Thursday, 29 November 2012

Living For Today

It's been.....yes....five months since my last post! I feel like I'm in a confession of sorts!? And yes, a lot has happened in those five months. Firstly, I have completed my first year of post graduate study....phew!  I passed.

This year I would have to say has been all about finding my groove and trying to run along inside the notch that holds my sanity in tact!  For those of you who have embarked on a similar academic journey, you will know what I mean....and quite honestly, there is no easy path to follow here.  I guess the biggest thing I learnt was not to be precious about anything.  Nothing is certain in this world and as we know with all the unrest in the Middle East and the depressed economy, there are many 'bigger' things out there than us and our angst over what word best describes knowledge.

I'm not going to go about myself because I really don't believe life's journey is solely based on the route of one individual, it's based on the many encounters we have every day.

The people who I shared my learning experience with were amazing!  Very inspirational artists who gave to me more than I could have ever expected.  What they conveyed to me was the notion of 'living for today', not stressing over tomorrow.  I have become far more philosophical about life and about who I am.  Today for example, I have been weeding the garden (it's had no attention for ten months!!)  A garden can be immensely productive and therapeutic.  It can also give one 'time' to reflect.  Reflection has for me become a daily ritual.  I guess it's a form of meditation.....and oh it's so wonderful to turn my mind off from the deeper than deep thinking I have just been through over the past ten months! See how easy it is to talk about yourself!??

To really bring the reality of living for today home I recently acquired three chickens. They have brains probably about the size of half a pea.  But they absolutely live for today and are very happy about it.  I think it's a survival thing.  All they do is eat, scratch about and create eggs or new life (if fertilized, so I guess that would add having sex too), but they do these same things every day!!!  The sheer simplicity and repetitiveness of this creates a state of comfort - they are little feathery machines that are happy with the constant reassurance of 'living for today'.  Pure enjoyment.

Aptly named 'The Boss' because she rules the roost!!

Having said all that, I do have a lot to think over in the next few months.  Like what am I doing?????
Next year will be intense so it's now that I have to learn to take everyday as it comes, not stress or create unwanted angst, but endeavor to enjoy each day, good or bad.  I have two books I am reading....
The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, by David J. Chalmers and The Self, edited by Constantine Sedikides and Steven J. Spencer.  Both books take the reader deeper into the individual psyche and our understanding how we see the world. for today does entail a tiny bit of learning for tomorrow.  It's just really important to keep it real by reflecting on the simple things in our lives!  Enjoy!

This link is interesting....if you are interested in education....

Changing Education Paradigms

Friday, 6 July 2012

Telling a story

I have been researching for weeks, not really certain of where I was going and I came across a word....mythopoetic (meaning the making of myths).
I have realized that one word can say everything.  For such a long time in this learning process I was reluctant to accept that 'big words' were completely necessary.  Of course they are.  There is always a word that means exactly what you are trying to word that covers a sentence of words, one word that becomes a beautiful image or notion of everything you believe holds meaning to you.  These words are works of art in themselves, that visually and verbally flow across paper.

There is a place in the story that interests me, where words and ideas can manifest visually.  It's the place between non-fiction and fiction.  I like to call it the grey area, it is however, the 'liminal space'.

Victor Turner wrote:
Liminal entities are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned by law, custom, convention, and ceremonial...Thus liminality is frequently likened to death, to being in the womb, to invisibility, to darkness, to bisexuality, to the wilderness, and to an eclipse of the sun and the moon. (1969, p.95)

I am discovering this liminal space more and more within my own work.  It is an space where discoveries can be made.  It is the 'threshold' to the creative mind.  Art to me is neither totally fact or fantasy. I am creating something that has been interpreted by my own set of rules, ideas, experiences.....therefore the factual element that begins the process becomes compromised and the fantasy is the distortion that has been hatched out of the liminal space.  Turner describes this creative place well as "fructile chaos, a fertile nothingness, a storehouse of possibilities....a gestation process"

I guess it can also be subjective as to whether you feel the same way about things you see or hear...your comprehension of anything is always filtered through sets of lenses connected to your life and environmental experience, often subconsciously.
There are no rules.  Cultivate your creative space, enjoy fantasy, embrace the story.

