before I begin

Life is too short to live behind lies

Monday, 27 September 2010

silence and things

I went walking with my dogs yesterday. I often walk along a  route called the 'comber greenway' . This is an old disused railway track which has been made into a pathway. There are steep grass banks on either side and the only view to the distance is  forwards towards the winding track as it disappears like a ribbon into the distance.

Yesterday was a beautiful warm autumn morning. Absolutely still. Fallen leaves lay unmoved on the ground and the sunlight cut sharp long shadows across the ground.

Most dramatic of all however was the silence. It was so quiet that I became aware of the sound of my own breath and the flicking of my shoe laces with each step. I also became aware of how rare this experience is. How often is the loudest sound we hear our own breath? Not often enough!

This morning I hear on the news that the government is considering the possibility of paying people to lose weight and quit smoking in order to save the health service money in the long run.
I must say this saddens me. Not just because I am not convinced that it WOULD save money ( consider the cost of monitoring the system not to mention the abuse and deception it may be open to ) but because it seems so sad that here we are  considering giving money to people to adjust a lifestyle born of a greed driven society when across the world children die by the second from starvation.

I do sympathise with those who have lost control due to addiction but I'm not sure that simply paying them will change the fundamental issues in their lives which created the addiction to food or nicotine. I do also appreciate how much it is costing society to deal with wieght related health issues. I just wonder if the desire to save government funds is itself slighty selfish. If this country did save money by getting people to stop smoking and lose weight..where would that money go?..would it really go back into the health service..? I have my doubts. I dont trust most givernments.

I wonder would it be an idea to pay for overweight smokers to go to third world countries for a year and work with the people there. This would not only help their health ( certainly avoid fatty diets) at the same time  contribute to those who have little or no food. Most of all it may provide an eye opening experience which might help put our greedy society into context.

It may seem an unusual or extreme suggestion but  it may be a way of helping both groups of people.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Me and Mr Jones

I am so saddened to read the ongoing farce that is the Koran burning threat by pastor jones in the USA.
There is an almost perverse dilema in a society which encourages freedom of speech but at the same time wants to repect all faiths. In other words Mr Jones is exercising a right to disrespect!

How to we square such a circle? Surely if the basis of our belief is LOVE then anything which is not born from love or indeed encourages hate should be discouraged. Of course society could impose this by new laws. By simply arresting the offenders...but then the cry from people like Mr jones where is 'freedom of speech'.

To me its like saying everyone has a right to shoot a gun..but that doesn't mean you can point it at someone and kill them.

Having lived my life in northern ireland and experienced 30 years violence..I know some things for sure.
Provocation is  dangerous. An 'eye for an eye' makes everyone blind and violence in the name of any belief is simply wrong.

If Mr jones really follows the word of God then I hope he will carefully read both the Bible and the Koran before taking actions that are not simply born of his own human instincts for anger and revenge.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

crossing out and crossing over

today was a funny day. Funny in different ways. I went to my studio to do some work on a painting which I started last week. Despite having a plan...I sat down and started looking at another canvas I had been working on over a month ago. The inevitable happened...I put one little brush mark on it just to 'fix' something........... and three hours later I had totally re constructed it!!

The process reminded me of that great scene from 'father ted' when he decides to 'tap out' a little dent in his car. Go to this link and see what I mean!

Anyway, unlike father ted, I was  pleased with the result and yet again I was conviced of the value of re visiting paintings and also of the importance of painting being a 'historical' dovment of a personal drama. The sense of time and layers of existence is becoming more important in my work. The adding  and removal the construction and destruction are metaphors for balace neccessary in this life.

As I drove home, I was reminded of another reminder of  life and death and vulnerability. This time in the form of several people coming out of a shopping centre and crossing the road using what I call 'the 'greyhound on valium' technique

The 'greyhound....' syndrome occurs when an individual who is not very fit believes they are capable of running across the road in fromt of a car quickly enough to reach the other side safely. These people begin the long journey across the with great intent and a spring in their step. As they reach the white line in the middle of the road they realise the worst. They havn't got the lung capacity to sustain the trot all the way across.

Now most of us would stop and wait for a gap in traffic. Sadly these proud souls cannot admit defeat. They limp, stumble or otherwise stagger their way to the other side pretending that they meant to go at this slower pace all along. The result is that as a driver , you are completely confused and have to slow down suddenly.

These creatures can be particularly clever, faking a limp or sudden malfunction of part of their shoe in order  to cover their emabarassment ( or stupidity). Some  of them even swing their arms in a comic fashion trying to indicate they are slowing down just for a laugh! Unfortunately as they grasp their chest and reach for another cigarette...the truth is undeniable!

For these people, I have  wonderful and valuable news. There is an exercise that can remove 'greyhound on valium' invloves the use of one finger, a button and a little green man!

