I was reminded of this fantastic painting by Giacomo Balla today after meeting a gorgeous daschund in Nunhead Cemetary during my morning walk.
BBC 4 are showing all 8 episodes of Robert Hughes' (who died earlier this month) documentary series The Shock of the New and it's available on iPlayer. First shown in 1980 it is a much welcomed repeat.
On Friday I cycled down to the Cueb Gallery in Brockley to check out the private view of a new exhibition: Slow train on a rainy day by Ron L. Zheng. A collection of his black and white photographs and tanka poetry which together create something called 'poetography.'
Soon after I arrived American actor Byrd Williams came up to riff some interpretations of the work accompanied by
Chang Gui Duo on the duxianqin, (a one stringed Chinese instrument) which in the cosy intimate setting of the gallery created quite a soporific effect. The acting was great and conjured up stories and characters which seemed quite real. I normally cringe at performance art and theatre pieces, especially when audience participation comes into it (I got drawn into a circle with a few other audience members but thankfully that was the extent of it) but this worked really well and brought the work to life. All the different elements of the evening came together and created a special one off event that I was pleasantly surprised by.
Today I sat alone in the park and pondered the loneliness of the artist. I've always struggled with striking a balance of doing enough painting without isolating myself. Artists are selfish people and put their creativity first. If they don't they are not good company. I can go weeks without contacting anyone, even if I think of them every day. Eventually I panic and realise I have neglected that part of my life and send a flurry of messages out hoping I am forgiven for being so careless with my relationships. There is no greater fear than ending your days friendless. Here are some comforting quotes to remind you that you are not alone if you are alone...
The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence. (Thomas Wolfe)
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature... I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. (Anne Frank)
Nothing is quite as bad as being without privacy and lonely at the same time. (Alexander Theroux)
Loneliness is part of our profession. Productive artists spend a lot of time alone in the studio. (Monique Sakellarios)
The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness. (Norman Cousins)
People assume artists stop working because of lack of money, but loneliness is probably just as critical a factor. (Zoe Benbow)
Oh, I am a lonely painter / I live in a box of paints... (Joni Mitchell)
It is something that is hard to define, like metaphysics. That's why it is so interesting to explore as an artist. You can never quite grasp it but it motivates you to create to try to capture that essence. I often see flashes of wabi sabi within the mundane and think that I must paint that and show it to people. It's incredibly satisfying to feel you have trapped that mysterious unknown quantity in a piece of artwork and that quality gives it life. I never get bored of looking at a piece that holds that balance of energy.
The Japanese view of life embraced a simple aesthetic
that grew stronger as inessentials were eliminated
and trimmed away.
Wabi stems from the root wa, which refers to harmony, peace, tranquillity, and balance. Generally speaking, wabi had the original meaning of sad, desolate, and lonely, but poetically it has come to mean simple, unmaterialistic, humble by choice, and in tune with nature. Someone who is perfectly herself and never craves to be anything else would be described as wabi. Sixteenth-century tea master Jo-o described a wabi tea man as someone who feels no dissatisfaction even though he owns no Chinese utensils with which to conduct tea. A common phrase used in conjunction with wabi is "the joy of the little monk in his wind-torn robe." A wabi person epitomizes Zen, which is to say, he or she is content with very little; free from greed, indolence, and anger; and understands the wisdom of rocks and grasshoppers.
Taken from http://nobleharbor.com/tea/chado/WhatIsWabi-Sabi.htm
My very cool grandad who passed away last night. The last time I saw him he gave me this - one of the last paintings he'd completed - which reminds me of Giorgio De Chirico. xxx
Today I made it to the Bauhaus: Art as Life exhibition at London's Barbican. To be honest I did whizz around it as I was starting to feel a bit light-headed from hunger but what struck me was that the utopian institution looked like an awful lot of fun to be part of and the perfect balance of pure creativity and craft appealed to me. The 200 or so students really loved their 'masters' including Paul Klee who taught there and Walter Gropius who founded it. One of the exhibits was a 44th birthday card for Gropius decorated with students lip prints demonstrating their high regard for him. Similarly students hired a Junkers aircraft to drop a package of gifts onto Paul Klee's house for his fiftieth. Aw!
This reverence I can understand, for when you are lucky enough to study under a good teacher, with whom you have a rapport, it is one of the most rewarding experiences. The closest I ever came to being in an environment where I was really encouraged and felt like I was part of a real school was whilst I was studying my BTEC in Art and Design at the Eversley Court campus of Eastbourne College of Arts and Technology which was demolished in 1998 to make way for Barrett Homes. It was a beautiful Victorian building built for the purposes of teaching arts and crafts in the late 19th century (I think, I can't find any info online) complete with parquet floors and gargoyles and the two years I spent there were so wonderful and enriching - and I didn't even realise it until I left. Something clicked during my time there and I wouldn't have developed my art practice (minimal though my output is!) as I have if I had missed out on those harsh words (Pete Webster actually ripped up some crappy work I'd produced and said "I never want to see anything like this again") and revelatory lessons in producing something solid and pleasing. Most of all it was really quite traditional on the technical side but encouraged free thinking without being pretentious. I remember getting up early and staying at college late on the days when work was going well (that is a rare feeling) to continue painting, riding that wave of excitement you feel when you are onto something creatively.
I have a painting I completed during my time there that hangs in my hallway - it's rather large and ambitious - and I can remember the energy I put into it. It probably only took me an afternoon to complete, working on the floor pouring watered down System 3 paint onto the canvas, without any of the self consciousness that hinders me now. It is one of my favourite pieces and I was only 17. I can't imagine producing anything like that now. I feel like I have lost that energy and I partly blame the University I Shall Not Name for being such a disappointment. It's my fault though really. I should have had the courage and foresight to apply for a course at a proper art college but I didn't have enough confidence in myself neither did I take the idea of an art career seriously enough back then and any potential I had was untapped. I didn't paint for 5 years after I graduated. The contrast with ECAT was huge. I didn't have a proper space to work in, I never saw my tutors and I ended my 3 year degree suffering from debilitating depression. I didn't feel like I had progressed as an artist at all and so pursuing art was out of the question. I received no encouragement and was all but ignored because painting was unfashionable back then and conceptual art was cool. The Sensation show at the Royal Academy had opened the first week of my Fine Art degree and seemed to be a big influence on everyone. I enjoyed it but only because it was sensationalist. I couldn't produce work like that. Finding pretentiousness, high concept and the intellectualisation of art uninspiring I struggled and my output was low. It didn't help that I was too young to take any of it seriously and spent most of my time being a student cliche - sleeping all morning and spending my afternoons in the pub.
Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time and other times the wrong place. As the years pass I realise that you need to appreciate and savour the good times. Make hay while the sun shines!
Class of '68 Eversley Court. Only picture I could find of ex ECAT art students and they look much cooler than class of '98 would have looked anyhow.
Lover of pattern and colour. I create my own designs, products and paintings.