Cora Gordon on "The Artist as a Traveller" 1950

ANTHONY HUXLEY, writing in The Spectator of December 29th, 1950, discussed a compilation of essays, "Traveller's Quest" (William Hodge).

"Some of the essays have turned into rather discursive and auto- biographical reminiscences, not all of which are very satisfying. But many retain their interest despite condensation, such as Alec Waugh's rendering of Russia in 1934 (all too like 1984 even then), or Cora Gordon's evocation of a night of noxious smells in Dalmatia. This is a digressive book, admirable for the armchair traveller, and a book also of natural philosophy, of the determination of individuals not only against physical obstacles but against the almost irresistible force of the collective. A change from the usual collection of travellers' tales."

Cora Gordon's chapter in the book serves as a wonderful epitaph for the lives the Gordons lived.

It begins with, "The artist is a privileged traveller, for his is the only quest that is almost bound to be successful. In other respects, too, artists on their travels enjoy more privileges than other mortals. For one thing the simple people of this world seem to have an innate sympathy for them, at worst a sort of tolerance." It is a delightful meditation on all of their travels together.

She begins with an early journey to Camarez, near the point of Finisterre and continues with their time in Munich and the Tyrol; Majorca, staying at an inn on the crest of a hill; Spain, with "La Mechora" at Verdolay; Lapland and Sweden; the Balkans and Albania; and the USA.

She writes, "For a painter I would hardly recommend the hasty survey of places that is sometimes dismissed as "globe-trotting." Our most profitable summers were generally those during which we settled down for some time."

She emphasises how, "the excitement caused either by seeing or by doing new things seems to have a magical effect on one's emotions and mentality." "Things seen or experienced for the first time may stir one more deeply than far greater beauties to which one has long been accustomed." She reminisces on sights (in Derbyshire, Lofoten, South Carolina, the English Black Country and Hollywood) which "had to us an element of the surprise that is sometimes that "open sesame" to a real aesthetic thrill."

"The artist is, as I have said, a privileged traveller. Almost everything is grist to his mill and his art provides him with many opportunities of achieving at least in part that financial independence without which true travel is impossible."


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