RHYMES&REASONS

Observations, Thoughts and Reflections on 21st Century Life

Still Life – a Personal Heritage

 

001‘Silver Jug with Lime’ 2016

Many of us seek an identity – or perhaps seek to escape from ourselves – through the things with which we choose to clutter our lives. Most are transient, outliving their usefulness, unable to keep up with our changing desires as the years pass by.  Few linger long after we have gone, travelling in time in a way which is closed to us.

There is a comfort in the familiar, in the multilayered existence of inheritance; a stabilizing, grounding sense of belonging which comes from things with which we grew up, the landmarks by which we navigated our early years. They are the threshold between our history and the present, between what has been, what is and what is yet to come. A kind of immortality we ourselves cannot achieve.

Such objects become integrated and entwined in our personal history handed down from generation to generation.

A familial wave passing through our lives.

001‘Silver Spoon with Lime’ 2016

https://www.artfinder.com/rebeccapells

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Photographic Memories

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The past is never just the past, it is recalled in the now,

a visual invitation to step into a life.

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Memories laid down in layered pixels of existence

moments in snapshots faded by time.

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photography by http://www.rebeccapells.co.uk

 

Between the Lines

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Weave  between the lines you see;  search for what lies beyond,

the portal to a life lived four score years plus ten and then four more.

Cocooned in a chair, reduced in presence and time as synapse fade

but within those four walls a human soul beats on,

  memoir script upon her face, invites us as witness, scribe to her life.

Touch gently that place,  the trigger to find, a flicker of recognition

lights up the entree to memories, illuminated, transported in time.

Each crease, every fold of sagging, mottled skin belies a chapter,

an experience gained, a lesson learned, heartbreak and joy.

As a pebble dropped in stagnant pond, ripples radiate

 as rings in a trunk strip back the years in lucid clarity.

 Hesitant at first, then like a wave memories flow

 to wash upon the shore where long held dreams splash forth

and like a child  she dances once more.

The Rhythm of Nature

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Acceptance must come, to deny the end of summer’s gift is foolhardy.  It was but a fleeting moment in time, when all seemed possible, when heat and heart soared.  But as in nature these dizzy heights cannot be captured and held suspended in time.  We have to let go, move on with the seasons, face a new chapter of life.

Few things end abruptly: more oft there is a gradual passing, a fading of that which was held in high regard and despite our best efforts the saturated colour, intense and bursting with life cannot endure the whisper of breathy frost or a shoulder coldly turned.  Disbelief turns it’s attention to weary acceptance that once again we allowed ourselves to be smitten, to believe the summer was forever, that we had finally arrived and would be allowed to stay.

The garden decays before our eyes,  fruit unripened calls out for late warmth; lush trees which short weeks ago danced in gentle breeze, now shed their leaves in nods of brittle shards impatient to bare their boughs and be at rest once more.  When the party is over, we need to withdraw, to reflect and maybe even hide a little until we are ready to emerge once more, to show ourselves, exhibit our work, declare our love.  In an era of instant disclosure withdrawal is a bid for freedom, to hide under the covers, to ensconce ourselves in the studio or walk the cliff edge.  It is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside interference.

Real loss is to find ourselves stuck, unable or unwilling to embrace the new.  Time and again we look back, ruminating, regretting.  If only we would turn our attention to the rhythm of nature, to that which new seasons and chapters offer.  For beneath the protective cover of leafy decay, we will find hidden beauty, small tender, formerly eclipsed by summer’s glory.  Ready, waiting to unfurl towards the future.

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http://www.rebeccapells.co.uk

Changing of the Guard

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I woke this morn and sensed the changing of the guard

Summer’s twilight slipped into autumn’s first dawn.

Reluctant to cross this threshold once more

Au revoir summer’s promise unripened by drought.

And let go the dream sustained by hope

  Release that which can no longer be held.

Fade to autumn, the hue I must reside

And cherish sweet memory with wistful smile.

Painting ‘Antique Roses’ by Rebecca Pells

available from https://www.artfinder.com/product/antique-roses-fa34/

 

21st Century Introvert

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Quiet. Introvert. Solitary.

All words which have long since borne negative connotations. In 21st century life, where sharing our every movement and every meal online has become the accepted way of behaving, social media has become the extroverts dream paradise, the introverts hell.  Underestimated as a way of being, introvertism is neither prized nor offered as a path to tread, shunned in favour of over-confidence, extrovertism and ubiquitous over-sharing.

