This one was a delightfully bright painting, probably designed for children. I bought it in the children’s section of the National Portrait Gallery’s shop. Two cats sit on a river bank, stylised yet recognisable. Actually, the cats are a little creepy. The eyes.
I noticed that, rather than starting with the felines sitting in the middle of the image, larger than life (or so they seemed), I started instead with the river behind them. The blue of the water was the accent colour.
According to the Oxford, the word “accent” began as a musical term. For most people, I suspect the dominant meaning now is associated with spoken language. It is also found in art … as well as interior decoration and design. The marketing world loves it. There is even a car called the Hyundai Accent.
So, what prompted this post?
The Mini Jigsaws series is an opportunity to extend the puzzle process beyond the placement of the last piece. The aim of the series is to distill something of the experience of that particular puzzle.
The accent draws us in.
The accent notes in music tingle our interest and encourage us to return.
The accent colours sing to our eyes, directing our gaze through the room, across the canvas or into the photo.
Yet, the spoken accent is often a barrier to communication and understanding. The dictionary defines an “accent” as an emphasis; we should not confuse it with the substance.
I lived in Sydney for about three years in my late teens, early twenties. While hanging out with people from other parts of Australia (yes, there are regional differences) and with people who’d lived overseas, I mimicked my way into a speaking style that was subsequently commented upon unfavourably on my return to the bush. I had a mangled accent.
I probably still speak with a mixed accent. A lot of people do.
It is important to connect to the world around us. It is also important to recognise one’s own voice, even as it changes. The process is a continual and delicate act of reflection.