Today, across the world, in unison, at 23:59:60 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), a second will be added to our year. A moment when the people of the world will pause with single breath.
I ponder on the difference a single second makes. It is gone as soon as I speak of it, and yet, within its grasp love is felt, hope is born. A second more is all we need to change our mind, our world. I live in instant shorter than a second spreads: my place of beginnings, of endings, my choice of war or peace.
Like you, I want to be known by people I trust. I am most at ease when talking one to one with a friend. The moment three or more enter into conversation, I protect some of what I am and become more attune to the group and its needs. I show myself less as I seek to understand, and as I interact with many points of view. With many, the moments of emotional intimacy I cherish are rare.
For me, being shy is not about nervousness or uncertainty, it is the mindful gaze on others and oneself.
Imagination: the ability to form ideas, images or concepts not present to the senses.
Imagination is the most powerful tool in my creative process, but it is also the seat of my unease. My mind rushes from one possibility to the next, from reality to dream and back again. When making art this is invaluable, but in life the prepensity for my mind to take flight can lead me astray. Not a hair's breath passes between the world of reason and its rival, magic.
At times in my desire to be heard I fail to listen.
My enthusiasm can be off-putting. Conversations quickly fade if they are not in equal measure. I try not to interrupt the flow or talk too much, but my nature often gets the better of me. My silent voice is one of self-restraint in fear of loss. The less my silent voice, the more I am at ease.
If trust is in the air I sense the silent voice of someone else. Silence shared is more than voice alone.
Part of the creative temperament is a natural tendency to collect and keep in the hope something may be used or of value at a later time. Although we all do this involentarily with words every day, some people practice and cherish their store of expression more than others.
Over many years I have built my library of words, ideas, light, sounds, textures, movement and more.
My library is not confined to the four walls of my home. It has become a pillar of my identity.
My curtains are open. I sleep so when I fall or wake the first light that greets me is of the sky.
A crisp crescent moon rises. Unhurriedly, the darkness lifts. Even now, so soon after our shortest day, the song of birds fill the air. I open my front door and walk a few short steps into the open, beautiful morning. I am in awe that such delicate creatures welcome the cold of winter with such energy and life.
Before I publish my latest work I begin my next. It is the nature of things.
Give: to transfer something to someone, whether an object, feeling, or physical action.
Give once, give twice, give endless time,
Give ground, give back, give rise to thought, give nothing of yourself, give way,
Give in, give reason for,
Give now, give life, give birth, those most at peace give more.
I value honesty. There are however occasions when it seems better, for the feelings of others, or perhaps to ease my path in some way, that I deceive. It is for example not helpful that I am always honest by expressing what I think every moment, in part becuase my understanding and judgments change as time unfolds. The danger is, once I lie to someone, the next lie becomes that little bit easier.
It is the same for the creative process. If I settle for less because of convenience, beauty is jeopardized.
There is a place we most belong. A place we feel full with life, recharged, comforted. For you it may be the inner city, by water or wilderness. Perhaps within a building that inspires, or a room of personal significance. Whatever the place, it is likely one we wish to share with those most close, as well as a place we are at ease alone. When I face difficulty I think of this place.
My place has rolling hills, woodland, open water. A place in equal measure for my senses and my spirit.
Poetry: human language, carefully and elegantly expressed with rhythm and layered meaning.
It is no matter whether a poem is short or long, shared or kept in a private place. Whether young or old, rich or poor, the act of writing poetry is helpful and needs only one's time and contemplation.
We each can be a poet, and with poetry comes peace.
For scientists winter starts today. Although the earth is closest to the sun, it tilts in relation to it. In the northern hemisphere the sun's energy strikes the earth with less force resulting in lower temperatures. The difference in tilt (the axial tilt) between our summer and winter is at most around 3400 kilometers (2,112 miles). This relative pinprick of variation is the cause of the world's coldest and hottest weather.
It is the same for my life. When my world nears another, my centre tilts, my balance shifts.
I wake in darkness, a time when brutality seems commonplace. Creating art is never more vital and reminds us that beauty, a correlate of love, is still present. Art broadens our horizons and challenges our firmly held assumptions. Above all, art's greatest strength is its potential to being us together.
Have no doubt Peace Will Prevail. Light is a moment we uncover over time.
I have loved movies all my life. As a child I looked forward to 'Saturday Cinema' on the TV which showcased classic films. On occasion my aunt Merlyn would also watch with me. She would often be so moved, tears would run silently down her cheek. I viewed her feelings for others as a sign of great strength. When I watch a film today I limit outward signs of my emotional response as I am viewed as sentimental. When I watch alone, those films that touch me to tears are among my most treasured.
Creative Continuity: the practice of consistent expression.
My efforts are underway on the painting and words that will accompany the music 'Daybreak'.
As I listen or read, I walk the line between trust and doubt. With music the same is true for harmony and discord as they unfold, but light is different. Even though it takes time to discover a painting, it exists in its entirity before me. At 100 Artworks you will always see the image first, before words, then sound.
My morning begins, darkened by the mist of mid December.
Some of the most beautiful landscapes I have witnessed are defined as much by what is hidden as by what is seen - beauty seems bound with discovery and growth. When I see a painting, hear music, or read a poem, the enchantment is my ever-changing experience. Not seeing all at once I have the time to breathe, the time to be more open to those things I may not otherwise take in.
When I meet with a friend, time looses all strength to separate. We start again where we left off as if not a moment has passed.
Friendship is defined by trust. Trust that we can be ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses welcomed and expressed in equal measure. Trust is being unafraid.
Trust takes time, is lost in a moment, but when it lives between friends, all sense of time is lost.
Much of my creative effort is spent trying to make things simple. The words for example that accompany my artwork 'Aleppo' have been under constant change for the last three days as I search for clarity.
Simplicity invites the eye to see and gives the mind the chance to grasp.
I publish the new artwork Aleppo: a place today of unimaginable loss.
Aleppo ﺣﻠﺐ Ḥalab: a city occupied for 7,000 years. Our place of difference and tragedy: our school, our hospital and home. Our mother, father and child. Our sister and brother. Our life-long friend and love.
To live well, to find peace, our only path is through compassion and love. Both are by our side to use at any time, in any place. No matter our pain, these actions of our better lives are bound for life within.
I ponder on the word 'wake', used to describe our emergence from sleep, the vigil held beside the body of someone who has died, and the smooth pattern on a liquid surface downstream of an object in flow.
I am awake.
I hold the feelings of my sleep and dreams close, yet out of sight. Embraced: my world unseen. With bridge from night to day, in day and night. Perhaps this is why - I wake early, quickly, and with ease.
As I work on my music I listen carefully to its flaws. Although I shape and refine my performance I do not use my computer to automate rhythmic precision. I work aesthetically rather than programmatically and find the smooth ebb and flow of beats more musical this way. It is time consuming but mirrors my life which is not mathematically regular. I search for the sweet spot between the flawless and the chaotic. Gentle fluctuations of rhythm, tone and pitch lay at the core of beauty in music.
With others I live well, with comfort of their moment close: I am, I feel myself once more.
Alone: the time, an endless wall of white, I search in vain for what has been and what may come,
Alone I fill this space with sound to fill the silence of my mind.
Find love for this is all there is and ever was of worth in moments of your time...
This short poem touches on the world of a lady in her nineties whom I visit each day.
As an Active Pacifist my battle against cruelty and conflict is fought with the tools of art and persuasion. That said, I see a person stripped of dignity, their life no more than a struggle to survive, and I ask what can my modest expression of art and words ever achieve?
Although climate change, war and poverty seem far beyond the scope of individual influence, they are born of the mind. The mind is our battlefield where all the now and future we ever know is formed.
As we travel online we do so believing ourselves to be largely unknown. We interact with our device or screen and sense the experience as private.
Outside of social networks our mindset online is essentially one of taking because of our perceived isolation. I ponder on whether this is why the internet is so ubiquitous, and whether the greatest value of our taking is the chance it provides in our future to give.
I publish a new expressionist artwork to accompany the music 'Hope'.
Chamber: an enclosed place or cavity.
For those people and places that remain close to our heart and that light us from within...
The Turner Prize is an annual event presented to a British visual artist under the age of fifty. Thankfully, I will never win. The art this year follows the usual marriage of dubious thought and poor expression. Members of the public are left bemused as art commentators present their banal interpretations along with forty thousand pounds of prize money, extended BBC news coverage, and certain notoriety.
In future I will publish www.FartAsArt.com, but for now I'll aim it squarely back here...
As hard as I try to imagine a day without words, I cannot. Words are my most treasured tool, whether spoken, read, or thought.
Touch is my most prized sense, light my most loved, and sound my most expressive, but for all these, without words my life would be diminished. Ideas emerge and flourish only through our words.
When we ignore or fail to hear another's words, we risk the danger of silence: a world without words.
We are drawn to live performance (dance, music, spoken word, theatre, and art). We revel in our living in the moment, in its chance, of ‘being there’. That ‘one and only time’. We feed with friends and strangers. We express our feelings in a public space. The recording of a performance we have attended is a shadow of our live, unique, sensory experience.
The strength and weakness of live performance resides in its spontaneity and imperfection.
I came across a beautiful work of art that conveys an immediate impact and is wonderfully produced. I discovered it was commissioned to hook those who enjoy art and to bolster a company brand that seeks to present itself as a trailblazer of sophistication and style. Despite its undoubted attraction, I do not share art designed to manipulate affection if it is strongly associated with commercial gain.
Art is only convincing when its motive is not mired by money. In this, art is akin to love.
Craft: the practice of making hand made objects. A skill of the mind.
Crafts people are not viewed of having the same cultural or social status as artists. Although crafts have an aesthetic quality, their products are functional rather than revealing. In the past the word craft was broader and encompassed art, science, talent, might and power. I view the care and skill of the artist (their craft) in equal measure to their ideas and expression.
Art contains special significance related to beauty or its opposite, expression, and the communication of ideas in a symbolic context. Art is purposeful.
Art is not a landscape. It is not solely an experience, nor only an idea. Art does not come into being because of its placement, nor through someone's assertion of its existence.
At its best, art reaches our hearts and minds with the same force and in the same breath.
Giving: to freely cause or allow another to have or experience something.
I find giving without desire or need of return immensely difficult, especially over time. Giving is not for the faint of heart... I ask myself: why place such importance on this path?
If I seek even love as I give, I seek to gain. Giving unconditionally is to love. Give to be in love.
It has been the coldest night of the winter so far with temperatures dropping to minus 7°C (19.4 °F). Yesterday my boiler gave out so my home was without heat.
As the clear but bitter dawn breaks, the homeless and dispossessed wake. Without heat the privileges of my comfort and circumstance thwart turning a blind eye.
Without heat my heart grows strong.
Words, light and sound.
I ponder on our core creative expressions: speech, dance and song. Perhaps we respond most powerfully to these forms as they require only our bodies to make and experience them. We feel most alive, especially with others, when we speak, we dance and sing.
I often fail to see what turns out to be as clear as day.
By re-visiting my work, fresh patterns, better ways of doing, and errors emerge. What I previously experienced as complete, is far from perfect. It is like walking out into a moonless night, or gazing at an ink blot: eventually and over time I start to see.
When making, patience and perseverance are among my most valued tools.
Friend: a relationship of mutual affection characterized by honesty, trust, understanding and love.
I was fortunate as a child in having a close friend. Between the ages of five and ten we would share the world. Even though my friend died many years ago, words continue to keep that friendship close.
When alone, although my interaction with words cannot be described as friendship, each word serves to support my hope for it.
The most fun I have is with others and begins with the unexpected.
I smile, and if the fun continues, I chuckle, I laugh. When I am having fun, I have not reached the journey's end. The fun stops when the moment of pleasure is fully realized.
The creative process is full with fun, with spontaneity. Its unpredictable nature, its tease and inspiration.
Young children have the most fun and from this they learn and love far more freely, far more quickly.
I publish a new artwork and poem inspired by the frozen wilderness of ice that covers the lakes, rivers and shores of the Hudson Bay in Northern Canada.
