A New Beginning By Anna Conradie
1 – A New Beginning
She would miss the sunrises most of all. The soft grey of early morning descending into a fiery red that drips into tangerine oranges and baby pinks. No place in the world does sunrises quite like South Africa.
Leaving is always hard but this step was necessary. Not only was she drowning in a lack of inspiration, but a new city gave her so much opportunity to grow as a person and a creative. There was a whole world out there for her and she had yet to experience any of it.
She took in her last sunset in her home city, drinking in the hues and knowing it would be the last one she would see for a while. But there was so much more for her to fall in love within Aarhus and clinging on to something familiar for fear of the unknown was no way to live. Just as the sky started to fade to blue, the boarding gate opened and she stood up, making her way to a new life at the end of her flight.
2 – A Beautiful City
Her fingers wrapped around the cool metal of the railing. The soft yellow lights danced and glittered on the water, creating an image of swirling golds and deep navy’s that vaguely reminded her of Starry Night.
Her breath pools around her in large pregnant clouds. It’s colder than what she is used to here, but she supposes that was the point. She moved to Aarhus to do her Honours degree and with the hopes that she could find new inspiration. She had been having trouble writing anything that could be considered good over the past few months. She had hoped a change in scenery would entice her to craft beauty with her words once more.
The words, however, kept dripping from the pages in clumps of black ink, smudging and blurring her intention. Her fingers tremble over the keyboard and no matter how hard she tries, not a single word comes to mind.
She finds herself in a beautiful city, with so much to describe. She could compare the deep navy of the water to those melancholic nights spent alone. The softness of the lights to the warmth of a mother’s touch. But it’s easier when she’s away from the suffocating words. She can think all these things freely. It is when she sits down to relay everything that she has thought in such beautiful poetry onto the page that it all escapes her.
She sighs with a hopelessness that she is becoming used to. She takes the walk back to her wordless room with trepidatious steps. As she closes her door behind her, she wishes for the nurturing hand of inspiration.
3 – Molten Words
The little café is small and the lilt in the conversations bubbling around her is different to what she is used to but it’s comforting. She can melt into the language barriers and become invisible. It’s the beauty of being a foreigner.
Her Danish is alright, but she avoids conversation with locals when she can. Perhaps it’s the introvert in her, perhaps it’s the fear of the languages getting all muddled in her head mid-conversation.
There is a couple in the corner that takes her interest, her eyes focusing on them.
After a moment of watching, she realizes that she is wrong. They’re not a couple, at least not yet. They look on at each other with the gentleness of love and the longing of loneliness. Laughter fills their conversation as they draw closer and closer. Wondering how close is too close.
She wants to laugh, it’s a funny sight but she settles for an amused smile.
How lovely it is to watch two people fall in love without knowing that they are such. How amazing it is to watch the uncertainty in each touch and the analysis in every look. Clinging onto the idea that it is something more.
She looks back to the blank word document open on her computer. She could write about this moment, capture it forever in words. But the words are gone.
4 – The path to inspiration
It is after another unsuccessful day in that little café that has quickly become more of a home than her bland little room she rented, that she finds it.
At the entrance to the shop, there are all sorts of pamphlets and broachers for travellers and locals looking for something new. Usually, she brushes past them on her way out without a second glance but a particular one stops her in her tracks.
It’s a newsletter for an artist. She is not sure why she feels so drawn to it. Perhaps it’s boredom or maybe she was just curious but the fact that the painting on the second page is her favourite sort of blue assures her that she was meant to pick it up. It’s a sea green-blue that changes colour depending on the light. Sometimes it’s a richer blue and sometimes it’s a soft navy. It’s only a photo and she blissfully wonders what it would look like in person.
Her hand has opened it before she has fully processed what she is doing, she flips through it before landing on the last page. There is a quote by Bob Dylan “The highest purpose of Art is to inspire.”
She stares at it for the longest time. Long enough for some frustrated danish to be snapped at her as she stumbles out of the shop, the words rolling around in her head like a pinball. She doesn’t know why she is so struck by it. She knows the quote well but perhaps she has forgotten what art truly is.
She has been so caught up in her craft that she has forgotten to see the beauty in another’s. As she stumbles and stutters her way home, she decides to visit the gallery the next morning.
The pamphlet still clutched in her hand and creative withdrawal flowing through her veins.
5 – The Painter and The Poet
The bench below her was cold but she didn’t really mind. She was sitting across from the art gallery waiting for it to open so that she could go and look at the work of the artist who sought to inspire others.
She watched as the gallery slowly came to life little by little and then eventually, it opened for the world to come in. Standing up slowly, she made her way inside. Ready to melt into the carefully crafted reality the paintings had to offer.
She stopped in front of the same blue one that had reminded her of days spent at the beach when she saw it in the newsletter. Her eyes took in the shifting and everchanging blue and the soft details of the mountains that made her feel surrounded and protected by the painting.
“This is one of my favourites,” A gentle voice said from beside her. She turned her head and realized a man had was standing next to her and observing the painting just as she was. She smiled softly and looked back at the painting.
“It’s incredibly beautiful, I find it hard to believe that the artist would ever want to part with it,” She responded her voice light and airy as she took in every little brush stroke in the painting.
