10/09/2015

09/10/2015 10:44 Pacific Standard Time

Post 23:  Published on 09/10/2015 10:44 Pacific Standard Time updated 12/06/2016






Posted: 1.6.16
The following texts are the transcipt extracts of an interview on drawing for the 'in aid of' unicef displacement exhibition. All exhibition sales were to raise funds for displaced unaccompanied refugee children in Europe.


Question: Do you try to create imagined worlds in your work ? 

M.M 
Articulating any creative practice in words is never easy and yet we have to discuss it because it is such a deep and fascinating practice. I honestly find it much easier to talk about other peoples work and discuss my students work than my own output. Yet I am fascinated by the creative process which is why I love teaching this subject so much - so yes, I will happily talk about visual language and my inspirations for drawing but I will do it with my Academic hat on, as that will help me be more objective. 

I think Cocteau was right when he said "Asking an artist to talk about his work is like asking a plant to discuss horticulture." I am not a traditional academic, I prefer the least attention possible and as such I am much happier teaching and speculating - asking questions of students and of myself. 

To try to answer that first question. 'Do I try to create imagined worlds? I'd say no, not as such. For me, imagined worlds has certain connotations of being escapist, or 'made up' and that’s not what drawing is about for me – for me it’s about engaging rather than escaping – but yes I suppose I do propose spaces and alternative realities - they are analogies and by their very nature they become quite real as material things once they exist in the world -  once they are formed as it were - so they are not 'imaginary' but 'real' for me beyond invention. The drawings are often irreverent to the institutions that seem to restrain ordinary people’s freedoms - and one of those personally for me goes beyond the practical and material and is Linear Time. I often explore that. Drawing expresses thoughts and feelings like any voice or instrument - so drawing is a scientific and visual instrument too and of course a way of mapping feeling and memory, expressing strengths and vulnerabilities. A good quote from Larkin said something akin to this 


 ''You must realise I’ve never had ‘ideas’ about poetry. To me it’s always been a personal, almost physical release or solution to a complex pressure of needs—wanting to create, to justify, to praise, to explain, to externalise, depending on the circumstances.”  PL



Many of us make our most creative work when we are on the edge of something awkward - when the heart is up and there is something 'the matter' - an atmosphere going on inside the chest not just the head  - otherwise it can become too calculated, too logical, self-conscious and faux - or what ever you wish to call it. Too deliberate.  I think it's far better to be working laterally, off centre,'off the hip'  - working by heart, ....half knowing and half in the dark. I don't think you can teach it  - some people are spontaneous and trust their own intuition while others cant. Obviously I encourage it in people. It is clearly not an appropriate approach for a surgeon or a technician etc but for any Artist or performer who wants to interpret feeling or investigate the edges of things - then yes. 

The mind must also edit the 'whole' in order for us to survive the barrage that our senses endure. The common comparison of the human mind to a computer is misleading. It is far from just a processing device - nor is the heart just a pump. We know very little of the mind, especially the complexity of the brains binding factor and the hippo campus. It is of course mapped out to a point by MRI scans and the microscope but that is a technical biological insight. Neurologists do not know if the mind 'records' everything. We still have no hard proof of where memory is stored in the hippo campus. 

Composing anything like a song, poem, dance or a drawing is not an intellectual or cerebral act but more an intuitive, emotional one - be it unconscious or conscious. Jorge Luis Borges said ‘Poetry springs from something deeper; it’s beyond intelligence’ – and he’s not wrong. Analysis can kill the very nature of intuition - of what comes naturally or intuitively. The best drawings I have seen by others or that I may have made myself are often spontaneous with no initial harsh design intention - there is thought and context but no serious pre meditation or planning at the outset. This approach is usually a confluence of emotive contexts that 'entangle' and evolve as one works the drawing toward an ending. I wont really seek to mend or adjust it afterwards for example.  It just gets saved or not.

