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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

Alternatively contact us directly:

Michael Eldridge: email:  tel/whatsapp +39 3283535358 (Italy)

Or Michelle Rummey: email:  
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

Alternatively contact us directly:

Michael Eldridge: email:  tel/whatsapp +39 3283535358 (Italy)

Or Michelle Rummey: email:  
tel/whatsapp +44 7801 758771 (UK)

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