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Friday, August 28, 2015

Painting and Photography

This article in the Guardian makes me faintly smile; that desperate yearning that photography has had for a century now to be recognised as an art form.
At Art College my chosen discipline was painting. I was a term into the three year course when I realised that being stuck in a corner of a studio with introverts was going to bore me. And I began to strike out sideways, looking for a more adventurous outlet for my energy. Tried ceramics but found it too slow, etching ditto. Then photography! Took to it like a squirrel to acorns.
It wasn't just that it was an instant experience, taking photos, developing film, making contact prints, printing images, not just that. What appealed to me were the people, the students. They communicated with one another, showed each other their images, smoked and drank too much and weren't so damn serious like those painting types.
So this is where my life divided and I found myself equally fascinated by painting, which slowed me down and Photography which sped me up.
Then I become equally bored by the Art Institution itself and started an art adventure club which did daft things to keep minds alive. I would hire a plane for a day and fill it with a hundred students and lecturers and fly off to Amsterdam to see an exhibition. Such stuff. It was performance art of a sort.
So even then I couldn't stay still enough to be considered as one thing or another in terms of a definition.
And after all those years I still think the same way. Which is what?
It is this. I tell young people to just get on and do stuff. That creativity is all that matters, and when you get on that train, it could take you anywhere and you don't have to stop at any station.
And I like to create art communities, to mix things up to turn folks upside down. Just because art can never be static, creativity is a wild river which cuts its own  direction.
And my photography and painting live happily side by side and have a relationship, one with the other. I paint images which drift into my head from the Gap. Then (and it could be any time later), I see that very same image out there somewhere in photographic reality. Oh, not the exact image graphically but they are the same to me in the zing effect they have on my imagination, that wondrous clearing house in my mind.
Here are two images which I offer as an example

Don't ask me for an explanation, it would spoil things.

I have opened a community 'The Creative Village' on Arthur Fox's site Innovation Global Network which you might like to join and find out about workshops planned in Italy next year.
Costs nothing to join and is full of interesting people

At Starstone
Next retreat in Assisi, Italy  'Wellness, Mindfulness: Painting your Life, 12 to 17 October

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Awareness in the People's Republic of Bristol

Bristol: Photography and Awareness

I'd written off my car in Italy the day before I had to fly to the UK for our workshop at Hamilton House and arrived in a nervous state knowing full well I should have cancelled the trip (bruises, wounds and all). Glad I didn't though because the experience proved to be a fascinating one both for us photographer/leaders and for the participants I'm sure. This was our first workshop together, Steve, Colin and I, although we knew each other from our collective past and had a show in Turkey last year together with the same title 'Photography and Awareness'
So that was exactly a month ago and during this time we all us had pledged just one photo each by the end of July; the theme 'A heartfelt image'

'The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable'....Robert Henri

This is my fall-back message to self whenever I am working on a retreat or workshop (in fact I must get the T shirts printed) and in Bristol this popped up and swam around my head from start to finish.
Let me explain more clearly by going back and forth in time, starting from yesterday on the beach at Porto Potenza.
The image below; Man the photographer/hunter (may he forgive me, whoever he was)

When Tony Maestri and I started to work together at the then School of Photography and the now Arts University Bournemouth, we'd been out in Mexico and California and were fired up on all that stuff out there, stories about all those West Coast Boys (and girls), those photographers who had elevated photography into an art form, Weston and Adams, and then  Imogen Cunningham and the f64 group. I'd met Ansel Adams a few times and remember someone asking him the technicalities of his famous 'Moon over the Sierras photo' He answered 'Heck I don't remember. We were rambling down to New Mexico, all drunk as hell in a dodgy station wagon and happy and laughing. Saw this huge moon and we stopped to breath it in. And I stuck my tripod on the car's roof and just opened the shutter for I've no idea how long...and that's what I got. Luck? No of course not! The photo wanted to be taken and that's all there was to it'
Love that memory.

So, you are getting the drift of this, huh?
In my mind there are two types of photographers, The hunter (image above) who searches outside of the lens and then the poet, dreamer, who operates this (the mind) side of the lens. For the former, the camera is a metaphor for a rifle, stalk your prey, make a killing. For the latter, a mystical machine which interprets his unique inner vision. And there are those, of course, who float in between, searching for that space (gap) where the light gets in.

So, these were the  conceptual seeds we sowed during our great weekend in Bristol. 
And the heartfelt image task?
Looks easy eh?
Not at all! It was our cheeky ruse to throw our kind participants into a quagmire of turmoil, one where they would find themselves lost and drifting between those two worlds.

And why would we be so unkind?
Well, to prepare the theme for the next onslaught of course in Assisi this coming October.

For all details of our Autumn programme click here