I sent some recent photographs of Avebury stone circle to a friend, commenting that some of the stones resembled the shape of people’s expressions or the outline of animals. I saw a shark, a rabbit, a smiling face, a hunched figure, all legitimate interpretations of random shapes of and markings on the collection of immense stones. Her good natured laughing reply was to refer me to pareidolia.
Pareidolia is the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. It has been described as the science behind seeing faces in everyday objects, for example clouds, and often leads people to assign human characteristics to objects. The more I think about this, the more I realise I do this a lot, and the process of imagining and interpretion of random stimuli to arrive at a hypothosis or understanding, has informed much of both my personal and professional life.
Assessing stimuli we encounter is surely essential in navigating through choices we have in our lives. Sometimes that assessment is correct, other times it is incorrect and errors are made. It is unclear to me how intellectual this process is, or whether it it is instinctive, or on a varying spectrum between the two absolutes, depending on changing circumstances.
Subsequent to my attending Frank’s talk regarding his Glastonbury murals, I returned to the town again the following day to visit the Summer Fayre organised in the Bauhaus style Zig Zag building and the Life Building. I had tried unsuccessfully to visit both buildings in the late afternoon the day before, but was encouraged to return for the Fayre the following day. I often feel myself being pulled here, and always enjoy returning. I do not fully understand this motivation, but do enjoy the sense of chaos and abandonment found within both buildings and the potential they both have for art and work projects, activism and the portrayal and inclusion of alternative life styles.
This equivocation is of course a veiled reference to the very nature of Glastonbury itself. I find it sometimes a chimera of a town, where it’s reality is often impermanent and, somehow similar to the sense of maya in India, Glastonbury seems to present with alternating depths of what is cogent and real. This is a fascinating quality and its demeanour can quickly change depending upon who you speak to, and where that conversation is held, and your own state of mind and receptivity and sensitivity and honesty at the time. But perhaps the maya is entirely in my own mind; after all, what is reality?
The afternoon commenced with a talk about his work by Frank Harwood, one of the artists noted for painting murals on the walls of Glastonbury. The day then became a little messy with visits to some of the murals followed by visits to the alternative areas of the town, including a psychadelic skate park, in search of interest and colour. I managed to get into one travellor’s site but the day ended with a veiled warning to leave another. Here are the photos, starting with an image of Frank in front of a projection of one of his murals and the second photograph depicting some of his statues. All photographs taken by my relatively new iPhone se 2020.
Watch Frank describe his working of his Adam and Eve mural here and view a collection of his paintings and sculptures here.
The current Henry Moore : Sharing Form exhibition at the Hauser and Wirth Gallery at Bruton, Somerset, is a meditation upon Moore’s early attraction for and inspiration by the monolithic structures at Stonehenge. His daughter Mary is curating the exhibition and was very much present in the build up to the opening, providing information about her father’s life and artistic values during a private party before the opening. She recounted that Lee Miller, Peggy Guggenheim, Benjamin Britten, Graham Greene, Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko and Lauren Bacall were among the guests she remembered coming round for tea during her teenage years. She hoped to recreate that sense of awe in the Somerset show, where visitors are able to wander among bronze, marble and plaster works displayed to dramatic effect across five galleries and outdoors.
More of her comments can be read below, between photographs of his sculptures.
Filali Mostafa paints in a small studio in Jotiya, close to the surging waves of the Atlantic ocean. Sourounded by the detritis of a flea market, his paintings of ordered simplicity and detail could not be further away from the unmitigated chaos of the landscape outside of his door.
It is easy to mistake simplicity for lack of content. Filali’s work consistently portrays important themes within Moroccan culture; berber design, jewish symbolism, the marriage ceremony, and superstitions which he believes he remains a victim of.