Saturday, 1 October 2016

Beauty and the beast

My favourite art gallery, in fact one of my favourite places, in London is Tate Modern. And up until yesterday I had not been there since the new Switch House extension had been opened. Turns out it's a great space. I like.

After a really delicious and very fine lunch at the 9th floor restaurant we headed for the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition currently on the go at Tate Modern.

I never bother with audio guides at art galleries. I'm not greatly interested in being told about what someone else thinks of a work or about the incidental history of the artist at around the time a piece of art was created. I just want to feed my eyes on it, soak up what I can from it and feel my feelings, independently from anyone else. I also don't like to move around an exhibition in the order it's laid out. I like to flit about either going to where there's some space or to whatever catches my eye. I like to consume art my way. I lose myself in some pictures, totally absorbed by the images and the colours; I commune with them, it can be a neo-meditative experience.

Red and Orange Streak

But enough of that bollocks, "what about the exhibition?" I hear you cry. The picture that caught my eye as I entered the first room was Red and Orange Streak. You can't not notice it; a painting of vivid red and orange on a black background. The orange forced my eye down the painting but I fought against it to stare longingly at the red. O'Keeffe's use of colour and the vibrancy with which she painted is like no other I have seen. Room 2 contained many of my favourite paintings including three 'music' pictures; Music - Pink & Blue Nº1, Music - Pink & Blue Nº2 and Blue & Green Music. All three are in oils whilst displaying a pastel like tone but with the sheen of oil. The shapes in her abstractions flow very smoothly and are pleasing to my eye. One gets out of her paintings what one wishes to get out I feel. You may see sensual and erotic shapes and nuances or you may see strawberry and peppermint candy-floss. Perhaps you will see both. Anyway for me it's all very pleasing. My favourite picture of the exhibition was quite a small one called Shell Nº2. It's pure O'Keeffe in one bite-sized chunk. Then there's her capturing of the harsh landscape of New Mexico in intense and bold hues with voluptuous undulating hills. Purple Hills anyone?

      Shell Nº2                    Blue & Green Music

Shell Nº2

I could eulogise indefinitely but don't worry dear reader I won't. All I will say is if you get a chance between now and the end of the month to go and see it go! In my opinion you won't regret it.

It was a grand day out I thought as we boarded our train home. Oh the joys of travelling on a train out of London at a peak time on a Friday night. After a brief altercation about the seating arrangements we settled down to what would hopefully be a relaxing journey. It was not to be. The be-suited party of half a dozen alcohol-fuelled alpha males saw to that. It is embarrassing to be a man in situations like that. They made half of the journey quite unbearable. Thankfully they all got off at Ipswich. They appeared to have been on some kind of day out which entailed large quantities of drink and possibly with a sport connection. They weren't physically aggressive but their 'banter' was of a bullying nature and often sexist. The first half of the journey home put a bit of a damper on the whole day. There really is no excuse for behaviour like that. Laddishness is a destructive force in society that should be constantly highlighted as totally unacceptable by the mass media rather than the 'eh eh get a load of this' type attitude that currently prevails. Brainless knob ends not welcome here!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

I laugh in the face of tragedy

It's an embarrassing thing to do. But throughout my life, although thankfully not on every occasion, I have sometimes managed to laugh at really bad news. I don't know when it's going to happen and I have no control over it. It just happens. Likewise I will also say inappropriate things on odd occasions. Words will come out of my mouth that either I wouldn't dream of saying ever or would never dream of saying in the particular situation that I find myself in at that time. Often this sort of thing happens at social gatherings. I think because I'm never comfortable in largish social groups its some kind of reaction to the situation in which I find myself. It's probably a nerves thing. The trouble is I will say something that is out of place, realise my error, and then rather than just shut up completely I will then in some vain way attempt to explain my faux pas by saying further ridiculous stuff. Language is my downfall.