Friday, 3 September 2010

does a cut in your arts really sting?

this morning we read of the inevitable and quite severe cuts being made in the arts sector for northern ireland.
Firstly, anyone who knows me, knows how much I detest greedy fat cats particularly those who got the country into this mess by living  and borrowing as if there were no consequences.

As always those hurt most are the people who may lose their jobs at the 'front end' ( one way or another top dogs will stay safe).

For  arts institutions and organisations it is also a blow.  As somone who has benefited from arts awards in the past, I know how vaulable they can be to help fund transport and travel in order to have work exhibited abroad.  However at this point I think we must try look for positives in this situation.

If you read my previous posts, you will gather that I have doubts about the wisdom of the amount of funding which is directed to projects in order to satisfy certain 'politcal' agendas. ( community, social and local politcal projects). The result has been to turn some artists and arts groups into little more than creative social workers. Of course some artists have had this function at other times in history but generally, great artists have worked beyond this realm.

We see entire exhibitions driven not by ART but by some sociological study which fits in with current popular local concern or event. I feel that because funding has to be accounted for and politically justified, it cannot always be risked on simply helping someone to make ART. Of course this is understandable. The piper has the right to call the tune but have we been lulled into believing there is only one tune? The term 'artist' may be devalued  by people calling themselves artists but whose prime function is not acutally making art.

So where are the positives? If those of us in the arts world are as creative as we say, then this may be a great opportunity to prove it. When resources become limited we tend to have to go back to raw materials. As I stated earlier, those who will be hurt most by cuts may be those your arts graduates needing a first 'leg up'.
However harsh  it may seem, the truth is that real artists will continue to make art under all conditions because making art is an activity born out of a deep rooted need. For these people funding is appreciated but the lack of it will not stop them making and creating. There is however a 'grey' layer of arts activities which could be removed. That layer contains those who are driven by funding rather than using funding to drive their art. For these individuals and organisations a lack of funding will be an acid test. Here the question. If your work is rarely exhibited, If you are not promoted or if you are not in the public domain will you still make art?  Will you continue to exhibit a certain type of art in your gallery if it is not funded? These are  the tests.

For all of us there is an opportunity to re focus on what is important.... saying those things we need to say, making the music and the paintings we need to ( not have to). Of course we will try to find ways to have it seen and heard. Perhaps it will inject a new energy. Perhaps more groups will form round common  genuinely  creative ideas and philosophies.

I detest cuts made by governments..especially those who are happy fund wars!  However I also appreciate that there are   people in this world who need funding more than I need a new tube of paint!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Blair witch

well Tony Blair's autobiography is the best selling ever ( or something like that). I'm sure its a good read and obviously is full of juicy revelations.
What strikes me most is not the content of the book but the story written on the man's face. A face which was so frsh and full of hope not that many years ago.Now its a ravaged empty and almost epressionless facade. carved with the inscriptions of comprimises,  wheels and deals,  deceptions and final surrender to the bully that is politics.

This post is not about Blair ( a man I respected in the nineties ), it is about the sadness of what seems to be inevitable. Good people or at least people with good intentions being sucked dry and spat out by global evil that is organised politics. In my opinion there have been ( and are) some good leaders but rarely good politicians..and there IS a difference.

Tonight I was in work. I was timetabled to finish at 7pm and at 6.59pm  a senior manager arrived. A nice suit and proudly wearing their ID badge ( something which I believe people do in order to show WHAT they are rather than who they are). They strutted round not knowing anyone's name and at 7pm walked out.
This visit had no real was show of strength..a marker...a 'look at me' moment.

However in that moment I observed the same dry, hollow facade that I saw on the cover of Mr Blair's book.
Sad that so many chase the ghost of power, popularity and position like some innocent wildebeast being chased down by a leopard until it finally gives up and is devoured and left an empty shell.

Even more sad is that these 'corpses' still walk and talk and even worse....devour others!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Thumbs up

those who know me on facebook know that i have an  unhealthy obsession with mascots. That is those creatures we see at football games, promotional events and busking in the street. I believe in them ..their characters. For me they really ARE a bear or a dinosaur or a rabbit. Its a form of escapism I suppose.

Anyway I set  out to get photographed with as many of these lovely characters as possible..with my  ( now trademark) thumbs up. It , for me is like entering their surreal and fun filled world.

Yes it sounds weird perhaps
Yes it may sound stupid......but then I think the world is weird and stupid and unless we remove ourselves from its nonesense every now and then.we will be trapped in boredom and fear. These two things that society imposes on us in order to
a/ sell us things we don't need in order to make us feel less bored ( thus creating financial slavery)
b/ keep us from speaking up or challenging the norm

..anyway here are some of my encounters... you know it makes sense!!!!