In a Sorry Habit

The emblem of poverty Somewhere, forever just beyond reach, where all abstract entities live, there is a particular place reserved for ‘Poverty’. It has both indoor and outdoor aspects. The outdoors are wide and barren; the indoors are bare and light. Unwilling visitors to this place come from everywhere and every walk of life, but those who make themselves at home there are artists and the religious. For the artist’s attitude to poverty, like the taking of a religious vow, arises more from belief than rational decision. We do not know, or even consciously think, that to be poor is somehow admirable or better than being wealthy; it is, rather, something which must be sensed or felt in spite of our better judgement. For faith—if that is what it is—seems to slide away from any attempt to be reasonable.


Image: Iconologia or Moral Emblems, Caesar Ripa, 1709, published by Benj Mott, London, p. 264.


This is a preview of 'In a Sorry Habit'. The full article can be found in Art + Australia Issue Five.

Vivienne Shark LeWitt is an artist, currently working on a PhD at the University of Melbourne.