Rust and Renewal

by Carolyn Stubbs 3 months ago in art

A parallel to life

Rust and Renewal

There is beauty all around us, even in what often appears to be the mundane, if only we care to look more deeply, allow ourselves more time to pause, to think.

There is always something extraordinary to be seen even in the very ordinary. The beguiling magical details of life are quite often hidden, yet can be found in the most unexpected places.

I would often pass a rather sad and neglected-looking old car when out walking with my dog. At first I hardly noticed it, a rusting heap of metal with peeling paint, and clumps of moss on the dirty windscreen.

Where there were once headlamps and a metal grille, there were now just empty holes, framed by ragged corrosion, nibbled away and long since devoured. Yet it was once somebody’s pride and joy. Maybe it was still loved, as the classic old Ford Escort Estate built more than forty years ago, it seemed to be in its final resting place.

Years of undisturbed cobwebs within the interior bore testament to this.

I hadn’t been past the rusty car for quite a while, and so when I next came across it, I was in for a big surprise.

In fact, it almost took my breath away! The whole scene of decay and degeneration had been transformed into an arresting picture of startling beauty. Springing up beneath and around the vehicle was an explosion of tall wild daisies, partly cloaking it with wild flourishes of nature!

The harsh rusty spikes of metal had been softened, and the neglected appearance all but forgotten. I just had to paint it. The contrasts of the rusting car with the springing up of natural forces are particularly symbolic for me. Time and nature had left their indelible marks.

I have often wondered why so many artists are attracted to decay and renewal, by the ephemeral and the transient, the forces of nature. I think it’s perhaps because these subjects have the ability to evoke an emotional or sensual response upon the viewer, making us think about our own mortality, the fragility of life.

The American artist Robert Smithson, famous for his earthwork Spiral Jetty was also intrigued by the idea of entropy, the inevitable disintegration of all objects in nature. The gradual changes over time to the appearance of his Spiral Jetty, ultimately realized one of Smithson’s key themes, that of decay and renewal; degeneration in all things.

Artists' interest in the aesthetic qualities of disintegration, the natural law of decomposing matter, has persisted throughout the history of art. Renaissance paintings were often littered with the remnants of Greco-Roman statues and the wounded bodies of martyred Saints. Paintings of ruins, symbolising natural devastation with the transience of the built environment, continues to intrigue us.

Yet as always, nature will triumph and have the upper hand.

Today we live in a world of instant communication, and sophisticated advancing technology. This is an age where speed of information and global news coverage is at the touch of a button. Our present society faces more ecological and ethical challenges than perhaps at any other time in history.

We have the ability to alter the very molecular structure of human, animal and plant forms, leading us into an unknown future, one where the consequences of actions taken today could be irreversible for the generations of tomorrow. Scientifically and materially, the developed world has catapulted into new horizons of breathtaking proportions.

In a world that often seems to be focused on materialism, it’s very easy to overlook the many simple, yet beautiful things that surround us; these are the very foods that can nourish and uplift the soul, quite like nothing else.

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