Now I'm sure I'm not alone in this. There's probably a name for it. There's a name for all conditions these days it would seem. In the cold light of day one can sort of understand it. Well I can. Unfortunately my affliction doesn't stop there. In these days of the interweb and social media I find myself doing similar online. It happens mostly in the situation when you are either live chatting or very nearly live chatting. I will type something inappropriate or out of character and will have pressed the send button before I have realised what I have done. Then I panic! I forget the old adage when you're in a hole stop digging and just carry on making matters worse. After that I retreat, licking my wounds and wondering how it happened. Eventually of course I get over myself and the pain starts to subside and I will forget about it until the next time. Brains are funny old things.

Hopefully people that know me realise that I try very hard to be kind, considerate and quite shy. Perhaps they have never even noticed this foible or just put it down to strange idiosyncrasy. Perhaps it's just me that notices. I know not.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

What is Leadership?

Sadly we live in a society where a large proportion of the people seem incapable of thinking for themselves; they believe what they are conditioned to believe. They tend to believe that leaders should be loud, arrogant, and forceful with steadfast non-compromising ideas. They also confuse leadership with management. The two are entirely different animals.

Leadership inspires, facilitates and empowers. Leaders can't tell you what to do. Leaders don't organise, managers do that.

I get really angry when people say that Jeremy Corbyn isn't a good leader. That's nonsense. After Tony Benn he's the most inspiring politician that I've ever heard speak. Through Jeremy we are moving towards the Labour Party membership being truly empowered. And his willingness to entertain a mix of ideas and to promote inclusiveness would seem to me to be facilitating. Jeremy with a vibrant and dedicated party behind him can make a difference. It's the non-believers that will be the downfall of the party. If they don't want to be part of a positive, democratic socialist party I wish they'd just do the decent thing and fuck off to a place where they're more comfortable, please.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

British Art Show 8

Appreciating art is very subjective; there is no such thing as good or bad art, it's down to what you like.

Today I visited Norwich Castle to see the: "British Art Show 8 is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to see some of the brightest names in contemporary art." You would hope that with a description like that there would be something to get excited about, but for me not so. In fairness the show is spread over three venues and I've only viewed one, so it could be that the Castle show is a duffer and the other two are fantastic but I don't really feel inspired to even bother considering going to see them. If these are the brightest in contemporary art (whatever that means) then I think Britain has a big problem. This exhibition was the most turgid and safe 'professional' exhibition I've been to in quite a while. It made the Martin Creed exhibition I went to a few years ago, a disappointing exhibition I tend to judge everything by now, look positively exciting. thank fully I know differently; there are large numbers of people up and down this country producing interesting and vibrant art, rather than the we've done our time at Art College got our degree so we must be really important artists brigade. People's art is the way forward and not this faux art prescribed by elitists!

For me the British Art Show 8 was dull beyond compare. Enter at your peril, or at least have a strong coffee or two before going.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Heartbreak Hotel

Sorry to break it to you but The Eagles were wrong; quite often you don't check out any time you want but you do leave. Life is like a stop at a hotel; we check in a birth, for a short stay, checking out at death. During our stay if we're lucky we will have a few good times in amongst the pain and the heartbreak.

I've been heartbroken three times in my life. The first was as a naive ten year old, coming home with the results of my eleven plus in a small brown envelope. That small brown envelope contained a life sentence. I had failed that ridiculous and cruel exam. I was written off, consigned to the scrap heap and at such a young age as well. Exams are cruel. Exams are evil. I never recovered from that rejection. Heartbreak is like that. It leaves a permanent scar.

And my most recent heartbreak?
Well it happened just over a week ago. The referendum on the UK's EU membership. How upset I was about it even took me by surprise. It felt like a relationship break up or bereavement. I suppose it is a relationship break up. One that I don't want to happen even though I know it will. It's fair to say that, reiterating my previous post, I was devastated. How could so many people be so wrong?
So much ignorance. So much pain.

I used to dismiss or ridicule people when they stated that they were passionate about this or that. What I didn't realise was that I am passionate about the EU. I want to remain a European. And, if it's within my power, one way or another, I will achieve that goal.

