I saw this article on The Guardian Art weekly email and immediately knew I needed to read the book! I now have the physical book. Here are my notes from it:
THIS BOOK IS AMAZING
As humans we are hierarchical and believe that the higher up something is, the greater its importance, and we consequentially tend to desire things that are tantalizingly out of reach. As humanity we have looked up at the sky above us to understand our place in the universeMcCormack, C., 2019, The Art of Looking Up, White Lion Publishing: London, P.7.
the sky binds us to our planet but also presents a boundary that we long to break through. Looking up was led by a desire for transcendence beyond ourselves and this is, perhaps, why it is here that we have long projected our religious, cultural and social beliefs and philosophies.McCormack, C., 2019, The Art of Looking Up, White Lion Publishing: London, P.7.
This might also explain why the blank spaces of our buildings – the domes, the vaults, the ceilings – have proved irresistable to emblazon and decorate; they act as a version of the sky that we can control and occupy to our own design. The words are linked linguistaically, after all. The English word ‘ceiling’ is influenced by the Latin term caelum meaning ‘sky’ of ‘heaven’.
In 3000BCE we worshipped beings in the ground. Then..
The great sky-god cults emerged at the beginning of the Indo-European age and their dominance has not waned.McCormack, C., 2019, The Art of Looking Up, White Lion Publishing: London, P.7.
looking up fosters aspirations of immortality. The ceiling is an aggrandizing space for those who have the means to occupy it in visual form.McCormack, C., 2019, The Art of Looking Up, White Lion Publishing: London, P.7.
^ I like this idea, of a space being ‘occupied’ by power, ideas or belief.
This book is prompting some unplanned experiments in the studio:
My big paintings are so planned and thought out, it’s refreshing to paint in the studio with no idea where it’s going. I have a feeling the work I’m starting is going to involve lots of layers and reworking and some time between painting layers – very different to my usual way of painting!
Regardless of race, geography or creed, all gods occupy the sky.McCormack, C., 2019, The Art of Looking Up, White Lion Publishing: London, P.13.
^ Looking up is universal, across cities, countries, cultures, languages.
The images in this book are so inspiring. Some of the paintings (it seems to be more the Renaissance ceiling paintings) deal with such vast ideas of distance and height, and also vast and great frameworks of belief. Like on P.135.
This book is a vivid form of inspiration that I will pick up and look through often.