I have worked in the office for Winnipeg’s singer/songwriter Steve Bell since the year 2007. I’ve met and been inspired to paint by many people through my job.
Many years ago, Steve met Malcolm Guite at a C.S. Lewis Summer institute in Cambridge, England. Steve was a guest performer, and was immediately drawn to Malcolm, a lecturer at Girton College who was also a poet/vicar/songwriter who rode a Harley.
The two became fast friends and collaborators. Malcolm’s sonnets were popular in the U.K. and Steve was inspired to use some of them as lyrics for songs on his 2012 Christmas CD, Keening for the Dawn. Malcolm’s voice, speaking some of the lyrics was included on the album.
When Steve told me the story of himself and Malcolm, I went online to find some photos of him. One photo in particular inspired me to pick up my paintbrush. It was part of a set taken by writer/photographer Lancia E. Smith, a friend of Malcolm’s who was writing an interview series featuring the poet.
I approached Lancia for permission to use her work in a series of paintings. While hesitant at first, one of the things that deeply struck her about this rare opportunity was the chance to “see what I see through someone else’s eye and heart and skill – depicted with nuanced observation. There are unique qualities that painting can capture and interpret, that can’t be done the same way through photography.”
I will always be grateful to Lancia for taking this chance and allowing me to interpret her photographic art into a new form.
A trilogy of paintings developed, through a collaboration of photographer, poet and painter. In later years, several others were created.
Portions of this narrative are in Faye Hall’s book, “Art Begets Art”, one artist’s narrative about her inspiration through other kinds of artists.
The Shop page of Faye Hall’s website includes the art book collaboration called “Seven Whole Days”, based on Guite’s poetry. Each line of his poem about the Genesis story is illustrated by a painting by Hall.
The “Song & Sonnet” concert between Guite and Bell was video taped by Andrew Wall of Refuge 31 Films. “Live at the West End” is available to view on Steve’s new media channel.
More info about Malcolm Guite’s poetry and books at malcolmguite.wordpress.com