Amy Hilton on ‘Ilha Grande’
With her image as the cover for TLmag’s 31st print edition, we decided to take a stroll down memory lane and take another look at Amy Hilton’s ever more relevant reflections on how isolation and solitude are among the keys to gaining a sense of unrestrained creativity.
“To know people, we have to isolate them. But after experiencing them for a long time we have to put these isolated observations back into a relationship with each other, and follow their broader gestures with a fully ripened gaze.”
Sitting still, alone on the sand of Ilha Grande, I am reading from a cherished book, “Notes on the Melody of Things” by Rainer Maria Rilke. This last sentence makes me pause and extend my own gaze out to the horizon, letting the words sink in. I contemplate that if we all share a common personal landscape, it could be that of an island, surrounded by water. We live on the solidity of our own self-awareness, buffeted by constantly swirling ideas and objects infinitely more ancient than we imagine, and like the water, everything around us is in a constant state of flux.
Whether it be the singing of a lamp or the voice of a storm, whether it be the breath of an evening or the groan of the ocean — whatever surrounds you, a broad melody always wakes behind you, woven out of a thousand voices, where there is room for your own solo only here and there. To know when you need to join in: that is the secret of your solitude: just as the art of true interactions with others is to let yourself fall away from high words into a single common melody.
Are feelings, even our undeveloped feelings, the most secret and most profound states of our inner being, not intertwined with a landscape and a season? Landscapes that are infinite like space and time, whose appearance gives rise, within us, to a deeper sense of oneness.
If, then, we want to be initiates of life, we must keep two things in mind:
First, the great melody, in which things and scents, feelings and pasts, twilights and desires, all play their parts; —
Being here, I realise that it is precisely these feelings of isolation and solitude that are among the keys to gaining a sense of unrestrained creativity. Only by cultivating the basic capacity to be alone with our own experience are we able to notice those otherwise unseen but utterly transformative shifts in the heart. I gain a sense of spiritual clarity in this thought, aided by the transparency of the waters ebbing around me.
Fantasies start to flow easily: I let them wash through my mind. I sense quickly that the island is a place where dreams can become visions.
And second: the individual voices which augment and complete this full chorus.
This is a lush, jungle island. Behind me, over the unbroken azure sky, across the luminous shores, are dense forests of tropical trees standing vertically. The subtle nuances of different greens, enhanced by the variations of light, all of a sudden, become a monochromatic painting. Shadows, projected onto the coastline, travel through rows of palm trees, through golden air, reflect on shallow multi-coloured lagoons.
I am reminded of the landscape and seascape paintings of Venezuelan artist Armando Reverón, and the way he captured a sort of metaphysical transcendence through light. There is a similar light here – that takes us beyond the subject matter when observing a painting, and compels us to dream.
Unconsciousness surrounds consciousness; unknown surrounds what is known, in a state of perpetual harmony. In this sense, I am struck by a feeling of serene unity. A rainbow slowly appears in the sky, providing me with an incredible sensation of extraordinary self-accomplishment, an uninterrupted, absolute calm and silence. Until I start to hear a distant rhythm, as the rainbow fades away, and the musicality of this island pervades through me.
And to lay the foundation for a work of art—that is, an image of deeper life, of our more than daily, always possible experience—we have to put both voices, the voice of this hour and the voice of a group of people within that hour, into a proper relationship and reconcile them.”
I look around, and at that moment everything is radiant. Contours are soft and smooth. The stones and rocks, surrounded by sand on the beach like miniature islands themselves, help me realize that I do not have to go far to understand that the macrocosm is within the microcosm.
TLmag’s sister gallery Spazio Nobile has represented Amy Hilton since 2018.