From time to time something is said that unexpectedly shifts my understanding of a person I know well. My moment of insight depends on a passing comment that drifts into the conversation before seamlessly moving to the next subject without note of its significance. I check my wish to ask for clarification so that I can examine the implications of what was said more carefully. Perhaps I misheard, perhaps I am mistaken. From time to time the secrets of our life spontaneously emerge.
We have resources at our disposal: personal qualities, knowledge, skills and effort. When we give something of ourselves or something we have made, and we do so outside the spheres of financial, political, or personal exchange, we risk those things we share are taken without reward or thanks. We may judge ourselves not to be in a personal or economic position to take the risk, and so we do not share. We choose to gain. We take: personally, politically, economically. Sharing at its heart is fearless.
Language: a system of communication that expresses ideas, events, emotional life and experience.
People often believe musicians make good mathematicians. I am not, and over the years this has led me to consider the nature of mathematics. In common with music, mathematics is not a language.
Mathematics is a mental activity that uses symbols and logic to model understanding. Although maths is an invaluable rational tool, it is not understood without the assistance of a language like English.
With gusts of eighty miles per hour the wooden gates break apart with a loud crack in our first storm of winter. I wake to watch nature bend the tree tops and lash the ground with rain. A few minutes more and I grab a coat and head outside to secure the open gates against the wall.
Nature is beautiful, in calm and fury. There is no good nor bad, no mine or yours. With nature we are as naked ancestor, and our humbled heart is better for it.
Inside Out: with the inner surface turned outwards.
Experience is always interior. Although we often gather (or are forced) together as an event unfolds, our experience is always unique, despite our perpetual wish to find common ground.
Art, music and literature are ways that expose, express and consolidate experience. As we share these things our tolerance of difference is increased, and we become more bound to one another.
Much of my day is spent alone. I work best alone. I am easily distracted by spoken words and music and so I write, and create images, in silence and thought. When I work with sound I hear only the music that unfolds.
Being still and alone serves to heighten my love of movement and the company of others.
It is ironic that the winner of The Nobel Prize for Literature is so inarticulate in his acceptance of it.
At the age of nine I played the piano in a music festival in my home town. To my sadness people seemed more interested in the status of those playing, rather than the music that was made. From that time I have been opposed to any form of competition in the arts. Experiencing art is profoundly personal and its value is not defined by winners or loosers, but by its beauty, message and power.
I do not like doubt, but I recognize its strength.
I treat doubt as my ally and of more importance in the creative process than certainty.
If doubt overwhelms me, I am indecisive, weakened. Yet it so often brings me to a better place through its encouragement of candour.
The most simple questions are often the most difficult to answer. Here are two: Why do? And its antithesis: Why do not?
What I do is driven by my nature, my values, my desire, my interest, my strength, my weakness, and my judgement of risk. These are also at the root of why I do not.
If I consider these questions as ethical, I form a guide to my actions. Why do?: Love. Why do not?: Love.
I spend at least an hour every day thinking about, then writing and refining a short passage that I hope is of value. At its best it is poetic, however as with anything I say, at times I am less successful. I could continue as I have, but I consider keeping the best with a view to replacing those posts that are weaker in the next yearly cycle. Is it better to say something every day, or speak only when there is something worth saying? What do you think?
I have deeply held convictions about love, about our actions, and about art. I view anything I publish: every word, every pixel, every sound, as some small proof of those things I hold dear. I try, but often fail to be as careful, as thoughtful in my everyday, as when leaving these modest grains of self online.
When in the company of others I mask my intense nature much of the time. Perhaps we long for those most we trust will love those things we often hide.
I have viewed the advancement of technology as progress, when in truth it is often aligned to power and convenience than for the greater good. When we view peace as the foundation of our progress, when our tools are used to ensure food and water, shelter and dignity are present for all, when we care for our world, only then can we consider ourselves as making progress. But what can I, one single person do?
We are all one. We are alone. When we love, something we can choose at any time, the rest will follow.
I live on a street with no lights. I like this as I can look up to see the stars. When I turn in for the night my eyes need time to adjust to the darkness. It is not possible for me to accelerate the process of this change as I look out my window into the moonless evening. I have to wait before I see well. Understanding, empathy and love is no different. I cannot rush these to know them well.
My eyesight this morning fails to focus on the fine details as well as it usually does. This gives me the opportunity of reflecting on how I so often take the acuity of my senses for granted. I notice the change.
Adversity, no matter how unexceptional, can lead one to be more mindful of the ordinary and everyday.
It is not despite our differences that we are strong, but because of them.
Following the election of the 45th US President, there is no more important a time to express and act with every effort in the interests of tolerance for the greater good, and stewardship of the environment.
With sound and light comes doubt. Adobe, a company that develops creative software including Photoshop, have announced 'VoCo', a speech editor. With twenty minutes of voice recordings a user will be able to type text to create completely new vocal material. Libraries of vocal sources will become routinely available for manipulation. What is presented as said will be viewed with suspicion.
We will search for truth and evidence as those in times before recorded sound and light.
I work best alone - it is my life-long practice. I am not a member of a group and publish my creative work so that it is freely accessible. As a result I rarely receive a response to those things I make. Despite visits to my work in the millions, I am unknown within the commercial and institutional artworld. Self-doubt is my constant companion in my making, and drives me to interrogate my every decision.
Not being recognized, despite its psychological hardship, can lead one to build well.
I plan to complete and publish a new orchestral piece on the first of the new year that I hope will evoke daybreak.
No matter what the weather of our hearts, the day begins afresh.
I publish a new artwork of a non-organic being, together with my thoughts about those things unknown.
Far from all are here online. Many are in the midst of love, close to death, on sea or high beyond the reach of signal. They are faint if known at all in this conjured place of sound and light we sometimes think as real. While I embrace a world online, I am mostly mind and still. The world of movement, scent and touch offline remains the place of gathering most, of being most, with others closer, together, far from the abstrated self possesed.
A single voice leads to change.
The change of a whisper may be modest, or if our voice carries further, it may alter the lives of others we have never met. For some the spread of their voice becomes their purpose. For others, their voice remains as if behind a closed door.
Whatever the strength of our voice, it is ours to use for good or ill. What we say, over time, we become.
As we hear our own voice our bones enrich its sound which appears far more resonant than to others. As we face ourselves in the mirror we see our flipped features from our unique perspective. Our normal is experienced by one, and one alone. All others hear us, see us, touch us, smell us, taste us as their normal meets ours.
Being is far from normal.
We often hold those who answer questions quickly and confidently in higher regard as compared with those who think carefully before opening their mouths. Self-assurance is valued above substance, especially when time is short, whether in a social situation or the workplace.
When we experience art, music and literature we are far more prone to question the authority and value of what is being communicated. The absence of social dynamic nurtures good judgment.
Respect: due regard for the feelings, wishes, and rights of others.
No matter what the age, gender, physical or intellectual ability, culture, or economic circumstance, respect is essential for happiness, and imperative for the creation of art about others.
In my creative work I try to find a balance between conveying the intellectual and emotional. I seem to reach closer to this goal in music and poetry but often stray from achieving this in my visual work, perhaps because painting is interpretive and its strength is not so much to articulate as to provoke, together with its appeal to our sense of aesthetic. I often present music, images and words together so as to improve their chance that our hearts and minds quicken in equal measure.
My son is staying over for the weekend - I cannot begin to convey the happiness that unfolds.
With those I love my world transforms.
I have mild asthma, which I view as good fortune. In the main I suffer no ill affects and lead a very active life, however dust, pollen and animal fur can at times make it difficult for me to breathe.
Breathing is such an involuntary activity we are rarely concious of it. To not always have ease is to value something.
Today, as I walk through an open doorway I will choose to be more on the other side. Although the change may be small, all change to and by the self matters. The doorway does not need to be in a significant place, it can be the most ordinary of doorways, anywhere. The only requirement is that my intention to change is honest.
When I consider each open doorway I walk through as an opportunity, I think and act more carefully.
Temptation: the urge to gain, irrespective of the consequence.
Temptation is something we all feel. Desire and impulse are fundamental forces in our ability to create, as well as being the drives of our self interest. Money is the most frequently used means of gaining. The acquisition of money, for work and pleasure, is aligned with temptation. When we resist temptation, our spirit and strength grow.
Texture is the foundation of human exploration. Sadly, cultural and social conventions often stifle our tendency to touch after early childhood. Adults who see tend to appreciate texture from afar, and their engagement with sculpture suffers.
Rhythm is experienced by all humans, and sound is the most accessible tool to create art, followed closely by language. Perhaps this is why music and song are so popular and important to us.
A judge acts as an officer authorized to hear and decide cases in a court of law, decides how a person who is guilty of a crime should be punished, and makes decisions on legal matters. University College London (UCL) is one of the world's leading multidisciplinary research institutions. Work there and in other places continues to develop artificial intelligence (AI) that makes legal judgments.
Our need to consider The Rights of Living Things is increasingly urgent as AI moves towards sentience.
The news, on radio, TV and online, is defined by its relevancy to us today. We ask ourselves are we at risk? How will this affect me or my group? Will this make my life easier or harder? What should I be as a result of what is shown? We often need the now of news before we act.
With art I stand back from the moment. The now in art is present as a gift of the past and future.
I release my piece dedicated to those new born in places of disaster and conflict, and for those who care for them.
Even in those most desperate of times, compassion, the love of others, is the source of our strength and hope.
I work on a poem and the text that will accompany my new piece for strings and piano which will be released tomorrow. My conviction has long been that art, music and words have the potential to change our world for the better. Although we may not immediately act differently when we are moved by music, its quality of connecting with our inner space lays the foundation to do so.
Art is something we return to help shape our spirit.
I am an advocate and supporter of democracy. Democracy's purpose is to respect freedom and equality between people by providing honest structures where power is held by elected representatives, or directly by the people. Democracy encourages the peaceful transition of power between people of opposing views. By his refusal to unequivocally accept the result of the US election before the vote, a candidate demonstrates their unfitness to be their president.
I know a person whose wishes become their memories. At first, those around her felt she was playing them, but gradually it became clear that her certainty was genuine.
I ponder on how memory is as much built from a fabrication of what we hope and fear as that which occurred.
I like the phrase 'taking time', as if we can ever grasp such a thing.
Perhaps when we give over our time we afford it the opportunity to consider and care for it more, whether it be a person, place, or action. If I do not take my time, if I do not give my time, I never quite reach where I wish to go.
One of the great joys of creating art is its safe uncertainty. Exploration's familiar companion, risk, is confined to the realm of acheivement rather than physical danger. For the artist, the unknown road is full with excitment and anticipation.
As I continue working on a new piece of music I listen for paths of sound that open briefly before me. I move by instinct, quickly, before the trail goes cold. My only enemy is doubt that I will hear.
A member of my family is increasingly bewildered. She finds herself more frequently in a place of mist and uncertainty. The one thing that helps to settle her is love. It is the same for all of us, no mater what our age or home: with company, together we grow strong.
I rarely voice my political views as I try to engage with as broad a group of people as possible by exploring issues in a way that I hope is inclusive. Although my work is not party political, it often concerns itself with power and status (both personal and/or societal). Politics tends to polarize opinion and often forms a barrier to dialog between opposing convictions. Art offers a context for adversaries to inadvertently stand side by side in the same room with shared experience.
Art History will no longer be offered as an A Level examination in the UK. Although Art History was studied by fewer than a thousand students at A Level each year, those students shared their views and knowledge about art and culture with many more. I believe the history of art should be available as a subject for all to study. Thinking about how others experience and express the world contributes to greater tolerance and understanding, which in turn gives rise and greater chance of peace.
Although I read and understand words with ease because of their context, I have always had difficulty spelling words, and find reading written music challenging. At times I simply do not see. As language is such a common skill in humans, any deficiency is often viewed of as a measure of general competence. My difficulty with the recognition of written symbols has however been immeasurably important in the way I use language and sound. Meaning and music are not defined by their aids to memory.
I am working on a new piece for two violins, viola, cello, bass and piano. The work has the provisional name 'Birth' and aims to draw our attention to those born in places of disaster and conflict.
