"Cannibalising" the World / by Jeannine Cook

Joan Miro famously once remarked that "That magical spark is the only thing that matters in art".  In other words, he noticed and absorbed everything imaginable around him in his life, cannibalised it and transformed it into art, especially in his sculptures.  The most amazing things became part of his art, from his children's toys to the famous paper bag which caused one of his foundries to exclaim, "You expect us to cast a paper bag?"  The answer was yes, in bronze!
Miro - sculpture, image courtesy of Jeff Epler
To me, the lesson Miro gives us all is that as artists, we have to be open to every possible resource, every possible influence, because from it, and usually from the most unlikely of instances, comes the spark that leads to creation of something new in our art.
We all know about those moments when we pass something which is part of our daily life and which, until magic suddenly happens, has been unremarkable.  Then, unexpectedly, the light falls on the object in a certain way, or there is a new relevance to it because of something else going on in our head... whatever.  Then the "cannibalising" happens, and we can incorporate a new dimension into what we are creating.
Other times, the world becomes fresh and exciting because of a visit to somewhere new, which talks to one.  That little voice inside one's head says, "Pay attention, this is important", even though, at the time, you don't really know why.
This happened to me in Matera, South Italy, when I was looking at Neolithic shards of pottery in the Archaeological Museum.  They fascinated me, and I draw a lot of them, something I normally don't think of doing.  But as I drew them, I began to realise I was linking back to early artists who had, in their turn, looked around them in their world and cannibalised images from what they saw.  This was a link of many thousands of years, a fact which made an even greater impression on me.
Once home again, I realised that these notations that I had made were potentially the basis of a series of silverpoint drawings.  I was cannibalising on the world I had encountered in Matera, in essence.  This is one of the drawings.
Basilicata # 3 - silverpoint
Thanks to those artists working aeons ago, I started doing work that is totally different from my normal drawings.  Sometimes it is definitely fun to be a "cannibal of the world".