On Vanessa Vie’s debut volume OPEN WINDOWS, OPEN DOORS (New Departures 2020)
Detail from ‘Self Portrait with Copper Hair’, Vanessa Vie 2019
Vanessa Vie sings vibrant song across the doors and windows
She opens. It will be a closed mind that bars entry to the kingdoms of words
In this book. New Departures lead on under Michael Horovitz’s direction,
For it is his loving guidance that frames Vie’s visions and words
Through sense hooks. From the start, you’re compelled by the beauty
Of this volume, from look, weight, touch, to paper, each is a stage
For Vie’s work that at last musics through with all of the vim she has mustered
To apply life’s full vigour to restoring the vistas hidden within ruined earth.
This is her debut book of poems, pictures and reflections,
That dance between rhyme and raga, Blakean shards, Northern Spain,
In which her Grandmother Marina’s sweet songs echoed across
Her own ages, compelling her to reach stages in which the vibrant forms
She has mastered fuse with the joyful, in efforts that ease daily pain.
A watercoloured drawing near Chagalls its every day collection of objects;
Bottle, book, scissors before a marmalade hue now enchant,
As Horovitz’s opening essay reveals the precious world he shares with her,
And Vie’s fresh devotions in image and word start to dance,
Vanessa’s words spume like jazz, from paw pen to pill bug,
‘Tis Life is word music as the next poem celebrates spirit crows.
Vie kisses infinity fast with
spick and span buds
‘Serendipitous cherry blossoms’
are breaking through like star bursts.
Each sense is alive. Words are musical notes
In these poems, and not just sounds to house feelings,
But boxes and bombs true love births.
‘Among the Trees’, Vanessa Vie, 2005 Acrylic on Canvas
The painting Among the Trees is a sea of wood, leaf
And sunlight. A still object set moving by a pictorial capturing
Of the wind that sisters such light and is sibling too
To Vie’s writing, in which bright image clusters,
Or a well strummed phrase makes words sing.
From an iconoclastic black cat to a restorative oak
That she portraits, this celebration of spirit, moves from love scented
Collage to fox bark. Simple shapes become plants, while ‘Angels spy’
High above her, watching the art’s pure emergence, as her Spanish
Celt-rain mingles with English dark. Lands collaborate here,
As does the emotive heart and eye witness, as Vie views all nature
And love’s nature too, she’s the Thames, ‘Kneaded and Weird’
In the old English sense, the ‘rill runnels’ Underground
Lining Cotswolds, the water’s energies, the land’s friends.
And so the poems commune, especially when accompanied
By an image. Each one shapes the other and each one achieves face,
As words fall like brush strokes and components of composition are rhyming,
For as the eye and mind receive pleasure, each aspect combines
In mind space. A drawing from Hampstead Heath shows The Shard
‘Being the River Thames’, Vanessa Vie 2019, Ink in Moleskin Sketchbook
Furl like a thumb for the skyline. A pastel apocrypha stuns us on page 36
As the poem it mirrors confronts the motions of fate as they strike us
And we grow none the wiser despite time’s harvest of light and sharp ticks.
Here, then, are visions of Hell as represented by heaven,
Man and mode intermingling with a surrealistic flash and beat smash,
‘An Apocrypha: Visitatio Sepulchri’, Vanessa Vie,2016
As splinters of experience fly and hatred heats for the hammer
Our sensory attempts at destruction, soon salvaged and saved
By the need
To understand a butterfly’s mind or any form of ascension,
The ‘mind adder’s fork’ raised to taste us; but in securing that taste
Vie collects her daughter from school
And receives a Superlunary visitation;
If ‘death is birth’, revelation can become it seems an occult
To which all children belong, future beards of fate waiting for them,
As if all time in a quantum, linked the childish stance and adult.
Drawn kiss tunnels connect two quickly sketched Blake-like spirits
That hover over this childhood and episodes in Vie’s life.
From pyramidic disappointments, through books to ‘Hymens in vomit’,
Poem and poet, music and line become PAST. A laundry line sings,
Caught by Tempera and collage on Fabriano paper,
As jazz requests now transport us from a sensory world to our own
In which daily senses are cut. Plastered now by Vie’s poems,
‘Beard,’ Vanessa Vie 2015 (Watercolour and Collage on Paper
As she catalogues each sensation with a strong crayon parade,
The mind’s blown.
Vanessa writes as she paints,
Clusters and clumps of impression. In Loggia 3 in a footnote,
She hears Mahler giving way to ‘Maelstrom vespers/Dusk/Dawn,’
Or, indeed, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, with ‘uplifts of maladies’ torpor’;
Allows sound and sensation to be written down, charted, drawn.
Superfood’s final word is consumed, as the white page digests it,
‘Superfood,’ Vanessa Vie, 2016 (Watercolour on Paper)
Creating a stirring within you that moves beyond simple reads.
These, then, are paintings to eat, and poems to apply like a lotion.
A perfect table watercolour warms you before a riot of collage
Four pages on starts a fire. The malleable flesh of a bosom
And the electric transmitter of pubic hair fall profound.
We are consumed utterly by these all too common obsessions,
Then raised to the elite of our wanting in a sonnet for requited love
‘Bright Star’, Vanessa Vie,2016 (Collage on Paper)
That astounds. As she strives to change a crow for a dove,
A white rose is soon chorused, as classicism reconfigures
Her Beatnik burn and heart blaze, Vanessa Vie’s world and work
Ignite the flame that aspires and allows the pen and the paintbrush
To become a legendary sword on each page.
As she Dissects noise to find more you hear her special sounds
Of becoming, through words as warning and weapons too of the heart.
A Japanese pigment conveys sex as the ‘will in the well’ dimlights a demon
That delights in a tantra and a sung raga of flesh, through love’s art.
Agog with Yeats she swan sails to Byzantium on heart water,
As if pleasure bred rivers on which the perfect bird of adventure
Found fashion and form from the breast.
Dustmen are seen lyrically, Scaffolders play as if children,
The mundane world finding focus as she savours and spits her word nets.
Here are roofers, Rough Trade and the Portobello Road in soft focus.
Here are Johns Lennon and Berger in terms of subject and approach.
She praises grapefruit, easter, oranges in a bowl, darkened towers,
The sense and sound of her progress as Dr Marten’s march is heard close.
Vie cures the day’s ill graced miles with her own need to question,
Both TS Eliot and a future that has made the First World War sound again.
This is an invaluable book. A tome for the times and sad English.
Sent by a Spaniard, who is fighting her own civil war and past pain
Against a barbaric day. But she has a bard (and band) of Faith
To protect her as Michael Horovitz now enables her search for a path
To heal all. Here then is a maker who sees all time combine and all poems
In the breaths of others and in the day’s smallest things.
Michael Horovitz OPE (Order of Poetic Empire) Vanessa Vie, 2015, Collage, Oil and Pastel on Paper
She poems. She paints. She introduces her music.
Vanessa Vie views us, and in opening windows and doors,
Each hope sings.
David Erdos, December 28th 2019
Open Windows, Open Doors (£14.99, 128 pages, ISBN: 978-0-9026892-7-5) is distributed by Central Books, and will be launched in January-February 2020. For more info, details of launch events, review copy, use of images, or to arrange an interview with Vanessa, please contact New Departures on 020 7229 7850, or via [email protected]
‘A Clock’ Vanessa Vie, 2005 (Acrylic on Canvas)
‘O, Robert Johnson’ Vanessa Vie, 2015, (Collage over Photograph)