Friday, 3 December 2021

Narcissus - the Wear and Tear of Ageing ...

 

Ow! ow! … ooohagh … don't they realise all that chafing hurts – much more than a cut-throat scrape …



What are they doing … restoring me, repairing, re-painting me, cleaning me …? I know I'm 500 years old but … it is 1997 after all.




They've been nibbling pieces of my paint, crushing the rough pieces of oils in their fingers to dust – for some reason they put this stuff into little vials – now I could gaze at those pieces of me …




Cut-throat razor
... they take me off into their ether … there I'm scrutinised from all angles, put into metal boxes which flash lights at me, other containers brightly shine at me … some close-up, sometimes from afar …



those people stand and stare, gossip until I'm subjected to some infraction … they seem to think it improves me – how could it? I am me – me - Narcissus – I, I cannot be perfected …


Syrian Vial from the 4th C -
today they are made from glass


Caravaggio created me using chiaroscuro … now he was allowed to pore over me, observe my very movements … so that I, in all my perfetto youth, would be captured tenebroso...



I believe they call it research … to see how dark and grubby this masterpiece of me has become – but look ... I shine so brightly out of the shadowy canvas … you can still see my reflection clearly in the pool – but they keep working, thinking they can buff me up …


St John the Baptist by Caravaggio
(1604) highlighting Tenebrism


Over the centuries they've dusted me off – then they attack me – it's nearly the 21st century – what do they expect … I am valuable as a masterpiece (that has not been so closely examined).




Yet if only I had known what was to come in the next 24 years … they've lost their creativity … it seems they punch things like keyboards (similar to clavichords) and out appears from the constantly changing mirror in front of them many images of me …


1977 unfretted Clavichord
I am me – me - the way Caravaggio painted me so empathetic to my youthful appearance – these 'reproductions' as they are called – do not credit me with Caravaggio's sympatico art-style.



Really they should leave me alone – I enjoy my place on the wall of the National Gallery of Ancient Art, Rome – where everyone can and does so admire me … completely fawning over Caravaggio's creation.



National Gallery of
Ancient Art, Rome

Wear and Tear – they need to look at their own lives … I've lasted more than 500 years, expect they only live about one fifth of my life.



Oh I'm so sensuously beautiful – and will be forever more … no wear and tear for me … more importantly no ageing.

Smartphone screen 21st C


The art work may age – and they can do their damnedest to restore, repair, or conserve – definitively in the era they live in … the technology seems to find things that would not have been found in earlier centuries, but I remain me – "Narcissus".



Wear and Tear begone!


Fine Art Conservation YouTube video by 

Julian Baumgartner of Chicago - for anyone interested


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

66 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That was a very clever play on the theme - well done!

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Oh yes, applause, Hilary - excellent interpretation for the prompt! YAM xx

Elephant's Child said...

I do love the way your adaptations of the prompts take us to different places and mindsets. Thank you. So much.

Vallypee said...

Very neatly done, Hilary! I like that very much and enjoyed how you applied the them. Well done!

Jacqui Murray said...

Very clever. I almost agree!

hels said...

I am more passionate about Caravaggio than just about any other artist, and delighted to see some of his works here. But it is sadly ironic that he died so young (39) and knew nothing about aging.

hels said...

ageing.

D.G. Kaye said...

A clever and entertaining posts Hilary, letting the objects say their peace. <3

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Damn good

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Enjoyed that, Hilary; very clever and amusing!

Truedessa said...

That was imaginative and entertaining.

Liz A. said...

We don't often look at the restoration from the perspective of the painting. I imagine some of that does hurt.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Very cleverly thought out! Indeed, what would a painting say if it could talk while being restored?

Debbie D. said...

