In the summer, I visited the Miro Foundation in Barcelona. It's a wonderful place, and it was really the first time I've fully enjoyed an art exhibition in it's entirety since leaving art school in the 90's. Previously I'd only seen Miro's art in reproductions. Seeing so much work displayed in such an interesting space helped me to appreciate it on a much deeper level.
As I live in Japan, one aspect that surprised and intrigued me was his interest in Japanese calligraphy and how it affected his work.
Living in Japan, I've been somewhat overwhelmed and intimidated by Japanese culture, calligraphy being a prime example, feeling that I'll never have the time or the language ability to fully comprehend it. Then, when I started studying the shakuhachi, I found that most of the music is transcribed using Japanese calligraphy. Here's an example - it's my teacher, performing his own transcription of "Yamagoe". For the uninitiated, it reads from top to bottom, right to left.
I know enough about handwriting to know that mine is quite poor in English and despicable in Japanese (despite my mother, both her parents, and my wife all being excellent calligraphers), so I've shied away from writing musical ideas down, feeling that if they don't look good, they won't sound good. (If this sounds odd please consider the composer Frank Denyer, who wrote a 45-minute solo shakuhachi piece titled "Unnamed". When the shakuhachi master Yoshikazu Iwamoto saw the score for the first time he refused to play it, as it contained notes which were coloured red.)
But when I walked around the Miro Foundation, I had something of an epiphany. There is nothing stopping me from taking Japanese notation as an inspiration and doing what I want with it; owning it if you like, finding my voice with it in the same way that I would find my singing voice, or my musical style. To appreciate and be inspired by it without being controlled by it.
Here is my first attempt at an artwork/composition. It's very much a draft of a sketch of an idea of a piece. The working title is "Depicting The Light From Distant Stars".