Emerging from the chrysalis

‘Somehow then I move to a renaissance of my own – a discarding of the chrysalis an impulse forwarded by the influence of Ibsen, Nietzsche,  Zola, Dostoyevsky, Picasso, the Chinese [exhibition], MacMurray and Lewis Miller. In the main it is the revolt against logic.’ Letter to Lewis, 25/7/35 Held by the Mitchell Wing of the State Library of NSW in MS1005.

The search for Miller has been going on for some years now and is a research journey quite typical of others I have read about, in that researchers are buffeted by rough weather as you attempt to make your shoring to meet your subject. My journey has been such and there are moments when I despair, specifically when I am laboriously transcribing faded manuscripts or when I receive no replies from tentative reaches out to knowledgeable others or when my own life intervenes – and then out of the fog of it all shorings are made and I can feel the sand of a Miller island at my toes.

Today is Sydney sunny again but today also suggests Sydney balmy weather is on its way.

Tropical Pyramid - not quite like Miller saw in Egypt!

I received returned emails from New Zealand family all safe from the earthquake and subsequent tremors and the biggest specifically research news: Artarmon Galleries, NSW is holding a Godfrey Miller exhibition 18 September to 9 October and it will be opened by the bronze caster of Miller’s sculptures, past student and sculptor in his own right, Owen Shaw. I have been searching for his contact details for some time and Artarmon Galleries have agreed to forward a letter on my behalf. From the locker room of the Mitchell wing at least inner whoops of joy as I ended the call – after giving my address for an invitation!

Still thinking too, on Francis Wheen’s offerings at the Biography masterclass and wondering if I will know when I have finished my research, as at this point the possibilities are endless but the reality is  I will not cover all the Miller materials in existence and I must know when to stop. Will there be a point where Miller feels fully formed in my mind ready for the page? Will I need to recognise – how many holes exactly? – in the net of his narrative. Given his voice is getting stronger and stronger will Miller himself give me a sign? Are these letters enough? He answers at least a preliminary answer that his life is contained in his wonderings and questioning:

‘I appreciate your asking how I was getting along. I have been aware that much of  these somewhat – prolonged writings of mine dealt with abstract matters coming from books and involved in painting and aware that it must appear that I was saturated in those things. But even with these recognitions what can we do else than say what largely occupies our minds and in my case particularly because as soon as I find my way to a certain development my activities will change very largely – from arguing and wondering to I hope execution and expansion. Until the recent past I have been occupied with the wondering and questionings – and as I have delineated these to you I have actually passed on to you news of my life. Beyond that my activities have been confined to getting food and finding the ordinary ways of  attending to necessities.’ Also from 25/7/35 to Lew

…and so I read on learning about lines, points and curves, Jung, H G Wells, Raval, Rupert Brookes, Maori dancers, Beethoven, Bach, Lawrence, Picasso, Ibsen and oft quoted Cézanne.

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