I try to be a good person. I try to see other people's point of view if I am able, and if it doesn't go against fundamental human rights. But last week's result had me so incensed that I produced the picture above. I many ways it goes against much of what I stand for, but I make no apologies for publishing it. I needed to; otherwise I would have probably combusted.

Contrary to what some might think I don't believe the reasons why people voted to leave the EU are that simplistic. There are any number of misguided reason s from those on the right or the so called left as to why they voted to leave, although I've yet to hear a reason that actually makes sense to me. Having said that, I do believe that the majority who voted to leave did so for racist reasons. It makes me sick in my stomach. Racists are ignorant. Pig-shit ignorant. It's something that cannot be justified on any level. It's abhorrent to any civilised person. England needs to be ashamed of itself. What a hateful place this has become.

Sunday, 26 June 2016


A few years ago someone I know asked me if I considered myself English or British. Without hesitation I answered neither, I'm European I said. And that's how I have felt for a long time and still feel now.

As you can imagine I feel angry, sad and generally bemused by the incredulity of the referendum result. I've calmed down now so I won't be quite as insulting as I have been in recent days on social media. In fact I had to initiate a self-imposed ban on social media to stop myself from being mega insulting to so many people. I've come to terms now with the result and feel that those who voted for out will mostly be the ones that suffer because of it and because of that don't feel quite so bad.

The only good thing to come out of this is the possible breakup of the United Kingdom. As much as I find nationalism distasteful I do wish the Scots the best of luck with their future in Europe. I have no doubt that this time they will gain their independence and remain in Europe. I also think that an independent Scotland could prosper because of England's idiotic decision to leave the EU. Industry will flock to north of the border because of what the English plebs have decided.

My biggest concern is for the poor people of Northern Ireland. They have been shat on big time and result of this referendum could well reignite the violence that was so successfully subdued in the 90s. I hope they can find a way through but fear that unless a united Ireland is achieved somehow shit will happen again. If only the loyalists could see that England doesn't give a bugger about them.

This referendum has brought out the nastiest of the nasty in some people, particularly white obese racists from Essex and Lincolnshire, but not exclusively.

I shall continue to be blunt and try to shock the idiots back to sort of decency but I doubt my efforts will have much effect.

As much as I like the writing of George Orwell I fear Aldous Huxley has won out. Time will tell.

Thomson clan dress tartan - the future?

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Do you want to be in my gang, my gang, my gang?

Events don’t happen in isolation. Life on earth is an ongoing chain reaction with the past influencing the present and the future. As humans many of us like to categorise or compartmentalise bits of life. We want things to be black and white. But life ain’t like that. It's never that tidy. Pigeon holes are dangerous, and the human race is at its most dangerous and downright despicable when sections of it are tribal.

When people belong to a tribe all rational thinking goes out of the window. If you are not in a tribe you are the enemy. The tribe stifles creativity. The collective noun for sheep should be tribe. Tribal members are just one of the herd. They are no longer individuals. The tribe allows for easier manipulation. Tribe members become the foot soldiers to carry out the dirty work of those that pull the strings. In this country those pulling the strings are the white male English elite.

Countries, family, religion and sport are the main culprits when it comes to the creation of tribes. Tribe members, or sheeple, take the view that their tribe is the most important thing in the world and non tribe members are somehow worthless. Fascism loves tribes

I’m all for collectivism in the sense of working together for the common good, but I don’t see that in doing so your identity should be governed by the collective.

I think that events this week have reinforced my belief that tribalism is a parasite that is going to slowly but surely destroy the human race.

The world would be a better place without countries, 'family', religion or sport. Tribes divide. We need to learn to live together before it's too late.

I choose my blog titles very carefully by the way.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Dr Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine Show

I've been aware of the poet Martin Figura for a couple of years. I've seen him perform three times before Thursday night's performance of Dr Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine Show. The show was part of the Norfolk and Norwich festival. I don't think I've ever seen a more absorbing and spellbinding one person performance of poetry and prose. It seems to be a mix of autobiography and poetic licence, which along with some inspiring props and well displayed photos and graphics to support Martin's charming and humorous writing makes for a wondrous evening.

