Sunday, 16 September 2018

Reflections on the painting of an unknown artist in the previous exhibition at Harbour Gate

Imagine first a rusty strand of barbed wire,
then a bird sketched in soft russets and sapphires
perched beside the spines, painted against the sky -
just inches from pain, yet also free to fly.

This week I am a participant at Confluence – an exhibition of collaborative art and poetry at the Harbour Gate, organised by Bahrain Financial Harbour and the Bahrain Writers’ Circle. The exhibition is the first of its kind on this island where poets and artists have got together to make some awesome artworks combining images and words. This is, of course, not the first time I've done this kind of collaboration, check out this post and this too, but putting poems up at an exhibition? - that's a first for me....However, it's not what I wanted to tell you today. 

What I wanted to tell you is that I was at the venue last Wednesday. The artworks were being dropped off in preparation for the display to be set up on the next day.  And the previous exhibition, a large one of some 40-50 artists from Philippines, was being taken down to free up space for us. One of those paintings caught my eye and inspired this quatrain. 

Life is about perching on barbed wires and knowing when to lift off, about balancing the risks with the toeholds. I guess I am that bird in some ways. And goes without saying, I am also a tube light - wasn't nimble enough to take a photo, or the artist's name, before they whisked it off the display, otherwise you wouldn't really have to imagine the barbed wire or anything...

BUT...on the other hand - think I'm on target as far as the writing of teeny tiny with superlong titles goes :)  

I'll let you know how the exhibition turns out - wish us luck! 


  1. Love that quatrain and will think about the narrow gap between pleasure and pain, freedom and confinement as I go about my day.
    And I always love your collaborations. The art enhances the poem which enhances the art...
    Good luck - and have fun.

  2. All the best! Wishing you luck!

  3. How neat that art (painting) inspired art (your lines). Lovely and it made me imagine the work. Hope you have a splendid time and soak up creativity and share yours. Folks who read your work are very fortunate...

    1. All writing and art in general is a response to something, or so it feels to me. Thanks for the support!

  4. Sounds like an intriguing experience!

  5. Hi Nila - I hope you can track the painting down. The exhibition sounds as though it was a success ... and combining poetry with art - really interesting concept - even if you can't read Arabic! Talk about an education out there ... cheers Hilary

    1. Entirely a success from my POV. The first learning was that people actually read the lines - an eye opener. More on this in my next post.