''I think on some level, you do your best things when you're a little off-balance, a little scared. You've got to work from mystery, from wonder, from not knowing.'' Willem Dafoe




Künstlerroman - our roots - our biographies - mythologies 

I grew up amidst semi rural / urban natural history - a road called 'muck road' (above) but we had Red Admirals and Cuckoo Spit everywhere in June – and also lots of Skinheads – a malevolence ... and so it goes – and so we soak it up - the life and death, in sickness and in health, the ‘Birds and the Bees’, the Pond life. Early years are a different biological stage where the mind absorbs information and sensations at a far higher rate than in maturity. It is a real space that we all know – and one we all inhabit and revisit. It was a volatile but creative period in the North socially and politically – so that vital sense of place stays with you and if you are creative then it becomes a sort of seedbed, a heartland that your future stance and belief system grows from, Politically and Creatively (like the German concept of Künstlerroman).  

T.S Eliot was clearly inspired by the Poet Novalis when he wrote ''We shall not cease from exploration - And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started - And know the place for the first time'' (T.S Eliot from Four Quartets)   

Anthropologically the narrative belief system that we are just visiting in Earthly form - from another 'home' is an ancient worldwide custom, Native American, Gypsy, Greek, Norse, Roman - all 'seeking' and going home', be it toward an honourable afterlife or indeed home in life' if you are lucky - a form of Nirvana or Elysium. There is some of that going on in my work –mirroring psychological states - a re-aligning of things, an investigation of the good and the bad. It's a journey, maybe full circle ? Not unlike the Salmon.

I don’t think re evaluating or re-imagining the past is a retardation of growth - or 'passéiste' as Jean Paul Sartre wrote of his friend Jean Genet. I think Its quite the opposite in this context. If you are addressing change then it is creating new knowledge - so it cannot be 'passéiste' when it is current active primary research. 

I say to students that research and history is, for me, like applying a stick to a bicycle wheel as it spins, you interact with it - and you get a humming sound back, and that vibration is akin to gravitational waves coming back at you. A voice to react to. Reflection and re-evaluation is not nostalgia. Nostalgia is stagnant - but reflection and action is alive and organic. For me, at this mid stage I think I am very lucky, it is a perceptive trip, very sensorial and immersive, it is an interactive, special, 'going down with the sun' type of space for me. Mythological and real all at the same time – an active place - a subject of the present and the future. Not frozen or stuck. The engine is running. 

This way of working is intuitive and about personal expression as opposed to commissioned design and It often involves rewinding or pausing the time machine and being on the edge of something - another plain or threshold - and that place has a lot of resonance for me - as if the machinery is humming away waiting patiently for me to finish the drawing. Without that kind of magic I would give it up tomorrow. I can observe and go in and get a drawing - a souvenir. This freedom to travel across time periods is liberating. There are times I do prefer my drawing to take a back seat - because it can take over - so you must accept it and exercise it. If you give it a run out once a day - stretch its legs - then it will settle down by the hearth and let you get on with the other things. If I didnt teach then I dont know if I could have sustained my work in a vacuum. Teaching enables a constant recipricol communal evaluation - discussion frames things and gives it purpose beyond the selfish act  - yes it's very sustaining and 'Humanities' students are a pleasure to work with - so it's not work really - its a warm receptive space. Precious.

Many interesting coincidences occur whilst making work in that zone or mind set. These are of course my own perceptions and synesthetic connections – yet they go beyond my rational day to day understanding. Despite intrepid neurological science - we simply don't know as yet how the Brain truly manifests consciousness. It is something that current science has not yet fathomed. Diagnostic research on known phenomenas beyond synaesthesia like say, remote viewing or ESP,  has been on going for years. Much of these observable phenomena are claimed by science to be neurological 'pattern recognition' - or at worst slammed as quackery - and yet perhaps it is not Twilight Zone oddity but something untapped but very natural to our perceptive ability and thus atypically very 'humanist' -and 'of the human' - of the 'human brain' ? 

