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Moving On

The sale of my parents' home will complete next Monday 15th September.

For the past weeks (months, even) I have been sorting through the contents of my mother's home. It's been home to my family for 45 years (my parents bought the house when I was born).

It's a very large house and I come from a family of hoarders so sorting and letting go of the vast bulk of it has been a very emotional experience for me. I've given away stuff to charity and friends of the family and relatives, I've sold stuff at auction and on eBay and I've dumped loads of stuff in skips too. Finally I've kept a small van-full of stuff for myself, I'm not entirely sure why, but I can't get myself to let go if that stuff yet!
I've found the whole experience very emotional, I think it's the culmination of a lot of issues. The closure of a part of my life that I am forever saying goodbye to. Dealing with what was in the house; my mum and dad's stuff, my grandmother's stuff, my stuff from when I was younger and before I was married, stuff that Emma (my ex-wife) and I had stored at the house, Ellie and Robbie's (my step children) stuff. Boxes upon boxes of belongings (with all sorts of memories attached to them) has left me feeling like an emotional wreck on many days.

Anyway, at last the entire thing is coming to an end. All I can say is thank goodness it's practically over as I don't think I could have carried on for much longer (though typing this out is letting off a bit of steam), and at last I will be moving forwards because that's all there is to do. That's all any of us can do, reluctantly or with grace and thanks! Trust me, going with the flow is so much easier. The past 18 months, I have struggled and put up a fight many times and all I have ended up doing in the process is (metaphorically speaking) head-banging the wall! That hurts! Enough of the hurt.

So, a toast; to new beginnings, to the new future.

1. An artist’s conduct in his life:

– An artist should not lie to himself or others
– An artist should not steal ideas from other artists
– An artist should not compromise for themselves or in regards to the art market
– An artist should not kill other human beings
– An artist should not make themselves into an idol
– An artist should not make themselves into an idol
– An artist should not make themselves into an idol

2. An artist’s relation to his love life:

– An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist
– An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist
– An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist

3. An artist’s relation to the erotic:

– An artist should develop an erotic point of view on the world
– An artist should be erotic
– An artist should be erotic
– An artist should be erotic

4. An artist’s relation to suffering:

– An artist should suffer
– From the suffering comes the best work
– Suffering brings transformation
– Through the suffering an artist transcends their spirit
– Through the suffering an artist transcends their spirit
– Through the suffering an artist transcends their spirit

5. An artist’s relation to depression:

– An artist should not be depressed
– Depression is a disease and should be cured
– Depression is not productive for an artist
– Depression is not productive for an artist
– Depression is not productive for an artist

6. An artist’s relation to suicide:

– Suicide is a crime against life
– An artist should not commit suicide
– An artist should not commit suicide
– An artist should not commit suicide

7. An artist’s relation to inspiration:

– An artist should look deep inside themselves for inspiration
– The deeper they look inside themselves, the more universal they become
– The artist is universe
– The artist is universe
– The artist is universe

8. An artist’s relation to self-control:

– The artist should not have self-c ontrol about his life
– The artist should have total self-control about his work
– The artist should not have self-control about his life
– The artist should have total self-control about his work

9. An artist’s relation with transparency:

– The artist should give and receive at the same time
– Transparency means receptive
– Transparency means to give
– Transparency means to receive
– Transparency means receptive
– Transparency means to give
– Transparency means to receive
– Transparency means receptive
– Transparency means to give
– Transparency means to receive

10. An artist’s relation to symbols:

– An artist creates his own symbols
– Symbols are an artist’s language
– The language must then be translated
– Sometimes it is difficult to find the key
– Sometimes it is difficult to find the key
– Sometimes it is difficult to find the key

11. An artist’s relation to silence:

– An artist has to understand silence
– An artist has to create a space for silence to enter his work
– Silence is like an island in the middle of a turbulent ocean
– Silence is like an island in the middle of a turbulent ocean
– Silence is like an island in the middle of a turbulent ocean

12. An artist’s relation to solitude:

– An artist must make time for the long periods of solitude
– Solitude is extremely important
– Away from home
– Away from the studio
– Away from family
– Away from friends
– An artist should stay for long periods of time at waterfalls
– An artist should stay for long periods of time at exploding volcanoes
– An artist should stay for long periods of time looking at the fast running rivers
– An artist should stay for long periods of time looking at the horizon where the ocean and sky meet
– An artist should stay for long periods of time looking at the stars in the night sky

13. An artist’s conduct in relation to work:

– An artist should avoid going to the studio every day
– An artist should not treat his work schedule as a bank employee does
– An artist should explore life and work only when an idea comes to him in a dream or during the day as a vision that arises as a surprise
– An artist should not repeat himself
– An artist should not overproduce
– An artist should avoid his own art pollution
– An artist should avoid his own art pollution
– An artist should avoid his own art pollution

14. An artist’s possessions:

– Buddhist monks advise that it is best to have nine possessions in their life:
1 robe for the summer
1 robe for the winter
1 pair of shoes
1 begging bowl for food
1 mosquito net
1 prayer book
1 umbrella
1 mat to sleep on
1 pair of glasses if needed
– An artist should decide for himself the minimum personal possessions they should have
– An artist should have more and more of less and less
– An artist should have more and more of less and less
– An artist should have more and more of less and less

