Jim Carter

Foreword to the paintings of Laura Menzies

In stillness the world discloses to us something of our true nature and we are refined the same, brought to light you could say, by the work of Laura Menzies. Out in left field we might find in quiet spaces the temenos which the Mycenaeans called sanctuary, here transcribed in a modern verse of the violet rectangle and the blue. Perhaps in old time, as it is now, sacred enclosures functioned for each pilgrim by withholding at first the gift of immediacy; even if they sought a nostrum, the maps and margins of the inward journey were surely enough and abundantly clear. For Laura, there is value in ghosts constrained by benign purpose, and she gives what little we need for intimacy with our own; we are made percipient, yes, by these yards of seeming fire and water, of lymph even, but the greater space is for mental effort, to sing each omen from the image as we would a poem or magic square.

Nothing here is willingly ambiguous and I sense that if my god were a colour, a shape or line then, by way of these markings, as in the holy precinct, I will have unearthed for myself the spell that grants private audience. With memory porous, the body set free, let the storied mind yield to natural law so that successive images, as Margot McLean would have it, come to rest within us and set to work on new elaborations. Perhaps it is here in refuge, in the brief communion of sense and symbol, that we encounter not only the moral sea but histories of our physical selves. Faithful to emotions that guide the impassioned treatment of her materials, Laura awakens us to the old parley of earth or air, body or psyche, and this must be the struggle of the celebrant. Her genie is out, as it were, to narrate with hidden words and within safe boundaries some fugitive detail of unconscious life. We move with the current so take counsel in its presence; we deal with the hurts and trace the abrasions for the allotted time.

However we respond to this power in an object, and I would say that here each painting has its unmistakable numen, we take our leave of it knowing that to conceal or obscure is not to diminish. We turn in cautious and healing light and though the world is ever so lit it sets aside for us these heightened, inward spaces. Together we greet at the edge the everyday and in the turning, as in the prayer of the beginning, we cede any further truth to the mystery.