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A place full of life

I recently visited the workshop of a local sculptor, John Mills. Here are some thoughts I wrote down afterwards...

It’s quite tidy, but not unnaturally so. There’s a sense of life about it. That comes from the work in progress – a World War One Tommy missing a boot, a three-quarters-finished dog, Brian May on his side (minus guitar). It comes from the tools lined up along the wall – you get the feeling every one is there for an exact, understood purpose. Most of all, it comes from the figures crowding the storage space. Busts of men, women, children. The artist’s father, striding towards us with extraordinary vigour and (that word again) purpose. Divers caught mid-flight. A kicking donkey. Two lovers. Every one of these figures seems to radiate vitality, energy, ‘beingness’.

It reminds me of Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, and the way he found the life force in a vase of flowers (and a dose of mescalin, but his point was that once you’d taken the mescalin, you knew that force was there, even when drug-free). Huxley went on to laugh at the pomposity of much of what we do in the light of this awareness: “The world of selves, of time, of [passing] judgments … of self-assertion, of cocksureness, of overvalued words and idolatrously worshiped notions.”

The faces and figures in the studio seem to radiate the same deep truthfulness, that life is a miraculous gift, which it’s so easy to squander with petty self-perceptions and the fears they can arouse. Instead, let’s love it, live it, celebrate it, be thankful for it, keep it in our hearts – and, perhaps most important of all, bloody well enjoy it.

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