It's a show that will make you smile, laugh, empathise and engender an inner glow. If you get the chance it's a must see!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Object Oriented Art

Sometimes when I publish my art on The Art of Being Paul Garrard I do so without being entirely happy with a piece. Sometimes ideas work and sometimes they don't. And just because I don't like something that I've produced it doesn't mean that someone out there won't like it or find it interesting. So I often publish work and work in progress just in case someone finds value in it.

I recently completed a picture called Rotunda. Something didn't feel quite right about it but I couldn't quite work out what so I put it on the web regardless. I kept on thinking. In the meantime here is the original picture:

Object oriented programming in the computer world has been around for a long time. Essentially a programme is made up of different objects that have certain functions, routines or tasks. You can use those objects over and over again in different configurations and in different programmes. It saves painstakingly rewriting code from scratch. Well the same can apply to digital art. The programmes that I use to create my art allow you to use bits over and over ad infinitum. Digital art programmes are powerful tools. I can take a section from one of my pictures and transform it into some entirely different. Some might think that it's somehow cheating and I'm sure many think that digital is not proper art. People are entitled to their opinions but of course I disagree. And what is art anyway? Also I firmly believe that had he been alive today Leonardo Da Vinci would have used digital.

Anyway, back to Rotunda. Despite my not liking the original version I still felt that as a picture it had potential. So I reworked a section and transformed it into a new picture with a different direction. I'm rather pleased with it. I hope you like it. Ladies and gentlemen I present to you Rotunda II:

Sunday, 1 May 2016

We are artists you and I

Art is not exclusively a rich man's sport. I realise that it might be perceived as such, particularly in the media, but it is not so. The British Critical Establishment try to tell us what is and isn't art, but in no way do we have to accept that. Based on the narrow-minded opinions of the critical elite, the education system churns out clones of what are defined as talented artists; giving them a certificate to back this up. You can legitimately teach craft, but in no way can you teach anyone to be an artist. Art is subjective; it is in the eye of the beholder, there are no rules defining what art should or should not be. There is no good art and there is no bad art, just art.

High prices at art auctions reinforce the myth that artists are good or bad, winners or losers. The elite use the language of competition and false quality standards to bolster the artistic myths. There is no competition in art. Art is beyond competition. In the South Sea bubble of the elitist art world a value system is applied that is meaningless in the extreme. Art critics give the thumbs up to what they see as good art based on their fictitious criteria. These art critics, these self-styled experts on art are charlatans. Unfortunately as with the Emperor's new clothes most believe what the charlatans say. The fashionistas dictate what's in and what's not and so that gallery content and major exhibitions are influenced by just a few. And thus a commodity is born.

Art is whatever you want it to be.

There is one artist above all others who has been so influential in the way that I look at art and in particular how I creatively operate. His name was Ken Sprague. I first became aware of him in the 1970s through his posters and flyers for a number of left wing political campaigns. I liked his bold, sometimes neo-brutalist, lino prints. It was a style that got the message across. Ken was direct in his message. Then in the 1980s he presented a television series called 'Everyone a Special Kind of Artist' where he highlighted 'ordinary' folk who practised their art for the pure love, enjoyment and fulfilment it brought them. Since then 'Everyone a Special Kind of Artist' has been my mantra.

'Everyone a Special Kind of Artist' is derived from a quote often used by Eric Gill, an artist and designer of some rather pleasing typefaces, and unfortunately a practitioner, allegedly, of some rather dubious moral behaviour. That quote is 'An artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist' and as I understand it originally comes from the philosopher Ananda Coomaraswamy.

The idea that only a chosen few can be artists is yet another piece of pernicious propaganda perpetrated by the elite who continue to oppress us. The elitist concept of art is a downright lie. If you want to be an artist then you can be.

We need to liberate art. We need a mass movement of art participants. Anyone can be an artist if they want to be. Seize that notion and own it. Go forth and create.