Seraphine Pick's work as a wonderful example of this fact, fantasy distortion.  Enjoy.

Seraphine Pick 'High Rise'

Monday, 28 May 2012

Loving the 'big' of it.

Yes, I know, I haven't blogged for a while.....but, I have to say quite honestly I have been totally immersed in my work, which is a good thing!  The balancing act of study, work, play has been challenging.  I still love to play, but need to work so as I can play, and then of course I must study.  Things I have been doing over the last few weeks involve a lot of looking.  That is, looking at images, reading, critiquing, standing back....being objective, taking away the subjective....not that easy!  I have been reading 'Percept, affect and concept' from What is philosophy? There's a lot of heavy reading in this chapter but what I got out of it, is that there are three elements of art.....the 'flesh', the 'house' and the 'universe'.  I'm not going to go into it just now, but I dare you to!  It's made me think of a work of art in a whole different way....something like the way we think of life itself, what is real, what is a living thing?  Is art a living thing?  It is all so 'beautifully big!'

I've been fascinated with the work of Annie Vaught,
The power of the word, the story, the narrative of text.
Another artist I love is Helen Pynor,  Her work is so powerfully poetic....

And finally, Jeanette Scharing, and her gorgeously formatted work...

Explore and Enjoy!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


It's been a crazy few weeks of work, research, work.  I can't believe how fast time goes by?!!  This weekend I was teaching a workshop.  I had an amazing bunch of very talented women working hard making, absorbing everything, learning.  During these workshops we talk about all sorts of things while creating, drinking coffee and eating cake (sounds decadent? it is!)  and during one of our conversations it occurred to me just how much people appreciate the opportunity to learn and the experience of creating.  Why then, are there so many people who think they aren't good enough to even give it a go?  That distresses me.  I believe everyone has a talent to create, whether it's making art, cooking, gardening or arranging furniture!  If someone says to me....I'm not one bit creative, I feel it's my job to help them gain the confidence to try.  If people are in an environment where they feel they can't express themselves or are given no encouragement, isn't that a sad thing?  Life is too short.  I say that SO much, but it really is!  We have a limited time on this earth. We spend most of our precious time sleeping, eating, working, day in, day out.....but we also need time to use our brain to explore making, growing, feeling all those pent up imaginative thoughts.  We need to give ourselves time to express who we are as individuals.  Everyone has it there just waiting to pop out.  It just needs a little bit of nurturing and a pinch of encouragement, but mostly it needs you, yes you, to not be afraid of trying.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Think 2 - the other side

I'm sitting at my desk pondering over four books.  Each book relates to the other in some way but all are very different.  How do I make sense of it all?  The most enlightening thing that I've come to realize is that I don't actually have to make complete sense of it all...yet.  The books that make you think the most are the ones that question what it is you are thinking about in the first place!  I know that at this stage of my study I am only very tentatively knocking at the door of my concept.  The 'thinking' part of it, is the realization that it doesn't have an end point!  The philosophy of it all is to 'think' and continually question.  This is an overwhelming thought to a novice like myself, but the thought is in fact the nature of all study and as I have read many times today, of 'being'.
I found a useful's definition, an approach that concentrates on the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience.  I like the sound of this.  So, each book generates the experience of discovery.  A good book will encourage you to look further, sometimes in a direction that you had no intention of going.  Of course I am questioning my concept now.  How can I discuss my ideas in a logical way when I don't know what is real?  My art practice will reflect these questions and I intend to inject my experiences into the heart of my work.  My feminist enquiry will enable me step forward as a free thinking woman, questioning (nervously at the start).  And the books will support my endeavors  once I have opened the door to the other side.

