More about “The Garden of Signs”
Following on from my last post which was a while ago. I began to play quite freely with these symbols in a series of paintings – still ongoing. As time went on I began to look at other sources of signs and symbols: cave art of other times and places, after a visit to the caves at Lascaux; modern road signs; signage in public buildings, corporate logos etc. Most recently I have been looking at the spray painted signs on pavements and roads made by highway maintenance teams in preparation for repair work – in many ways visually similar to the prehistoric signs. Similar also in the way they will have a specific meaning for those who made them, but are mysterious and ambiguous for us “outsiders” who don’t have the key.
As the paintings built up I began to feel I was surrounding myself with a “Garden of Signs” spending time with these paintings, immersing myself in their world as it grew around me I felt I was in the presence of something with significant meaning, even though I couldn’t say exactly what the meaning was. It was like waking up in a world where everyone spoke a very beautiful language which seemed familiar but at the same time was indecipherable, couldn’t be translated. You could hear people talking in this language and you could tell whether you were listening to a conversation, an argument, a warning, a joke. You could tell whether the voices were angry, playful, serious. Sometimes it even seemed you could catch the meaning of a word or a phrase before it slipped away again. It was like hearing a language you might hear in a dream, or what it must be like for very young children or babies when they hear grown-ups talking.
I began to feel that there was a layer of meaning in these symbols and colours, but a meaning that could only be understood in the original language, that couldn’t be translated. Where the symbols just stood for themselves, they didn’t point to anything else. That once you accepted them on their own terms you would “know” what they meant, without having to put it into words-which after all are only another set of signs and symbols. Anyway I already have a number of these paintings finished but need to do more in order to make a decent exhibition in the huge space of the Old Co-op building.