With the Eye of Beauty: A Commission for Sophia
Sophia believed in the power of beauty, and she found it in complex thought, in the spiritual clarity of moral choice, in the discipline of loving another, in the physical beauty of nature, and in the perilous but wonderful battle with impermanence which is art.
Sophia loved art with a passion. Ever since that first trip to Italy when she was 4, works of art had had a powerful resonance for her. She enjoyed going to galleries, loved art books, and was knowledgeable about art history across civilisations. In fact, appreciating art was a kind of meditation for her. She not only absorbed every word of whatever art book she read (including footnotes—Sophie was an historian, she was naturally a footnote kind of girl!), she also lingered over the visual detail. Art was more than a spectacle for her. Art was an encounter.
It is therefore appropriate that part of Sophia’s ongoing legacy, one of the “ripples” of her life, will be the encouraging of the creation of works of art, works that reflect the ideals that meant so much to Sophia, works that embody spiritual beauty.
As part of the planning for Sophia’s Poetry Prize, a print run of 22 impressions of one of Sophia’s poems (22—one for every year of Sophie’s life) was commissioned from calligraphic artist Fiona Dempster, to form a personal memento for those associated with the prize (despite the organisational delay with which we must now deal, the edition will be put to good use).
Sophie knew and appreciated Fiona’s work, and it seemed just right to give the commission to her.
Fiona has completed the commissioned work, and it is a beautiful, precious thing. Each impression is a small, perfect object—so clear, so precise; delicate and yet forceful, like Sophie herself.
Fiona was given a free hand and she has created the kind of moment of loveliness that Sophia would have wished. Fiona chose a small poem from Rough Sleepers called Self-Portrait as a Reflection. There is a particular poignancy to it, of course, for the images held in Sophia’s own words are now all we have left of her—as Sophie was herself contemplating as she wrote them.
And yes, Sophia’s eyes were very, very blue.
For those wanting the technical details of the print process you can read about them on Fiona’s blog, Paper Ponderings http://paperponderings.blogspot.com.au/2017/01/letterpress-commission.html#comment-form
If you wish to find out more about Fiona’s beautiful work, information is available here on her website http://fionadempster.com