Monday, August 17, 2009

Making Art In Brasil

I made some art when I was in Brasil.

I tried to make 2 pictures but only completed one and a half.

Being there was a good time for me.

I didn't do the touristy thing, I just spent time hanging out with Claire, Neto, Neto's family and my family (who all made it out there). I joined in with whatever they were doing. It was perfect because I got a first-hand picture of what Claire's life is like ... where she lives, shops and works ... who some of her family and friends are. It made it all feel less distant.

As we went about the place I began to think about making a picture for her and Neto as a wedding present. One day, while she was seeing someone about wedding arrangements, I wandered around with my camera and took a few photos.

I told Claire I wanted to make a picture (I didn't say it was for her) so she gave me some acrylic paints, PVA glue and a sturdy cardboard box that I cut 2 pieces out of to work on.

Over the next few days I primed the cardboard (with the dregs of a tin of white emulsion that we found) and began the process of adding texture and colour to the surface of both pictures.

A couple of days later we were at a shopping mall so I took my camera memory card to a photo shop and asked for 3 prints. They looked at me a bit strangely as the prints I wanted were of a patch of earth (the earth there is a rich red colour), a wooden post and a bunch of grapes. Hardly holiday snaps.

The next day I stayed at Claire's house for the morning while everyone went out. That's when I got cracking. I scrabbled around outside gathering sticks, leaves, small stones and handfuls of earth - elements of the land where she now lives. I stuck them on Claire's picture and the other one. Fortunately things dry quickly in the Brasilian sun!

I added another layer of paint and texture. Finally, I cut words out of a magazine I was reading and stuck those on.

(I couldn't finish the other picture because I couldn't find an image I wanted to photograph or words I wanted to stick on.)

This is when the curious and unexpected thing happened. I was sitting with Claire the morning before her wedding. She had an email from the pastor of the church where she was getting married suggesting I should "say a few words" at the close of the wedding to sum things up. He thought it would be a nice touch and Claire thought so too. I agreed.

As I thought about what to say, I realised that the picture I had made would be a great visual aid. I made it to have meaning especially for Claire and Neto. Now I would have a chance to explain it to them in the context of their wedding rather than just leaving it in the pile of wedding presents and hoping they would "get it".

On the day (or the evening, actually - they got married at 7.30pm) I arranged for the picture to be taken in, wrapped in a piece of cloth. (I was walking Claire down the aisle and giving her away so I couldn't do it!) At the closing stages of the wedding ceremony, when I was invited to speak, I showed them the picture and spoke about the meaning of it.

It was great to be given the opportunity to speak so personally to them both, and to do it in front of their friends, family and church congregation.

Public speaking is my most favourite thing ever, so I was totally chuffed to be invited to take part. It rounded things off nicely for me.

I came home a proud and happy man.

Great post. (And how I HATE public speaking so I liked it even more.) Wish I'd been a fly on the wall -- and I love the piece! Maybe you could explain it to us?
Well ... I'll explain the 3 photos in the middle.

There was a row of vines in the grounds of the place where Claire works.

The first photo was of the soil ... representing Neto's land and the land that Claire has been transplanted into. It's fertile ground for them and they have - and will - flourish there.

The second photo is of one of the wooden posts supporting the vine. This represents the structure and support that Claire and Neto will need - and receive - from friends and family, to enable them to grow and flourish.

The third photo is of a bunch of grapes ... representing the 'fruitfulness' they will show in their life together.

Also embedded in the main body of the picture is a coin ... representing provision, and a cork from a wine bottle ... representing celebration!
A lot of people have said what a nice touch it was and how it made the wedding a lot more personal - we love the picture and it has taken pride of place in our dining room =)

Thank you, Claire!
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