Despite the anguish brought by natural devastation and the brutality of humans to one another, new life comes into the world. Those closest during the precious moments of birth, protect and shelter those most vulnerable against the cruelty of our time.
What I know is largely hidden despite my wish and what I share. Many of my thoughts remain veiled, even during conversation with someone I care for. I make judgments about the context, then release a part of myself that I beleive will have the greatest chance of understanding. Despite my efforts, I am at times self-serving.
With music, poetry and art, what I know is the better part of who we can become.
I do not allow those things I make to be used with products or services, despite the potential financial gain and exposure. I have for example strong views against the manner in which violence is often used in entertainment. It is wise to be careful of where one's voice is heard. For this and other reasons, I do not license my music for use in advertising, games or films.
Licensing creative content is as simple as turning a blind eye.
Shortly after the enormous loss of life in southern Haiti, our attention is distracted elsewhere.
I return to a painting or piece of music primarily because of its appeal to my senses. I revisit a story because of its dramatic content and the way it is told. Once I return I am reminded of people, places and events that I might otherwise loose sight of. Art and objects bring us back to those things of greatest importance, despite our ease of moving on.
Give a little of what you can afford to those in desperate need.
When the force of nature overwhelms us, we come together. At times the scale of devastation is immense, affecting countless communities, and the impact of each personal experience of trauma lasts a lifetime. What possible help can art be in a period of urgent practical need?
Food, water, shelter, and medical care are vital for survival, together with those things that inspire and raise our spirits. Each day, somewhere, where tragedy unfolds, art has the capacity to nourish hope.
When we give, we grow. When we share, we thrive.
Art is at its best when within reach of the many.
My thinking appears to be dominated by language and reason: I consider this relationship, that idea, event or circumstance. A great part of my thinking however is not conscious nor deliberate. At times I may be resistant in acknowledging my unseen mental processes, yet their importance is undeniable. When I am faced with a complex creative or logical challenge, the time I allow myself to ponder and mull is as important in finding a solution, as the time I take to meet the problem head on.
All young children love to play with words, sounds and light. They love to dance. Those who receive praise for their creative efforts thrive. Those whose efforts go unnoticed, slowly but surely withdraw their commitment and interest. For some, their need to express and their love of the medium is so strong, they will revisit a creative activity after many years. Sadly, most go on to say 'I'm no good at painting', 'I can't play an instrument', 'I don't dance'. In truth, given approval and admiration, we all can.
As my son starts his journey of discovery at University I focus on making more.
Creativity is not my luxury, it is vital for my well being. I believe humans are hard wired to make. We make conversation, we bake cakes, we create art. Making more holds us together.
Our first concern is for our own survival, our second is for personal gain, whether emotional or practical. When we trust we increase the risk of being disadvantaged in some way. The benefit of trust however is that it provides opportunities to share and grow.
Art does not require trust. Art nurtures trust.
I have come to learn that we are happiest when we act and think for others. When the 'I' is in the foreground, the 'we' is diminished. This is far from easy as our own interests and desires are so forceful. When I am low or ineffective, it is because I fail to focus my love on others and feel more for myself.
The great strength of art is that it provides the means for us to experience the world outside our own.
A great many things are beautiful, rhythmic, dynamic, yet do not demand our gaze beyond the moment of their presence. We have grown used to the short view. We see and hear with the attention of a honey bee - we collect as much as we can, as quickly as we can, then move on in search of satisfaction.
Art at its best, at least for me, appeals to the heart and mind. Good art demands we wait, that we think before and while we take.
Each year I celebrate my birthday by sharing something I have made. Enjoy a large version of my artwork 'With Love In Mind', and six short poems about love (42MB).
The intensity of my preparation is a quality of temperament born from my insecurity as a child. No matter what the journey or context, I am driven to ready myself as best I can. With music, art and words, this takes the form of thought, research and planning. Only then do I feel free to release my heart and instinct. Sadly, at times my focus on consequence curtails the fleeting opportunities of chance.
Until today I have kept my feelings about our son's leaving carefully under wraps - he has been a profound and wonderful force in my life since his birth. I have always considered him a gift. I struggle not to dwell on my sense of impending loss. Small things set me off, the last time in a while before we do this or that, together. It is those ordinary things we share that builds our sense of love.
May you love those you meet, and meet with those you love.
I have long wished to live where the temperature never dips below 25°C (77℉). I far prefer the dry of summer to the cold and wet of winter, and yet I have come to value the seasons as the chill of Autumn takes hold.
Despite my reluctance to admit it, without change I am weakened by the comfort of unbroken experience.
I complete a short poem that touches on the first Right of Living Things:
Alive, life, I live, I make my home in this, my place of being now where all I am is known through deed and action forged in light, in dark, with others and alone. Alive I am with you in this our only present born from time before I felt or knew, yet now, in this my moment felt, I am.
My son is a thoughtful and kind man with tremendous potential. In one week my world will change as he leaves home to embark on a new journey at University. I have tried to learn from my childhood experiences and to be a good father. I have tried to place love at the heart of our long voyage together.
I am mindful of each moment - seven days is as long a time as we make it last.
Each day the world's beauty overwhelms the hate and hurt of one person to another. As humans act with unimaginable brutality, dusk unfolds, the sky grows dark, and we, those myriad specks upon the land and seas, sigh, so starts our dream.
As certain as the pull of moon we cease our struggles, one against the other. No matter what our strength we sleep, this time we share, we children of one home, this wondered earth.
I work using both Windows and Apple computers as both operating systems provide unique creative tools. Yesterday my PC developed a serious problem. Some data has been lost to the wind without any prospect of recovery. As I begin the process of rebuilding my digital environment, I ponder on the ephemeral nature of technology, and how the best means to counter its short lived charm is through sharing in the hope that some of what is done survives.
It remains a miracle to me that these gifts we call words have the capacity to change the world through persuasion and insight. Language is our most prized tool and we must use it to the best of our ability, no matter how small or large the context. From a simple greeting to a great literary work, words provide our means to understand and build. At all times I should be more thoughtful of their use.
If someone beautiful approaches me and we begin to talk, our exchange is tempered by the potential of my desire (real or interpreted), and of their desire. Conversations are curtailed by concerns about a relationship's potential. The prospect of desire results in dislocation rather than the search for affinity. Desire, true or imagined, so often halts the progress of friendship and love.
I find the mind is a forest of half trodden paths, often to places unknown. I begin a journey this way or that, certain of my destination, only to be distracted by a glade of interest, comfort, or modest achievement. At times I sense myself a little above the trees and glimpse the direction of several paths converge in the distance. A moment more and I am back among the dense growth of daily thought.
I begin a series of ten poems that takes each right of living things as a starting point.
Creativity is stifled by indifference. If I am enthused by an idea or experience, the greatest force of nourishment is that another shares in the excitement. Perhaps this is why creative people often meet or form groups. Some gatherings require members do a certain thing, or follow a particular path before they are admitted, others are by invitation only. I have an aversion to groups because of the politics that ensues. The cost of independence is the journey of a lonelier path.
I am easily moved by those things I experience. I love the sight of dawn breaking, the sound of closely passing wingbeats, and the kindness of one to another. I feel at my best when I share these things. If those close do not feel the same passion, I am driven to create in the hope others will. My level of creative activity is closely aligned with my yearning to love and be loved.
Perhaps we are drawn to the poetry of motion as it allows us to prepare for fight or flight.
I don't dance anywhere near as much as I'd like to. I'm self conscious, and yet as I dance at a celebration I know it does me good. Later, as I watch from the sidelines, I am struck by the expression of joy uninhibited dance evokes in those watching as much as those moving...
I play competitive badminton each week throughout the year. On court I try to think of nothing else but where the shuttle is, where it might be going, and where I can place it so my opponent cannot play it back. I enjoy moving and try my best for each and every play. Most of the conversation on the sideline is about tactics or appreciating a great point. Watching sport is often an aesthetic experience. We don't only watch to see who wins, but to also enjoy the poetry of our motion.
Although numbers do not exist except as ideas and symbols, they are exceptionally useful in marking moments and expressing a measure or quantity of something. I associate the number 14 with my sister's birthday - today. If I think of myself at the age of fourteen I consider a particular period of my life. If I think about the relationship of 14 on a scale of one to a hundred I place the idea of 14 in a context which is helpful. Although I am not good with numbers, I enjoy the thoughts they bring.
I spend many hours with a new tool I have added to my digital studio of creative gadgets. There is nothing quite like the first occasion when one plays with something. As I build I glimpse the tool's potential - everything is fresh, unknown, and a journey of discovery. As with people, being inspired on first meeting lays the seeds for our return.
I amend the title and last line of the poem I wrote yesterday. The title 'Sleep' now acts as a focus for the poem and describes our physical and mental experience rather than our emotional response. I was resistent to using a repetition of the word, but now I view its emphasis as a strength that places the following words of the poem in context. The last line amendments encourage the mind to ponder rather than settle on the past. I frequently revisit my work to 'write' wrongs.
Where time breaks free as breath from body-bound to air,
As day and night collide in spirit land lay softly sound with light unknown with form elsewhere,
Be of that moment rapt and rich with strange and wondered way,
Become that realm enchantment roam embrace the dawning dream conveyed.
I have long viewed the word family as a broad description of those who find themselves together over an extended period of time, and of those who have the opportunity to care for one another. When I consider myself as part of a larger family, one not necessarily biological, my confidence in a brighter future is restored.
A landscape touches on a magical place I have only viewed from above, but which my aunt lived in as a child. Despite the transformations of age she holds the love of beauty in her heart.
I am completing work on a new landscape that I will release tomorrow in celebration for my aunt's ninetieth birthday. My aunt fostered me as a child and has encouraged me in my creative efforts for very many years. She enjoys mountain scenes as her childhood was spent in the foot of the Himalayas.
Creating for the artist is a constant cycle of commencement, invention, refinement and completion. No sooner than a piece is published, the groundwork for the next is laid.
To be well within I need to both receive and give two things: compassion and love.
If I receive without giving I think only of myself and grow sad. If I give and rarely receive I grow sad. Much of my day is spent in search of giving and receiving well. When I take, or force myself I find I am further from a place of contentment and peace.
I publish five new artworks including With Love In Mind at EyeInvent that I've worked on over the last month. EyeInvent is my proving ground for my visual output. If I return frequently to a piece and it maintains its force, it may then find itself at 100 Artworks. As with anything I feel, it is possible for the strength and character of my initial response to change with time.
As I write here, often in the early morning, I glimpse a little more of the irrepressible nature of this thing we call time. No matter what the events or strength of feeling of the day before, the day after becomes my now. At times I try feebly to freeze an instant of celebration, of laughter, or of love. Love above all as I yearn to stay longer in that vibrant and treasured place. And yet I must embrace the gift of this moment by doing, and not dwell too long on what has come to pass or what may be.
The swing of jazz shifts my place, from intellectual and tonal, to one full with rhythm, colour and the promise of things to come.
I cannot conceive of an idea without the tools of language or mathamatics. Words convey my experiences, actions and intent, while numbers, shapes and patterns help me build, manipulate, and appreciate the universe. My most valued human skill is verbal language.
I enjoy composing: the way sounds, visual elements, or words are put together, and the movement of these into shapes and patterns to create art. Ideas, composition and meaning are vital to my well being.
Naming a creative work is crucial to its success. A name not only identifies something, it sets up expectations that encourage us to think about a thing’s qualities and character. We use names to solidify, summarize, and to quickly identify a more complex chain of thoughts and associations about a thing. As I search for the name of my work I reach further towards understanding its nature.
I've completed the composition and performance of my latest work, and although I have a rough mix there's still a great deal to do before it's ready to meet the world. I'm working with tools that help me place the recorded sounds into a coherent aural space. When I master in the studio I am not creating musical ideas, but rather, shaping existing sonic materials. The character of sound is paramount during this process of repeated listening and subtle improvement.
We have a choice when viewing our journey. We can focus on the mystery and process of dying, or on the summary and present moment of our experience: life. Whether we choose to make or destroy, love or hate are actions born from fear or hope in our future: will we be? or will we not? When life is dark it is difficult to direct our gaze other than on our own feelings and loss, and yet in these moments it is only the actions of our love for others that provokes happiness to return.
