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Archive for the category “Creativity”

Inspiration

I’m just leaving this here as a remind to myself, on occasion…

The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.
All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.

(C) Chuck Close

This came from Zack Arias’ DexPxl blog, a piece entitled “Get the F*ck To Work” (his asterisk, not mine!) which also included the clip below of David Bowie’s advice to musicians…

A transcript of that is :

When asked if he had advice for musicians, Bowie replied: “Yes, never play at a gallery. [Laughs] I think. But you never learn that until much later on. But never work for other people at what you do. Always… always remember that the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you felt, that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you coexist with the rest of society. And I — I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations; I think they produce — they generally produce their worst work when they do that. And if — the other thing I would say is that if you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in, go a little out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

Again, just a reminder for me, more than anything else – but if anyone else finds it useful, that’s grand.

Durham Lumiere 2015

Two years ago, I went with friends to see the Lumiere exhibition in Durham – which was ace.

This year, it was back, and so were we.

While it’s organised by the same people, and has some of the same artists, it was utterly different – and still brilliant. The weather this time was absolutely rotten – my coat still isn’t dry – but still it was great. The theme (if there really is one) was more about science and maths this time round, with the main ‘showpiece’ projection onto Durham Cathedral this time, “The World Machine” being more about the birth of modern cosmology from the 12th century until the present day.

One of the big draws this year was Mysticete, a projection of a whale on the river Wear, visible from the bridge above. Done by the same people as the Elephant last year, it was ace – and so clever, being projected onto a water-spray. (although with the heavy rain they could probably have just done the same onto the rain)  Sadly, because of that weather it got cancelled on the Sunday, but it was well worth seeing. (we were there on the Saturday)

Image (c) Durham Chronicle

Image (c) Durham Chronicle

We got to see a good portion of the exhibits – although not all, by any means – and really enjoyed it. Some of the stuff was really magic and fun, other bits were ‘just’ excellent.

As per the last one, I will definitely be going again when it’s next on.   I may also visit the one they’re doing in London in January 2016 – I hope that’s as clever and fun as the Durham ones are.

2015/16 – Writing

This post has been nagging me – I’d written the title and post-dated it for publication, but been stuck on what to actually, you know, write.  And then I did it again.

It’s somewhat ironic that the post about my plans for the coming year’s writing has been published blank/empty not once, but twice.

So – third time lucky.

I’m not honestly sure what will happen with my writing plans over the next twelve months. There’s a couple of options (as well as the fallback point, of “do nowt” or “fail”) which is never a good start, as it leaves me in a quandary from the beginning.

The thing is, I’ve got lots of ideas. Loads. I just haven’t yet clicked on how they could stick together. Or even if they could adhere at all. I’m missing that bigger picture, the whole that all these parts could/should/might fit into.  Or maybe each one is a different tale, and I need to focus on one or two of the better concepts, and just develop those. Maybe that will allow the others to rest, or maybe to develop along in their own timelines. Maybe.

I’ve definitely got two concepts which are kind-of similar, but separate. They fit into different moulds, different methods, so I could do both at the same time. Or I could focus on one and then the other. Or. Or. Or.

And that’s what’s sticking me up at the moment. Too many ideas, not enough drive.

I’d love to be ironic (or meta) enough to be able to write about a writer that is stuck on the writing, so that it’s turtles all the way down. But that’s beyond me.

I think the plan for the coming year will be to do just one project, focus on it, see if it works. If it doesn’t there are others waiting in the wings. If it does, there are others waiting in the wings.

Between now and 2016, some of it is just going to be brain-dumping stuff onto paper/keyboard as a record – perhaps that’ll help too.

So yes, I think that’s the plan. But now, which to choose as the first one. Which to choose…

 

Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy

Following on from yesterday’s post about my most recent day trip to London, this one focuses on the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the RA.

It’s a great exhibition, and shows a wide range of Weiwei’s works, including his massive (and understandable) loathing of China.

The first thing you see, as you enter the RA’s courtyard, are the trees, made of assorted pieces of wood

TreesHidden in there as well is what looks like a knackered leather armchair. Only it turns out to be made from black marble…

In the exhibition itself, there are just so many different things. Tables that have been melded with timbers from 14th century temples, and/or bent to rest with legs against walls, epic cubes (including one that is a ton of compressed tea leaves), video installations, 3000 porcelain crabs, and many others.

The cubes are fantastic, and a particular favourite of mine was the wooden epic-scale puzzle box (that needs two people to get it to work) which was just beautiful, and so tactile…

Mystery BoxThere’s also a work called ‘Straight’, which is entirely constructed from steel reinforcing rods, and is a thing of beauty. (Although you do wonder just how long it took to get it all to work!)

Straight - Steel rodsOn the walls in that room there are also two panels, listing every single identified body from the 2008 earthquake. Just the scale, the number of names, is gob-smacking, and upsetting in a strange way.

