In an age of mass communication where it seems that everyone is plugged into something…..are we seeing more or just skimming across the surface of life?
I took this photograph next to Trafalgar Square, London during one of the many Olympic events and celebrations.
As an artist and portrait painter, I have had the privilege to look into the eyes of many people.
Twenty years ago, when I returned home to the UK/Europe after spending 28 years in the States, I had an exhibition in Brittany, France. The exhibition was made up of portraits from Wales, America and France, and although I had painted spontaneous watercolour portraits before, (mostly as sketches for large oils)…it wasn’t until this point that I realised it was a way for me to really understand and see people…beyond the surface.
Christopher Seagrave-Daley visited me in Wales, and agreed to model for a workshop I was giving.
More recently I attended a three day seminar in London. On the final day, all 150 of the participants were asked to sit in rows….Over the course of one hour and twenty minutes, each row would walk to the front of the room and scan the faces of the group. Then another row was asked to make a line in front of those already standing….and as the leader said…get closer to the person in front of you than you would normally feel comfortable, and then simply look into their eyes.
Initially, there were those who were clearly very uncomfortable with this….and others who were moved to tears….and there were others who got the giggles…..(part of being uncomfortable) – however, as the time evolved….a stillness came over the room and it became clear that this was a new and profound experience for everyone involved.
Woman in Akyaka, Turkey. During the hour that we spent together, not a word was spoken. It was not necessary, because we spoke through our eyes. We both saw beneath the surface of one another, and in doing so had a much deeper understanding.
I stopped driving 20 years ago when I returned to the UK. Since then I have designed my life in such a way that I don’t need a car.
This has given me a greater freedom to observe others…especially as I take public transportation all over London and many other places. I will often wear dark glasses so that I can observe without making others uncomfortable.
Jean Paul, Paris – Gardener, artist and gentle soul
What becomes clear the more we take the time to see beyond the surface, is that we are all part of the same humanity and that we are all interconnected.
Young girl at Mission Hill School, Boston
We all have the same hopes and dreams…..It is only when we stop really seeing one another that we forget this.
Claudia Nottale, when she visited me in Wales
I decided sometime ago that I didn’t want to just skim across the surface of life. I made the decision to keep looking and learning.
Jean Marie – Le Pecq, France. A wonderful artist – one who always sees beyond the surface.