Drawings of Timothy West at The Red Hedgehog

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Last year, Timothy West performed Stravinsky’s “A Soldiers Tale” at The Red Hedgehog on Archway Road in Highgate, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.   The Red Hedgehog is an intimate concert venue, marvellously suited for creative combinations of music and theatre, and audience interaction. (It is named after Brahms’ favourite coffee house in Vienna.)   During the rehearsal I took photographs, which resulted in this series of drawings.   I loved watching the play of expression over Timothy’s face as he read;  his conscious centre of gravity when he moved with the musicians.  He, an open book, enhances other performers around him – the mark of a great actor or artist.   He listens to the drama.   He is their space to happen in.   This gives his speaking voice, from centre stage, a mellow authority.

The writings accompanying the drawings are from my Journal during those few days in June 2011.

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Journal 16 June 2011

Ten hour working day yesterday, seven Timothy West drawings with musicians.  I felt very happy to have the day all to myself, nowhere to go, no one to see, and cooked veg in the evening.  At one point the subconscious delivered a perfect inner image, and produced at last a violinist –  my drawing hand felt it on the paper and traced, with that exciting soft edge – accuracy of the hand positions and facial angle;  I have it again.  So much I watched it, in childhood.  An artist’s “keep-practising”- dawn breaks when the embedded picture breaks through into the day-conscious layers, and is available.  Thus so, for music, athletics, or any activity which requires to cook the picture.   Repetition dowses and discovers it.

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The musical performer or actor releases the photon to the audience.  The pianist Peter Donohoe said several times that when he practices each day, it is work;  when he performs, he learns.  The piece moves and changes.  It makes a quantum leap with audience, and he doesn’t know what will happen.  That is the electro magnetism.

I don’t know if I am tense or relaxed when drawing.  I am relaxed when writing, because I listen.

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Advice to a writer:  Now a metre can become so sugar-sweet that it can be itself a defence against the diversity of an orchestra;  it becomes a cyst.  When my mind can prattle so easy and make all kinds of puns from my map, beware.  Because that leads eventually to self pity and drama, doesn’t it – which is a drone the truth cannot get through.

Language should be like a rough, rough rock – and must, to throw rocks – so long as what comes out is seen.  Language should not be to slick or Watteau’d.  If it’s grief, then break its heart.  If it’s sex, then pulse it.  If it’s a sea journey, then let the long (wine-dark) waves run into it.

So, to write might be like music.  Before you play, you get a feel of the ‘dance’ first.  (I don’t, usually.)  And so, when the thoughts come, their initial pattern of words and sounds is not that important.  Get a feel of the dance or flavour of the fish which is pushing it up, which is rippling the deltas of awareness.  Let that thing there, whatever it is, show you what its real words and sounds are.   Stand away from surface propositions, the easy molecular concepts;  throw them away.  They have their use, but not all of the time.

The photon – the light is seeded, and it grows;  and the Universal lens is intimacy.

An insertion from Journal, 1988

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Not by earthly measure large, this chamber –
by a candle illumined: a single drop, a sea.
In limestone cave the work through ages dark
as organs of our inner body gleams.

Hollowing this Gothic sphere, I am
the ages’ hourglass –
an instant, yes, awakens sight:
the hallowing fire.

Credo,
Credo in deum!
The trance is my entry.

Through shellac’d shells,
planes of history superimposed,
I’m captured into the loss
of my known cities
by sight, the lens.
Spell bound to solvent arc, I
curve infinity
to the Master’s Eye.

Credo in deum, tat tvam asi
flower to sun through earth’s membrane
in a ballet of webbed stone,
I am
aeons in an instance realised:   I am
the draughtsman’s line.

From The Masters’ Eye, 2009

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JOURNAL 12 June 2011

Concerning the art, I am loving and enjoying Timothy’s facial expressions and actor’s precision technique with movement and body language.  I think of him studying just that swing and turn with a verbal expression and the lines.   This drawing shows the gesture.  Other drawings are his face and the young man inside.  Others are of the musicians – Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale.

I feel what it is like to be this aging man, with his lower jaw and his stoop and his cardigan:  the Shakespearian passion inside, together with life’s sharp edges and tender touches.   He has a seasoned charm of manner – a readiness to fit in with things – a good man.

I would like my drawings to be more miraculously grotesque, but it takes practice.

There is an inner contact with the wide flung Company!

Time is the ripening of life, the countless episodes of the texture first outlined.  Time is execution and endurance.  The Company, like the distant horizon seen from a train, seem to move slowly with me or be still;  like the Red Queen pulling Alice – it takes forever to pass the oak.  The oak is what is planted, and my life thread skits and glitters, acquiring gravitas.   All that passion, effort and angoisse.

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A POEM I SAW ON THE UNDERGROUND (on my way to Zum Roten Igel to draw Timothy West)

by Adam Zagajewski

I returned to you years later,
grey and lovely city,
unchanging city
buried in the waters of the past. 

I’m no longer the student
of philosophy, poetry and curiosity,
I’m not the young poet who wrote
too many lines

and wandered in the maze
of narrow streets and illusions.
The sovereign of clocks and shadows
has touched my brow with his hand, 

but still I’m guided by
a star by brightness
and only brightness
can undo or save me.

Polish Poets on the Underground

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“If you leave the centre empty, it makes you free.”

Francis Lucille

One thought on “Drawings of Timothy West at The Red Hedgehog

  1. Pingback: 2011 – Beethoven at the Red Hedgehog | janeadamsart

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