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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Giotto RED

Forget about the content, it's only San Francesco showing off his stigmata. It's the colour that got me. I saw this painting at the Louvre restored and the red was mind smacking not dull as in this image. And it brought back memories (and this is how the mind deals with stuff we need to remember, n'est-ce pas?).
I was a '68 art student who like all us students in that heady year were on our way (almost, almost) to storm the Bastille. I was standing on a chair painting a large canvas in the art studio when my tutor came by and started mumbling something about my painting and I began haranguing him about his fascist attitudes and his utter uselessness in the grand scheme of our revolution (I did, poor chap, I did).
He calmly replied 'But Michael, that red you are painting just isn't right'. And I went on about setting fire to the College, or him, or something radical like that.
And he just as calmly repeated 'But Michael that red just is not right'
And I fell of the chair crash bang wallop.
A lightning strike!
On being present.
So thank you Giotto for that memory.
Memories are great when we store them in a treasure box in our minds to open when we choose.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

London is exhausting

Nipped back to the smoke for a few days, arriving on the day of Thatcher's funeral and later finding ourselves in the middle of the Marathon, crushed by a million people. Had to escape to Paris for a couple of days to see the Giotto exhibition at the Louvres. Packed it was. Took an hour to find the show mainly because my French has deteriorated (can't they learn English for God's sake?) and also because the Gallery guides just say 'How should I know' when asked directions. No change there then. The French!
Did you know Giotto was a businessman and had a whole bunch of artists painting for him? More like a conductor than an artist. Somehow wish I hadn't come across that bit of information.
Loved his use of red though.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

John Lennon

Just finished reading 'Wanting enlightenment is a big mistake', the teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn. The book brought back memories of my years of teaching at Bournemouth Art College where we were into all that mind emptying stuff. We were dubbed the Zen School of Photography; not a title we gave ourselves, I should add, but given by other colleges to label us as nuts I guess; not serious, don't go there. Of course it had the opposite effect and we were overwhelmed by applicants every year and made it policy to interview every one of them. Took ages.
So, mind stuff. Seung Sahn talked about the six doors through which we engage the sensory world of experience, the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. And this I did with students on my classes, gradually weaning them away from ideas and projects and taking them into journeys within themselves and thus to the very source of their own creativity which in turn drew from the life spring of the universal creative collective, or whatever one wished to call that stuff which just arrives by magic when the mind is still.
One of the last interviews John Lennon gave illustrates this primal point. He was asked where does your genius come from and he replied 'Don't you guys ever listen? I keep on telling you it doesn't come from me, it comes to me. I just wake up in the night and there are words and music in my head and I have to crawl to the piano and play the sounds and write the words down'.
Nice that.

Michael at STARSTONE