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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A garret in Paris?

You see, you are not educated to be alone. Do you ever go out for a walk by yourself? It is very important to go out alone, to sit under a tree—not with a book, not with a companion, but by yourself—and observe the falling of a leaf, hear the lapping of the water, the fishermen’s song, watch the flight of a bird, and of your own thoughts as they chase each other across the space of your mind. If you are able to be alone and watch these things, then you will discover extraordinary riches which no government can tax, no human agency can corrupt, and which can never be destroyed.

I really like the above quote from Krishnamurti. It fits in with my the notion of re-wilding the self which Naga Dipa opened my eyes/mind to on our workshop in Sussex last July; this being that just how many good people are at last waking up to the truth that Nature can no longer be violated, but instead saved from our ravaging, so we must equally take a journey inwards in an attempt to heal and address and acknowledge the inner ravaging of our minds.
And that nature can help to heal us as we begin to heal her. A double deal.
And art, creativity in whatever form, is a vehicle which reminds us of our humanity and thus helps in this healing process.
And it is this inter flow that play with in our workshops.


And the above painting by Jamna Owen speaks to me of that life force which bubbles in all our hearts when we see even the smallest of nature's wonders when walking along with or senses alive to the world outside of us (instead of being glued to a smart phone)
Jamna is trained, and works in, the field of marketing. Rational and quick thinking, she has, however, over the last few years re-awakened her right brain simply by the act of painting.
And indeed, what we attempt to achieve in our workshops is a balance between both hemispheres of the brain, so they learn to work as one, in a sort of agreed symbiosis, a trade off if you will . And this we call our mind.

No reason to starve in a garret in Paris any more

Friday, September 1, 2017

Re-wilding the Self

I love this photo. It's of a group of folks walking across the mouth of the extinct volcano of Monte Vettore in the Sibillini National Park




















And within the bowl of the mouth itself there are two small lakes, known as Pilates lake, which join together when there is sufficient rain or snow and where live little red shrimps; there since primordial times, thrown up by an ancient sea and who decided to stay. Nice idea.


























My dog Bessie looking at the shrimps at Lago di Pilato

We can see Monte Vettore from the agriturismo at Cittadella where next year we are basing our workshops in photography, painting, sketching and poetry, come rain or shine, under the title of 'Re-wilding the Self''
Please explain..
OK, this title derives comes from a workshop Naga Dipa and I ran last month in Sussex. It was held in an ancient forest near Lewes; photography in essence but I think we all came under some sort of magic spell where the outer world around us, full of ancient oaks, lime and beech trees, sort of absorbed us in their timelessness and it became both and outer and an inner voyage.
Rewilding as a concept I'm sure you are aware of. It is where we humans restock nature with her original creatures, thus to rebalance the damage we have done. You've probably read recently of an example of a parkland in Northumberland where they are reintroducing the Lynx (brought from Eastern Europe) which was hunted to extinction some 500 year ago in Britain. The idea being that as its only prey is deer, that these animals will keep the deer population down and thus the forests will bloom with undergrowth again and small animals and insects will return, thus birds and beavers too they say.
And so it is with the Sibillini National Park, where Rangers have already reintroduced wolves and bears. (Yes, and you can imagine waking up at night on one of these workshops to find a bear staring at you through the window. And a wolf). How exciting
So, re-wilding the self is where we absorb ourselves in nature in this beautiful wild terrain but also venture into our inner nature too, realising what it is to be truly human and in no way separate from Nature. And we do this through the medium nature has given us, our creativity; by painting, photographing, sketching, poetry. An inner and an outer journey.

Micheal at Starstone





Thursday, August 3, 2017

Venice in Disneyland


An American friend has just sent me this article.
I was there last month with Jack Fulton at the Biennale and as I live in Italy and my wife is from the Veneto, I have got to know and love this City over the years and can almost feel its pain as it creaks and gasps for air and longs for a time long past. Imagine the indignity of this, below, happening every day as four or more of these 13 storey monsters consume her beauty. With all their occupants, 4000 of them taking the same photos of the City, of us, with their smartphones and buzzing these images around the planet to wherever they hail from, China, Japan, USA et alia.







