Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Progression by escher is still alive
Progression, a photo by escher is still alive on Flickr.

I learnt an important life lesson today. 'Does a bell make a sound if no-one is there to hear it?' Well the riddle is unravelled...

Should you find yourself cycling up a long and steep hill, lycra-clad, lobster-pink and not a little sweaty, then you really are going to look like a total plank if you reach the top of that slope to be greeted by two young ladies (when I say greeted, what I really mean is gawped at with disdain), to then find yourself accidentally ringing your bell, rather than changing gear. Honestly, the two levers are right next to each other!

It highlights quite clearly how one thing can be interpreted in vastly different ways: on the one hand "who does he think he is? Riding up that hill and announcing what a stellar athlete he is with a 'bing'! What a fat, sweaty, idiot!" and the other "gah, why did I ring my bell, right then? What a fat, sweaty idiot!" Oh hang on, those are actually quite similar...

I've also learnt that my cat has no idea what work is, of course she's not particularly employable (unless there's a vacancy for someone who likes lying around on a cushion having their tummy tickled, whilst being fed scraps of smoked salmon) but she also has no idea about my work either. I work from home sometimes and she believes that this is for her benefit. I regularly take part in important conference calls and she thinks it's quite apt to leap up and miaow into the mouth piece, quite suddenly and before I can activate the mute button. My colleagues already consider me eccentric but mewing and animal noises, perhaps go beyond that simple description. She also thinks there's enough room on my lap for a lapcat and a laptop. There really isn't.

I've been struggling for ages to pin down what art is, what its whys and whens actually are, or at least what its direction of travel actually takes you towards.

I then saw a quote, new to me but surely well-known and famous: 'Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.' -Leo Tolstoy

Like a flea jumping about all over the place and suddenly pinned down with a thumb, this phrase had it all, like walking full-force into a door.

It seems like we are all on a quest to connect things together, to see the joins that were not visible before. Art is simply one expression of that journey we all share.

In anything we do, we want to do it better and more succintly, to use that momentum to drive us to understand, whatever it is, just that little bit more each time that we try.

So surely art is no different from simply being alive and travelling in a forwards direction, it is nothing more than a way to describe that journey, like a simple page in a diary or a snap of a happy day on the beach.

As we live life we make connections between seemingly disparate things, and discover they were actually joined together all along. And now I think that good, great and exceptional art helps you make those connections in your head, as the artist reveals all those links they discovered within themselves and distilled them into blobs of paint or whatever medium is their choice of expression.

Or perhaps:-

"Dog sculptor, how do you sculpt this enormous block of stone?"

"I just take away all the bits that aren't dog."

Because of these things I aspire to paint. I've probably mentioned it before. Great painting, for me, seems to distill so much more than any other medium I've witnessed.

Emotion, narrative, sorrow, symbolism, joy and so much more condensed into something that does not require a plaque to tell you what to think. Line, form and colour, skillfully applied, to convey so much depth and description. I don't know if that is at all possible with other mediums, and especially not with mine.

That doesn't mean I am not going to try, as I mature and learn and grow, my art comes along with me and I want to strive forward to reach a point when my art begins to draw together much more, will make you think, ponder and contemplate. After all these are the things that make me tick, make me feel alive, drive me to learn and develop and evolve. And just like great painting I want my art to grow strong and not need a written description, it should explain whatever it needs to, to whoever wants to look at it and let each person take away whatever they wish.

Perhaps it is a confidence thing. To have enough of it to let it speak for itself. Perhaps that will come with maturity and the time to make more connections between whatever disparate things I find.

What is life without drive and fascination and a journey with which to set yourself on? Whether I ever reach there, who knows, but it is assured you never will, if you put don't put one foot in front of the other.

I made this for my exhibition and it's been there for a few weeks now. I haven't seen it since but my partner said they've dried, cracked and grown a little mould. She added they looked pretty good too :-). Drop into the gallery if you are passing by and let me know how they are changing.

My self-confidence doesn't allow me to keep quiet (ahem, as if you hadn't noticed) but perhaps it will one day soon. But I believe there's a few layers to see here and I'll stop and leave it at that. Except to say that I put them in with no conscious effort and it was revealed gradually afterwards.

Despite not planning their inclusion, I still believe they are manifestly there and I am beginning to learn the power of intuition and, too, of the unconscious mind.

A few years ago I was unaware of those things but maybe they are all a fundamental part of the whole maturing process.

So that one day I may find the confidence, to speak without any words.

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