Believing in Life / by Jeannine Cook

Each year, when I send out the invitations to my Art-Tasting open studio/wine-tasting party, I write a couple of paragraphs about something to do with art. It varies of course according, in a way, to what is going on in my life and thus colouring my optic.

This year, I took Henry Moore's observation, "To be an artist is to believe in life" as the theme.

I wrote : " Henry Moore, best known for his powerful sculptures, saw aspects of life that were grim and depressing during World War II. His drawings of people huddled in the London Underground, sheltering from air raids, are eloquent testimony to life's hardships. Yet his creations are all vigourous and enriching assertions of his belief in life.

 Shelterers in the Tube 1941, Graphite, ink, watercolour and crayon on paper, Henry Moore, (Image courtesy of the Tate)

Shelterers in the Tube 1941, Graphite, ink, watercolour and crayon on paper, Henry Moore, (Image courtesy of the Tate)

 Henry Moore OM, CH. Tube Shelter Perspective. 1941 , Graphite, ink, wax and watercolour on paper (Image courtesy of the Tate)

Henry Moore OM, CH. Tube Shelter Perspective. 1941 , Graphite, ink, wax and watercolour on paper (Image courtesy of the Tate)

The label accompanying the drawing, Tube Shelter Perspective. 1941,  said:  " This picture was exhibited at the National Gallery in 1941. It was described in the catalogue as 'a terrifying vista of recumbent shapes, pale as all underground life tends to be pale; regimented, as only fear can regiment; helpless yet tense, safe yet listening, uncouth, uprooted, waiting in the tunnel for the dawn to release them. This is not the descriptive journalism of art. It is imaginative poetry of a high order.' "

"In today's complex world, artists can play many roles, all of which celebrate life. Art can calm and heal, bring joy and stimulation, challenge and widen horizons. Believing in life allows not only the artist, but those who see the art, to remember that our time here is fleeting, potentially beautiful and very precious."