Artists On Art: Miles Richmond

November 12, 2011 § 1 Comment

“We must recover the sense that an artist’s training is a training in access to a boundless realm to which the visible is a frontier. And recover the sense that his responsibility as an artist is to bring back, as faithfully as he can, any intimations he may receive in his journeys over that frontier as his contribution to the enrichment of the country that has nurtured him and the times in which he lives.

We must recover the sense that the commitment to materials cannot be sidestepped. Inevitably we approach our subjects with thoughts and feelings; only training in grappling with materials in the presence of the subject makes it possible for thought and feeling to go away, enabling immaterial imagination to materialise, the artist to approach the unknown, and recognise the invisible companion who walks with him, called variously spirit, angel, muse.

This is the sense of vocation Bomberg believed in and which gave him his confidence that imagination transcends the mundane. His insights, and Blake’s, have been essential guides for me through the wilderness of subject and object. I have found Blake’s definitions illuminating and beautiful:

“All that we see is vision, by generated organs gone as soon as come, permanent in the imagination.”
“The nature of infinity is this; that everything has its own vortex…”

Blake has an unrivalled lucidity. It is literally true that whenever one approaches a subject with the respect for another, and not as a mere construct of the mind, it begins to take on this mysterious energy of vortex, which swings one, and flings one all over the place. The frenzy of the artist, notorious in ancient as well as modern times, is the outward evidence of his determination to touch at least the fringe of this whirlwind as it escapes. Only time will tell what sense he has brought back, but he has no doubt of the awe and power he has approached. The vortex is the passage of everything from its temporal to its eternal condition.

Drawing is the essential training of the artist for this encounter with the vortex. A training in ridding the mind of preconceptions, a training in attention to the pulse of expansion and contraction within the sensory field, a training which gradually co-ordinates, stimulates and accelerates perception to the point where hyper- perception can take place. Without this hyper-perception the vortex is invisible, as is our transit from embodiment to disembodiment where we encounter the invisible realm of imagination.

The materialist view that I am a substantial and continuous body rests on the limited evidence of normal perception. In fact I am here, and not here, but my transit from embodiment to disembodiment is so rapid that it escapes normal attention. But it is an important insight that has been observed and recorded by poets and artists and visionaries throughout history. And it is the basis and core of artistic responsibility.

The artist’s trained response to the tick-tock, tick-tock of the here and not here, enables him, within the medium of his work, not only to give expression to this rhythm, or beat, but to enrich his work with some of the unknown nourishment flowing unceasingly though these minute gaps which reveal eternity between the moments of our embodiment in time. Art must often interpret this material to normal sense, and the fleeting impressions of eternity in great art are in no way illusory. It is this positive affirmation, however tragic the subject, which nourishes us today, and inspires us tomorrow, in all the masterpieces of art.”      -Miles Richmond, 1922-2008

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§ One Response to Artists On Art: Miles Richmond

  • Thank you for this post. I did not know about the work of Miles Richmond. I love these pieces, and his idea that “I am here, and not here …. [this] is the basis and core of artistic responsibility.” Yes.

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