A la porte de la maison qui viendra frapper?
Une porte ouverte on entre
Une porte fermee un antre
Le monde bat de l'autre cote de ma porte.

Pierre Albert Birot
Les Amusements Naturals, p.217

At the door of the house who will come knocking?
An open door, we enter
A closed door, a den
The world pulse beats beyond my door.

Saturday, 7 April 2012


I've been reading a very enlightening book.  'Think,' written by Philosopher Simon Blackburn.  I need to write the opening paragraph of chapter one to explain what it is I'm trying to understand...

Perhaps the most unsettling thought many of us have, often quite early on in childhood, is that the whole world might be a dream; that the ordinary scenes and objects of everyday life might be fantasies.  The reality we live in may be a virtual reality, spun out of our own minds, or perhaps injected into our minds by some sinister Other.  Of course, such thoughts come, and then go.  Most of us shake them off.  But why are we right to do so?  How can we know that the world as we take it to be, is the world as it is?  How do we begin to think about the relation between appearance and reality: things as we take them to be, as opposed to things as they are? 

Of course this poses way more questions than answers!  

My line of questioning in my studies begins with the narrative. How do we perceive the story and does it distort over time?  We, as human beings who can process by logical thought, are the decision makers of how the narrative evolves.  So after reading this book I have to ask, was the story real at its conception? Was it a dream...conjured up by an exhausted house wife whose everyday life was so sad and tedious that she decided the person in the photo was her father who was of royal blood. Somehow, through fate, she was poor, married to a fisherman and had 7 children.  As the story of the photo gets told and retold by her children and grandchildren, I wonder, does the man in the photo become God who is going to save them all?  The narrative in this instance gives 'hope.'  

Cripes!  Back to reality!  Maybe it's just the sinister Other getting into my thoughts that's making me think such things.  I enjoy thinking and dreaming.  It's part of my artistic personality and is quite often the seed that germinates into something extraordinary.  It's great to question what we see and wonder.  Who's to say it's wrong?  I believe if we humans didn't imagine and create wonderful fantastical stories sometimes our life would be a sad place.  What's that saying....I think therefore I am.  I'm thinking so I must be alive and that's got to be good!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Dig Deep and Discover

How far down can you dig to find what you are looking for?  It seems a very long way down!  In the last few weeks I've been discovering what lies under the surface of 'me.' Discovering strength through struggles and gritty determination.  I like to tell my kids that everything that's hard or scary is worth it in the end because it builds character. So here I am, looking down at the root of the problem trying to build copious amounts of character! There's dirt and leaves and a bit of rubbish scattered at my feet.  I start digging...with my hands (for effect), and there beneath me is a tangle of veins winding down into the earth, twisting and branching everywhere, in every direction away from me.  These roots mimic what's going on above me but they, unlike the wind swept tops, are quiet and strong and still.  These roots below me are my beginnings, my foundations, my fundamentals, my starting point.   
So, at this stage I get my pencils and paints out and scream 'liberation!'  Finally after four weeks of worrying, I have the confidence to begin researching through my mark making. It's OK not to be doing what I normally guilt, I can do anything, there are no limits, dig deep!  That's one of the vital elements of learning through art and it's something that I know could be described with one fabulous word, but I haven't discovered it yet!
Feeding your mind through exploring theories and methods of practice enrich the whole process too.  It's like someone giving you a shovel to help you dig.  
Here's a quote from a reading about process and practice theory....described by Eisner (2002):
In the process of working with the material, the work itself secures its own voice and helps set the direction.  The maker is guided and, in fact, at times surrenders to the demands of the emerging forms.  Opportunities in the process of working are encountered that were not envisioned when work began, but that speak so eloquently about the promise of emerging possibilities that new options are pursued.  Put succinctly, surprise, a fundamental reward of all creative work, is bestowed by the work of its maker. (p7)

mmmmm  food for thought.