What is Invisible to others / by Jeannine Cook

"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others". This was an interesting remark, made by Roberto Polo, artist and founder of Citibank's Fine Art Investment Services, and quoted in the 19th November, 2011, edition of The Spectator by Bevis Hillier.

I found the idea thought-provoking, and was reminded of it in an unusual context. Tomorrow morning, at about 7.30 a.m. in Palma de Mallorca's magnificant Gothic cathedral, La Seu, there is a moment of pure magic.

At that time (and again in November) every year, the giant rose window lines up with the rising sun, and a perfect glowing circle is projected across the vast cathedral to the opposite wall, where another rose window joins in the celebration.

This huge rose window, one of the largest in the world, was created in the 14th century, in the Royal Chapel, using a Levantine design for its more than two thousand pieces of stained glass.

Its fleeting echo, twice a year, on the golden Mallorcan stone wall opposite, is an event that is anticipated eagerly for its amazing beauty.

These two images are courtesy of the website, Mallorcaquality.com, with my thanks.

The design and alignment, let alone actual construction, of this huge rose window is, to me, a perfect example of seeing, in one's mind's eye, what is as yet invisible to others. Its concept implied knowledge of the movement of the sun, the necessary geometrical siting in relation to the rising sun on the requisite days of the year, and an ability to calculate all these parameters and ally them with the actual building dimensions and orientation as it was being built. No computers, no cameras, no lasers... Just vision and skill.

Perhaps that ability to envision something that no one else sees and then to create something that renders the invisible visible is the ultimate hallmark of an artist, whatever the discipline. It is certainly an ability to cultivate.