Ending exhibition ritual

August 30, 2009


Encounter, Oil pastel on charcoal paper

There should be some kind of ritual to accompany the act of breaking down a show and bringing most of your old friends back home again.

I sold enough to cover costs, just. But still I brought home most of the work I had first departed with two months ago. 170 people visited the gallery, several left nice comments behind in the guest book.

The gallery owner said she’d rarely had a show where people spent so much time enthusing and so little buying. Well, there was a really nice energy around the whole show, and while I would have loved to have sold more, I’m pleased with the overall reception of the work.

There are several pieces I didn’t photograph which I am happy I didn’t have to let go of without a record.

Soon I’m going to have a ‘Featured Artwork’ page on my blog or site where one piece will be showcased every month or so.

Meanwhile, I will hang up some of my returned 17 framed artworks and put the rest gently into storage.  I’ll consciously appreciate how happy they look in their mattes and frames and let them rest with us here for awhile before exposing them to the public again.

That is as much of a ritual I can come up with at the moment.

Tending the soul life

August 20, 2009

Continued from previous post (Re-Enchantment of art)

Heart angels

And  few quotes from Thomas Moore:

A re-enchanted art would once again use materials and craft as a way of housing spirits that go beyond just the artist’s intellectual or emotional life or ideas and ideologies.

‘In this context it isn’t difficult to see a role for the artist in tending the soul life of a community by giving it powerful images of needed spirit in music, dance, food, painting and architecture- in all the arts.
We might also expand our notion of therapy and see that in presenting objects full of certain spirit for a community’s absorption and consideration, the artist is a therapist and a magus…….

Through a magical, spiritual use of images, the arts nourish the soul creating a richly varied atmosphere, an environment that is not only practical, but spiritually nutritious. In this way, the arts also might enjoy a central role in the life of a community and would not be made marginal, as is the case almost by definition in a disenchanted culture’.

Re-enchanted art

August 20, 2009

Further musings about why art as product, represented and marketed within the gallery art world is not my begin and end all.  Sure, it is a part of what I do, but not a particularly meaningful one.  It is a bit of an identity problem, though. I make art and enjoy selling it too, but my context is different.

Especially in the  company of other artists who are singularly focused on the business of their art, it is hard to communicate what I stand for. And why I don’t make an all out effort to trawl the gallery venues and events and make a name for myself so my work will sell better.

I’ve run across some quotes from Thomas Moore’s,  ‘The Re enchantment of Everyday Life’,   that reflect the aspect of art that really gets my bells ringing and my lights blinking.  It has to do with replenishing our spiritually parched souls, building community, re-enchanting everyday life. And yes, it can go hand in hand with selling one’s work as a product….or can it? Where is there any evidence that NOT selling one’s art  might be a reasonable stance?

Here are a few relevant quotes from a fable I loved by Keith Miller, ‘The Book of Flying’.

‘What do you do with the paintings you complete’?

‘I give them away or keep them if I’m fond of them. Sold art corrupts.
You are a poet, could you sell a poem?’

‘Never’, said  Pico, ‘It would be like selling a child’.


Later  in the book:

Often he wished for the loneliness of the forest, the loneliness that allowed him to place valuable words on paper. He had sold his poems for comfort and he was afraid to enter again the trials of solitude. So he wrote poems that lacked heart, written from outside his skin, written in snatches between ale swilling and lovemaking, and he did not allow them to steep, to cure, but read them at once to his friends for the applause they engendered.

Memory bundles

August 18, 2009

memory bundles

Last weekend I cycled to a favorite spot of mine on the northern sea coast of Holland. It is not far from where we live, and I don’t know why it holds such a fascination for me. I think part of it might be that it reminds me of the inner Hebrides in Scotland. There are always sheep walking on the sea dike, there are no trees and there’s loads of sky and space;  it’s a lot like Erraid and Iona.

I wanted to somehow bring back part of the feeling of peace I find there, so collected some grasses, a feather, and some( filthy) sheepswool.

I made the little memory bundle when I came back, a soothing activity in itself. It is about 4 inches long. The tiny calligraphed label notes the place, date and a few words about the experience.

The bundle on the left top was inspired by several things coming together.  When I am pruning in the garden, I always am attracted to colours and textures of the dried out flower stalks. Occasionally I keep them around as they are, but I never quite know what to do with them. 

Harry K, a friend from my online artist’s group mentioned an artist, Willem Boshoff whose work includes bundled twigs from various places. 

So I decided to make small bundles of various dried plant stalks from my garden, label and  and save them for awhile.

The one above is from a clematis with a tiny but fragrant flower. For weeks we’d get blasted by a cloud of vanilla perfume whenever we’d pass by it.  It’s official name is ‘Clematis x triternata ‘Rubromarginata’.

I read an interview (in Dutch) about a young  Dutch musician called Colin Benders, alias Kyteman.
He’s causing a sensation with a Hip Hop band he’s put together, it has violins, rappers and brass players all on the same stage.  The music is a moot point for me,  though I love the hit, Sorry.

No, its about something he said when the interviewer asked where he got the idea for the band. His first album was made alone in his room with his trumpet, his laptop, and a couple of flat mates who were rappers. Kyteman:

I could go up on stage with a couple of rappers and my laptop and every once in awhile press PLAY, but then I’d feel like a farmer with a bag of potatoes. He planted the seed potatoes, worked on his land, harvested the crop and there he stands, ‘Yep guys, I made these’.

I didn’t want to make music this way. I wanted the same musical kick performing that I  got from making the record. And then I thought, well all the sounds I’d made on the computer, I could have done by an orchestra.

This is EXACTLY how I feel about exhibiting my work.  Somehow putting it all under glass and hanging it up in a gallery seems so unrelated to the kick of creating it in the first place.  Making the work was filled with adventure, risk, movement and discovery. And there it is hanging there, so static, somehow. Though admitedly from time to time people come there and relate to it.

What is the alternative? I heard of a neat project initiated by michael nobbs for his birthday. He asked his Twitter followers to draw him a cup of tea. He made a great slide show of all the drawings, this has nothing directly to do with buying or selling, but it is so dynamic. And so is much of what is happening on the internet related to showing and distributing art.