Such a unique take on the prompt Hilary! Plus, it's educational and fun to read. Nicely done!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex – thanks … I enjoyed the write up …

@ Yam – so pleased you enjoyed my take on the prompt …

@ EC – I enjoy thinking out of the block – and it's great to have your positive comment …

@ Val – thank you … it was an interesting prompt …

@ Jacqui – Wear and Tear – sadly that's not possible to curtail is it …

@ Hels – Caravaggio has many artistic fans – but he was living a provocative life and did die in mysterious circumstances …

@ Jo-Anne – good to see you …

@ Mike – thank you … I learnt quite a few things …

@Truedessa – so pleased you saw it as imaginative and enertaining …

@ Liz – I went to a talk on a church art restoration/repair – which took this prompt in that direction … I will write up that post in the New Year …

@ Sue – it was fun … and I could so easily write more – but then one (me!) wanders off into different thought directions …

@ Debbie – so happy to read your comment – I always enjoy the learning process …

Thanks so much to you all – just very happy you enjoyed my take on the prompt … cheers - Hilary

David M. Gascoigne, said...

You are such a clever little, Hilary. What you have done with this is very entertaining. People will be lining up for restoration work....oops, they already are? Botox are you ready? A little rhinoplasty perhaps? And let's get rid of that loose skin while we're at it. A tuck here, a nip there. Will we even know you when it's all done? On second thoughts,let's leave well enough alone shall we? After all,we've invested a lot of years and bad habits to look like this!

Joanne said...

I smiled when I finished reading this. I bow my head too - kudos on a clever piece. You are on a roll this month!

Jemi Fraser said...

I love this!!!
Narcissus will indeed remain beautiful beyond our human lifespans!

Keith's Ramblings said...

In the words of - someone, if it 'aint broke, don't fix it! An amusing and thought-provoking piece Hilary.

Yolanda Renée said...

Excellent interpretation! Love it, Hilary. You always come up with a new and unique discussion! Kudos!

Dan said...

"Wear and Tear – they need to look at their own lives … I've lasted more than 500 years, expect they only live about one fifth of my life."

In so many ways, we should look at our own loves before we analyze and criticize. I think we've forgotten that lesson, Hilary.

Botanist said...

A very clever perspective. I'm only a fraction of that age, but I could honestly use a bit of restoration some days :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ David – wonderful comment – thank you … I've recently been to a church art-work restoration project and felt I could craft something appropriate for Narcissus – but there's so much involved … let alone dealing with our own imperfections picked up over the years! - but gives me character, as you say – leave well alone … could be so much worse.

@ Joanne – delighted … and so pleased you're enjoying 'the roll of posts' – I'm happy when people are entertained.

@ Jemi – thank you … and yes that art work will definitely outlast us … Caravaggio was a maser craftsman …

@ Keith – so many art works and buildings were attempted to be repaired before our time here in the 21st C – resulting in some instances of major destruction … just very glad we're wiser now.

@ Renee – thank you … I enjoy looking at life a little differently to others … and had a prompt for this theme …

@ Dan – we as humans certainly don't think do we: as much as we should. I understand earlier peoples didn't have the technical skills to repair things as we can today. Also as you mention we should be critical about ourselves, rather than others …

@ Ian – thanks … it was fun to draft and write up – well I could use a little restoration too – but leaving well alone is probably better and easier!!

Thanks to you all ... take care and stay safe - cheers Hilary

Annalisa Crawford said...

Fantastic, loved it.

Jemima Pett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jemima Pett said...

Great take on the prompt. I had a friend who worked in art conservation and restoration. He did a lovely talk for our art group on the colours these paintings would have been when painted - fascinating and enlightening.

Jemima

PS. You'd have been ROFL at my typo in the deleted version :)

mail4rosey said...

I already knew you had a way with words. Very well done!

Michael Di Gesu said...

I LOVED this, Hilary. Such FUN!!!!! Well done. A totally unusual and clever take on the prompt.

retirementreflections said...

Clever and captivating, Hilary. You held my attention at every word!

Olga Godim said...

Love it. A story from a painting's point of view. Very original.

Lisa said...

Talk about going right to the source! Excellent take on this theme, and not only fun to read, but intriguing to think about from that pov and informative! Bravo Hilary!!!