The Scottish Lady who can detect Parkinsons disease even on undiagnosed patients via her sense of smell, is a very real and recent example of extraordinary perception. The late Dr Oliver Sachs work and his books are evidence of other beautiful rarities. There is also an excellent research duo, both Psychologists, working at Leeds Becket University on how the mind and brain perceive the material and immaterial. Extra sensory perception has been used by the establishment in many instances with success - it is not widely accepted nor reported for it is something science nor academia have empirically equated. 


We are spellbound when we read Shakespeare, Ursula Le Guin, Joyce, Plath, Hughes or Harold Pinter or look at a William Blake, Goya or Francis Bacon painting because they generated a sublime mythic connectivity and captured the poetics of life in an almost cryogenic freeze frame - the extraction and distillation of the Sublime and the Mythic - and through this Lens we see not only the Human and the Earthly Condition - but also the possibilities of our wider Ontology, the unknown or 'Super nature'. It is an ephemeral timescale that we have on Earth – we don't get long to work it out, all the universal Shakespearean content, trials and reward, the metaphysics of the human condition.

For me it feels negligent not to look hard at all of that matter face on, eye to eye. I can only do that through the Lens of my own experience. It is not for me to presume or visualise other people’s experiences. Ultimately much human creative investigation and expression is, I suspect, allusive of our material mortality and an inquisitive emphasis on how we live - on 'being' here. George Bataille said something along the lines of 'There is no better way to know 'mortality' or death than to link it with a powerful image'. C
reating an alter-icon - a Clown or Golem who is present 'at table'. An active accepted protagonist. It is about framing the knowledge of life and death - not just to try to understand it - but eventually to include it and accept it in life - befriend it (rather than deny it and allow 'negation' or 'acting' out - via displacement activity taking one away from what really needs to be processed and accepted). 


I think the concept of our human mortality and transience is something many of us learnt early on when young. That awareness matters to me. I make things to explore or preserve that kind of matter, or to placate or re-balance some sort of 'lack' (Lacan). To evidence that it mattered then and that things alter but still matter now (Not unlike the archetypal initials carved into a Laburnum tree. Recorded crudely and then left out to be weathered by time and the elements). ''Yes ! '' Lacan or Derrida would say ''Yes dear Mack yes, that is it ! - that is indeed what is the matter - indeed the matter with you''. What is 'Matter' exactly ? We are all made up of stars, Carbon, H20, amino acids etc. It goes beyond interesting! (Laughs). So yes, it is ultimately about engaging and not shying away into escapism.

In Particle Physics the theory of 'quantum entanglement' is complex  - but I grasp the notion of two or more points in separate spheres being in contact with one another instantaneously or simultaneously - the lack of a 'threshold' - where a conventional notion of 'time' and distance falls away. A point where the ever present and the very faraway converge and manifest a thought or an action. This happens in the human mind all the time if you think about it  - and happens when we think deeply or dream and when we engage in this type of creativity. Coleridge famously wrote the epic poem saga Kubla Khan more or less in his sleep after dreaming the whole tale (granted via Laudanum /Opium). There are more sober examples. A Humanist would celebrate all of this - it is not faux mystic shamanism. 

I originally worked alongside the UN and Unicef in the early 1990's and saw then how it gave my own work a more social and universal perspective and context. In other words we are not alone in what we experience and although it is our own knowledge and is unique - it is also shared - and it is  'known' (by others) - even if not talked about openly by them - so the work is not just introspective or another navigation of the self. Analogy is important - having settings and props and the idea of a stage for the imagination to inhabit. I have recognised that it enables a slight distance from the personal nerve of things and allows more scope for irreverence, play and celebration - a slight deflection from the nerve - some theatre to frame what Pinter calls the wound.

Writers do that well and avoid being too close or too self-referential with too sticky a subject, too dense - like glue or bad spaghetti. I try to avoid sentimentality. I don't shy away from authentic sentiment which is very different to sentimentality. The recent emigre and migrant unicef work referenced universal families and loss, post-traumatic stress - how families are separated by loss and estrangement - be they migrant, emigrant or indigenous (the displacement of people, children, families is known by all). The ongoing series I am making for British Heart Foundation awareness called 'By Heart' drawings are rooted in these emotions of well-being too. 


