The Mage of Muse Hill: The Magical World of Oliver Hunter(Continued) 4

oliver Hunter


On secrets and hidden things:
Why does everything have to be seen all at once, measured, polished and displayed for careful study? Why shouldn’t faeries exist? All good fantasy worlds contain within them an inner consistency of reality, something that somehow remains real and true. It’s not something instantly recognizable, but it’s there, cloaked in symbol, myth and subtle gestures. They need to be hidden that way, because life isn’t meant to be that easy; and you appreciate something more if it’s harder to find, or better yet if it’s invisible. Like Faery.

The artists and writers I admire, the ones that stay with me long after I’ve closed the book or taken my eyes from the image, are those who remind me that art is a magical mirror. It tantalizes with its almost–real reflection, the possibility that even though it looks real, a something else is not revealed, something is kept hidden: the secret we all desire and that noone else can tell us.

Quotes within quotes within quotes:
Reading the Journals of Theodora Goss. This is interesting, and strange, writing to myself about reading her writing to herself, a multiplication of secret conversations. She quotes Iris Murdoch in an entry dated October 2002: "All artists dream of a silence, which they must enter as some creature returns to the sea to spawn." I think perhaps this is true. I am really quite the crustacean at heart.

oliver Hunter

"Kelp Boy"

I have decided that continuing with this journal is good: it results in a more attentive mind and a healthier vocabulary. If I can manage to string sentences together into paragraphs, and paragraphs into conversations, perhaps I’ll have better luck stringing together the important tasks of everyday life — as well, of course, as the important task of expressing myself creatively.

Certainly I have no ambition to become professional or publish my writing. Even so, one wants to be sure that the writing one does counts for more than dredging up dirty tires or gleaming fish from the river of language (metaphor courtesy of Theodora Goss). I want to be surrounded by the water, breathing it through gills with little fussiness. But I do not necessarily need a driving body with muscles and fins, a determined mind hunting for nourishment. Perhaps I could be an algae? Content to watch the passing current and smile to myself at the indifferent glances of the fishermen.

But painting — that is a form I can’t really clothe in such a metaphor.

" . . .a swim in a wide blue sea thick with red weed, but it’s brilliant, and I feel like reconstituted soup."

oliver Hunter

"English Fish"

On reading Pablo Neruda
Neruda defends himself thus: "I continue to work with the materials I have, the materials I am made of. With feelings, beings, books, events, and battles, I am omnivorous. I would like to swallow the whole earth. I would like to drink the whole sea."

oliver Hunter

"Queen of Heart"

On reading Terri Windling
People are pebbles, dropped along a path or fastened to our coats, carried in pockets, held close to our ears so that we can hear it calling our names. A pebble is a droplet of earth, a portable replica of the world, as is the person.You cannot build a castle out of people, nor do you use them in the sense that they are merely a means to an end . . . stones are not passive. I am looking for something — what can it be? Every stone is a marker on the path.

oliver Hunter


A case of artist’s block:
 . . .So what do I do? In this mood, I decide to try and work on some sketches, with hardcore punk droning from my radio (courtesy of 2XX), followed by the Indian subcontinent, Cantonese and Serbo–Albanian programs. I end up pulling out so many pastel colours I soon get lost, and end up overwhelmed.Beginning a simple image in the hope that it might be a small and quick success is always a Bad Idea. I ruined four drawings with my slapdash and destructive pastel gouges, and instead of releasing my frustrations all it did was compound them. Trying and failing (having that heart–wrenching moment of self–doubt) is one thing, but willfully subjecting oneself to it out of boredom is another case entirely.I feel dishonest, oafish and wasteful. I don’t whinge here because I feel I have nothing to show for myself, I despair because I can find nothing right now to make me feel whole, productive, solid. My imagination and my ability both want desperately to be healthy again. Honest work, study, deliberation and determination in every moment are what I’m looking for, and so here’s where my stubbornness must enter ontothe scene . . . What meats shall I set out to lure it here?

oliver Hunter

"Three Muses"

On giving birth to works of art
I am mammalian: my children (my works of art) are born helpless and likewise I am helpless to do anything but love them, at least until such time as they prove themselves independent of me (claimed by some lover or another), and even then I fret about their futures. I love and worry for works of art, and this is perhaps an obstacle in the path of a Successful artist.’

oliver Hunter

"Bird of Forget"

On the rights of paintings
My painting, the one I have taken to calling the "Bird of Forget" and to which Dom is slowly warming, is now displayed in our front window at work. It never looks lonely there, and I’m now glad I painted such a calm, contented character. I would hate to think that by painting my figures I have unwittingly confined themto an unchanging life of torture. I must remember to paint with the welfare of my subjects in mind. I must not paint simple pictures. I must not confuse naivetй with honesty, I must willfully acknowledge the intelligence of the painting, I must not ignore its manifest rights.

The types of paintings I most want to produce:

* Like fairytales, not necessarily illustrations of stories, but stories themselves. Something recognized from childhood, that now appears in maturity. Subjectively triumphant.

* Likewise, hinting at an archive of experience. A marker to the Invisible.

* Beautiful because they are true?

* Possessing a great Reek.

* Seditious, to the author, the owner, and the spectator.

* Wholly capable of independence.

* Scheming…

* Woven with breath, woven into lives. Under the skin. Mentioned in family histories.

* Notorious.

* Lyrical. By this I mean they can tell you a story, that without small stories they are nothing.

* Sensual, in the best use of the word. Pertaining to tactility. They must invigorate the other senses through the eyeballs.

* Humble.

* Flawed enough to retain human dignity, noble enough to inspire it.

* Spontaneous but not inane. Naughty but never farcical, sincere and solid but never grave, or pompous, or wanky. I shall now have to write an essay on wankiness.

* Devoid, utterly, of egoism.

* Possessed by mysterious, glorious self-centeredness.

* Repositories of confidences.