‘Free play’ is attempted in this first section. What is this form of play? Many of us sense it and few can capture it in words. Short of writing a poem like the one by Matt Black, which you see below, some complexity may well be involved. I am pretty certain about one point: for me ‘free play’ does not mean that anything goes. The sort of freedom I look for gives rise to a sense of the picture as a whole. That sense of wholeness probably develops when the chosen images are experienced in a particular way: as if they resonate with one another. Metaphorically speaking, each seems to affect the other and be affected by it. For an example, think of compote: OK – this is a dish comprised of various fruit mixed together. Yes, each fruit keeps its own flavour, but only by mixing them do we concoct that particular taste that we call ‘compote’.

Of course, in photomontage, each image always retains features given to it by the original painter. Yet, I try to place each image next to the other so that the impact each of them has changes. Somehow, each looks somewhat different in the company of the others. Each is both separate from and connected to the others – simultaneously. You need to make a leap of faith to consider this possibility. As the poet says: ‘spoon the cauldron, wet the saucer’. Here is Black’s own concoction:

Matt Black:  Star-jam*

Star-jam? don’t be crazy,
you say, there ain’t no jam
made out of stars, but I can hear
voices crying, star-jam, star-jam,

look up there, and yes, the night-sky is
a big, dark pot of sparklish blackcurrant
and the stars do look sticky,
so I say yes, star-jam,

believe it and it’s yours for free,
star-jam, truer than the adverts,
or I’m a goat, star-jam,
more fun than money,

or I’m a chimney, star-jam,
less hurtful than fighting, or I’m a frog,
so join me in my night-kitchen,
spoon the cauldron, wet the saucer

with a shiny new constellation,
come over for tea,
cos star-jam is best
cos star-jam spreads the word
so glittery and twinkles across your toast.

*Published in the poetry magazine: Dream Catcher (2005) no. 15, p. 9
Reproduced by Poetry Magazines, Southbank Centre, London