“The inspiration can come in such small ways that if you sit there just waiting for the big epiphany you’ll sit there for the rest of your life.”
In art, the idea of an epiphany denotes a subtle feeling where one becomes conscious of something emotional or spiritual that is more powerful than your own state of being. Being self aware allows the artist to use that impetus to create something unique that encapsulates the feeling of that exact moment in time to share with the world.
James Joyce is often associated with the concept of epiphany, however it still forms an important part of contemporary artists experience of the world. For example, Martin McDonagh once described travelling across America on a Greyhound bus and feeling rather bored when he saw some huge billboards with graphic slogans at the side of a remote highway. The stark and powerful messages on those boards made him feel something profound and deeply moving. He later sat down to write about it and said, ‘Mildred walked onto the page.’
That solitary moment provided the impetus for him to write, direct and produce ‘Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri’ (2017). This dark and at times painfully sorrowful film has moments of humour and stunning cinematography from the first shot to the last. Moreover, it succeeds in propelling the viewer to that exact isolated moment and place in time where McDonagh saw those imposing boards on the Greyhound bus.
The film was widely acclaimed with Frances McDormand winning an Academy Award for her consummate portrayal of Mildred, but the real force behind it’s success was the impact of that momentary surreal image that lodged itself in McDonagh’s mind and grew into a artistic and cultural phenomenon. Clearly there is something to be said for Welsh’s sentiment and the idea of acting upon the small things in life that have a breathtaking effect, because somewhere amongst it there is a sense of truth and honesty which is ultimately the enduring currency of exceptional art.