Haiku and Visual Art: A Winter Ginko

Martina Taeker, RR for SA, recently conducted a ginko in the Art Gallery of SA and based on her experiences offers some thoughts on how a winter ginko might be conducted indoors.

Are you and your haiku feeling a little tired, cold, or stale? Have you thought about taking a ginko, but put it off because it’s winter and you’re still coughing from the last flu you caught?
Try taking a ginko indoors, at your local art gallery.
Don’t know anything about art? It doesn’t matter. After all you are not intending to write a thesis. You want to enjoy some art, be inspired and invigorated by it, and use this experience to create art by writing haiku.
Artists have been inspiring each other for centuries. It is useful for artists to be exposed to the work of others. You can see what subjects they choose and how different artists tackle a particular subject in different ways.
Remember to observe the people around you in the gallery, but discreetly. People respond to the same piece of art in individual ways and that too is grist for the artistic mill of your pen.
If this is your first visit to a gallery, begin by wandering slowly through it. Notice which art works catches your eye, but don’t stop. Get an overview before focusing in on one area. You might even find that this is more than enough material for one day. In which case you can return for another ginko in a few weeks.

Once you have had an overview, then focus in on the works that caught your attention. Perhaps the art on a particular wall or in a particular display case interested you. Perhaps a certain style, such as Impressionism or Cubism. Perhaps certain subject matter appeals, such as seascapes, urban vistas, or portraits. Even if only one painting caught your eye, that can be more than enough material to inspire several haiku.
How? Some of the following suggestions might help you turn your experience into haiku.

v Observe the rooms themselves and your reaction to them. Their size, lighting, sounds, smells, colour.
v Are you drawn to paintings on walls or items in display cases? What, specifically, draws you? Why?
v Is there anything on display that repulses you? Disturbs you? Why?
v What other feelings do the gallery or the works stir in you? Are you overwhelmed? Awed? Curious? Disappointed? Annoyed? Why?
v Are you judging the works or trying to understand them? Do you have trouble seeing some of the items on display as art? Why?
v Are you drawn to a particular style or period? A particular artist? What, precisely, attracts you?
v Do you read the information about the work or ignore it? Why?
v When you observe the same work from a distance and then up closer, how does your impression of it change?
v Have you been here before or in another gallery? What memories has this visit stirred?
v Have you taken any art classes? How did you feel about art in school?
v Do any of the paintings remind you of places you have been or people you have met?
v Do the other people in the gallery feel as you do? How do they respond to the art around them. Do any of their responses surprise you?
Before you leave check out the information desk. They often carry a brochure detailing upcoming exhibitions which might provide further inspiration. Also, the bookshop often has postcards or bookmarks featuring some of the works in the gallery. If something has struck a deep chord with you, you might be able to take a small version of it home for future enjoyment and reference.
Finally, don’t forget that experiences which can be turned into haiku are present even before you reach the gallery. Is there anything about organising your ginko that is haiku material? What about the actual travel to the gallery? The travelling home? Once you’re sitting comfortably at home again, what do you remember most about the day?
Enjoy your indoor ginko and your communion with other artists. May this experience challenge and invigorate your haiku writing.