“What do you like about it?” There was genuine interest twinkling in his eyes and she felt that he had some attachment to the painting.
“It reminds me of the sea, it will never be the same shade of blue. Every day you get something new and as the light shifts and changes so does the water.” She only took her eyes from the painting when she finished what she was saying. She watched his features, analyzing his reaction to her words.
A knowing smile crossed his lips.
6 – The struggles of a Poet
She had only intended to go for a walk that morning, just a nice walk to allow her to get some fresh air before she had to meet her supervisor midday. She had not intended to go anywhere near the gallery. She had seen the gallery and found beauty in the works and went home.
But her feet weren’t listening to her head and before she knew it she was walking up the steps and back into the building. She wondered around for a bit, before settling on a bench that faced a wall of paintings and taking in the colours and swirls of the brush.
“Back again I see,” She turned to the voice and met the gentle eyes of the man from a few days ago.
“It appears so,” She smiled softly, “My legs decided this is where we needed to be today so here I am.”
He nodded, he had an expression that he understood, and she supposed that he could. But her desperate search for inspiration felt so personal and independent from the rest of the world. How could anyone truly understand?
“Correct me if I am wrong,” he started, that same twinkle dancing in his eyes, “But you are an artist, no?”
She felt surprise wash over her, “Of sorts, I’m a poet.”
She wanted to add “struggling” to her declaration but bit the word back.
He smiled with a knowing tug of his lips and just turned back to the painting without a word.
7 – Covered in Green
The green was deep and homely, it reached out from the canvas and wrapped around her like the embrace of a loving mother. It contrasted beautifully with the softer, lighter colours at the top of the canvas.
It was one of her favourite colours and she was dully aware that it matched her nail polish. Her eyes soaked in the charismatic details of the mountainous scene. She liked how detailed and simple the paintings were at the same time.
Being a wordsmith, all she ever focused on was the ability to create detail in a manner that completely emersed her readers but perhaps she had something to learn from the paintings. Simple things can be immersive too.
When she went back home that afternoon, she tried once more to write something. She sat in front of her computer and waited patiently for the words to come. And they did, none of them were good, none of them were worth much but they were there and that was all that mattered.
8 – Creative Conversations
She is writing again. Nothing of note, nothing worth being seen by anyone but her but the words are there, and she is grateful for the change. She can finally craft something far better than the empty silences and mindless wishing will ever be.
“You come here a lot.” She turns towards the voice that has become familiar to her. The man watches her with those twinkling eyes that remind her of her own and gestures towards the empty seat next to her. Asking if he may sit.
She nods quickly letting him know that it’s alright and then turns her gaze back to the wall covered in magnificent paintings.
“I saw a newsletter by the artist in a local coffee shop and I was instantly drawn to the paintings, but it was the quote ‘the highest purpose of Art is to inspire’ that lead me to come and see the paintings myself. I suppose I was in desperate need of some inspiration myself.”
He nodded, smiling gently at her, “It is all we artists ever try to do, inspire. I am glad I was able to help you with my works.”
She looked at him, her eyes wide and shocked, “You’re the artist?”
He laughed softly at her words, “Of course I am.”
She smiled, perhaps one day she would be able to inspire him as he had her.
9 – Let it flow
It came easily that evening. It was as if she had removed all the gunk in her stream of creativity and the crystal-clear water was finally flowing freely. She did not have to force anything out, she just let her hands find their way to the right keys and let her mind translate everything she had been struggling to say for the past few months.
She wrote about the blue that was never the same shade twice. That soft and gentle blue reminded her of home and serenity. She spoke about how it tasted, so sweet and subtle on her lips and the magnificent way it lingered long after its first occurrence.
She wrote about a man. A man that saw beauty in the world around him and let that beauty be his reason and his purpose. He turned the scenic world that he called home into masterpieces on a canvas. He learnt how to colour a world with subtlety and impact, and he sought to recreate the feeling that place had stirred in him. And he did so, so perfectly and beautifully was he able to recreate it all.
She wrote about a painter who sought to inspire and saved the poet without any words.
10 – Pay it forward
She hadn’t been back to the gallery in a while. Her sudden head-rush writing had resulted in her spending hours on end at her desk making art with words. But she missed it, she missed the art and the atmosphere. It had given her the ability to create and in some way she wanted to pay it forward.
He was there, quietly watching how people engaged with and reacted to the paintings and she couldn’t help but feel relieved. She approached him with shaking hands and the hand-bound book clutched tightly in her hands.
He caught her eye and approached her with that familiar warm smile.
“I see the poet has returned,” He spoke softly.
“I can’t stay I’m afraid, but I wanted to bring you something,” She said excitement dancing in her voice as he looked upon her with confusion.
“Your art inspired me so much and it helped me to find the will to write again, so I wanted to pay it forward. I collected all the writing I did that was based on your artwork and turned it into this little book. I hope you will enjoy it.”
She handed the small book over to him and smiled at him.
Turning on her heel to leave, she was stopped by his voice.
“I never did catch your name?” He asked. She looked at him, a smile tugging at her lips.
“Ellindur, nice to meet you.”
She knew she would be back again when the words dried up but until then, she hoped her words would help to make sure that his paint never dried.
By Anna Conradie