I've been completely carried away as I work on the final section of a new piece of jazz. Of all the arts, composing and playing music gives me the most sustained pleasure. As I listen I am swept up by the beauty and rhythm of unlikely harmonic companions. The sounds of strings and brass, of drums and bass. I can't wait to find where the end takes me, and then to share so others might also know that place.
We need tools to create. These might be tools within us like thought and voice, or external tools like a pen and paper. Depending on the medium, the tools will range from simple to complex, and some will be affordable while others will be completely out of reach. If tools were made available to those who showed effort and merit, I wonder what wonders would result. Some societies provide creative tools without charge for children to explore their ideas and potential. An adult's need for progress is no less.
I have started the day early ever since I enjoyed the company of my infant son who woke at dawn with an abundance of energy and enthusiasm. I now work alone during this time of quiet which is my most productive creative period. This time feels like the day's spring when all is hope and possible. Each day I stop for a moment to watch the great unfolding light. It is a good time to be.
I add my thoughts about the artwork 'Deep Breath' and the poem 'With Breath Held Fast' at 100 Artworks.
Perhaps rebuilding our world with fresh perspective is as much a part of our nature and as crucial for our well being as the swan's urge to hold its breath.
I publish a new poem at 100 Artworks and ponder on the image of a swan dipping its head in search of food.
I find it important to vary my creative activities during the day so that the space that creeps between the gaps of what I see and hear fills me with fresh perspective. My eyes and ears need change to work well. This morning was full with the discovery of sound, my afternoon is spent uncovering light. One experience is nourishment for the other.
I'm continuing to work on a new jazz composition which I plan to complete early September. I hope this piece will free us a little from our troubles as we dive into its twists and turns. We all need a little joy no matter what our pain.
Music retains its force within us, even when we are unable to remember or think well. Yesterday I watched as a young boy with severe learning difficulties who stood beside me was transformed at the very moment music entered his world. I was taken back to my own childhood when I would loose myself playing piano for countless hours as the canary my father gave me would sing at the top of his voice beside me.
I often share music and art that I love. At times I come across a piece that is lessened by the originator's decision to place links to products and services they wish to sell. The piece can no longer be enjoyed innocently as it is reduced to being a financial vehicle.
Using art as a promotional tool undermines its integrity and impairs its impact.
In my work I communicate with developers of creative products and services. If I judge a tool can be improved, I make contact and give my feedback. I might not hear back, but more often than not I do. I have observed three areas of resistance to positive change: denial there’s a problem; a lack of commitment to making something better; a culture of poor support and communication. Perhaps at times we’re too close or have invested too much in something to admit its deficiencies.
My son has enjoyed thinking and writing since he was a young child, and yesterday he was accepted onto a degree course to study Philosophy and English. He now has the exciting prospect of meeting like-minded people who wish to learn in a place he very much wants to be. I'm over the moon for him :)
Soon I will know. My life will be full with hope and expectation, or uncertainty.
Time is nothing more than an invention of the mind. It is a tool of little insight that serves the ends of others. As time is of our own making, we choose to live within its arbitrary boundaries, or breath outside its realm, unfettered, free and full.
I draw my two previous thoughts together and publish these along with a new image at 100 Artworks.
We see and think with the same cells we were born with. Although more may be added through our lifetime, our other cells are in a season of constant renewal.
The gifts of sight and thought are our most ancient and prized...
Why I value beauty : I am hard wired to be attracted to those things that bring nourishment and comfort in nature - the blue of sky and water, the green of vegetation, the white of summer cloud. I find delight in texture and line, in sound and thought. I feel a person as beautiful as much as when they give, as the sight of their form and timbre of their voice. Love, distinct from desire, is aligned with beauty.
As I continue to work on a new piece of music I consider the absence of sound. Silence in music is different than negative space in the visual arts. Silence is akin to stillness. Negative space, the area around and between the subject/s of an image is crucial in composition. It can also be the focus of an image. Negative space is not however the absence of space. Silence is quite rare in music as we usually hear related or new sounds after a note is played. Silence is not heard as negative space is seen.
Since boyhood I have always loved gazing up at the vast sea of stars. I watched the Perseid meteor shower in the early morning today as the teaming spine of the milky way stretched far beyond. Every few minutes a streak of light shot across the sky. Along with this dance of primordial dust left by the comet Swift-Tuttle, three myserious spots of circling light were caught by a thin patch of cloud towards the north east at around forty degrees. I only have my memory and my thoughts of this to wonder with.
When I am witness to hurt and pain I have a choice: I can turn innward and focus on my sadness, or I can use the force of strong feelings for the greater good.
It seems part of the purpose of sorrow is to prepare and protect us from future risk, but it can also be a catalyst for change. We can at any time choose whether that change is for the better or worse. From our sadness we can build or destroy. I choose to build.
Some people make art to praise a person or deity, others use art to express their experiences or to comment on the world. Creating art can be a source of nourishment, an act of therapy, a vehicle of hope, an activity that provides purpose and nurtures self worth, a social tool that seeks to change, or an exploration of material, idea and beauty. Art flows from many ways of being.
Finding a clear voice requires the constant attention of our inner ear, and the will to listen.
I forget how profoundly interconnected my body and mind are as I fight off a virus of some kind. It took me years to realize that an indication of my not being well is that I feel generally less optimistic. Once I manage to put two and two together, my confidence returns.
I am far, far better able to make when I eat healthy food, drink well, exercise, and refrain from consuming those things that do me no good.
We breath the same air and drink the same water that flows and falls unfettered from the sky, that rains across our short-lived petty boundaries. We sense that same light and warmth of sun upon our skin, from north to south, from east to west. We live with extraordinary landscapes, teaming with life and beauty, with spirit gift. We are but once and in this moment love is all we have to give.
My need to unravel what is in front of me has been a part of who I am since early childhood when I understood very little about the difficult events in my life. At times I wish I did not interrogate each and every experience, but this is me, and there's no joy in denying nature. I cannot help but think carefully. To counter this passion, my instinct to understand, I try to create work that is accessible, poetic. It is my effort, my hope to build a bridge between my world and yours.
I listen to the quiet sounds we make. Those that otherwise are filtered from my focus or distraction.
The sound of breath of tendon stretch of touch as cloth on skin shifts softly as the voice of body beats within this place of multifarious delight with thought and spirit calm in readiness for life with love ignite.
I complete a new artwork: as figures pass and feelings swell like waves upon the shore...
Life is all we ever know.
We may be close, be saddened by, or even wish for death, but it is life that moves us from one moment to the next. Life that is host to the joys and struggles of day and night. Life where love resides.
I ponder on whether love is more than thought - whether love exists outside our own experience that is, our world. Love requires another, or others, and yet I can be in hope for love and act for this when very much alone. Love seems as much to me to be the search to be 'with': with understanding, with appreciation, with another: with those things we find beautiful, both to our senses and our mind. We fall in love with selfless acts as much as any wish or gift of touch, given or received.
I enjoy the sights and sounds of Sidmouth's folk festival. Sidmouth nestles within the arms of red sandstone cliffs on the Jurassic coast of southern England. Crowds of young and old flow onto the long esplanade with their song and dance as the sea washes against the pebbles and sand. Some play, others watch and listen, all celebrate what it is to be together in the open sea-salt air...
I use the music discovery website ReverbNation to introduce my music to people who might not otherwise come across my work via their classical charts. I've found a lot of great music by less well known musicians there. Under Sky of Blue has been well received and as a result I'll feature on their crowd picks page once again :) There is a tendency of the arts establishment to belittle work that has broad appeal, perhaps in an effort to bolster social position and spurious notions of cultural taste.
As I ponder further on the reasons for rarely representing people in my visual art I think about the difference in nature between words, music and light. Music makes most people feel more than think. Words do both. Visual art is interpretive and appeals to our sense of beauty. When a human is placed in isolation or with others in a work of art, all our mental energies focus upon their relationship/s with objects, landscape and others. When people are absent in works of art we consider the wider world.
I have always found peace when in the presence of nature, whether the soft buzz of a bee that works as the day breaks, or walking in a landscape of hillside, water, rock and sky. There isn’t a moment, not a breath of nature’s beauty that I do not long to share.
In contrast to my music and words which are presented alongside my art, it is curious that so little of my visual work directly represents people, despite it so often being about them...
After settling on the overall feeling I wish to share, I begin a new piece of music by making decisions about what sounds I will use. This contrasts with writing when the choice of words flows as one with the moment of composition. With music, the sounds assert the character of the work at an early stage, and although I might add or remove instruments, the tonal palette remains much the same. I do not use instrumental templates as I wish my creative journeying to remain unbridled.
I publish a new work along with my thoughts at 100 Artworks.
I've improved the website with additional links to recent work on the home page, and filters on the main gallery page that make it easier to view a category of artworks.
Dream long and love the sweetness of enchanted night...
There are moments when I sense the goodness of life, of landscape, the breadth of human potential. These rare flickers of beauty and light occur when I set my own interests aside and think only of others. I am happiest in those brief periods of clarity before the I returns. The I that yearns to share that place.
Make Peace Today - with your family, your friends, your neighbour, and perhaps most importantly of all, with your enemy.
I am working on the language that accompanies a new image that I will publish later this week.
I work slowly on each word as I value the craft of taking time. Being in the midst of uncluttered moments helps me unravel the wonder of instinct which plays a large part of my creative process. The new work is a landscape with the mystery of sleep at its centre. Sleep, that place beneath our surface that shapes our sense of self.
I ponder on why I try so hard to express the positive, no matter how dark life at times feels. Perhaps it comes down to my search and hope of love. Love is an action of care and attention for others. It is something given without need of return. At times love is far from easy to give or receive as it is so intertwined and often confused by the obstacles of desire - what we wish for, or whether we are wanted, or unwanted. Making art can be a way to love unconditionally, and an expression of hope.
Those who come here often know my passion for the value of art which I view as essential in our search to understand and appreciate ourselves, others, and the world.
Art as a product that is sold is limited in its reach as an emblem of social status, an investment, or a thing of pleasure. In contrast, art that is experienced freely is open to the curiosity and discovery of all. The songs we sing freely and together are of greatest value.
During times of cruelty and confusion a piece of music, a painting or a poem can take us to a better place. Those things we build give shelter.
Art can be our sight of dawn, the touch of wave against our skin, the sound of skylark high above. Art has the capacity to bring pause and comfort to our unrest, and it is this that gives reason to persist in its making.
I complete a new work and share my thoughts about our neglect of the earth at 100 Artworks.
After completing Hope I turn my attention towards the earth. We humans are so obsessed with comfort and conflict, we ignore the cumulative damage we cause to this place we call home. In common with others I am struck by how I can so easily turn my attention away from concerns about a bigger place and return to my own small world. Although our primary concern is for our own survival and well being, at times we fail to recognize this is best achieved through the broader care of living things.
I was invited to show my artwork in galleries in Milan and Venice, two cities that hold cultural weight. On reviewing the promotional materials it became clear there was little thought behind the exhibitions that would have a limited audience, so I declined the opportunity. Artists bolster their egos by showing their work here or there. Notoriety can increase arts' social status, price, and its cultural impact, however those things I value most: art's ability to make us feel and think, remain untouched by reputation.
The UK parliament voted to renew 'Trident'.
I do not hold that peace is nurtured nor defence strengthened by the decision to maintain weapons of mass destruction. Relinquishing power requires confidence and courage, whether in the personal, work, or state spheres. The world is not made safer by the ability to kill. We are strengthened by our capacity to forge tolerance, understanding, and above all, love.
The UK parliament is voting today on whether it will renew 'Trident', its sole nuclear weapons system.
Although The Rights of Living Things affirms the right to self protection, this right is not unqualified. My threatening your family and all in your community with certain death in the event you attack me is never acceptable. The use of a nuclear weapon is indiscriminate and catastrophic to all life. Self defense is only justified when proportionate. Read more about my views about conflict resolution.
I complete 'Hope', a short work for piano, woodwind and strings.
