Restoring the Sacred

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Words of Relevance: Winston Churchill, "Painting as a Pastime."

After the debacle known as the Dardanelles Campaign, in 1915, Churchill was forced to resign his post as First Lord of the Admiralty, and was in a bad way.  History has been kinder to him after many years, and much of the blame for that disaster, as it turns out, should more appropriately be shared with Field Marshall Kitchener and others.  In any event, before Churchill recovered and went on to save the world from Adolph Hitler, he needed something in his life to jump start his career and, indeed, his interest in a future.  He turned to something he had never before experienced: painting.  As was his wont, he could not involve himself in any form of endeavor without writing about it.  This endeavor was no different, and so we were blessed with his shortest literary work: Painting as a Pastime.

Here's Churchill in his own words:
When I left the Admiralty at the end of May, 1915, I still remained a member of the Cabinet and of the War Council.  In this position I knew everything and could do nothing.  The change from the intense executive activities of each day's work at the Admiralty to the narrowly measured duties of a counsellor left me gasping...I had great anxiety and no means of relieving it; I had vehement convictions and small power to give effect to them.
Fortunately for all of us, this "Last Lion" found something to bring him back from the abyss; he became a painter, and not just any old painter - he became a great painter whose paintings have been displayed in the finest museums in the world.  He begins his short book about this part of his life by, as usual, giving advice.

Here's the quote:
"Many remedies are suggested for the avoidance of worry and mental overstrain by persons who, over prolonged periods, have to bear exceptional responsibilities and discharge duties upon a very large scale.  Some advise exercise, and others, repose.  Some counsel travel, and others, retreat.  Some praise solitude, and others, gaiety.  No doubt all these may play their part according to the individual temperament.  But the element which is constant and common in all of them is Change."
Of course he was talking about change on a personal level.  He would never have been presumptuous enough to call on the citizens of England to vote for change of his, and their, beloved country.

The Great Hall at Blenheim Palace (birthplace of WSC) by Winston S. Churchill.

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