Desert Journeys 25
April 4th 2017
On my journey as an artist I often feel rather lost, as in a desert wilderness. I can be plagued by self-doubt, unclear of which path to take and starved of inspiration and direction.
The work I always turn to when floundering in such quicksands is Rodin’s Burghers of Calais. I first saw an image of this sculpture in a book at school and it affected me profoundly. I later saw the sculpture ‘in the flesh’ and was deeply moved by it. A version is displayed in the gardens west of the Houses of Parliament in London.
The work commemorates the heroism of the six Burghers of Calais who were willing to give up their lives to save the French port of Calais from siege during the Hundred Years War.
Such self-sacrifice is tenderly yet harrowingly depicted in the work; the figures’ expressions and gestures are anguished and melancholic, rather than self-glorifyingly heroic.
The six burghers were eventually spared execution, thanks to the intervention of Edward III’s wife Philippa.
This work that speaks so powerfully of the wilderness of self-sacrifice often serves to steer me through my own creative desert. That a work of art can have such a profound affect redirects me to the path of making again, however rocky that route can be.