Hope, even when fragile, is a gift that helps us face, then shape the world.
In times of violence making brings comfort.
The creative act, no matter how modest, is in defiance of distruction and cruelty. Write a poem, start a tune, begin a conversation and be stronger for it.
We share a breath of all things dark in this our time of loss,
With sadness spent, with silence, still,
As tempered thought for those whose warmth will never more find light:
The laughter of their day, the beauty of their night,
As we are left alone to build a world with love in honour of their life.
I have spent much of my day, lost in working on my latest piece of music. I look up and it is already the evening! I have taken many weeks to create a little over three minutes of music. It is possible to compose far more quickly, but not if one is to maintain the right balance between doing and listening. I am fortunate in being able to take my time, and in this I am less likely to loose sight of time's most precious and mysterious gift: life.
Privilege: a special right, advantage, or immunity available only to a particular person or group.
I was born in a country that values freedom of speech and action. I was encouraged to learn and find my own path. I was given love, enjoy good health, shelter, food and water. Although at times I have had very little money, I was never poor. I am in a position to create public art which I view as my responsibility of privilege, as much as a pleasure.
A composer makes choices about what sounds are heard and when. To have a chance of doing this well I have to feel at ease, free, balanced. Listenening carefully during this time is akin to love as my whole being is immersed in a sea of discovery. I trust my instinct that guides my hand to hear those things ordinarily hidden from view.
Moments of beauty are best shared, and it is this that helps bring music into the open.
I must feel to make, for creating art of any significance flows from an open heart. To build with sound, words or light I easily fall in love: with people, with place and nature, with the compassionate actions of others. It has always been the same for me. The peril of an open heart is that sadness as much as beauty and joy are constant companions.
the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events.
Politics: the use of power by one person to affect the behavior of another.
I view the arts as fundamental to the good health of human society. Art, even when its affect is limited to the field of our pleasure, is a political act: art transforms us, if only for a moment. I ponder on the strength of art's greatest potential to be the seed of positive change.
I return from a road trip that began in the gentle and rolling South Downs of England and took me to the extraordinary beauty of the Lake District, then on to the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and York. As with all journeys, life is never quite the same once we return as the experience of unaccustomed landscape leaves its mark. I have much to share to counter the violence of recent events as I continue my work on the orchestral piece Hope.
Art, literature and music encourage us to re-visit experiences, events and issues that we otherwise all too easily grow weary of.
Violence, human's greatest weakness, cannot be opposed with logical argument alone. Violence must also be fought with those imaginative things we create with light, sound and words that inspire peaceful resolution to conflict.
As a child I often searched for flint tools in the fields around my home. People occupied an area not far from where I live over two million years ago and I was hungry to find something that I could touch that linked me with those earliest of Stone Age makers. This exploration was and remains magical to me. Perhaps my childhood journey is one in search of common ground, of belonging. A voyage that I continue.
I wonder through exqusite gallaries of glass that welcome the light of wooded parkland. The Burrell Collection is an eclectic and inspired gathering of art and objects. We keep the treasures of our past so we may touch the lives and beauty of otherwise forgotton times. As we walk and gaze we discover a little more about ourselves, about the world, and what we most value.
When I look or turn the other away in times of difficulty, whether it be as commonplace as a personal disagreement, or as profound as the taking of life, I am deminished. With distance, detachment comes easy. Taking part, sharing, building, is for the strong. Be one of the strong and flourish.
I grow numb with every scene of trajedy and carnage that unfolds. The greater the ongoing cruelty, the less I feel. My heart begins to close with self protective instinct as we journey to the verge of unspeakable brutality. It is at this most terrible place of possible detachment, love is most at risk.
If the world were black and white,
Yes or no,
Right or wrong,
Nothing would be far from true,
You would love with I and all would be for one.
I visited an ironmonger that first opened almost two hundred years ago and traded during the life and times of William Wordsworth. The store was a treaure trove of tools that created countless objects long since used then discarded. The memories that flow from this place are as vibrant as the lakes, clouds and fells of this beautiful and loved Cumbria.
I, like each and every one, experience the world uniquely as it pours inward through my eyes, ears, skin, nose and mouth. My thoughts and feelings are mine alone unless and until I share some small part of me. Sharing is our only hope to meet, grow and prosper, for I am an island as I cast my line of words, light and sound onto the open water.
I've completed the piano foundation of 'Hope' that I will release as a short orchestral work in July. The simple poem 'One Day' accompanies the music in addition to a new artwork for you to enjoy.
Another yields their life in terrifying and violent action. Their belief is that their sacrifice is imperative for those who remain, and that their loss will be rewarded. They view their goal as morally irrefutable, and that any method of achieving it is ethically acceptable.
Life is our most precious gift. I do not hold the ends ever justifies the means. Our greatest strength against bloodshed and brutality is to meet it with relentless and overwhelming peaceful resistance.
Following the decision of the UK to leave the EU, my eighty nine year old aunt who arrived in England in 1948 and who worked in the country as a school teacher all her life, told me she is worried she may be asked to leave. She like many who reached these shaws to make a home are fearful for their future. My voice is in the service of the disadvantaged, the exploited, the underprivileged, the unloved. Art is the treasury of our best and worst, but perhaps art's greatest value is that it can lead to change.
I am working on a new music composition called 'Hope'. Hope is among our most important states of being. Hope often resides beyond reason yet gives us reason to continue. When hope is removed we are lost, alone. When given, hope brings strength and purpose to our world. Although I am at heart a hopeful soul, at times I have absolutely no idea why :)
With choice I turn away from those things that make me uneasy. Although this is only natural and springs from my need to protect myself, at times I fail to learn because of my resistance to meet the disagreeable head on.
I publish My Unabridged Interview with the international arts and culture magazine Aesthetica in which I discuss my creative practice, the role of contemporary art, and the background to my work. It is interesting the editor chose to omit sections that sought to provide a personal context in the shortened interview. Aesthetica finds itself on the shelves and screens of the art elite, whom, despite their rhetoric, live a cloistered life with meagre view of those outside their realm.
The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union. In a democracy we must accept the peaceful decision of the majority, especially when we personally disagree with it. I will redouble my efforts in the creation of music, art and words that seek to bring us together during a period of great uncertainty, and I continue to hope for a world that places the environment, human rights, and peace at its centre.
Today I will vote in the UK referendum to remain in the European Union: for the environment, human rights, and peace. I am in no doubt these are nurtured in our search for a better world by the UK's membership of the EU.
For all its flaws, the European Union has been crucial in reducing armed conflict over the last fifty years. States that were at war now sit around the same table and resolve disputes peacefully.
1. The Environment is best cared for when working together.
2. Human Rights are strengthened through ratified agreements between states.
3. Peace thrives through international co-operation and union.
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is an international treaty that seeks to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens. Some in the UK wish to withdraw from the ECHR, however this would prove far more difficult if the UK remains in the EU.
1. The Environment is best cared for when working together.
2. Human Rights are strengthened through ratified agreements between states.
The UK referendum on whether it should remain or leave the European Union takes place on 23rd June. This decision will have a profound impact on issues surrounding the environment, human rights, international relations, and the global economy. I will vote to remain and wish to express why before commenting on the result. 1. The environment is best cared for when working together. As a union of 28 member states the EU is a far more effective tool in meeting the challenges of climate change.
Our days are full with time. Time: the movement of our lives, the secret of our sleep, the mystery of our memory. Without time we could not dance, nor sing, nor tell the stories of our age. Time is change - one moment from and to the next, the force we sense our life is lived within. With time we heal, we hope, we love.
A short poem written for the three and five year old children of Jo Cox...
One day my hand is warm with yours in summer spent with love,
The next and you are there no more to reach for me from far above,
One day without your happiness, my world: a saddened shore,
The next and I will know your love my strength forevermore.
On a street in England, Jo Cox, a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and loved representative of the people, was senselessly killed. Jo had devoted her life to the service of others through her impassioned work as an aid worker in developing countries, and then for a year, as a member of parliament who tried her best to bring the attention of the UK parliament to the plight of those in need. Make Peace Today | Peace Will Prevail
Following on from my harsh criticism of yesterday, those who present art and hold culturally significant and privileged positions should be honest, articulate, and open. In my experience only a minority fulfill these duties. The directors, curators, and administrators of art galleries are wooed by artists and their representatives who are understandably reluctant to be critical for fear of being ignored or ostracized. Constant flattery and feigned respect leads inexorably to stupidity and arrogance.
Nonsense: spoken or written words that have no meaning or make no sense.
I am continually exasperated by the absurd, inane ramblings of those in positions of influence within the contemporary art world. I listened as the Director of Tate Modern sought to subvert the responses from members of the public who expressed thoughts about three works that are dubiously presented as art. The empty rhetoric of collaboration, pretense and avoidance filled the air...
Wherever and whenever humans come together there is music. From the gentle song of a parent to their sleeping child, to the sounds that mark our resting place, music is part of the fabric of our lives. We can each make music, we can dance, and in the past and in some places this remains so, but for many, music and dance is left for others. Find your voice, perhaps at first in practice and private space, for with others, when we sing we find our strength.
An idea is the fuel of change, but change can only happen when an idea moves a person to act.
We each have the power to change for good. No matter what our circumstance, our flaws or failings, this choice is ever present.
My enemy is violence.
Some are so fearful of difference and weak in spirit they take what is most precious from us: a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, a friend or soulmate. In times of tragedy we must stand firm with the conviction that Peace Will Prevail.
The United Kingdom has a referendum in a little over a week on whether it should remain or leave The European Union. I will be voting to remain, despite my views about the institution's shortcomings.
I was born in England, my father and aunts having arrived here in 1948 from what was then, British India at the time of partition. I came into being out of the love of two people from very different cultures and backgrounds. Our future prospects depend on our ability to work and live together.
Three reasons why the arts are important to me:
1. Art is an expression of love. Love of people, places and living things.
2. Art leads to change. A Change of heart, action, or intent.
3. Art is the treasury of our best and worst.
Enjoy a new artwork 'The Staircase' as narrative, cypher, mystery. A place both private and social, of going, of coming, of transit...
There is an inner space where I become most ready to create. It is a place unseen, of listening, of hightened sense and open landscape. I cannot rush towards it, nor demand its presence. This delicate, ephemeral place of making can easily evaporate with the trivial distrations of my life. It is a place only reached when I am not the player, but the instrument. A place where the 'I' gives way and doubt retreats.
The great cellist and humanitarian Yo-Yo Ma released a wonderful version of Heart and Soul played by the Silk Road Ensemble and featuring the voices of Lisa Fischer and Gregory Porter. Some may say no matter how sensational music is, its power is only for its moment. I listen to this piece and I am moved beyond words by not only the music, but also the act of bringing together people from different cultures in a piece that demonstrates a hope for our shared future.
If I believe those things I've created might be of service to an organization that does good work, I contact them to say that they are welcome to use my work without charge in whatever way they wish. Most of the time I never hear back, perhaps because the organization is suspicious of my motives and judges I'm seeking publicity or self advancement. Giving is not always straightforward. I wonder whether some of the time this arises from a culture that views everything as an exchange.
As I gaze at black and white photographs I ponder on how often the reduction of something allows us to view the beauty of it more intensely, or in an altogether different way. Despite my love of colour, its absence can be a revelation.
Recognizing the efforts and actions of others is crucial in building a good society. Far too frequently I fail to appreciate the achievements of those I meet , despite my belief that when recognition is aligned with kindness, its potency is amplified. Wherever I interact, online and off, I must try to take better advantage of the opportunities to thank and recognize others.
I count myself fortunate in having mild asthma which occasionally surfaces when I have a cold or I'm exposed to dust. Without this experience I would have likely undervalued the ease of breath I generally enjoy, and may have felt less empathy with those whose lungs are weak. Breathing is our arc of movement, from our first cry of breath to our last. In music arcs are closely aligned to that we do alone and in love with others, throughout our breath's journey.
Whatever I create, the tools I use define the scope, exploration and outcome of my work. The process of writing by hand is for example so very different than using a keyboard and technologies. Hand writing is slow, but because of this, the mind wanders along an alternative path. When I am at the start of something new I re-visit my store of tools in search of an update or substitution. Perhaps I should also consider not to have might be just what's needed.