There’s also a lot of humour in the exhibition – surprisingly so, and in contradiction to what I’d imagined and understood of Weiwei’s work. My personal favourites of the entire exhibition are the two wallpaper designs. (Yes, wallpaper)  The first is this, whole patterns created from a stencil of a man’s torso and arm, ending in a fist with a raised middle finger.

wallpaper1I think it’s the first ever wallpaper I’ve seen and gone “Yeah, I could live with that”. Although at nearly £500 per roll, I won’t be able to do so…

The second wallpaper, “Golden Age” is even more clever. Surveillance cameras and Twitter birds predominate

wallpaper2And then you look closer, and realise that in every Twitter bird, there’s Ai Weiwei’s face. And that’s really clever.

wallpaper2_detail

There are many, many other pieces – in a variety of sizes, materials, and styles. (I also loved the chandelier built from bicycle wheels) It’s an impressive body of work, and I suspect a number of pieces will stick with me for quite a while.

All told, I loved the exhibition. It’s so much better than I’d expected/assumed, and is so worth going to see.

Bike Chandelier

Even better, the RA are actively encouraging people to take photos of the exhibits, to promote it themselves, and to touch most of the items. It’s very tactile, very open – and so nice to see that kind of understanding. (Although they did still tell off the German who slammed his camera and bag onto one of the bent tables, impervious to the fact it was an exhibit – but you can’t do much about idiots, in fairness)

The only (small) downside is that for the price you’re paying to see the exhibit, and the fact it’s only ticketed admission, it was still crowded. I would rather that there were fewer people allowed in at once, and thus those people can see the exhibits better, without being being constantly blocked, wandered into, and having others drifting into one’s eyeline. But then, I’m an antisocial git.

All told though, it’s great. I’m actually considering going again before it finishes…

Creatively Becalmed

This year so far – and probably for a bit longer than that, if I’m honest – I’ve not been getting all that much done on a creative front, and I don’t really know why.  It’s more a feeling of being bogged down, uninspired, and just not in the mood.

Writing is going better than anything else – lots of ideas, but nothing is particularly gelling at the moment. I’ve got a couple of things started, but it’s still bogging down, and not flowing.

Photography-wise, I haven’t even taken my camera out in ages. Really it’s been since I did the NCFE course, which is a bloody long time now. I don’t know why that seemed to flick the ‘can’t be arsed’ switch, but it has.  I’ve tried a few things and ideas, but it’s just all a bit “meh”, with no real desire to take the photos.

In some ways, the day-trips over the last few months have helped on that – I’ve taken photos, even if ‘only’ with the phone (although that’s a surprise, considering how good they’ve come out) but still can’t really bring myself to take the actual camera out for a day. A lot of that is also because I can’t be arsed with lugging it around and faffing about, but mainly it’s just the faff of it all at the moment.

I’m sure things will change again – I certainly hope so – and that the changes will be positive for once. The rest of this year to date has been positive, so I’m hoping that once I have some headspace and time, I’ll be more prompted.

(And I’m sure I’ve written about this a couple of times this year already, so forgive the repetition. It’s just something that’s bugging me at the moment)

Flattened, But With Progress

I don’t know what’s been going on this last week, but I’ve been feeling pretty wiped-out all week. Not health-wise as such, there’s been no illness or anything to speak of – but my mood has just been flat and a bit demotivated. Not depressed – I know that one way too well – but just…. tired. I guess it’s just been one of those weeks.

Despite that, though, there’s been progress with other stuff.

As well as the normal work – which I’ve still been able to get enough done on – I’ve also finally got a business bank account sorted for once this contract comes to an end.  Considering everything else that’s gone on, that’s quite something, and I’m really pleased about it.

I’ve also finalised the paperwork for renting the office for the next few months, so that should be a go from next week, with any luck.

So it’s all looking pretty promising. The first month of this year has already been more positive than pretty much all of last year.  I’m not counting my chickens just yet, but things so far are looking up.

Now if only I could get back to being a bit more motivated and driven about it all…

What Kind Of Year Will It Be?

As regular readers know, I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions. It’s partly my knee-jerk response to the whole “Everyone else is doing it” ethos, which means I won’t. But also New Year is just an arbitrary day for making plans – and I tend to do it from birthday to birthday, for no better reason than that it’s an easy day to remember as a start/finish date.

Anyway, with that said I do have plans for 2015. Sometimes plans work better on a calendar year instead of birthday-to-birthday – although there’s also a couple of ideas and plans this time that would also work better to a fiscal year, April to March. But for the sake of argument I’ll stick (for now) to my usual resolution/plan structure, while also acknowledging the whole 2015 thing.

What I won’t do is go into reams of details – I know what I want to do, and I’ve got most of it written down in to-do lists and the like – but it can all be summed up in four key points, which can be summarised as:

  • Create More – includes writing, photography, and web-based work/business plans
  • Do More – includes activities, day trips, longer weekends, and perhaps even a holiday or two.
  • Save More – working to rebuild finances, build up some backup savings, and restore the credit score.
  • Weigh Less – the goal is to lose another two stone in 2015, which is what I also lost in 2014. So it’s feasible.

And that’s “it”. Obviously there’s details, sub-plans and sub-goals in there as well, but they’re the key points. They’ll do me for now.

I’m hoping that 2015 will continue in the positive direction that started in the last quarter of 2014.  I’m quite sure there’ll be some hiccoughs and roadbumps along the way – that’s realism rather than cynicism, my life is never a truly smooth process – but with any luck at all it’ll be a positive year, and lots will get done.

And if not, if things go wrong, then I’ll just do what I can, and keep on in the same way as I had to with 2014.

But I do hope that 2015 is positive and constructive. That’s the intention, at least. But we’ll see.

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