15. A list of an artist’s friends:

– An artist should have friends that lift their spirits
– An artist should have friends that lift their spirits
– An artist should have friends that lift their spirits

16. A list of an artist’s enemies:

– Enemies are very important
– The Dalai Lama has said that it is easy to have compassion with friends but much more difficult to have compassion with enemies
– An artist has to learn to forgive
– An artist has to learn to forgive
– An artist has to learn to forgive

17. Different death scenarios:

– An artist has to be aware of his own mortality
– For an artist, it is not only important how he lives his life but also how he dies
– An artist should look at the symbols of his work for the signs of different death scenarios
– An artist should die consciously without fear
– An artist should die consciously without fear
– An artist should die consciously without fear

18. Different funeral scenarios:

– An artist should give instructions before the funeral so that everything is done the way he wants it
– The funeral is the artist’s last art piece before leaving
– The funeral is the artist’s last art piece before leaving
– The funeral is the artist’s last art piece before leaving

It's from a televised interview that's on the BBC iPlayer in the arts section. A great interview that's a privilege and a gift to watch… like listening to a great teacher giving you a one-to-one lesson. Wow! I really can't urge people enough to watch and listen. She expands the mind and just blew me away.

"…pundits explain that writers have [a number of] volumes in them but they have one theme. Well, If I have one, I think I have two themes actually, then I think it is that human beings are more alike then unalike. And in everything I write [lyrics, music, poetry, books] what I'm trying to say, my thesis, is that human beings are more alike then unalike.
My second theme and it may be the first, depending on the time of day, is that we encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated. That it may be necessary to encounter defeats so that we can know who the hell we are! So that we can overcome what makes us stumble and fall and somehow miraculously rise and go on. I know that a diamond is the result of extreme pressure. Less time and pressure and it's just crystal, or coal or a collection of fossilised leaves and dirt. But time and pressure will create a diamond - it is considered one of the most beautiful things but it's also one of the hardest things on earth."

Stepping Away

Somebody, you know who
You are, you're everybody,
Stop.
Leave me alone.
Don't
Touch me
Because i want to stop
Making a difference
I want to leave from here
There's no more little joy
In this place anymore
I can't understand
What the desire is to
Bring all the needles in
When I can't pop
Like a balloon
So I'll stop trying
To make a difference
If you'll stop
Making that difference
And make the difference of
Stepping away

Fantastic speech given to the camera in one single take by Lord (Kenneth) Clark, near the end of the last episode of his 1969 television series Civilisation. If people the world over believed in the beliefs he listed then we'd have world peace. Simply breathtaking, wonderful and not to be forgotten but rather applied to one's own life everyday.

"One doesn't need to be young to dislike institutions but the dreary fact remains that even in the dark ages it was institutions which made society work. And if civilisation is going to survive than it has to be made to work.

At this point I reveal myself in my true colours as a stick-in-the-mud. I hold a number of beliefs that have been repudiated by the liveliest intellects of our time.

I believe that order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction, I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta, on the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology. I believe that in spite of recent triumphs of science men haven't changed much in the last two thousand years and in consequence we must still try to learn from history - history is ourselves.

I also hold one or two beliefs that are difficult to put shortly, for example I believe in courtesy, the ritual by which we avoid hurting other people's feelings by satisfying our own egos and I think that we should remember that we are part of a great whole which for convenience we call nature. All living things are our brothers and sisters. Above all I believe in the God-given genius of certain individuals and I value a society that makes their existence possible."

Reflecting on civilisation

"I think it absolutely essential to civilisation that the male and female principles be kept in balance. I've observed that where at a party, men and women hive off to separate groups, the level of civilisation declines." ~ Lord (Kenneth) Clark, from the series Civilisation,1969

I think this seems to be still very much the case today. Look around the world and wherever men and women are not socially balanced together and respecting each other, civilisation appears to decline into barbarism.

Another quote from him which I find quite thought provoking because it pushes on reflecting on current war torn areas of the world and the suppression and suffering that occurs there:

"Authoritarian governments don't like dictionaries (encyclopaedias). They live by lies and bamboozling abstractions and cannot afford to have words accurately defined."

Remembering the 18th June

Give me the rain
Give me the sun
I don't care what I have to endure
Now that I've begun...
I wish I could believe in my own words
It's easier to ask
Please dance with me.
It's been so long since I knew
What it is to spin.
Spin me with delirious abandon
In the same way I used to watch you dance.
Is that to be out of Control?
To dance with exuberance?
I want to feel one more thing.
Watching you from a distance
I wish I could tell you how great you look
As beautiful as you ever did.
It's a big wide open world
Sparkling brilliant white
Until you've painted or photographed your last
It has to be amazing
And it has to have you.
So I'll close my eyes to the tears
And run down the road
To the place I can see you spinning
And I hope you won't say no
To one more dance
One more time.


different

The ongoing attitudes of the church

Yes, I put all churches together in one basket in the title if this post.