My other interest has always been about individual and collective memory and origins. The concept of home - be it in 1777 BC or 2007.  DNA and dark age BC migrations. Our human need to be both on the move - roaming - but also to want 'settlement'. I am fascinated about that paradox and how instinct, hormones, seasons, age and our own Circadian Rythm's alter us - and birds and animals - this has always interested me in my work.

Question: 

You stated earlier that when you draw ''There is usually a confluence of emotive contexts that entangle and evolve as I work through the drawing''  ... What do you mean by that exactly ? 

MM: Well, at other times, when walking, driving or teaching and not drawing daily - then I am still thinking about that space. Obviously some places and previous encounters we experience in our early lives are very intensive and fix an impression - it may be beauty or loss - they hold you both with the same grip very often - and they can become preserved in the mind. A sort of Cryogenic memory I call it - that I can somehow defrost and re-enter that space. It is a canning of events (canonising even) like a special 'reserve'. I can go to it and take the lid off and observe. I get involved and stir it and try to engage with that sense of place or persons in the present. It is intuitive but it is difficult work. Though rooted in constant themes, these types of drawings are never that pre-planned, so the result is usually a surprise. Like film stills or rushes from a play that is always switched on. Like all new things they are an amalgam - the sum of many parts. I dont have an audience in mind at all when I work. They are a form of exploration ( I can't release them as albums - or put them into dance routines   -  I would if I could. I think being a musician would have been interesting - making music allows you to perform and is more received I think as means of expression). 

I say in seminars that no one really questioned the reason or meaning behind instrumental sounds - dissonance and consonance in music - of say Bartoks strings or Sibelius' Violin Concerto or Hendrix guitar solos. Dissonant 'tonal' notes are much more accepted than dissonance in visual language. The Painter has to get used to this very early on in Art school - used to being questioned and analysed - they are expected to offer up intellectual conceptual answers -  and yet with Music it is different - so Miles Davis improvising compositions like 'In a Silent Way' or Billy Holiday 'Scatting'  ? People will just sit back and soak it up as pure sound and sound alone - improvisation and dissonance belongs there in musicality - and quite right too. Just as it does in the work of Van Gogh, Munch, Pollock, Khalo, Duchamp etc - as image makers.

Making a picture is quite a primitive and direct act - a cave like primary experience, simple and direct - hand stick paper etc - and yet it conjures up many complex connections that thread into all sorts of past and future contexts. An Artist envisages these multiple contexts - historical – imagined, factual, Poetic, subversive etc – and attempts to capture them. Artists look in and look out - addressing many tough subjects directly and head on - eye to eye. Subjects that other less humanitarian Professions cannot. It is no light task externalising authentic feeling and attempting to trap ethereal nuances via a crude lead pencil or a rag etc - it seems a crude process - crude but paradoxically fluid. Rothko or Hildegard Von Bingen's astounding results are a prime example of how the human mind channels the sublime into non textual language. So, yes it is a back to front process in many ways - and yet when this connection works then it is a true act of creative distillation. Once any composition, music, poem, drawing etc is materialised then we have brought actual physical evidence of this convergence into existence - good or bad - so it is spooky yet obviously quite natural to the mind ('spooky action at a distance' as Einsteins famous theory termed it). 

Below : Greece Landings / 'Rescue' - amalgam coastal drawing with Marley Tip and Leashaw Reservoir (drawn in aid of Unicef for the displaced childrren exhibition) where we raised modest sums for support - this is an ongiong annual event where works raise awareeness and funds for a variety of children and families. 


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Question; Are you measuring something when you draw?

