March 2016: Spurred on by a sense of place and Vincent Van Gogh


Looking back on a month when I was more fatigued and had my eyes on the prize of the Easter break, it is perhaps unsurprising that I collected videos to inspire and motivate me. Bringing together audio and visual, story and aesthetic, film can be both all-consuming and passive at the same time; an appealing and powerful combination for tired brains in need of spurring on.

When I started this series I didn’t envision themes to emerge, though in retrospect it’s unsurprising that the things I read, watch, enjoy should relate to each other in some way. If this month has a theme, it’s ‘context’.

Understanding our global context through GOOD’s video ‘If the world were 100 people’ I was particularly struck by the 56 people who don’t have internet access to even watch the video, and the 23 people who don’t have shelter.

Emma Allinson puts the latter fact into a personal context in relating the moment that changed her – becoming homeless. Helping out at a monthly breakfast club for people who need a meal and a loving welcome has shown me how easy it is for life to take unexpected and tragic turns like this.

My husband showed me ‘Life’s Work’, a film series of conversations with six Nova Scotian makers. I was particularly struck by Louise Pentz’s story in ‘Mother Earth’. After running a pottery for 30 years, she was increasingly troubled by the atrocities troubling the women around the world, and asked the question “Am I contributing to the problem by my silence?” . She concluded ‘yes’, and responded through her creativity. By understanding her part in the global context, she adjusted her personal context. Still clay, but in a different form and for a different purpose. The films are also beautifully shot.

If the trailer is anything to go by, ‘Loving Vincent’ looks set to be beautiful too, as the first feature length film where each of its 62,450 frames is a painting. Telling the story of Vincent van Gogh’s  life through recreating his paintings seems, if nothing else, the perfect context. I love this kind of storytelling.


At the end of the month we took ourselves out of our day-to-day context with a trip away to Rye over Easter. A time to retreat and reflect, to share and dream, to understand a little better our current context and how we can keep shaping it in the way we feel we should going forward.

This is part of a monthly series on the things that spur me on to keep going with intentional living. What has spurred you on recently?

Today’s soundtrack: Mumford & Sons // Babel

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