(That's Jack in the foreground struggling with his camera settings) In vain


I remember when he and I sailed over to the Isola dei Orti, must have been 11 years ago. It was a peaceful weekend with only laughing cyclists to contend with (to laugh and chat with too). And taking the ferry back in the morning across the lagoon, it took my breath away as we sailed into sight of Venezia. A timeless experience.
But now just nobody gives her time.
Except us
Yes us

Us meaning a bunch of photographers who arrive as gently as butterflies from heaven (a jibe at noisily descending cruise-ship wombats) into this wondrous city in the winter months of December and January each year, (not New Years) to witness Venezia come alive once more, almost free of tourists and bathing in the low light of a sunken sun, casting long shadows through the majesty of its startlingly spectacular canals and architecture. The more authentic restaurants are still open ,the best bars too and there is no queuing to get in to all those precious museums. Venezia gives itself to us in all its glory, come rain, snow or shine (usually in that order)

Want to know more? click here
We'd love to make your acquaintance

Michael


Monday, June 5, 2017

The Biennale, Daimans and Light

After our workshop in Assisi, Jack Fulton and I headed up North to the Veneto to see the Biennale in Venice. This year it was without a common theme although it had the title of  'Viva Arte Viva', which sort of translates as 'Long live Living Art'. On reflection, I would say it was about human values, not much brain scything meaningless conceptual stuff, except of course from Damien Hurst. A touch of shamanism and humour too, although the funniest part was the entrance itself with scores of bewildered tourists asking each other how the electronic ticket counters functioned (imagine Waterloo station arrivals board on a very bad day)
I've been going to Biennales for more years than I can remember and I have found that it is very rarely that the international works in the Giardini and the Arsenale have done anything but interest me; nothing breathtaking. The shows by individual artists around the City score more powerfully. Must say though, that I always come away feeling jiggled about a bit, woken up.
Trodden upon by tourists though,
And those Cruise ships!! Packed with thousands of people




The very top deck ( I think the thirteenth) is lined with tourists taking photos of us taking photos of them. Ghastly.
But what can you do?
Something.
What I do is run photography workshops there in early December and early February, as a sort of antidote to mindless tourism. There are few people around and this beautiful City reveals itself to those who have the time at last to pause and look and wonder at its dark secrets and hidden mysteries.

OTHER WORKSHOPS THIS YEAR with STARSTONE

The Art of Wilding, (Photography and Awareness) July 15 and 16, Brighton UK
The Tango of Creativity Sept in Assisi

Michael


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Breaking News: Our new Website!



This is just a taster/tester, because there are still a few bolts to tighten and buttons and fuel level to check before take off.
And here is the link
Yes, the Tango of Creativity.
The launch of a series of workshops about what creativity is all about, how to find it and to honour it within ourselves, in painting, poetry, photography, sculpture, dance, indeed anything which manifests this precious gift.
And we venture into
Presence and the Creative Realm
Health and Well being
Energy and Strength
Fearlessness and courage
Visibility
Connectivity

We do hope you like our new site
Do please let us know

News Update!
Still one place available on our Assisi Workshop May 11 weekend
email Michael
tel/whatsapp +393283535358

Michael

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Big Painting Horror Show

A formula is all you need.
BBC know this.
Because it's about ratings you see.
And once you got winning formula, for God's sake stick with it
Wonder what I'm writing about?
It's this 'The Big Painting Competition' currently on BBC
This is the trick, the formula.
You pick a subject; in this case painting
You recruit ten people
A couple of presenters
Mentors (do they know what this term means?)
Judges who decide who they should eliminate each week
Then they throw these poor souls to the wolves (the public) to vote on best artists of the week (whoever wins this is secured a place in next episode (what?)) Can you understand this part?

Read no further until you have seen an episode


Hi, You're back..
Well, let's go through this.
A Head Mistress and a Vicar
Two mentors, (read influencers) And that red jump suit?
Three judges, judging what? A two hour soul-less Blitzkrieg. And an ejection of one poor contender
A public vote for winner of the week. By whom and by how many?

How was it for you?
You enjoyed it?
Thought it was great?
Oh dear.
Well of course everybody is entitled to an opinion.
And here's mine.

  1. Fundamentally, it draws upon dumbed down, populist ideas about what art is about
  2. And it draws upon almost everybody's negative art experience at school
  3. The thrill of being the best, the fear of being judged, being last, and rejected
  4. And it puts us in our place (back into the classroom), dividing the cognoscenti from we who need to learn: They file in, they file out

If anything, surely, art is about the breath of our creative imagination and about reflecting existence in all its flaws and imperfections. Art is something which just goes on; an irrepressible desire to add to our world to better understand it and ourselves. And meaningful art? Yes, it is true that there is a percentage that moves us powerfully and which transcends time and which belongs to us all, irrespective of its origin or maker. It is so many things on so many levels, and we know this for sure;
if it did not exist only for one day on our planet, we would all be diminished in every aspect of our humanity.

