I first came across Peter Lanyon’s paintings over ten years ago. At the time I had a conundrum, I was looking at a career in the visual arts but my natural affinity was with moving in the world, not looking at it. My only arena for this was ballet and I was awful at it, my teacher often having to disguise her horror at my imprecise joy in throwing myself around. There were no release based contemporary dance classes on the Isle of Wight where I had grown up or things may have been different. I spent a lot of time outdoors on the beach and I wanted to paint how it felt to physically be in landscape, rather than what it looked like viewed from a fixed point. Lanyon did just that and I felt such an affinity with him that at 18, I made a decision. I moved 300 miles away from home to experience what he had, paint what he had, and immerse myself in his homeland, Cornwall. I was subsequently reffered to by critic Max Andrews in New York Arts Magazine as part of the St.Ives New School (read the article here). Tate St. Ives has recently held a restrospective of Lanyon’s work called Peter Lanyon, which ran from October 2010 to the end of January 2011.
So why am I writing about this for dancers? If you have been following this series you will know that I now make movement as well as visual art. Furthermore Lanyon was interested above all in movement, and his articulation of sensation and the effects of gravity on the human body are something that I think many dancers who have studied contemporary techniques will relate to. The friend that I went to see the retrospective with, a painter and designer/ maker for interdisciplinary theatre, was struck by how odd it was for a man so preoccupied with movement to have chosen painting as his media of choice. Lanyon was interested in exploring ‘forces greater than ourselves’. On flying a glider plane he observed that ‘sitting in the air you are sitting in all dimensions’. Lanyon developed an abstracted visual language to express sensations, the idea of becoming a bird or to articulate the way air moves up the cliff.
These are all plainly recognisable as movement themes. Those of us trained to be aware of what is happening in our bodies from minute to minute will know that…..
Read the full story here: www.danceuk.org/news/article/alexis-investigates-d…