Time to stop and stare – refreshing the muse

foundling2I’m good at giving myself homework. Most of the books or articles I read are part of an organised research list. I’m bad at allowing myself downtime. Even when I decide to read for pure curiosity, the editorial spy is on alert, muttering in the basement. Why was that sentence so devastating? Why do I feel this way about a character?

I don’t mind that. It’s the way I’ve always read anyway. But sometimes I need a rest from my forensic brain. And from book agendas. The chance to just poke about, dawdle and wonder.

I’m fond of junk shops for the haphazard discovery of oddness. But I really can’t resist art installations.

Last week I went to the Cornelia Parker exhibition at the Foundling Museum in London. More than 60 artists were riffing on the theme of ‘found’. A sleeping bag beneath a painting in the grand picture gallery. A cheap plastic mirror left on a chair, looking at first glance like an iPad, but when you peered over it, reflecting a royal icing ceiling.


A year’s worth of tickets from a pawn shop, many of them for wedding rings. A stick that had been used to stir paint, and had acquired annular rings of colour, year on year. A collection of playing cards randomly found on streets.


A crazy video where a woman described how several vegetables had fallen through her ceiling and landed on her bed, which she took as a holy sign. A bronze cast of a newborn baby, isolated in a room on its own, made even more tiny by the tall walls. A bottle found on the sea bed by a scuba diver, encrusted with organic structures. An unfinished painting from a garage sale, showing a pair of girls with blank faces. A sequence of sofas being sold on eBay, whose buttons and creases seemed to suggest faces. Two manila envelopes folded into an origami shape in the corner of the room – for no reason; just because.

Although these artists weren’t working in words, they were doing what writers do. They collected scraps of life and made them into things of fascination, or oddness, or absurdity, or poignancy. Or things that defied analysis, but were just themselves. And they showed it’s amazing what jumps into your mind when it’s off the hook.

Where do you go to stop and stare?


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  1. #1 by ccyager on September 4, 2016 - 8:15 pm

    I tend to seek Nature when I need to stop and stare. My home is close to a lake that has a park around it, so I like to go there, walk, sit on a bench, watch people and the wildlife. It’s quite relaxing and helps to empty my mind. Walking does wonders for me. I can’t go to anything artistic because I engage too much with it. Your art exhibition sounded like great fun. I also like to turn on classical music, close my eyes, and lose myself between the notes.

  2. #3 by rajatnarula on September 4, 2016 - 9:07 pm

    Lovely. So true about writer storing scraps of information for later use.

  3. #5 by authorleannedyck on September 5, 2016 - 12:48 am

    And it’s amazing what can happen to you creatively when you allow yourself down time. One could argue that it’s as important as actually writing.

    • #6 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on September 5, 2016 - 7:55 am

      Yes, I think it is, Leanne. You never know when some of it will emerge – or how it will.

  4. #7 by DRMarvello on September 5, 2016 - 1:58 pm

    I’m a nature lover like ccyager. I stop and stare at natural beauty wherever it’s found in the desert, mountains, plains, or sea. Critters in their natural environment fascinate me too. Right now, the squirrels are working over the ripe pine cones hanging from the trees in my back yard (my back yard is 40 acres of forest and meadow). I can watch them for ages, scampering out onto the branches to collect their winter food supply.

    Perhaps it’s just my introverted ways, but I only seem to recharge away from people and the things of man. When I lived in the city during my youth, I always made and effort to get a “tree fix” as frequently as possible.

    There’s also something engaging about the ecotone between nature and human habitation. In Kenmore (Perthshire, Scotland), my wife and I discovered what was once a beautiful stone building. It had fallen to ruin years before and had been taken over by trees, shrubs, and birds. Peering into the window openings revealed a diverse forest filled with birdsong and the frenetic flitting of an aviary. It was a poignant reminder that humanity’s footprint on this earth is ultimately temporary.

  5. #9 by dgkaye on September 6, 2016 - 2:09 am

    Loved this post Roz. It was fascinating to see how collected pieces of life form the stories into art. Thanks for sharing, I can easily see where creativity can awaken from the absurd and unusual. 🙂

    • #10 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on September 6, 2016 - 6:08 am

      ‘The absurd and unusual’? The absurder/more unusual, the better! At least for me. Thanks, Debby 🙂

      • #11 by dgkaye on September 6, 2016 - 2:16 pm

        🙂 My pleasure.

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