your pearl! You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy the ‘act of seeing’.

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  1. fiona robyn says:

    It feels appropriate to be starting things off : )

    blossom-laden branches wave at me from across the street. behind, deep & paler slate clouds move almost imperceptibly. the music blares.

    look forward to reading more…

  2. fiona robyn says:

    PS thank you to Lindsay for her lovely post, and for an exquisite small stone…

  3. julian eldridge says:

    Hi Lindsay.
    Here’s something. Not sure if it’s a pearl. The trouble with a pearl is can grace a beautiful necklace, for the world to wonder at or lie, hidden in a oyster at the bottom of the sea, for all time.
    ‘Through the window, with it’s thousand raindrop lenses, I see the sky. I lift my eyes, from thunderous, grey horizon to bright, hopeful zenith and hope the old man remembered his umbrella.’

  4. Two electric-blue beetles clamped firmly together, the smaller male on top of the female who struggled across the path, the weight she bore being heavy, her armoured legs buckling slightly. My dog stopped to watch and to sniff them. I wondered what beetle might smell of.

  5. Lindsay says:

    Thank you, Fiona. So pleased you’ve added a lovely pearl!

  6. Lindsay says:

    Thank you, Fiona. Your River of Stones and David Hockney’s ideas on seeing seem made for each other!

  7. Lindsay says:

    Lovely, Julian.
    In a way, what you decribe as the ‘trouble with the pearl’ is similar to the trouble with our looking – it’s all there for us to see and appreciate, but too often remains hidden from us because we don’t notice.

  8. Lindsay says:

    Thank you, Becky – that’s very evocative. Love the beetle description. But sniffing beetles is definitely doggy activity!

  9. Looking into a mirror, I examined my face. No longer do I gaze on the smooth beauty of youth. Etched into the skin are a thousand stories. Happy and sad lines speaking of life’s rich experiences.

  10. Lindsay says:

    Thanks, Nina. Love the thousand stories idea.

  11. Elly Young says:

    Looking from my window, I notice the delicate, new green, leaves of my silver-birch tree shivering in the wind as if with excitement at the coming of Summer.

  12. Lindsay says:

    I’ve got a new silver birch in my garden, and I love the new leaves that are emerging. Lovely to think they’re excited at the coming of summer. Then again, perhaps they’re shivering as a result of April’s wind and rain!

  13. Lindsay says:

    Another lovely pearl posted by Chrissie Morris Brady on my River of Stones page http://lindsaystanberryflynn.co.uk/my-other-writing/river-of-stones/
    My necklace is beginning to look beautiful!

  14. Robin Heaney says:

    All day long the rooks and ravens have been pecking holes in the sky;
    And nobody noticed until it was dark.

  15. Lindsay says:

    Love this, Robin. Thank you.

  16. Liz Sharpe says:

    I reach under a low branch of apple blossom to pull out a dandelion, relishing the loosening of damp earth as the roots surrender. Water from early rain falls on my wrist like a reminder. I stop, let my eyes drink the pink and white petals.

  17. Sarah James says:

    Lunch without her

    On the riverside at Ross, two grey geese
    are pinned in the air, just lifting into flight.
    On the swing, two brothers lean legs and backs
    in and out of their movement’s arc.

    As sudden rain silks the grass, we retreat
    beneath the trees to huddle hushed memories
    into quick snapshots, and wait
    for the clouds to change, the strangeness pass.

    Hi Lindsay, hope this will do for your necklace. My Gran died last week, so it’s kind of colouring my seeing at the moment. xx

  18. Lindsay says:

    Sarah, that’s lovely. Thank you. Love the description of the boys on the swing.
    Sorry about your Gran. Hope the clouds, the strangeness soon pass.

  19. Lindsay says:

    Thank you, Liz. I like the ‘water from early rain’.

  20. Robin Heaney says:

    The naked branches of the oak tree turn spider-grey against the deepening blue of the moonless sky, and the tips of the grass-blades lick ice-white whispers of frost from the evening air.

  21. Mo Hall says:

    Sunlight filters through a parasol of birch leaves. Amethyst violets, stitched into an emerald carpet, lift their petals to the light, while a ladybird swings on a nettle-leaf hammock. The play of light and shadow on the grass catches at memory: some shadows are ‘just right’.

  22. Lindsay says:

    Lovely, Mo. Great image of the ladybird swinging on the nettle-leaf hammock.

  23. Dusty album of photos, a grasp and squeeze of my heartstrings, tears of remembered joy choke in my throat. Echoes of my children’s laughter float to me as if on yesterday’s breeze.

  24. Lindsay says:

    Thanks, Polly. Particularly love the second sentence!

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