Fifth Blog

TASK: From the film in which David Marr is interviewed about Patrick White’s beliefs, summarize briefly what you think Patrick White’s religious position is.

I think of Patrick White’s religious position as spiritual but not religious. A Christian when he was young, he later strayed from Christianity and became disenfranchised by the institution of church. Marr describes White as searching for “a meaning in the world”, “a meaning conducted by an artist”. He was trying to make sense of the world around him.

He wasn’t exactly sure what he himself was or what he identified as because he was one of everything under the sun at some point in his life. However, he believed in a God that explained the existence of the world he lived in. He just didn’t like how religion was presented and portrayed in society. White also believed in a pursuit of purity, which underlined a lot of White’s works. Marr interprets this purity as “moral purity, a purity of life, a purity of work and a purity of spirit”. Marr also says that White liked some aspects of Christianity especially forgiveness and grace but he also deeply opposed other aspects of Christianity, mainly Chrstianity’s view of homosexuality, as White was a homosexual himself.

Same people may dismiss Patrick White as any kind of Christian but I disagree. Yes, he didn’t necessarily believe in church, priests, cardinals, ministers or really anything associated with the institution of religion but he did have a faith in a higher being, in something greater than ourselves. I don’t believe he ever really lost faith in the notion of God.

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Third Blog

TASK: Write a short blog of how what inspired you most today, or what moment you felt was most illuminating, or what you enjoyed most about today.

Anyone who knows me knows well that I am not a big art fan. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s beautiful, interesting to look at and I have great respect for the talented people who create these pieces; art is just not something I go crazy for. I still stand by this opinion but I can still appreciate the works I see.

That being said, I was in awe of Blake’s illustrations of the Book of Job in the Art Gallery. I am not an artistic person in any sense – I don’t have an artistic bone in my body – but my jaw almost dropped when I saw these plates. The detail and intricacies of the plates are extraordinary and the time and effort it must have taken to complete these is astounding. The illustrations are incredible and so vividly portray Job’s story and the relationships he has with God and Satan and with Heaven and Hell. I couldn’t help but stare at the images and feel such sorrow, hopelessness and fatigue then such joy and faith when going through each part of the story, much like I imagine how Job felt when undertaking his arduous journey. I was so enraptured with the plates and the story they told that that night, I took out my phone and showed my mum the photos I had taken of the plates and started, very enthusiastically, telling her all about the work Blake had done on them and started analysing and interpreting them for her right then and there. Mind you, she just sat there looking bemused at me but still listening to me, I believe!

Job and his Family 1828, reprinted 1874 by William Blake 1757-1827

Plate 1 of Blake’s illustrations of the Book of Job. Image from: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/blake-job-and-his-family-a00012

blake plate 11

Plate 11 of Blake’s illustrations of the Book of Job. Image from: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/8032.12/

Something else briefly that just caught my eye in Brett Whiteley’s studio was upstairs around the corner on the landing. On the wall were all these quotes by various people that Brett Whiteley put into his work and, I daresay, was influenced by. It was really amusing to just stand there for a few minutes and take them all in: some of them were just plain funny, some inspiring, some thought-provoking and some contemplative.

For someone who doesn’t thrive on art and doesn’t actively seek it out, I was surprised at how much I actually really enjoyed today and at how much I took away from today. I would highly recommend Brett Whiteley’s studio to anyone who might be wanting a different type of art and a different perspective on life!

brett whiteley studio

Interior of Brett Whiteley’s studio in Surry Hills. Image from: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/brett-whiteley-studio/

 

Second Blog

TASK: Say whether Blake’s view of the Divine challenges or expands your own views of Religion.

Coincidentally, I had a very in-depth and focused conversation with a good friend of mine just today. While we are both Christian, we come from different denominations of Christianity: she from Jehovah’s Witnesses, me from Roman Catholicism. I was raised from birth in this faith – I’m not a fanatic but I still firmly believe. My friend had some questions about Catholicism for me – not to convert me, scare me or tear me down for my beliefs – but just to better understand my beliefs. This conversation only solidified my beliefs but it’s interesting to see the effect that conversations and investigations about religion can have on people.

In the case of Blake, it was interesting to hear his perspective but it still only strengthened my own beliefs that God is the absolute Divine who cannot be challenged or overthrown in any way. In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, it basically says that Blake and the churches of his time viewed people as “fools, sinners & nothings”, I believe people are unique and no one is like anyone else. Yes, we all have our differences of opinions but we are not all fools and “nothings”: we are all special and have meaning in our lives and our lives are made possible by the grace of God and his everlasting love for us. Yes, not everyone is perfect and we are all fools at some point in our lives but we’re not stupid all the time. However, “The Song of Liberty” says all humans carry God with them in some kind of capacity and I do agree with this and the song also says that “every thing that lives is Holy”, which I believe can serve as a summary of Christianity as God created everyone in his image and he created the world in six days.