No, I think measurement is too logical an act to describe it - weighing maybe? but ‘measure’ is a quantitive thought really, made after or before the physical act so .... no, I'd rather say its seeking or feeling something out - ingredients coming together. Turner, Twombly, Eva Hesse, Beuys, Tapies - Miro, they all analogous to music. 
When teaching the analogy of music and especially archeology is often very appropriate - of digging, revealing layers of things - (There's a famous Heaney poem about his this). Many creative people feel akin to that - it is very true of myself and the way I have always felt and worked - but the only problem with it is that it suggests that you are purely digging retrospectively and seeking historical revelation rather than creating new things and arriving at new borders and new territory - and that’s very important to me because what I try to do is not 'retrospective' - it’s not the re-working of old soil. The soil you lay in has to be fertile and newly turned and cultivated for growth to flourish - so this sense of old and new, I find it very very interesting and often conflicting.

I feel strongly that you have to learn hard as a student - like learning the violin or piano - the notes and composition etc but then you have to unlearn as a student and challenge the technique - it’s a fast ride - but you have to learn these skills and then look to deconstruct them - edit back your previous aesthetic notions of technical craft and polish and start to learn about the need for dissonance on the page and in the thinking. Otherwise it is just a form of compliant conservative 'picture making. It is better not to worry how the work is perceived. I was never comfortable with compliance, or with verisimilitude - with imitating life, with acting - because it is exactly that - an act,  the unreal - the hyper real - a form of enacted deception. This is why a child's drawing is so free of artifice or 'showing off', for they are not seeking replication, accuracy, realism or figurative merit etc - they are purely engaging with the act of their natural expression and usually it is about something immediate or a memory with strong affinities. 



'' 77 BC Cosmology -Yorkshire Bells & Bell Bottoms'' or ''We plough the fields and scatter''
from 'A saga of a family  (copyright Mack Manning : All rights reserved for all images)  ''Below the Wind'' - Ardennes series 
























Developing a good antennae is so important - gaining that reception through the haze of clutter out there. Its much worse now and can be very confusing for todays students to seek out the quality amongst the mediocre unless directed. Google wont do that for them - quite the opposite. The late 19th Century and our 20th Century is moving away very fast in the rear view mirror - and such invention lives there - so younger millenials have to explore it more if they are truly aiming to re-invent the wheel. I often say in seminars with our students that recycling older memory with new growth and new ideas is what happens naturally when we make something in the present, it is freshly laid - even though it may be driven by our past phenomenological experiences of colours, language and place. It is a sort of back engineering that was perhaps future proofed !? ...If that makes sense. I think the real question however is this ; just how far back does memory really go ?  - I mean in terms of atoms and DNA. There is muscle memory - and so what of the sub- atomic and the heart and brain ? 
On the bookshelf, autobiography can sit alongside Comics, Anthropology, Science, Poetry or Film and so why not in a drawing? It is a populated landscape for me  - a celebratory and devotional one at times. Juxtaposition and anachronisms arise as I make the work - there can be humour in the these anachronisms that occur. People who know me well - see that playfullness. But yes many are sensitive, reflective and mirror psychological matters - evaluating and realigning things. 

"Every sensitive person carries in himself old cities enclosed by ancient walls" Robert Walser





Painting from Survivors Emigre series 'The Sagas Of Families - MIGRATIONS - families often now scattered 
"Wir pflügen und wir streuen"  




BD22 8E Greenfield Terrace - Altitude studies 
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Ongoing 'Migrations' drawing Palimpsest series ; migration across doggerland, across europe , migrations from Star Carr to Snod Hill - from the south then to the north - from Florence to kimberworths smog - the sagas of families - often now scattered ("Wir pflügen und wir streuen" ) Drawn Songs: Torch songs / Protest songs all





















































Drawings below from Ballads and Plays series - torch songs 'Glove and Feather'

















below: Künstlerroman series under the big hill 10 x 8 Oil on Board 2015



Hunter Gatherer - Emigrants - Emigre series



The Photograph below is a panel from 'Limen' series - 20 photographs of The West Riding and a blog which was shown at UWE gallery Bristol - in my 2007/8 exhibition exploring 'Concepts of Home'.










































Travellers (Wycollar)