I value the world of my dreams where I spend such long unremembered hours. I come to know those places full with movement and colour that are not present in my waking life. Every now and then I recognize a person I have only met before in surreal and unusual adventure. These magical and familiar souls, who seem at first to fade from view, remain strangers to my daylight world, and yet they stay, unknown, unseen, until we meet again.
Once upon a wave to those left loved and far off shore,
In sight of start this day your end,
Your light now new with water, one,
Small moment, still,
As children sent with hope and song.
I cannot imagine the sadness that families and loved ones are experiencing at this time. Over the last week so many have died needlessly in the Mediterranean Sea in their search for a better life. Our ability to recover from trauma may also be at the root of how we so easily ignore or place those most difficult things to the back of our minds. One of the most important roles of art, music and literature is to keep us from so easily forgetting...
I am easily distracted :) Shine a light on something new and I head towards it like a moth to the flame. Distraction is my two edged sword. On the one hand it takes me away from what I am doing. On the other (and why I embrace unanticipated interruption), distraction is a dynamic force of change that brings new ways to understand and be. I place equal value upon seizing the moment as my being completely focused within the moment. Often times, being mixed up can be a pleasure!
I burn to understand what people think and feel. This may have arisen in equal measure from the uncertainty of my childhood experiences, as much as from an over curious temperament. My need to know is often thwarted by a social strategy that is the single most effective method to counter the unwanted or uncomfortable advances of another, and that is to simply ignore them. If we could browse those libraries of neutralizing thoughts we might find much to learn from.
An artificial nervous system for robots is being developed that feels pain. As we approach the moment when non-organic sentience emerges we should consider The Rights of Living Things.
Although pain alerts us to danger, both physical and emotional, and is crucial in our development as well rounded individuals, we should be mindful of our actions so that we avoid being the cause of pain as best we can.
I've been working on an artwork that I've decided not to publish. I'm happy with the composition, texture and colour, but a gesture could be interpreted negatively which I don't want. I have to start over as I'm too far down the road to backtrack. After living with a piece for a few days, uncomfotable questions about how it could be viewed sometimes emerge. This starts as a faint voice from within before growing into insistent criticism. The path to completing well is as much about doubt as confidence.
I have always enjoyed play, activities we engage in for enjoyment rather than for a particular outcome. Play often has a practical purpose, at least for me! Being playful is invaluable creatively, socially, and psychologically. I continue to be struck by how often play is not viewed of as a 'serious pastime' and often frowned upon by people in positions of influence and authority in the workplace. Whatever your occupation, play more and your competence and happiness will increase.
I have published a new self portrait at 100 Artworks. There is an intensity and ambiguity to this close encounter. A portrait must leave us with a palpable experience of the person. We must feel their presence as we approach, then gather in the work. Although people are often central in my words and music, they rarely feature in my images. Perhaps because I view the visual representation of humans as intimate acts of trust, thought and respect.
I value making over destroying, hope over despair. I hold myself back at Think This Today from expressing my darker experiences. I try to find the positive from those times. Why? As with most every why, there are a mountain of reasons, but above all, darkness requires light to comprehend.
Money provides a means, albeit illusory, of expressing our personal worth. When our wealth is judged by economic success, when our work pays well, we demonstrate our ability to meet the needs of ourselves and those close to us, we feel reassured, satisfied. We strive to gain or protect our financial wealth at the expense of all else. Those who accumulate financial wealth seek strength, confidence and security, yet these things are only found through the giving of love.
When rain is absent for any length of time, I begin to yearn for it... My feelings about rain change depending on my level of physical comfort. Even though I realize rain is essential for life on the surface of our world, I generally far, far prefer being dry.
It is raining today. The plants and trees love this, but the light is dull and the temperature has dropped. Rain is my constant reminder that life requires at least some discomfort for it to flourish.
A short orchestral work for piano, violin and orchestra.
At the heart of this piece lays a simple tune surrounded by lush arcs of sound.
Where I live, a sky of blue is uncommon, special, prized.
I've spent the last three weeks composing, performing, recording, and mastering my new orchestral piece which I will release tomorrow. My time today is devoted to final polishing and preparations.
The music will be available for anyone to enjoy at no cost who has access to the Internet. I do this to assert that the value of art is not bound by trade or economic activity...
I am at the mastering stage of working on my latest composition - I use tools that allow me to optimize and refine the music. The most important part of this process is an effort to 'listen innocently'.
Whether it be a painting, writing or music, familiarity easily leads to blindness of those strengths and weaknesses that might be glaringly obvious to someone else. Perhaps this propensity to blindness is also true of people and places...
When we are in the sole company of another for any length of time, we may resist their kindness as we make judgments about their motivation and intentions. I wonder how much good is lost by this. When I show kindness, things can get complicated as the recipient may ask for more than I am comfortable giving. Perhaps we are well aware that with kindness comes risk, and because of this we should view those who are most kind as showing most courage.
Although there is often great beauty in the discovery that defines the creation of art, it is not enough to sustain me through to its completion. To make I need to feel.
Creative action, at least for me, is compelled and nourished by passion or compassion.
There is a part of us that remains unseen. For some this part is more than for others - memories, thoughts we keep to ourselves, or things we do alone. We wish to share, we need to share, and yet something of our unseen always remains our own. We protect and defend these private moments of our life from the gaze of others. The unseen makes up the mystery of our lives. We feel it in others. When we watch films, read books, view art, and listen to music that touches this place, we know it well.
Resilience: the quality that most defines those who develop a large body of creative work.
For every artwork that is received well, there are many more that remain unrecognized. Creating art is an act of hope that what is shared might move the mind and heart of another. Although much of the time I fail in this, I tell myself when a painting, words or music captivates its audience, the ache of insecurity will ease.
The idea of the future is different from one person to the next. We spend a great deal of our time anticipating, predicting and planning so we are prepared for any differences that may come our way, good or bad. I sometimes get so caught up in thinking about my tomorrow, I fail to live as well in my today.
I view the artistic expression of a child as equally significant as that of a person who has reached their centenary. We all have the potential to express ourselves powerfully and creatively. One can be any age and produce art that connects, moves and enriches.
This morning I watched a tiny bird puff up its feathers in sight of the early sun and survey the world from the very tip of a holy tree that stands a short distance from the front of my home. I wonder at how such fragile things are driven to greet the morning with such sweet song.
Optimists have a propensity to resilience and hope, especially in the face of adversity and failure, from which they try to learn. Despite experiencing the same intensity of disappointment, pain and suffering, rather than anticipating the worst, the optimist will seek positive change.
Optimism is the wellhead of our creativity and holds that the search for value and meaning, even in those darkest times, gives life purpose.
I photographed a plant today as I took a break from orchestration. The sky was overcast, and although I enjoy strong sunlight, at times there's nothing better than the even wash of cloud cover to best show the subtle beauty of a wild flower. I find plants in their natural habitat are generally less brash and delicate in form as compared with their cultivated counterparts. The unwanted weed inspires - photography helps me see what movement often obscures.
'Real': genuine, existing. Not imitation, supposed, imagined, nor artificial.
Everything we touch, everything we see, hear, taste and smell takes time to flow before it is realized. All we experience is imagined as an imperfect echo of those things 'out there'. We comfort ourselves with the fiction that this now is real. As I dreamt last night (and only for that time), to my surprise I knew, and long before, all detail of that vibrant, real and other world.
Our private life stays with us at all times - off and online, with others, and alone. Especially alone.
My inner voice is fragmented with thoughts that dash from one to the next. It is playful, fearful, unpredictable. We share small moments of our private life with those we trust and hope to trust, and when we do, it is as if we give our very breath.
Those who visit here know how often I refine these words after they are first published. As the poem I began yesterday took wing, the mystery of time acted upon me, and as so often happens, something new, something from a place unknown finds voice. A witness to the unfolding of ideas.
Life, this moment of our here and now,
This place of all we ever are,
Of time we do and share in this our touch of present near and far.
With grace, with hope, with peace revere this gift of sound and light,
As once we play upon this earth with all that is with love unite.
My music is top of the UK and in the top twenty of the global classical charts on the music discovery website ReverbNation which has around four million musicians, composers and performers. I had not stopped by my ReverbNation profile for a while so this was a surprise. As well as telling myself that doing well on a chart is only valuable in being perceived of as perhaps worth a listen, I also try to quieten any pretense to self-importance - my ego is as fickle as a chart position.
I did not know my father well. Although we rarely spoke he told me stories of his brutal and adventurous youth. He drew solace from country music and alcohol in equal measure. He died when I was in the US in the summer of 1984. My last memory of him is as we shook hands and I left for my flight. The tears that welled up within him as we parted have always remained with me as a measure of his unspoken love.
My greatest challenge is to make, then give without desire nor need of return. When I create and publish my work, there remains a part of me that is hopeful, perhaps needful for a response... I try to quell this desire in an effort to direct my focus away from myself. It is difficult as my sense of self-esteem, my self-importance informs my confidence to start, and then to do, and yet I sense I will only know peace when I give unconditionally, which as I understand it, is to love.
I have returned to a tune I began over three years ago and I have a solo piano version to share with you along with an accompanying poem and photograph. The music uses a wide range of dynamics moving from quiet to louder passages, so you may need to turn your volume up a little to get the most from this work.
I've been working on my music today and focused intensely on an aural task that involves very subtle changes in volume and rhythm. Something I've noticed over recent years is that during periods of extreme concentration, my head gets physically hot, like a laptop does when you're pushing it hard :) Giving myself a rest now and again is like switching on the fan. 'Rest' for me is doing something different, yet equally engaging.
Overhead, a red kite soares. A crow half its size rattles, caws and clicks as it charges towards the invader to drive it from its territory. The kite's mate eyes the scene from far above. She swoops to join the contest. The adversaries pitch and roll in the still air. The kites speed away in tight formation, wings bent, they rush against the cloudless sky. In England, crows are the largest cause of injuries and premature deaths to birds of prey. I question my instinct, especially when I sense its certainty.
Although I am bound by time, qualities exist outside of it.
Time is the apparently irreversible idea, experience and measurment of events - past, present and future. There are however many qualities that are unconstrained by time: for example, love, compassion, hope, grace and beauty. Perhaps life is only experienced as whole when we embrace within and without this place we call time.
The room where I work has a large west facing window. I forget the pleasure of early morning light far too easily, for each time I experience it I am surprised by its beauty. Strong sun strikes the budding branches of ash, sycamore, chestnut and apple blossom against the clear blue northern sky. Crisp shadows heighten the textured tree bark as the experience of near and far is contracted as if I gaze through a child's 3D slide viewer. I remind myself to listen more than hear, and to look more than see.
I gather my thoughts as I might the parachute seeds of a field of dandelion in the breeze on a summer's day. Some fleetingly float beyond my reach as my attention is momentarily captured by their flight, others slip from my mistimed awkward grasp, and those lighter than air, delicate, embryonic plants that come to rest in my palm do so more out of good fortune than skill or purpose. I cup my hands in hope that one may remain as I head for the stillness of my inner space.
Although music is sometimes used to support ideas, positions and narratives, music is not a language. It has no grammer nor meaning. It is experienced differently from one person to the next. Music can touch our very core and allows us to share a place in common during, before and after our time, yet once its moment of being is done, its movement past, music does not stay long to stir us into action beyond its present. We turn to language as the agent of our change.
My previous thought might be viewed as naive - lacking in experience, understanding or sophistication. Some might say I need a reality check! After all, money has been around for a very long time and surely it's here to stay. If I believe money not only stifles our potential but is at the heart of so much waste and suffering, what is the alternative? I work on a new publication www.TheWorldWithout.Money where I will present an idea(l) of what could be.
Money is an idea - it cannot exist without agreement. Money stimulates self-interest rather than cooperation. Money's greatest shortcoming is waste. Countless people work in competition for the same end. Precious lives are spent doing things that have little personal relevance, while those qualities of greatest value are often ignored or remain undervalued. I look forward to a time when humanity casts aside the shackle of money and begins its more worthwhile journeys of discovery.
