Rowan Williams explains why the artist isn’t just making something out of nothing.
The most serious kinds of art always appear to bring us to a point where we wonder about the kind of world we’re in. We realise we haven’t got it wrapped up. We say there’s more to it. A phrase which I’ve often quoted from the French philosopher, Maritain, is that art tells us that things are more than they are. And whether it’s painting, sculpture, music, poetry – to come to the point where you realise the environment you are in is pregnant with more than you can see at one go, that is to me something at the very least convergent with what religion claims. It has to do with this tradition within Christianity that the world is charged with meaning even when we’re not picking it up. There are messages, communications, that are washing around us all the time and art, as many artists would say, is not just inventing something out of nothing, it’s picking up connections that people haven’t noticed.
And to me that’s one of the most interesting things about creative art, this picking up of connections. It’s finding an echo here, a correspondence there, a link between levels of experience, language, perception. And the world, as I say, just becomes that much more complex, much more interesting.