For Lula, In Memoriam
Anemone – meaning woodland flower. Narcissus – Greek God who fell in love with his own image.
Towards the end of November last year, I received the news we had all been dreading but sadly expecting. My beautiful sister-in-law, Lula – who had just reached her 60th Birthday (but didn’t look a day over 40 – the effect of not having children, perhaps?), died of a devastating brain tumour.
Apart from her heart-broken husband, Michael, Lula’s other most enduring passion in life was her love of gardening. I can see her now, quoting the latin names of plants with her impish grin, enthusing about the merits of this one or t’other. I swear she didn’t always get it right but none of us was ever in a position of being able to correct her.
The church at Bruton in Somerset was packed for her funeral service. It was decked out with an abundant display of greenery from the very forest out of which Lula, with the help of Michael of course, had fashioned her latest creation. It was her wish to give the mourners a flower as they left the church. I brought mine home and decided to dedicate a painting of them to the memory of dear Lula. This is the start of that project and I shall be thinking of her throughout the process.
As promised! Just a very small selection of my new posters. I’m interested how a few choice words coupled with an image can have such an impact. I can envisage many situations where these posters could be used: exhibitions, headings for poems, chapter headings, to name just a few. I could see an entire exhibition based around these posters.
Of course, I could do a lot more with these ideas in Adobe Indesign, but as Apps go, it is a fun and quick way to ‘mock’ up a whole train of thought. My ‘poster’ image file is already bulging at the seams……..
June is nearly over and ‘flaming’ it ‘aint! Hey ho, we celebrate the Summer Solstice all the same. This year we joined Angie and friends for a mini fest of music and song. Using a couple of the pictures I took on the evening, I have made these posters to mark the event.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed my poster-making is becoming a bit of a habit. Ever since I found this new App, Phoster, I have been hooked. There is nothing too light-hearted or too serious that goes under the radar of my poster tool, even creating a ‘poster’ section within my ‘Design’ category. (Be prepared for more to come!).
This Phoster App, however, is seriously limited in what you can do with it and can be extremely frustrating at times. For instance, if you don’t save a copy you lose it rather than be able to go back a few steps to undo stuff. There is not a very wide selection of templates and there are no colour choices available except for text, to name but a few. Also, some of the text is so small I can’t even read it on my phone. I try to be as inventive as I can to overcome these minor irritations!
When my son was small, if he was asked to do something he thought was irrelevant – such as: darling….would you like to make your bed today? – his answer would invariably be, what’s the point? He was right of course. If he wanted to leave his bed unmade, then that was his responsibility. Since then, this question has become a family catchphrase.
(experimental poster no.2)
Now, at this very juncture in my life, I find myself asking the same question. What is art for? What’s the Point of it? Why do I feel compelled to ‘make’ art? Where exactly in the ‘bigger picture’ do I fit in? What is the importance of art and artists in the cultural context of today and could we all live without it / them?
Firstly, as Paul Hobson ( Dir. Contemporary Art Society) said, there is no doubt that artists are the ‘oxygen’ of the art market. Without them (us), there would be no art industry at all. It helps pump life blood into the networks that support the galleries, public and private collectors, residencies, critics, writers, teachers, art schools, public art institutions, technicians, designers etc – not to mentions other branches of the creative professions, such as choreography, film making or acting etc. – and helps to turnover billions of dollars in the world economy.
However, like small UK dairy farmers today, most artists are at the bottom rung of the ladder in terms of earning potential. Only a handful of artists are destined for stratospheric stardom with eye-popping incomes to match. There is no doubt that the more successful artists do possess a high degree of self-belief. The question is, why do so many of us take up such a precarious existence? A conservative estimate by Arts Blueprint1 for workforce development drawn up by Creative and Cultural Skills (CCS) suggested there were 28,490 visual artists in 2009. I shall be pondering this for my next post. In the meantime, dear followers, please let me know if you have any ideas on the subject.
Since my visit to the Art & Money event last week at Plymouth College of Art, I have been reflecting on my circumstances, as they are at this very moment. And it goes something like this:
(experimental poster no. 1)
Having completed a very intensive period of study for my MA in 2003, I needed a bit of down time to consider my next move. In the meantime, life took over (as it has a way of doing) and after a bit of a panic attack about how I was going to support myself, I started a business which was totally unconnected to my art practice. The plan was to run it in conjunction with my art practice but in reality, this proved impossible as the process of building up a new business demanded more and more of my attention and took me increasingly further away from any useful studio time.
Until one day, (actually gradually over time) I came to the realisation that in order to continue my practice in any shape or form I needed to devote my entire attention to it and to nothing else. Only when I had ‘dissolved’ the business could I begin to contemplate my creative practice again, but this time with a fresh prospective after a ‘gap year’ that lasted for six.
I did not want to start from where I had left off as that would be like re-tracing old footsteps and with new ideas for creative projects that had been brewing over the ‘fallow’ years, I have already begun working on exciting new projects with a focus on artistic practice as a result of scientific enquiry, and collaboration as a means of revealing something new.
Artistic talent is no guarantee of success. However, I am fairly resilient, self-motivated and resourceful, and I believe that there is a place for every artist somewhere in the global market. The few years that I have spent ‘in the wilderness’ not practicing as an artist have not been wasted as I have gained other transferable skills that enhances what I do now. I have always believed that my best work is yet to come!