A friend of mine was on the receiving end of an Anglican Church sermon yesterday saying that Equal Marriage is akin to "heresy" - a treason if you will (my words and understanding of what was meant by that so-called heresy). And my friend was justifiably upset. I'm sure I would have been upset had I heard it to firsthand, as it is, I am angered yet again by this repeated action.

Before I comment further I'd like to state I was raised a Catholic, was baptised and married (in my 30s) in the Catholic Church. I was also confirmed in the Anglican Church and I have taken communion and participated in many Christian churches of various denominations over the years. I was also a street evangelist in my early 20s for two years with a evangelical church. Was it a good or bad thing? I don't know, it is what it is, it partly made who I am I suppose but it certainly doesn't make me a better person (than anyone else) in any way. The point I am trying to make is that I have been in many churches and a part of many congregations and church communities.

I am also an intersex female who permanently transitioned from a masculine social identity to a female one in 2009 at the age of 39. I have been very challenged by what the Catholic and Anglican churches say. When a member told me "We love the sinner but not the sin" my reply was "What sin? How have I sinned against man or God?!"

What I think is that the churches are ultimately businesses or corporations or political parties, if you like, in a manner of speaking. And if you are going to be a part of one then expect the head office to, at some point, state their terms and conditions and business policy. This is what that organisation uses as it's functioning bedrock.
Christianity is not the church though. Christianity is a faith, a way of life, a way of thinking and behaving based on the life, words and deeds of Jesus the Christ as written about in the four gospels. Christianity has a strong set of values; compassion… charity… hope. Sometimes I wonder if the church forgets this (and that's no crime. The church is as we are, human) but the forgetting happens too often and bouts that are too long.

Meditation is a great way to commune with God and the universe. Jesus was a great teacher, perhaps… arguably the greatest but there are many great teachers following in his footsteps that are also living outside the Catholic and Anglican Church.

I wonder… do we need a Catholic or Anglican Church to live a holy or spiritual life? Strictly speaking I think the answer is no though the churches do serve some purpose.

However, there is going to be a point when church staff, be they bishops, priests, vicars, curates speak out-loud the small print in the party manifesto. It's harsh but it is also a case of "if you're vegetarian, don't join the Pork Sausage Association and attend one of their dinners". Because you may find a lovely, friendly community but at some point a pig will be brought out and slaughtered and you will be served salami, after all it's the Pork Sausage Association!

And likewise, in this case sadly, it's the church! And at some point someone will stand up and say that the New Testament, which they use as the small print, tells us man must not lay with man nor must woman with woman and marriage is between a man and a woman and a number of other things… I disagree.

Sorry, this was not supposed to be some sort of "speaker's corner soapbox moment". I am genuinely saddened by my friend's experience but I am also not surprised as I have been at various times on the receiving end of various talking to-s. It's been suggested to me in the past that I can stay in the church and consciously object or I can leave.

The thing is that it isn't just about those of us that might be LGBT but every one of those parishioners in the church yesterday should have been horrified by the sermon. Everyone should have objected. The other church members, I think, should say to themselves "Just because I'm not trans, or transitioned or lesbian or gay… I am still horrified by this!" The response sadly speaks volumes about people's attitudes.

Finally, it is not WHO you love that is important, it is THAT you love.

I'm just watching Perspectives - Gary Kemp - Kick Out The Jams. A programme shown on ITV last night. It was about the Young British Artists (YBAs) group who came out of the 1990s and Saatchi's Sensation exhibition 1997 at the Royal Academy in London which I saw at the time (I was twenty-seven myself) and still have the catalogue.

I'm wondering about the fact that I'm going to be a mature student at forty-four. I don't have a problem with that, in fact I'm very excited about it but I wonder that I'm not a "young artist". As all my fellow students will be. As the YBAs were in the 1990s. And then… yes, I'm forty-four but I'm also not, in many ways I'm twenty-four since my first twenty years were spent under the thumb of my father and trying to please him. There wasn't an opportunity to develop myself. So then I feel ok about myself in the group I'm in because I'm not an old bag, who has nothing left to say. I've spent the last twenty years getting revved up and now I'm about to hit the launch button.

There is of course the counter argument that age doesn't matter but perhaps I have a hang-up that I've left the starting line so much later than everyone else my age and I'm actually running with the next generation and not mine.

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It's official, I am going to study a BA degree in fine art (painting) at Wimbledon College of Art in September.

Central Saint Martin's was the last college I was waiting for to give me a response to their interview and as I suspected I was declined. I had thought it was a good interview but that the interviewer still wasn't absolutely enamoured with me and I had a notification email this morning to say that there was no offer. Last September I applied to Camberwell, Central Saint Martin's, Chelsea, Slade and Wimbledon, five of the most prestigious art schools in London and despite some people's reservations and counselling that I might not get accepted on my first try, Wimbledon did make me an unconditional offer one month ago and now I have accepted it.
It's great, ultimately I want as successful a career as I can have as an artist and this step will not only make me, I think, a better artist but will help me achieve the commercial success I desire.

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