I easily forget the care of our world and others as I become caught up with my work and interests. I am encouraged on Earth Day to be mindful of my actions that, cumulatively and with others, have a positive or negative affect. Small things add up. We are the sum of small things. Together and with effort we cause profound change - a light turned off, a bottle recycled, the heat turned down...
I work best when alone yet so enjoy the company of others...
When alone I listen more intensely. I give myself time as I play and ponder in search of moments to begin. When the 'I' is less visible, when my sense of self less insistent, I find the place and peace to make.
The day before I publish there is nothing but hope. The day after is often full with doubt and worse. A day more, my dream returns.
Come dance this day with sound embrace,
Our journey start as one revealed,
With love, respect and grace before this moment new and we with song depart,
With touch our wistful gaze conceal.
To my surprise I have completed a new piece of music and started another. I'm finalizing the mastering of the first as I write. I had originally intended for the music to be longer, but the more I listened, the more it became clear the short work could stand on its own, as well as being the start of a larger one. Despite what they share, I think their impact will be entirely different.
Every couple of days I feed wild birds that live in the hedges, shrubs and trees that surround my garden in southern England. Wood pigeons, collared doves, blackbirds, song thrush, sparrows, green and goldfinches, blue tits, wrens, robins, yellowhammers, and on occasion, green and greater spotted woodpeckers - all visit at this time of year. I witness the variety and wonder of flight every day - if there is one ability I would love that I will never posses, it is to fly.
As I continue to work on a new composition the nature of its character changes from a bold, quirky waltz to a more delicate plaintive dance. This transformation arises from the nature of chosen sounds and the work's form, rather than through any predetermined ideas I might have.
I listen to accidents of time and search for those unpolished yet beautiful sounds, full with personality. My pleasure is often in the shaping of the imperfect.
A seemingly endless wash of dull grey cloud covers hour upon hour. I think about why I so dislike the monotony of an overcast day, and how strong light and vibrant colour transforms my mood for the better.
I resist uniformity, whether sensory or social. I am hard-wired to do so. My enchantment is with change and difference, the engines of life.
Time is life - I cannot conceive of existence without the journey. By giving time to anything I hand over a precious moment of my being. I easily forget this. I am frequently distracted. Why devote time to the creation of art? Apart from the desire to contribute towards a better place, what drives me?
No matter the beauty or the sadness of a moment, it is, becomes, far more, when shared.
We pour our energies into the creation of digital content, and yet these efforts will be lost over the long term without a self-sustaining archive that saves what is best. We store our words, images, sounds and numbers through reproduction from one short-lived medium to another - magnetic tape, drum, tube, core, RAM, disk, drives and holographic memory. When our data survives like the cave paintings of El Castillo, our efforts will reach beyond our shores, but for now our world is built on sand.
I publish a new artwork and ponder on the idea of the flat two dimensional plane.
Art sets the mind at play to explore a place both curious and beautiful.
As we breathe, as we work or sleep, in love and pain, sound is our constant companion. After spending hour upon hour on my work I will often take the five mile trip to my nearest town simply to hear the stream of lively speech in the street - my greatest contentment is in the company of another's voice.
Online or offline, body and mind, head and heart, rational, spiritual.
Without balance I fall.
Much of my energy and attention over the last two weeks has been spent laying the foundations for my next piece of music. For me, this is an intuitive process as much as a rational one. I might for example listen very carefully to numerous recordings of a viola as I 'aurally search' through the instrument's qualities and refine my choices about its use and potential. During this process I am continually surprised by the beauty and character of sounds that, at first, I fail to hear.
I have been unwell for five days. It is neither serious nor chronic. Being unwell gives me the opportunity of seeing the world differently. It encourages me to consider how others in precarious circumstances are coping with this same level of discomfort. If I move my focus away from my body, I experience things in a new light. I hear differently - the sound of early morning rain is an unlikely pleasure - but only if I remain dry! With moments of unease our understanding grows.
The impetus towards artificial intelligence grows with the announcement of a 3D painting in the style of Rembrandt. Before long, 'an original' painting and a 3D print will be visually identical. The art-market sells on the bases of a work's originality and exclusivity. This changes everything. The Profit of Art is not in its economic value...
Every day I receive news that encourages me to grab the latest version of this or that. It might be hardware, software, or a service. The improvements might be in what something can do, or how it does it. Updates appeal to my sense of risk. Perhaps it's a security or compatibility fix, an invitation to join (or a subliminal warning that I need to remain) with those who enjoy the best chance of doing well. Updates of products and services we already own feed our desire and fear of change.
Architecture plays a significant role in our state of mind as we move and interact outside and within it. Architecture is functional and restricted by practical constraint. I do not view architecture as art, despite its sculptural qualities. Art's primary purpose is to express, and examine ideas and/or relationships. Architecture's primary purpose is to host things (people and objects). Architecture is akin to design where a great deal of creativity and aesthetic judgment is used to serve a practical purpose.
Words shape my world. A short sentence gives meaning and purpose to my life:
Love without desire nor need of return.
Seven words that are so simple to understand, yet profoundly challenging...
I enjoyed a concert last night of Edward Elgar's The Enigma Variations, an enveloping, beautiful, and poignant orchestral piece. I am always struck by how still the audience sit when listening to 'classical' music in a concert hall. I hear music and my first impulse is to move.
At times, social constraint limits the richness of our experience. I listen to 'Nimrod' once again - music that moves my spirit, my body, and that gifts opportunity to move with others.
I publish four new artworks at 'EyeInvent' including 'Water Lily' and 'The Folds of Time and Space'.
For those who see, an image demands attention, more so than any other medium. Although my emotional response to visual art is not as intense to me as music, I find light and its uncovering of form beautiful, and with beauty comes great pleasure.
I attended a meeting with people who insisted that once a thing is published, it should not be amended except in exceptional circumstances. This resulted in a clash of the creative desire to constantly improve, and the corporate concerns of control, reputation and legal challenge. Of course we should always make better, and if necessary, acknowledge the changes. Literature, music, art, research, and good journalism have been updated with 'new additions' since their very beginnings...
Only rarely am I enthralled by a lengthy piece of music from beginning to end - my moments of pleasure are more usually tempered by periods of anticipation. Although large-scale artworks are undoubtedly enriching, small works can be equally satisfying. When something is not so easily given to academic study or critique it is often mistakenly viewed of as less 'significant'. Small and large does not however equate with better or worse...
Today I listened as violas played one brief musical phrase and I was deeply moved to write this poem...
At times there are no words but sound,
To touch what lays so close yet often veiled,
The beauty of the bow on string,
In place of hurt with love prevail.
Acts of creativity are essential for humans. When we devote time and energy into making something, the products of our efforts are not only shared, the art, images, movements and ideas we create have the potential to transform us so we more easily bear the love, pain and suffering we experience. An act of creativity may be as modest as a conversation, or as ambitious as a work of art. All humans are creative, although some practice more than others.
I remain unequivocal in my stand against human cruelty, wherever it presents itself:
Our libraries of art, music and words are increasingly digital. Many reside in unknown data stores in far off places where billions of connections rush to reunite us with those things that interest us. We do not know nor care how this content reaches us, we simply trust it will be there. The data we so value is however ephemeral, short-lived. The painting we make by hand, the musical instrument that moves the air, the printed book we touch - all must long remain, for the data we soak up each day does not.
The idea of self springs from our notion of identity - what I have been; who I am; what I could be. The 'I' is the changing face of me. At first it seems I know what 'I' means, yet considering the 'I' for even a short while throws up countless questions. My struggles surround 'my' desires. I am most content when working creatively out of love for others, and yet 'I' yearn to share this journey. This hunger gives me purpose - I value my 'I' to increase the chance, if only for a moment, of becoming, being, close.
As well as the websites I publish that are clearly attributed to me, I also publish anonymously. I've found this allows some content to be experienced as more potent and compelling, however it is always a challenging decision as people are sometimes cautious or suspicious if the originator is not made plain. I have been working on a new site that falls into this category, and I am at once torn by the desire to share, yet mindful of sharing at the right time, and in the best way.
Each year in March as I work at my desk I am transformed by the sound of early birdsong. One particular blackbird has a distinctive call I have grown to love. Out of nowhere, and after months of quiet winter, that song fills the air once more.
I am struck by how one bird will listen and pass on the songs of another - we humans are not the only species with an aural tradition...
I publish a new poem and artwork about loss. I wonder why the focus of my expression takes nature as its starting point. Perhaps it is that we need the distance and abstraction of metaphor to speak of those most fearful things. Perhaps it is that nature is so far from our place of cruelty.
On this day when violence unfolds, the overwhelming majority of the peoples of our world choose peace and cooperation.
Upon hearing of cruel acts I become more determined, more resolute, more relentless in my efforts to counter conflict through my creative efforts. Be in no doubt, peace will prevail.
Since childhood I have always been at once fascinated and mystified by time. One of its most curious qualities is the length of 'now'. Do we experience a brief plateau that defines the present? Or are we only ever conscious of our past? My hunch is that time is far broader in the experience of living things than a simple line from before to the here then after.
We share millions of photos every day. A touch on the phone, a swipe to upload. There is no greater chance to be heard in this cacophony than for me to more carefully consider the subject, composition and manipulation of the images I publish.
A still photograph is much like a poem - if I give it time, a wealth of thought will flow.
I wrote a short poem yesterday and add a final line today. It seemed fitting as the poem (my thought) is about how expression, communication and touch is never in isolation, but rather flows, from one moment, one day, one person to the next. If we fail to speak: of language lost and touch of no not yes.
If I do not express today,
My tomorrow will be less:
The otherwise of choice,
Of seldom sought and wary voice,
Of language lost and touch of no not yes.
For the last four days I have refined and remastered In Search for Peace. I wasn't entirely happy with the first release and had to work out why, then how I was going to fix it.
I have come to learn that doubt in ones creative output is crucial. With doubt we have the opportunity to revisit and make better.
Our confidence is in part built from the reassurance of our capacity to 'make' money. Those who are lower paid are sometimes viewed as 'worth less'. How much money a person generates is however largely a matter of good fortune: our birthplace, the love and care we are given, our physical and mental capacity, our temperament, gender, education, culture, religion, and health. The ability to aquire money from one's efforts is often erroneously perceived of as an indicator of personal worth.
My creative output has been increasingly disciplined by my desire to ensure my work is equally accessible to people of any age and culture.
It strikes me that the imaginative challenges and rewards that flow from creative restraint gives rise to greater opportunities that encourage positive change.
I have never been able to work when music is playing as I am immediately, irresistibly and utterly enchanted by it. I cannot help but listen to its colour and form - whatever my current focus.
Music is transformative, it is for me an experience of departure from the ordinary to the world of the mysterious and beautiful.
I complete the new music composition 'In Search of Peace' for piano, bowed piano, strings and woodwind. Art has the potential to reach the unexpected in unpredictable ways.
Music moves us from our place of being - at least for the time of its present...
Each year I submit work for consideration to be included in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London, and every year it is unchosen. I have no idea why.
I visit the exhibition and consider the works on display - their form and style, artistic medium, and ideas. I relish some, and dislike others. Although the public enjoy my work, it is clear the Royal Academy and others in art networks value art in a very different way than I.
I have been working on a new music composition for some time and have frequently considered what the piece should be called. The search for the title of a work helps reveal its nature, whether it be an image, text, or music. Most often, my naming of a work is my final act of completion.
The search to name unfolds identity and sets the mind at play.
I ponder on the three spheres that inspire me to create: people and self; those things that interest me; and the physical and abstract forms that I find beautiful. I would love to spend my days connected with the first of these - the personal world, but I would soon miss the worlds of the intellect and aesthetics.
Perhaps the appetite of inspiration is by its nature a moving enchantment.
Days of doing rush as roaring wind and waterfall.
Days of doing nothing spread as still and silent lake.
I enjoy a warm and comfortable home, I eat well and my health is good. I own creative tools that allow me to express my self, and the means to publish my work.
