If anyone is around or about during the month from 2nd August onwards then please pop in to the Warehouse Cafe at the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal to see our mini-exhibition. Mat is an artist I met when we both had work displayed in the north west regional Outside In exhibition at Tullie House Carlisle last year. He works with a wonderful local organisation called space2create and its a pleasure and privilege to share this showing with him. My modest little drawings are part of my “Zen Series” using spontaneity, humour and direct transmission as conduits for personal expression (or something like that!).
There’s a new gallery opened in my home town Cockermouth in Cumbria. Its rare for new galleries to open, especially in rural areas, especially ones geared to promoting new and emerging artists. So its a cause for celebration that Gallery Artemis has opened its doors. The major street works in town have made the opening weeks challenging – but its wonderful to see art competing for attention along with the fast food outlets, cheap booze stores and charity shops.
Come Bank Holiday Monday, come Sing Owt to Castlerigg Stone Circle to raise their voices in support of the campaign to buy Blencathra for the local community. They will be singing an adapted version of Woody Guthrie’s classic song, “This Land is Your Land” to celebrate this outburst of local passion. Its not about ownership (after all who on earth can possibly ever really own a mountain) but it is about guarding the rights of the present and future generations to enjoy walking and exploring on this classic mountain, free of inhibition or restriction. Its about guaranteeing the future of those people, animals and birds that depend on the mountain as a home and source of food/income. Its about present ethical stewardship, as opposed to absentee feudal land mismanagement. I’ll be there adding my voice to the choir. It matters.
There have been goings on down at the home turf recently. Its not unusual. Where people have property and/or land there are often disputes about who is responsible for what, and what the rights of ownership bring.This can lead to people being in disagreement, exchanging strong words, or even worse. We like to think we are superior to other living creatures, more civilised, with greater powers of reason and thought; capable of working things out sensibly. But border disputes can bring out the worst in us. Marking our territory becomes a ritualistic act, pregnant with meaning. Fences are there to define boundaries keep others out, and walls are built as symbolic monuments to mark the frontier of what we perceive to be “ours”. Outside of the wall live the outsiders, though they, in turn, may perceive things quite the other way around. In this way we construct areas of separation and division, that work fine whilst everyone respects and acknowledges where the borders lie. Whilst……
Perhaps its just natural – this way of being. After all border disputes are written into our histories. Living in in the far north west of England just five miles from the coastal outpost of Hadrians Wall at Maryport we need no reminder of the blood that lies beneath our feet, shed years ago in various bloody conflicts. Conflicts that originate by large in the drive for power and control over land thought to be valuable for social, military, strategic, economic or political purposes.
And meanwhile in the garden, a robin vies with a dunnock for a share of the chicken’s feed.
It mattered little as the painter shifted his stance, and thought a little more deeply about the relative values to convey.The sunlight was part help, part hinderance, as he attempted to grasp a starting point. Above, a curlew called to draw attention to the point, as if the piping call was itself an echo of his mind’s doubting . Was it part of the scene, or a distraction?
The hat remained on his hat, protecting his crown from the burning heat of the sun. The air remained sultry for a June day in northern England. A few miles to the east, the fell walkers would be making their way up Skiddaw, like ants up a dungpile, glorying in the blessings of the day.
He felt isolated from any search for meaning. He was only interested in finding space to paint freely, free of any false constraint, or ambition. Free from any vanity, or desire to create. Just the promise of alignment, when the mind and spirit guide the body and physical elements work together in harmony. Choosing the paint, where to start, when to apply pressure, when to let go, what device to employ. When does painting transcend technique, or is the value of painting conditioned by the limits on technical skill? Because they are always there.
His head tilted to the side. A faint skein of sweat brushed his brow. The wet brush met the paper and the story unfolded. Clarity appeared from the constraint of obscurity. Even the hat seemed to shine.