“Only Jesus can be naked on the cross. You can’t do that to President Zuma…an insensitive creation by a white person”.” ( Barend La Grange, vandal of Murray artwork)
Well, with so many interesting debates going on about censorship, racism, cultural ethics and the nature and purpose of art, who has time to worry about unfinished paintings?
I have thrown this topic into numerous lunch and dinner conversations, and am always delighted at the way it gets everyone hot under the collar! No more talk about the weather and the price of petrol!
Real thinking required
Please feel free to leave comments and engage with this fascinating debate! I personally go with Mike van Graans review of Brett Murray’s entire exhibition “Hail to the Thief”
Interesting/informative links discussing the Zuma Spear Controversy..:
I was chatting to my son’s squash coach the other day. He mentioned that none of our country’s top players have the discipline to play themselves on the squash court, which means playing the same shot hundreds of times… this seemed to imply to me an explanation of their lack of presence on an international level. I drew a comparison with art, where I’ve made similar observations: if someone is not willing to practice the same thing over and over again, they won’t advance as far or as fast. The coach added that in his experience as an English teacher, he always spent time teaching kids discipline, which usually lead to them having better self-discipline; an invaluable attribute in his opinion. Now that might sound terribly old-school, conjuring visions of corporal punishment, petty rules, and intimidated kids. But I think what he was referring to is discipline in the sense of structure and boundaries, which I have come to realise makes perfect sense in my own teaching experience:
I started off being nice. Ha. Chaos and mediocre creativity, even at university level. When I made it clear-unsmilingly- what I expected of my students in terms of punctuality and work ethic, set them challenging tasks, and had no mercy for lame excuses and negative attitudes, output and standard soared. They loved me, and I wasn’t nice. A revelation, especially for a woman
Now the real sticking point is of course the application of all of this insight to myself.
I struggle to finish my paintings. I have little discipline. Unless there’s a deadline like an exhibition opening forcing me to get on with it, I have problems carrying through the original impetus, procrastinating until the work has lots of all of its original appeal/reason. New Age advice has me search my chakra balance/childhood/ascendant for causes of this. So far, I have self-helped admirably in some areas but not when it comes to my art. I obviously need a stern tutor such as the squash coach, who looks like he can deliver!
So what to do when you only know the kind of discipline that leads to repression, depression, and denial, and must therefore be avoided? Thanks to an authoritarian upbringing I’m unfamiliar with constructive discipline. I rebel at the mention of daily practice, even though that is what I teach others. My excuses are many, but I’m getting bored with my own dysfunction here. There are times when I think that I’m just not cut out to be an artist, and should rather spend my spare time teaching my kids self-discipline
Anyone out there willing to share/suggest/coach?
Some of my unfinished paintings. Sigh.
This post struck a deep chord with me. I have a long history of lurking in the safety of my lonesome castle, and no insightful parent encouraged me to venture forth into the world; taking risks, confronting fears, finding out who I am in the process. To this day I struggle to claim my gifts, finish what I start, embrace success.
Of course, all that brooding, non-stop reading and fantasy-worlding can perhaps be credited for my creative vein developing as strongly as it did, so this is not meant to be an ode to self-pity I am touched every day by insights from blogs like 400 days’til 40, and I feel less discontent with my achingly slow progress.
The self-portrait above expresses a lot of my fears, longing, and yes, hope!
Thanks to http://destructivetesting.wordpress.com for posting- had to share!
I really admire people who can transform “junk” into unique forms of creative expression. Saving the planet and inspiring it, excellent choice!
Dörte Berner has been a sculptress for fifty dedicated years. She and her husband Volker came to Namibia 46 years ago and started a carpet weaving business. Dörte managed to maintain a high level of productivity, throughout the challenges of managing a family, business, and her art. Her numerous exhibitions locally and in Europe always landed rave reviews, and walking through her newly opened sculpture gallery situated in the old weaving rooms on the farm, is a captivating experience: The artist’s diversity of medium and message. Her deeply symbolic and metaphorical themes. The sheer skill and dexterity required, working with stones such as serpentine, basalt, sandstone, marble, and granite; using only hand-held tools, never electrical ones.
A lot of Dörte’s works are lyrical interpretations of African life- animals like warthogs, vultures, goats; workers sowing, native religious customs, mother and child figures, drought allegories. Mostly, though, she delights in portraying universal concepts such as metamorphosis, spirituality, power, the mysteries of time, space, and death; and so on. Her later works become increasingly conceptual and abstract, often commenting on social or political situations, such as war/torture. Combining wood, felt, and entire installations like the hanging uniform seen below, with her stone sculptures adds even more dimension to an already complex and very engaging body of work.
We spent hours talking and looking, and still felt like we hadn’t seen everything. Dörte explained every single piece in great detail, and it was a humbling experience to witness so much fierce commitment, knowledge as well as wisdom in one artist. We will be back!
