Saturday, 13 November 2010


Do you ever fly in your dreams? Like the woman in the picture? Like Superman with your arms stretched out? It’s good to find that ability when, in the midst of a nightmare, you’re in a tight spot, pursued by baddies or demons. In such situations your legs are usually not much use, so the only way to escape is to fly away. Sometimes you just skim the surface of the land, and at other times you soar above the trees. It depends on the lightness or weight of your heart. The places you visit are likely to be unfamiliar as a temple in Papua New Guinea, or a shanty town in an unnamed country. Curiously, on your journey you meet people you hadn’t seen for a while, but who know you very well.

The evening Gabriella Nissen invited us to her photographic studio in the Heights had its special magic, because we found ourselves surrounded by friends we hadn’t seen in three years --- Quin and Gabriella, Chris, Pat and Jim. Shirley had just flown in from LA to see us. I met Quin over twenty years earlier. We canoed together and worked with a group that was trying to establish a Waldorf School in Houston. We picked up conversations where we’d left off, as if no time had passed. We drank dark beer and ate the mythological Star Pizza. Gabriella’s images added to the dreamlike quality of the evening. They contain movement, often dramatic and expressing deep emotion, such as the photos of Dominic Walsch from the Houston Ballet. Some recent images were for fashion magazines, such as the flying woman; she had mastered the force of gravity; the watery element too. There she is sleeping underwater. The studio also contains Quin’s wood art, such as the bench carved out of a single cedar. Every whorl and knot in the grain stands out, emphasizing that this is an object carved out of a living thing.

What did we talk about? Things we all felt passionate about. Our art, as many of us are artists, whether we use images, words or wood. Politics cast its shadow too. With election not far off, the Country stood at the edge of a precipice. We felt that many opportunities had been missed because of fear. Fear is the force of gravity that prevents us from flying. Adds weight to our hearts. Despite the insanity of politicians, bankers and the powers that be, we knew that we had each other, our lives and our vision. If we allowed ourselves, we could fly like the woman in Gabriella’s picture.

The real world broke in --- the watch, that pocket dictator, told Amber and I that we had to drive off soon so we would reach Tomball before our friends went to bed. And so, awkwardly we had to get up, say our good-byes, at least for now. We might see each other again, but that moment in the studio was over. Walking back to our car felt like coming down to Earth, landing, the inevitable waking that follows any dream.

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