H.R. Sinclair said...

Love this! I felt it. 👏

Lynda Dietz said...

What a unique way to frame a restoration! I love the way you did this theme. And, as always, full of facts to teach us more.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Annalisa – thanks so much …

@ Jemima – I had to look up ROFL – now I want to know what you wrote!!
I went to a talk recently about the Bloomsbury Group paintings in a local church – where some wall painting conservators have been 'sorting' the art works out – so they're fixed for the next 100 years … where the idea for this post came from. I bet your talk was really interesting …

@ Rosey – many thanks – a 'quick draft up' with a bit of powdering over!

@ Michael – great … delighted you enjoyed it and my take on the theme …

@ Donna – many thanks … so pleased you felt you were involved as you read the post through …

@ Olga – oh good – it's funny I hadn't thought the post was from the paintings p.o.v. … shows you I'm not an author per se …

@ Lisa – yes … it took me back over 500 years and thinking about all the changes that happened to art in that time … so happy you enjoyed it …

@ Holly – many thanks … and yes I felt it too … after seeing some of the horrors that had been done to some paintings … Narcissus needed to be left alone!

@ Lynda - great your comment dropped in before I hit the post button to the comment thank everyone! I must admit I enjoyed writing it up ... and 'making it fit the theme' - in this shortish post ...

Thanks so much to you all for coming by – always lovely to see you and to note your comments – cheers Hilary

L. Diane Wolfe said...

If old artwork had feelings - brilliant!

A Cuban In London said...

The prompt was a challenge and you rose magnificently to it. Bravo! :-)

Greetings from London.

N. R. Williams said...

If only art in all its forms could talk. Well done. I had to smile throughout.
Nancy

Inger said...

Hilary, you are a amazing woman! I really and truly admire you so very much. This is such an interesting post, from his viewpoint, no need to mess with me, I'm perfect. Of course you are...Narcissus.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane – one does wonder what else has 'feelings' … though I still didn't realise this is what I was doing …

@ ACIL – thanks … I got lucky with my idea and am so pleased everyone is enjoying their read …

@ Nancy – lovely to read you were smiling all through …

@ Inger – always happy to have your comment – just very happy to know you enjoyed it. Yes – I was Narcissus … such fun to think about …

Cheers and always delighted to have your comments … Hilary

Deniz Bevan said...

This is brilliant! Love the wear and tear bit, especially. Great voice!

i do like Caravaggio! Maybe someday I can see this painting in Rome...

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Can't imagine those words coming out of my mouth: "I'm 500 years old!" Looking good for 500 years. Love the voice in this piece, Hilary. Never thought I'd feel sympathetic toward Carvaggio. I do now.

Sandra Cox said...

Brilliant!

Jamie said...

Let the art be worth the thousand words. Nice one. Was 1997 a year they actually restored this painting?

Sandra Cox said...

There are days I feel I could use some repair, restore, repaint:) Heh.

Pradeep Nair said...

Bravo!, Hilary. You have taken off wonderfully well on the prompt. You made the painting talk! :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deniz - thanks ... so pleased you enjoyed it. I'm sure Rome could be on your travel list - must be relatively easy by train from Geneva.

@ Joylene - no ... I agree I definitely won't make 500 years old! Caravaggio is an interesting character - I've come across him in history talks etc ... but he lived in his times ... I'm glad this post made you have a rethink about him ... !!!

@ Sandra - thanks for both comments - so often I wouldn't mind starting my life again - but I'll live a fair life time ... but not 500 years!

@ Jamie - art definitely shows us so much; 1997 - was just a quarter of a century from today in 2021 ... and almost about the time technology in so many ways really took off ... I've no idea if the Caravaggio has been 'restored/repaired', but I'm sure the conservators make sure it is maintained in the best of conditions, and kept in an appropriate space. So 1997 was just a date to help show my thoughts.

@ Pradeep - thanks ... so pleased you enjoyed the post ... it was a fun write up.

