I NEVER SAW AN UGLY THING IN MY LIFE
TO QUOTE THE INFAMOUS JOHN CONSTABLE
“I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may – light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful”
Despite my lack of any tangible form of memory function, especially when it comes to what people have said, this quote has always stuck in my mind from when I first happened across it.
I was doing a short photographic project on overlooked things of beauty in everyday life (to build up my portfolio to get into University as it happens). The finished piece consisted of some mediocre photographs each with an accompanying quote. Not much of it stays with me, but 6 or so years on from completing the project – this quote often jumps back into my mind.
I DON’T LIKE CONSTABLE
I know I am deviating from the main image relating to this post and what I was going to write about – so please forgive me of a short interlude.
I don’t really like Constable. There, I have said it! I like his quote, that’s good and I agree wholeheartedly with its sentiments, however, I do not see it applied to Constable’s images in practice.
To me – his paintings symbolise many things that are bad about the sublime and picturesque portrayal of British countryside and rural life. Overly sentimental, inaccurately portrayed and at times dismissive of the true nature of our landscape.
For me, he does not show the beauty in all things, he shows a stereotypical portrayal of a landcsape. No doubt, his imagery has been a large factor in creating this stereotype – but for me, the fact remains. I find his subject matter a bit obvious and over stated and his colour choice too drab and romantic.
Compare his paintings to that of Turner and to me there is no question that Turner’s images where far more imaginative, evocative and representative of British landscapes.
I could go on, I wrote my dissertation about such things…but thats a whole other post!
THE LOVE OF SMALL THINGS
Going back to this image and the quote – I guess much of the photographic work I like and indeed make is based around finding almost all things beautiful in their own right. When you really try and apply Constable’s quote, it is quite accurate – beauty really can be found in all things and representing it in any creative way, for me, is very rewarding.
These paint chippings caught my eye because of the immense range of colours in them. There I was at the college I work at, picking bits of dried paint of bottles (more because I cannot stop fidgiting and fiddling than an OCD way) and as they came off, I noticed what amazing patterns they made.
This chance, random creation of something aesthetically pleasing really interests me. The lack of intention, thought or method in their creation and the randomness of their beauty being found is something I find fascinating.
I have still never managed to represent this side of random aesthetic chance in any meaningful way, or in any body of work I am satisfied with. Perhaps its not possible because the very act of taking a photograph of such things takes away the joy of finding them, in situe, for oneself. But the search continues…