Writing inspired by art

Well, I was just going to describe a recent piece of work as, ‘inspired by art’ – but then, don’t I go and discover it has a name all of its own, this sort of creative writing?


Silly me.

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“Ekphrasis has been considered generally to be a rhetorical device in which one medium of art tries to relate to another medium by defining and describing its essence and form, and in doing so, relate more directly to the audience, through its illuminative liveliness.”

Let’s just stick to ‘inspired by art,’ shall we?

Take John Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn, for example.


Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
       A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape

       Of deities or mortals, or of both…

Then, Walter Pater wrote so lyrically about Mona Lisa

“She is older than the rocks among which she sits; like the vampire, she has been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the grave; and has been a diver in deep seas, and keeps their fallen day about her; and trafficked for strange webs with Eastern merchants: and, as Leda, was the mother of Helen of Troy, and, as Saint Anne, the mother of Mary; and all this has been to her but as the sound of lyres and flutes, and lives only in the delicacy with which it has moulded the changing lineaments, and tinged the eyelids and the hands.”

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And apparently, William Blake said that poetry and art are ‘ways to converse with paradise.’ 

Hope so.

And I WAS inspired by art – another exercise for my creative writing class. Tutor, Roddie Phillips‘ wife, who also attends, is the stellar artist Catriona Millar. (It was through Catriona’s work that I met them both…and cajolled Peter into buying one of Catriona’s paintings for my birthday.)

Here it is. I love it so very much.

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Little Wing by Catriona Millar

Homework – to write a piece inspired by art. What else could I choose? (Though I had to step over the idea that it appeared to be very sucky-uppy to write about the work of an artist who would be THERE and also, possibly, fraught with danger. Say she hated what I wrote? What a difficult position she’d be in. And me. And Roddy too.)

Still. It came off.

Little Wing by Catriona Millar by Caroline Coxon

Dressed chestnut for autumn
Fallen angel
Floats in the air, between stillness and motion
Swept sideways, hair, nose, and shoulders
Insubstantial and substantial, both.
Dream of inception,
Dream of annihilation

The bird.
Vicious and comforting
Brooding black, pretty pastel-winged,
Thought of aggression
Thought of protection

Want for nothing.


Inspired by art.


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