Cheers and thanks for coming by and commenting - Hilary

Nick Wilford said...

Very creative. Enjoyed this a lot.

Shilpa Gupte said...

If only paintings could speak! I am sure they would have a lot to say, not just about the restoration they are subject to, but also how we look at them and, at times, misinterpret them. Oh, and also how much of the world they have seen in all their life on the walls. :)

I enjoyed reading this, Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nick - thanks so much - I'm glad it entertained.

@ Shilpa - if only ...I do wonder what they'd say after being around for 500years... and where would they start... and then of course as you say - hearing all the comments about all kinds of subjects they'd have been privy to ... then perhaps we'd be enlightened more about their world too - way too much to think about !! Thanks for being here and so pleased you enjoyed it...

Cheers to you both - Hilary

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Fascinating and informative, as always! I have to admit, I never thought about the painting's perspective on being cleaned and restored :D

Shannon Lawrence said...

What a fun take, the art itself being the narcissist! This was a different spin.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rebecca - thanks ... it was fun to write up - and what does a painting feel, or what else is underneath ... we can't go back, but we can imagine a little ...

@ Shannon - a different spin ... I prefer writing those sorts of pieces ... but the painting couldn't get away from itself either ...

Thanks to you both - cheers Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

That Syrian Vial is beautiful isn't it?
Happy Holidays, Hils.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Really a novel and creative slant on the prompt, Hilary

Wear and Tear Begone for all of us! :-)

L.G. Keltner said...

This is so clever! I love how you tell your story from the POV of the painting, and I enjoyed how you brought modern technology into it at the end. Wear and tear begone, indeed!

Michelle Wallace said...

Fantastic, and in true Hilary-form-and-style. I love it!
Hope you're well, Hilary.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Peaceful & Prosperous New Year.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra - I too loved the Syrian Vial, even though Narcissus couldn't see in it easily - but suited the story. Thanks for the wish ...

@ Roland - thanks so much ... I had a prompt from here where I saw some art work being repaired. I'd love 'Wear and Tear' to be begone!

@ Laura - thanks so much ... I enjoyed the ending with the bashing of the keyboard to bring up a new image on the screen ... as it happens today with modern technology ... ending perhaps wear and tear.

@ Michelle - great to see you ... so glad the voice came over and that you enjoyed my take on the picture. It was fun to write up.
All well here - and I hope with you too down in South Africa ... have a blessed time yourself with family and friends.

Cheers to you all - so lovely to see you ... take care - Hilary

Bernadette said...

I guess only Narcissus would think that way 😅

Nilanjana Bose said...

You always have such an original, unique and informative take on the prompt. Fun perspective, but also thought provoking. Very cleverly done!

Kalpana said...

Aaah - the painting itself as Narcissus - brilliant take on the prompt and beautifully executed. Genius Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bernadette - sadly yes Narcissus is always him ...

@ Nila - delighted to read you enjoyed my take on the prompt. One (perhaps!) does wonder if things can feel and have some appreciation of what we humans are doing to their 'lives'.

@ Kalpana - thank you ... yes the painting is Narcissus - but doesn't think much of our computer-print art ... I just enjoyed this exploration on the prompt.

Thanks so much to the three of you ... delighted you enjoyed my take on the prompt. Cheers Hilary

Ornery Owl of Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost (Not Charlotte) said...

Fantastically clever to write the story from the perspective of the portrait. Truly unique!
Happy holidays if you celebrate such.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Charlotte - thanks for coming over - I'm so pleased commenters seem to have enjoyed my take on the prompt - by letting the portrait tell its story (or my version of it!) ... all the best to you for 2022 - now we're there. Hilary

Elephant's Child said...

Congratulations on your WEP award.

Kalpana said...

Congratulations on your well deserved win! I found your idea spectacular and your writing is always gripping.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks so much EC and Kalpana - I'm chuffed to have come 2nd - very pleased ... and appreciate your congratulations and thoughts ...

Cheers to you both - enjoy 2022 ... Hilary