All sculptures by Dörte Berner,
for more information please visit:
and more about creative community…
Originally posted on Rachael Pinks Art:
I read this article on the an website this morning: http://www.a-n.co.uk/ and thought I’d share it:
“Drawing from the Artists talking blogs and the artists who keep them, this article will examine the many positive benefits of keeping an artist’s blog.
With, at the latest count, over 3000 social network sites on the internet, and with any organisation or individual with a desire to be seen, heard and acknowledged poking, prodding, blogging and tweeting their little hearts out all over the (non-)place, it is more vital then ever that you have an online presence, and blogging is a flexible, gainful and deeply useful way to get it. Blogging for artists is not just about making sure you are heard and seen by the people who you want to be heard and seen by, it is also an integral part of your practice and, as Jane Ponsford put it, a “virtual coffee point”, a community, a place to network.
Everyone knows it’s not enough to just make work if, that is, you want to be taken seriously. For myself, thinking about my visual output is a crucial part of my practice. You can’t make work in a vacuum and it’s useful to know who your work is in conversation with and what it is saying, otherwise you run the risk of, at best, over-ambiguity (saying everything and nothing) and at worst, totally misrepresenting yourself.
But thinking, talking and writing about what is essentially a visual process, is one of the most difficult things for an artist to do. It can make you feel awkward, pretentious, ignorant, and vulnerable. These feelings are especially intense today because the current discourse around contemporary art is so complex, taking in philosophy, cultural theory and psychoanalysis, and with trained academics doing much of the talking.
Writing, just like making, takes practice and if the studio is the place where you practice your making, I say the blog is the place where you can practice your writing. When you blog you can think speculatively, ‘thinking with pen in hand’, as Adorno put it, allowing yourself to unfold freely in the presence of yourself. You can then step back and open up a space for a critical and analytical dialogue between yourself and your work. As blogger Jeni McConnell says, blogging
“…sharpens everything, it makes you consider and reconsider what you are doing, it vocalises the inner voice, questions without interrogation or confrontation and teases out ideas and thoughts”
I crave dialogue. Dialogue is what art is all about, it’s what life is about. The work is the conduit, the way in to a conversation. And Artists talking (as the name suggests) is about artists having a conversation. But not, as many people assume is the way with blogs, talking into the ether, or to a fantasy audience – no, if you take a moment to delve into the Artists talking blogs and look at some of the conversations springing up all the time in the blog comments, you’ll find plenty of lively and spontaneous debate.
The last couple of months alone have seen discourses on themes as diverse as the difficulties of putting your work into words, the pros and cons of doing an MA, and the redundancy or otherwise of the art object. I recently fostered a discourse around parenthood, which has resulted not only in an ongoing conversation and a coming together of otherwise isolated and diverse practitioners, but also the beginnings of a new network of artist-parents.
Peer–led debate is not the only community benefit for the bloggers, there is a growing culture of mutual support and encouragement, a sharing of ideas, knowledge and experience. Artists talking is nothing like the many online forums where people hide behind their virtual selves and vent their aggression without fear of consequences. Whether they are offering words of consolation on gallery rejection, suggesting possible reference points, or encouraging one another to keep the momentum going in the grueling build up to the degree shows, the bloggers on Artists talking are generous, sensitive and supportive.
Keeping a blog is like having a constant profile, one that changes develops as your work does. You don’t have to wait until a project or residency is complete in order to highlight it or draw attention to it and in this way prospective commissioners and curators can follow your development and get to know you. And the great thing is you are in control of how you represent yourself and your work. As Kirstie Beaven (Exhibitions Editor at Tate Online) says, “Artists Talking is like a continuous open-studios visit…” and open studios are all about getting the right people in and doing your twirl.
Laying a well signposted e-trail is vital nowadays and a blog can be a key landmark along the way to your door. Alex Pearl was recently approached by Bath University to do a solo show there. They found him via an Interface review he had written, which led them to his blog, and from there to his website. Amongst the long list of benefits, Alex says his blog has led to writing for online and printed publications, “…increased traffic to my website [and] reviewers and curators have used it for information…”
A blog doesn’t necessarily have to relate directly to your work but it can still draw attention to you in a very positive way. Emily Speed’s ongoing blog about artists’ pay is topical and critical and has so far drawn in well over 2000 visits since January. Emily says of her blog, “What a fantastic tool [my blog] has been in sharpening everything. …I have suddenly become much better at valuing my work and time more highly…”
A blog can be an integral part of your practice, a space to reflect, to step back from your output and locate yourself in the wider world of art production. As a community and a networking tool a blog can broaden your contacts, provide you with support and encouragement and introduce you to many inspiring discussions. A blog is not the answer to all your problems, it wont suddenly result in curators and commissioners beating a path to your website, but if done well and signposted well, it can be an extremely useful part of your profile.”