But a world in which every one is a Donald Trump or a Boris Johnson would not succeed – thankfully!  Our species needs it’s philosophers, it’s artists, scientists and geeks.  It needs it’s witnesses as well as the witnessed.  They are the ones who step back to view the bigger picture or delve deeply to see the oft missed yet crucial detail.  Introspection provides the opportunity to practice, to cultivate and examine from every angle before we hit the share button.  It is the first necessary step in the consummation of a new idea, the space in which to sow, till, nurture and reap until the young sapling is strong enough to face the limelight.

It prepares us for the conversation, tentatively invited when we finally stick our head above the parapet:  it will buffet us in the maelstrom of social media, straining against our every grain and fibre of being, our private world exposed in the harsh glare of publicity.  Carried as the wind in the trees our inner souls are transported across countries and continents, to shores so distant our physical being will never set foot upon them.  As the shock of the first tectonic impact settles, we begin to find a new way of being and to join in the conversation.  Our vulnerability becomes more robust as we emerge from our inner world and engage with the tumultuous, shifting noise of the online world.

As an artist I have reluctantly had to embrace the world of social media, the list is growing –  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Artfinder, Fine Art Seen, as well as my own website and of course WordPress.  It certainly has it’s benefits and I have come to realise that unlike the extroverts who seek constant attention, the introvert retains the ability to retreat at will, we are masters at the beautiful art of withdrawal, where once again we can resume a conversation with ourselves; where we can tend a wound, cradle our disappointment and nurture our imagination until we are inspired once more.  To seek solace, to retreat from the white noise, is to find space in which we can ask more of ourselves, raise questions that can re-shape our thinking and perspective of the world we inhabit.

It is quite simply, an exquisite place to reside.

Oil painting ‘The Bench’ Rebecca Pells

available from https://www.artfinder.com/product/the-bench-47d9/

 

 

The Somme 100 Years

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The Somme 100 Years

1st July 1916 marked the start of this bloody battle

57,470 casualties

19,240 died

And that was just the British

In a single day.

Today

in a fractured  Great Britain

on the cusp of cutting ties of friendship with Europe.

Least we forget the terribly consequences of political failure.

Peace must be prized above all else.

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(Installation by UK artist Carl Jaycock)

Life – Where is Thy Meaning?

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‘Afternoon Blues’

One of the most asked questions ever.  And well into the 21st century it remains unanswered.  Even Google falters at this one in an age where image and instant reign on a glorious and exalted unsatisfying high.

For the last six months I have been slowly but surely dismantling the material elements which made up my late father’s life.  The process is almost complete, a few final loose ends to tie up and then all semblance of his daily life will be gone and only memories, photographs and a few small heirlooms will survive.  You would have to look hard to know he had lived and breathed on this earth for 92 years.  What meaning did they have for him – perhaps his four children, three marriages or his Christian religion stoically observed Sunday after Sunday. I will never know.

Both parents gone and you seriously begin to think about your own mortality – the creeping weeks and months which so rapidly descend into years.  Don’t let anyone tell you that time doesn’t speed up the older you get – I so does!  And yet, with my father’s genes and a brisk prevailing wind I may well see one score year and ten more.  Thirty plus more birthdays, thirty plus New Year resolutions to make and break.  Thirty plus more chances to live meaningfully.

The thought both elates and alarms in equal measure.  On days when things are going well  that doesn’t seem long at all –  just over half as much again as I have already skipped through – not long into which to squeeze the rest of my life!    On others when all seems bleak the time stretches gloomily into a distant grey horizon – oh my, at least half as much again as I have already stressed my way through –  how will I fill those long hours and days, keep the anxieties at bay, avoid the blackest clouds and stumble my way to my final hour.

We are cajoled, coaxed, coerced and consumerised into believing that a state of constant happiness is our goal.  But the foundation stone of capitalism has become our stumbling block as the constant seeking of happiness proves forever elusive.  We try to access it with things, we view it as a destination to be reached and once there we can reside for ever and a day.  But I suspect that state cannot be sustained, and is unlikely to provide the meaning for which we search.  I don’t think I would want it that way.  The meaning and purpose of our lives can often be found in the darkest corners, in those hours which seem the most bleak.  But when we eventually emerge into the light once more oh how much sweeter.  Like the colours in a painting, the light shines so much more brightly when placed next to the darkest hue.

