Art and Photographic History Poetry West Cornwall (and local history)

Some thoughts on “resilience”

The splendid Penzance Literary Festival has chosen this topic as the inspiration for this year’s event. I have taken out my larger dictionaries and looked a little at its usage and etymology. The latter is not difficult as it derives directly from Latin and basically means something like the capacity to jump back.

The term resilience was introduced into the English language in the early 17th Century from the Latin verb resilire, meaning to rebound or recoil (Concise Oxford Dictionary, Tenth Edition).

resilience (n.) … 1620s, “act of rebounding or springing back,” often of immaterial things, from Latin resiliens, present participle of resilire “to rebound, 

From Ovid we read  “saepein gelidos resilire lacus, sed nunc quoque turpes” which Loeb gives as  meaning in Metamorphoses Book VI as Often they sit upon the sedgy bank and often leap back into the cool lake. This comes from a rather beautifully poetic passage at

We get the English expressions ‘Salient’ and ‘To sally forth’ from the Latin verb Salio -to jump. In Cassell’s Latin Dictionary we learn of the Salii who were apparently a college of priests who jumped and leapt about worshipping Mars in a procession accompanied by singers and armed dancers. Instituted bt Numa Pompilius apparently.

Returning to the concept of Resilience we can distinguish its meaning from something like Endurance or Durability; it is more springy, elastic and perhaps energetic. Principally, of course, the concern around the concept relates to the inner resources for coping with Covid and the restrictions consequent upon it. It is the psychology of resilience which makes it a concept current in the zeitgeist. Without much prompting Google asks –

What are the 5 skills of resilience?

Five Key Stress Resilience Skills

  • Self-awareness.
  • Attention – flexibility & stability of focus.
  • Letting go (1) – physical.
  • Letting go (2) – mental.
  • Accessing & sustaining positive emotion.

Additionally it further questions-

What are the 7 C’s of resilience?

Dr Ginsburg, child paediatrician and human development expert, proposes that there are 7 integral and interrelated components that make up being resilient – competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control.

Also from the Mayo Clinic-

Whilst thinking about this topic, I came across these lines from a poem entitled Women Running, based upon Picasso’s painting entitled Deux femmes courant sur la plage which seem apposite and uplifting-

That arm laid across the horizon,

the racing legs, an unstoppable quartet, pull

me from my skin and I become one of them,

believe I’m agile enough to run a mile,

believe I’m young again, believe age

has been stamped out. No wonder, I worship

at the altar of energy, not the energy

huge with hate which revels in tearing apart,

in crushing to dust but the momentum

which carries blood to the brain, these women

across the plage, lovers as they couple

and tugs at the future till it breaks into bloom.
Myra Schneider

Art and Photographic History Film Poetry

Robert Doisneau – Poetry in Photographs


The above photograph comes from an interesting website called

How might we read such a photograph? It has a surreal quality about it that we might associate it with Magritte. The artist, musician and his instrument appear in a classical composition like the three graces. They are starkly outlined against the white Paris sky in front of the descending staircase. The two men seem isolated in their solitude and their is a feeling of expectation and a gentlemanly respect for the instrument whose feminine shape seems implied.

<span class="title">Man at Flea Market with Vinyl Player, France<span class="title_comma">, </span></span><span class="year">c.1950</span>

There is a humane quality which suffuses Doisneau’s work- a magical charm. The photograph makes a nice comparison with the famous HMV poster. It is impossible to say weather the subject is more enchanted by the splendid device or the music emerging from the cumbersome, jolly gramophone. Probably he is entranced by both. His posture and beret adds to the general levity of the scene.

Les Pains de Picasso, 1952

Doisneau photographed many great artists and this photograph captures the master, Picasso in his characteristic striped jersey with his penetrating gaze. The photographer makes a marvellous joke with the distorted fingers of bread rolls. It seems likely that this was contrived between them. A morphic distortion and also an interesting game with perspective too.


Art and Photographic History German Matters Literature

European Cultural History and personal interactions!

Arte produces cultural programmes in English, French and German. The following programme which is in relatively easy German is well illustrated with drawings, original photographs and film clips and centres around Paris in the 1930s.

It is the period leading up to the Second World War and is particularly interesting on the splits between the Surrealists and the Communists leading up to the fight against Fascism particularly in the Spanish Civil War. It is also good on the developments in different forms of photography and the relationships of key figures like Louis Arragon, Max Jacob, the writer Andre Gide, Miro and of course, Picasso. The programme is worth watching for Picasso’s preliminary sketches of Guernica alone.

From the Arte Website we read that:-

Im Juni 1936 reist André Gide nach Moskau, wo er mit großem Pomp empfangen wird. Angesichts der sowjetischen Realität ist ihm der Prunk eher unangenehm. Kurz nachdem er nach Paris zurückgekehrt ist, trifft er sich mit André Malraux, der gerade aus Spanien eingetroffen ist, das sich im Bürgerkrieg befindet. Malraux hat die Fliegerstaffel „España“ aufgebaut und kämpft auf der Seite der Republikaner gegen Franco. Gide möchte den Reisebericht „Retour de l’U.R.S.S.“ veröffentlichen, der hart mit Moskau ins Gericht geht, doch seine Freunde und Malraux halten den Zeitpunkt für ungünstig. Der Aufstieg des Faschismus erfordere es, die UdSSR als einziges Bollwerk gegen den Nationalsozialismus zu unterstützen. Das Buch erscheint dennoch. Die Sowjets sind außer sich, die Deutschen jubeln.

Ab Mod Kunst

This may be found with more detail at and the whole series is available on 2 DVDs at

Two interesting figures from this period were Andre Malraux and Louis Aragon. Malraux himself was an Art Historian and significantly helped to build part of the Spanish Republican Air Force- and author of La Condition humaine (Man’s Fate) and himself the subject of biographies by Olivier Todd and also Harold Bloom. He was always close to De Gaulle and became a Minister of Culture from 1958-1969. There is an interesting review of Todd’s book at (Photograph below)


Here is a poem by Louis Aragon; it is in French and English translation-



Art Exhibition Reviews Penwith

John B Anderson 1945-1997, Cornish Artist

Head to Head at Penzance Public Library Nov/Dec 2013

These works were made in the last ten years of John B Anderson’s life. To quote from the notes at the library, “The fine lines adopted from his abstract period remain as precise: less indeed can be more. The work is observational, some of it quite quirky including bad hair days and some serene moments……… John B Anderson pushed his figurative work as far as he could towards abstraction: he then returned to a figurative style with a more restrained and pared back approach resulting in these fine line works.”


At there are further details including the remark that, “An artist who was to die in 1997 when in his early 50s, in recent years his paintings have been seen in various local venues, from Trereife Gallery to Penzance Arts Club, and the sequence of his works about to be shown in Penzance Library reveal his admiration for such as Van Gogh, Modigliani and Picasso, and his search for his own style through the figurative and the abstract.”



The following images scarcely do these paintings justice taken hurriedly with my mobile. They are hung rather high and difficult to see at their best advantage. However, their geometric style and their delicate colours make them very appealing and remind me in particular of the work of Oskar Schlemmer (4 September 1888 – 13 April 1943) who was a German paintersculptordesigner and choreographer associated with the Bauhaus school. Some of the images displayed may indicate this similarity as well as with the Bauhaus theatre designer, Lothar Schreyer.

Lothar Schreyer
Lothar Schreyer

Oskar Sclemmer Auf der Treppe
Oskar Sclemmer
Auf der Treppe

Oskar Schlemmer Postcard of Young Men
Oskar Schlemmer
Postcard of Young Men