We met as we hid from the men that stared at us on the overnight train to Venice. Breaking the rules, we jammed the carriage door shut with our backpacks and attempted to sleep, rolling up our jackets as pillows as the men stood in the corridor, eating us with their eyes.
Who knows what they expected to see? A peep show on rails?
Three twenty-something women, we never really escaped this sort of attention until we hooked up with Jasmine – a tall patrician-looking woman in her 50s with a cut-glass English accent. Jasmine did a great impression of a chaperone in her long black winter coat, although she was as much “up for an adventure” as we were.
Sarah was athletic, blonde and beautiful. From New Zealand, she explained her theory of spirals to me and, thirty years on, it has become part of my life philosophy as well.
When things go wrong, she explained, it can develop into a spiral of failure and frustration. Bad thing after bad thing happens, much like the nightmares we all have where we are trapped in a descending cycle. When you sense that a spiral is developing, you have to take a dramatic action to jump out of the pattern.
One of the reasons this idea made sense to me was that I was already slightly obsessed with spirals. They have always appealed to me as I noted them on snails, shells at the beach, Ionic Grecian columns.
Earlier in my travels, I had delighted in the casement window catches in old English homes.
In Nice, I sat to paint a panther sculpture, attracted by the curve of its tail.
The spiral has always had a place in artistic composition, formularised in the Fibonacci Spiral – a “golden” spiral which gets wider by a factory of φ (phi) for every quarter turn it makes.
According to this informative article, Leonardo Da Vinci used this golden spiral in many artworks, including the Mona Lisa.
I keep coming back to the spiral too, but I don’t use a formula. I just find beauty in the curves. They make me feel good.
Here are some of my spirals