Two thoughts arise as I imagine the tipping point when one has no material need: Hardship is a requirement of empathy and expression. Creativity is enhanced by practical constraint.
The 4th Article of The Rights of Living Things asserts the right to act, communicate, or think as we wish as long as we do not place others in imminent danger.
Without the freedom to speak we become as caged birds longing for flight. We are built to sing.
When together we are as much the expression of another's nature.
When alone, the full force of our nature is revealed.
Flowers transform us. They take us to a different place, far removed from the ordinary. Perhaps their nectar and promise of future fruit appeals to primal triggers within us.
Giving flowers is an act of love, sympathy, appreciation, and at times, self-interest. If possible, it would be better to share a flower in its natural setting. That would not only reduce the waste of commercial production, but may well be received as a more potent gesture of kindness.
I've been working on a new piece of music for the past week. Many of my compositions begin as improvisations - I have an idea then allow my instincts to take over as I create an initial sketch. I then use this foundation material as the basis that I build upon. I've found this infuses a flavour of spontaneity in the completed work.
The unpredictable is as much a pleasure as a place of unease.
As my son reaches out with the world I miss him from my every day.
It is the beginning of a time when he treads his own path of discovery - perhaps at this moment I must do the same with the certainty our paths will cross with much to share.
Despite its many shortfalls, the United Nations does good work, and today the organization encourages action against discrimination.
It is easy for me to place the disadvantage of others out of sight and mind when I am not the subject of prejudice and intolerance.
When the sky is clear I turn my face towards the great ocean above then close my eyes. I wait one minute, and in this short time I imagine the beauty of that blue.
No matter how hard I try, I never fail to be utterly unprepared for the experience of opening my eyes once more.
We sleep. Each day we inhabit the known and unknown territories of our mind.
I often wake, clear with thought from my concealed contemplation - it seems our ability to reason is not an island state of consciousness. At times my waking state can touch my place of dreams. My emotional state travels as a winding river through the nations of my being. I am, like you, one united states of mind.
I complete the new artwork 'Earthly Blossom'.
We experience symmetry as an intensely attractive force. Our enchantment to it extends from the physical world to art and ideas. What fascinates me most is its appeal to our heart as much as to our mind.
Naivety: lack of experience, wisdom, or judgement.
The assertion of naivety in discussion is more often than not a failure of thought and expression.
Ideas hold no more truth or use when one pays for them. Money is the child of our distrust and insecurity.
Without money we would no longer pursue economic stability or wealth. We would find meaning through those things of greatest value: love, compassion, hope, community, and beauty.
Money, that spurious measure of importance, is the cause of our diminishing potential.
Around twice a week for the past four years I've passed an alsatian dog on my way to town and stopped a moment to say hello. The alsatian would look up but remain unmoved. Today was different. For the first time the alsatian wagged its tale and approached me enthusiastically. It seems trust can take a very long time before it is realized.
EyeInvent - the web site where I present my visual output is updated. Most of the changes are under the hood - the site will now work just as well on a mobile phone as when viewed on a large screen.
Online publications require improvements to ensure their continuing effectiveness. This need to renew requires tremendous creative stamina, an essential characteristic of the independent publisher!
At the moment I seek to know, I treasure those things I cannot explain.
Too little mystery, and the world is less: a place of 'a to b'. Too much mystery and I am overwhelmed with apprehension. Mystery shapes the richness of our days.
In language, the hardest challenge and the greatest pleasure is to say things simply.
I have been an avid gatherer of tools all my life.
I am equally excited by a pencil, or a digital tool that allows me to manipulate sound or light, language, or a musical instrument. I try to learn about one tool every day as my knowledge is so slight. Tools provide the means to make, and I would be lost without them. I express the importance of this need in 'The Right to Well Being', Article 4 of The Rights of Sentient Beings.
I complete the new artwork 'Headscarf'.
Each article of our clothing informs others of our voice as much as the language we speak...
The Flow (being 'in the zone') is when one is fully immersed in, and completely absorbed by an activity. I've experienced this when playing sport and music, creating art, and writing. One's whole being: the senses, intellect and emotional state, attends to the matter at hand in a relaxed yet highly focused manner. I wonder whether the flow is more prevalent in activities we prize.
I value three things above all else: love, compassion, and beauty.
By beauty I mean those qualities of form, structure and composition that bring me and others pleasure: in those things we make, in those acts I observe, and in the world I experience (all of nature).
While love and compassion are good, beauty is not necessarily so. As someone who uses beauty in their work I therefore have the responsibility to consider its use in light of love and compassion.
As far as we know, humans are the only species to think about the future. It seems however we generally consider the consequences of our actions for our own interests before those of others.
Humans will only flourish, perhaps only survive, once we place others before ourselves. I remind myself, Be Kind to a friend, a colleague, a stranger, or a member of my family today and I will feel the strength of what it is to give.
Anyone who arrived at My Facebook Page could view the history of my posts, however the doors are shutting, at first to anyone who uses Microsoft's browser 'Edge' who does not have a Facebook account. This runs counter to my wish for everyone to enjoy those things I share. My 'public' page is effectively being used as bait to sign up to Facebook. This together with their new 'Reactions' further fuels their profit and sows the seeds of social exclusion...
Enjoy a special page on my personal site called Heart And Light.
Use this speck of time to declare your feelings and thanks to those you love.
I release the new contemporary music composition 'Santuary'.
The original meaning of the Latin word 'sanctuarium' referred to a sacred place. We now use sanctuary to describe a refuge from pursuit, persecution, or danger - both physical and psychological. Music has the potential to pause the hardness of our heart in times of violent change.
I loose all sense of time when composing music - which is an irony as the medium requires time to experience it!
I wonder whether part of my absorption is as a result of the creative method I use. I am not a theoretical nor analytical composer, but rather allow my aesthetic instinct to drive my choices through spontaneous performance. I refine these gestures, and it is this that swallows the hours whole.
Public Art World, a place of creative discovery.
My view is that the free exchange of ideas and art offers the best chance for us to flourish. When we restrict what we give, and this is sometimes necessary in a world where money is the dominant means of exchange, we dilute the strength and reach of what we offer.
This is a true story: a man walks into a movie studio and lies about what happened. A film gets made and the titles roll: this is a true story.
Having the phrase 'true story' in the opening or promotion of a movie has always been a minus for me. Although there can be as much truth in fiction as that which is declared as fact, truth is often far removed from memory or the reporting of events.
Tell me a thing should be approached one way and I will invariably consider why, and whether it is possible to approach differently. This can be exasperating to those who know me, and so I have learned to quieten my nature when in the company of others.
It is not always wise to unpick the cloth others have so carefully woven, yet the curious mind cannot help its need for clarity.
Facebook recently asserted that anyone on the planet using its social network can be connected with anyone else on its network in an average of under four steps.
The implication of the 'degrees of separation' is that we live in a world where we are all a short distance from one another, however this fails to consider: choice; social and economic status; gender; culture; location; belief; and degrees of liberty. Our distance to many is still so great...
When we see the largest creatures on earth, helpless in shallow water, we pause.
As I gaze upon the artwork 'Whale Song' I ponder on the immense distance between my life on the surface and those of our aquatic kin. There is no sound yet in our heart we hear the faint call of deep ancestral song.
I publish the commentary To Be, A Human, And Being at The Rights of Living Things.
This new contribution better presents a balance of considering all life as subject to rights, whether plant, animal, human or emerging artificial sentience. Perhaps our resistance in acknowledging the value of non-human life is that we must act without thinking primarily of our own advantage, but rather of our collective interest.
The arts have the potential to reach inward as they not only reflect those things in us that are clear to others (our outward gaze - our look, our speach and actions in the world), they also appeal to those things we keep hidden, are unaware of, or rarely approach.
We experience the world in dream and disconnected thought. At times we string together ideas that flow from one to the next so others can understand us - we call this being 'rational'.
I've enjoyed seeing art created by children today. With the guidence of their teacher the group studied an artist whose work acted as inspiration for their own creative efforts. Once the works were complete, photos were taken of them and shared with others.
It struck me that the act of sharing is as important in nurturing a love and participation of art, as the creation of it.
Beauty sustains me. Last night I stood outside my home and looked up at the countless dots that pricked the night sky. I love that sky. Perhaps its beauty is as much in its difference to daylight, as its quietly changing form and immense scale.
The beauty I enjoy is conditioned by my nature, my culture, and those things I have experienced. Beauty is only found in the present where our lives are forged.
I dedicate a poem to those who lost their lives in the Aegean Sea as they desperately fled the horror of war.
I was moved to write as events are soon and sadly forgotten - poetry leaves an open door to return. Words, through their permeating quality, can lead to change. The act of writing is an expression of hope.
We forget easily so our lives are not overwhelmed with joy and sadness from the past.
At times however we try our best not to loose the memories that makes us whole. We keep small somethings of our love, hope and pain - these objects, words and art that we hold close become the emblems of our life.
One of the great challenges I try my best to meet is to express myself clearly. Most often I fail.
Language is perhaps our most mysterious tool of expression, and my most treasured. Unlike any other medium used to create, language is not defined by its medium. It can be recorded on a surface, presented aurally, visually, or through touch, yet its essential quality, meaning, remains the same. Through language we build our worlds of one.
As the stone washed by river, time will glaze the rough of old.
We are captivated by brief stillness and its companion, silence. Both qualities are so rarely experienced over any length of time as life is commonly known by its movement and sound.
Being in the fullness of stillness or silence for more than one minute, especially in the company of another, is extraordinary.
Within days of discovering Google's corporation tax payment over a ten year period in the UK is lower than it should be, a media item appears that highlights Google's Cultural Institute in an effort to soften public attitudes.
Even though related non-profits and corporations are separate legal entities, be clear they are made for the same purpose...
A 'fine art' photo of a potato was sold for one million dollars. In response I share my artwork of a violin made by the hand of Antonio Stradivari.
I cannot contemplate a world without touch, both in its giving and receiving. My next most crucial sense is sight, despite the importance of music in my life. All three senses play a part in beauty and the arts which are vital to me, unlike taste and smell which I could live without.
Isolation is used as a method of punishment that denies or limits our senses - I ask myself: at what point does sensory deprivation cross the boundary into torture?
I am not good with written instructions as I do not remember lengthy procedures at all well. I am wired to learn through observation, through listening and play, three areas that are not at all straight forward to measure or evidence. Play is my most effective tool, however many mistakenly view play as a counterweight to work, while I view my most serious work as play...
I'm considering some of the implications of the second article of The Rights of Living Things - peaceful coexistence does not only relate to humans...
The declaration challenges us to respect the importance of all living things, and to act in ways that provides the best chance for life to flourish on our fragile world. Although this requires immense effort and creativity, this also provides us with an opportunity to cultivate our common purpose.
I have long been fascinated by the way sound, light, and meaning transform one another. Enjoy the new artwork 'Shine Far' which accompanies a short choral piece. A still image allows the mind to settle, and this pause gives rise to thoughts that might otherwise remain untapped.
My announcement of Think This Today reached far, far more people than I had anticipated.
My hope is that our thirst for more than meets the eye is insatiable. It seems there is a place for brief reflection on the why and how of things. Thank you for your extraordinary curiosity!
The weather turns and I am surrounded by the bitter chill and frost of north.
Low temperatures keep me close to home - in the past, and especially in the evenings, that meant more time for reading, more time for conversation and thought. With the Internet it is more challenging than ever not to be lost in vapid distraction.
I ponder on the nature of inhibition and how the expression of love is often restricted in public places.
Today I noticed someone with severe special needs hold then kiss the hand of a person who helped her. It was a long and warm exchange. Perhaps the person who kissed is far closer to happiness than those who are harnessed by social constraint.
I frequently come across ideas masquerading as art. All too often the 'art' presents a simple thought that hides behind the rheteric of a 'personal artistic vision', but in reality is no more than an undeveloped, somewhat flaccid, concept.
Thoughts are the stuff of our dreams but they rarely if ever cross the boundary into being art...
An idea came to my mind - perhaps a website dedicated to expressing one thought every day might be valuable, both personally and socially.
Think This Today, my short-form journal comes into being...