Reflection by Jim Cargin

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Ela Morawska, ‘Flowers’
L’Arche Poznan, Poland

Artist: Ela Morawska

Title: ‘Flowers’

Do you know something? The one truly essential tool to appreciate a work of art is… a comfortable chair! So please: take a seat! Next, without rushing, allow your eyes gently to hold this picture. To sit before a work of art is about gazing, beholding. We should do this more often: gazing at beauty. Life is so crazily crowded, after all.

What first attracts me is the liveliness of the green in the bottom left. Like a shining light, it vibrates with life and hope. But, then my eye trails higher and the mood becomes much more still. The green gets darker, and the deep red is even tinged with sadness, a stain of blood, perhaps, signalling an impending tragedy. And then, higher still, that bluey-greeny-orange sun: is it setting or rising? Has Ela Morawska captured a poignant moment from a silent movie? This picture definitely has a “before” and an “after”: in gazing, I see a drama about life itself: our lives, which are full of such moments.

When I first saw Ela’s picture in an art exhibition, the assistant there told me the title was “Flowers”. Maybe. But I wouldn’t describe it that way. Ela, a longterm member of the L’Arche community in Poznan, Poland, is herself no stranger to life’s dramatic turns. And I seriously wonder if Ela herself, behind the surface appearance, is also trying to share with us something essential to her own life, (and to ours…). She is a woman of few words, often deep in her own thoughts, who since birth has been living with some clear limitations in her life, touching her practical autonomy: so why not express her take on life through art?

Beholding this picture I am gradually led to listen to it as well. To contemplate what it might be saying? What does Ela want to say? Here’s my own interpretation. For me, Ela has captured here a turning point in the history of humanity: the moment when despair meets hope. A moment evoked, just as dramatically, but this time as a picture in words, by the Welsh poet, R.S. Thomas, in his poem “The Coming”:

And God held in his hand
a small globe. Look, he said.
As through water, he saw
a scorched land of fierce
colour. The light burned
there; crusted buildings
cast their shadows; a bright
serpent. A river,
uncoiled itself, radiant
with slime.

On a bare
hill a bare tree saddened
the sky. Many people
held out their thin arms
to it, as though waiting
for a vanished April
to return to its crossed
boughs.

The Son watched
them. Let me go there, he said.

I believe Ela invites us to the hill to reveal her beautiful secret: that beyond all our differences, there is something fundamental that unites us. And bring a comfortable chair – we could be here sometime…


Jim Cargin is the English speaking copywriter on the L’Arche International Communications Team, and past editor of Letters of L’Arche. He is a member of L’Arche Brussels since 2010, and since 1980, has lived in the communities of Inverness, Lambeth, Liverpool, Brecon, (all in UK) and Poznan, Poland, as well as a month at La Forestiere, Trosly-Breuil. From 2009 to 2011 he was the communications director in L’Arche Internationale.