So you can understand my loathing of programs such as this.
Creativity and art cannot exist in an atmosphere of judgement and authority, let alone competition.
So it will come as a relief to know that, in our workshops, we don't judge or compare. That we work together and collaborate and share experiences. That for us art and creativity are celebrations of our innate capacity as human beings to create beyond ourselves





For further details about our next retreat in May 11 to 15, 2017, go to www.starstone.org.


Alternatively contact us directly:

Michael Eldridge: email: Michael@starstone.org  tel/whatsapp +39 3283535358 (Italy)

Or Michelle Rummey: email: Mixxpix@gmail.com  
tel/whatsapp +44 7801 758771 (UK)

p.s. There is a discount offer available until 31st March

Monday, March 6, 2017

'The Tango of Creativity' in Assisi

A weekend for lovers of colour, light and space who love equally sharing and friendship

'That title: The Tango of Creativity  is rather brilliant in my humble estimation.
It is as if the creator and the created, dance and prance with each other'
                                                                                            Jack Fulton

Quite a lovely way of putting it I thought, because I struggle sometimes to give voice to what we are about.
Last week I had a message from a friend in Jamaica telling me I must watch a series 'Big Painting' on BBC TV. I didn't pick up the word 'competition' in the title, which is not unusual as I suffer from selective dyslexia. And I really thought it was about painting BIG, the sort of thing we run workshops on sometimes. Very therapeutic.
Well as I live in Italy, it meant I had to sign and pay for a service which I'd recently withdrawn from because it was, well, so English. You know what I mean. I watched the first ten minutes and switched off. It was terrible. It was like one of those ghastly Chef knock out programs and...oh, I just can't go on. Just so bad in every way. Enough to say it is the very opposite of everything I believe in about art and creativity.
Having got that off my chest, I will now write about the 'Tango of Creativity'
The title came about from last summer's retreat at the Casa Faustina in Assisi. On the second evening, after a wondrous Italian meal (with organic wine) cooked by Chef Sara, one of the group, Mauro Magrini, put on some rhythmic Tango music.We were in the studio, the sun was setting and although fading, the light was warm and streaming through the large windows. Mauro then began to teach us all the basic steps of Tango and suddenly there we all were dancing Tango, can you believe. And from then on, it was how we finished our days and it became an intrinsic part of our creativity. I think the perfect alignment of heart and mind.
 Fact is, in some magical way, the poetry, the painting and the Tango fused into one.


 
  the whispering pines of Casa Faustina

It was then that we decided to name our future workshops 'The Tango of Creativity'.
And you'll see the new website up very soon.
This year we are including photography to the mix. This has come about after the very successful Venice workshop last month.

Let me explain that too. Everybody brought their laptops and by using Dropbox, we were able to share our images immediately back at base. It was a sharing experience where we all learned one from each; and in no way was it competitive; this btw is common to all our workshops, where each person is considered to uniquely creative and their creations equally valid.

So, what else happens at these workshops?
A typical day would be
After breakfast we gather around the pool and prepare for the day ahead with a Tai Chi or Chi Kung session and various other mind and body exercises.
Then we get to work.
We experiment with paint, words, and photographic images
We share
We fall flat
We dip into the pool
We stand back
We dump it all and go for a swim 
Then we return and try to make sense of what we are doing
Then we have a delicious vegetarian lunch on the restaurant terrace after which we siesta for an hour.
Ditto the afternoon but work wise something is beginning to emerge.

And so on, day by day with trips to Assisi thrown in
So you can gather that we start off not having a clue about what we are doing but being absorbed in it nonetheless
We are sharing, mixing, messing, at a fantastic pace, what I call creating beyond ourselves.
No judgement, no criticism, only amazement at what is emerging.

Along with lots of fun and laughter

All at the beautiful Casa Faustina.


For further details about our next retreat in May 11 to 15, 2017, go to www.starstone.org.



Alternatively contact us directly:



Michael Eldridge: email: Michael@starstone.org  tel/whatsapp +39 3283535358 (Italy)


Or Michelle Rummey: email: Mixxpix@gmail.com  
tel/whatsapp +44 7801 758771 (UK)

p.s. There is a discount offer until 20th March