The meaning is in the doing, in the striving, the anticipation and in the possibility. When we push ourselves beyond our comfort zone, when we are prepared to take a risk, when we allow ourselves to step beyond our familiar threshold and let go.  Those times we spend alone, absorbed by our activity and undistracted we truly live the moment.   These are the experiences which paint our emotional memories.  Sometimes they burn us, sometimes elate but they are soaked into our soul just as the warmth of the sun will transfer the image from a negative onto the salt paper, the fine details captured for posterity. These are the ones which we will recall when we reach our eleventh hour.  These are the details which give life meaning.

‘Afternoon Blues’ by Rebecca Pells

available from https://www.fineartseen.com/product/afternoon-blues/

Lusitania 101 – a Life before the Tragedy

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On the 7th May 1915 the British liner RMS Lusitania, the fastest and most luxurious ship in the world at the time, was struck by a German torpedo off the coast of Ireland.  Of it’s 1962 passengers and crew only 764 survived – my great uncle and aunt were among them.  Their one year old son John was not.

An account of their trauma is taken from statements made by both  Mary and Elmore upon their eventual arrival in England.

“(Cyril) Elmore and Mary Anita Pells, travelling with their infant son John from Canada to England where Mr. Pells was to join his regiment, despaired of ever leaving the ship safely. At the time the torpedo struck  they were dining in the second class salon and returned to their E Deck cabin to retrieve John, and Elmore made a second trip below for lifebelts.  Not expecting to survive, they took seats together somewhere on one of the upper decks presumably on the port side, to wait for the end. When it came, they were pulled down deep with the ship, and in the torrent John was wrenched out of his father’s arms and lost. Elmore and Mary surfaced and were able to pull themselves atop an overturned lifeboat.”

Following a short period of recovery in London, Elmore joined his regiment as originally planned but after receiving a brief note telling of his safe arrival in France, Mary never heard from him again and he is documented as having been killed in action during the Battle of Aisne-Chemin des Dames on May 27th 1918.

The human element of this disaster, which has largely been lost among the controversial nature of the incident together with the passing of time, is now coming to light, re-surfacing along with the personal stories.  I have researched Elmore and Mary’s accounts with the benefit of the internet and personal family history.  However, I am also in possession of a wonderful photographic record of their lives in Canada prior to their fateful journey. The images long since faded, document a young couple in love.  Elmore met Canadian born Mary in the UK and following their engagement they emigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia and and were married at North Lonsdale in April 1914.   Their son John was born in February 1915.   The images tell a story of a vibrant life together, socialising, fancy dress and tennis parties and picnics on the beach with friends.  Just one image remains of their infant son John.

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It is their own record of their life together, each photograph carefully entered into the small album by their own hands, unaware of the tragedy which was shortly to unfold and change their lives forever.  Faces reach out from the faded images, ethereal and yet full of life, crossing the threshold of a time long since gone and reaching into the 21st century in an effort to be remembered.  A reminder that they lived life to the full during their short time together:  there was life before the Lustania and for Mary a life after but very much changed.

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Through the remainder of the war Mary served as a nurse, and she was awarded a sum of $1089.15 for the loss of her personal property and Elmore’s medical expenses after her return to British Columbia.  For a time she lived in California, where she continued to study nursing, before returning for a third time to Canada, where the trail is lost in time.  However, somewhere along the way she maintained a connection to the Pells family – in 1936 she received a legacy from Elmore’s mother upon her death.

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Elmore – ‘lost in action’- has no known grave but is remembered at The Soissons Memorial located in the Aisne département of France. The memorial lists 3,887 names of British soldiers who were killed in the area from May to August 1918 during the Spring Offensive.

And somewhere, somehow, this little album has found it’s way from Canada back to England, passed down my family and  following the recent death of my own father John, who was named after his young cousin, is now one of my most treasured possessions.

 

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Soulmates in Time

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The connection we prize,  betwixt friendship and love,

more precious than either, the fit like a glove.

Elusive to seek and nebulous when found,

no sudden discovery, a revealing of lives bound.

A sense of arrival of something long sought,

like the missing jig-saw piece long since bought.

The vista of life’s shadow cast into light,

 my own wounds you touched, inner turmoil and fight.

Your essence reached out from long hidden time

parallel depths in recognition of mine.

You called out to me, I responded in kind

I cradled your pain for you mine to find.

Suspended by time, the connection a fine thread,

it sways with the seasons to others all but dead.

Poised for nourishment the possibility resides

the strengthening vein the longer it bides.

Two only in my lifetime thus far in time

too precious to waste, oh soulmate of mine!

Painting ‘The Writing Table’ by http://www.rebeccapells.co.uk/

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