Nomenclature
The naming of parts
They are Pointing
Look

Romanechite
Of Romaneche

The shadow in the mantle
The lightning overhead
Tomita hasn’t come yet
And Elvis isn’t dead

Before your life
A Thylacine crossed here
Through that ford in the river

Tar melts beside cobble
Vinegar is applied to the head

And through the plaster wall
Love comes a
Drumming drumming 
All in time for bed
















 




Destiempo fig: 76 ( The wrong time ) 








































 Destiempo / The wrong time ; (the raid; manno and manito) 






Lanugo Fur : New Born  

Gentle heart 
Knocks at ribs cage 
To run – and too soon
Yesterday has
Become tomorrow 

Hold them
Robust for
Times Calculus 
Runs away

Old Heart
Hammered from a
Single sheet of bronze 

Yesterday has become tomorrow

Yet when you and I are ­together

It will always be
Today














Drawing above - ' The Absurd - Sniper in the Ardennes Forest 1944'  Mortality 
(The Golem of The Third Reich)

Question: Why the 'in aid' of UNICEF connection ?

Its frustrating that Politicians, the UN - all large modern organisations cannot mobilise together and do more to help these children - legal minors. There seems a ‘lack’ collectively - there is always resistance - a tribalism, and that is the burden we all carry as a race. It lets us all down. 

The raising of even some small funds helps placate some of my own feelings of helplessness when I see the news. The urge to Protect and defend is a very strong instinct in some of us, we are all repulsed by bullies and violence and some of us want to confront that head on - I certainly do - and so by addressing it through raising small funds is ok but it seems at times a tame approach for me. I am very clearly conflicted about all this and own some cognitive dissonance towards Art or Action? Pacifism or Defence ? all versus 'the horror', the terror. Which is why it is very important to me to be making some work in aid of humanitarian support organisations like Unicef or Warchild. It is a drop in the ocean really though and small efforts - not enough ?

Deep down I want to go and fight it more physically , more directly - and seriously, like Laurie Lee - he delivered - fighting the tyranny and stupidity that Men do in the name of their belief systems and power. I should really go and work as an aid worker and give Professional support - teach there - fight and confront it on site. Yet I have a family now so I cant realistically do that now. 

Harold Pinter talks about tackling the human wound head on - 'peopling it' with brave exploration to understand it, rather than to try to cure it via theoretical exegesis and over analysis. I think that I have been gladly corrupted by my own early conditioning and events, moulded somewhat by a working class childhood where you have to fight back against an aggressor - the bully - you have to protect the young and the vulnerable from malevolence - so purely making images and messages via Art seems very inadequate to me at times - especially when we feel inside that we should be present on site and working more directly in aid of these Children and people under stress. I know someone who went to the Calais jungle to give support and work with the children and families there  - an Artist (Pete Nevin). So yes, that there is the real thing.
I think I would only have any self respect for myself if I achieved that sort of commitment and goal - as purely raising some small funds (pennies in the scheme of things) is not enough. The real educators and aid workers who are on the front line - what more can one say about them ? Incredible commitment, risk and engagement - such respect and admiration for them. The Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres, The Humanitarian Military sent out there - all these kind of Professional teams and individuals in the camps and in these war zones.




Guardian link  1;

The children of the Calais refugee camp face daily horrors.



Guardian link  2;  ''Three months since the Dubs amendment was passed, only 20 children have come into Britain. The failure to look after unaccompanied minors is just one more refugee policy failure'' 







Beyond Proust's 'irremediable solitude' 
Drawing of this nature - the sort we are discussing and its content is a form of perceptual personal interpretation - its not to please others as such - nor to sell . It is not about limited known certainties, it is unfinsihed and ongoing. Nor is it an imitation of life or a manifesto for a cause -  it is rather an expression from a nebulous sometimes felicitous psychic unfinished space. 

One could say such expression celebrates a wider concept of 'survivance' (gerald vizenors work is very interesting) - and the act of drawing and the resulting work is ‘active’ with a surviving sense of resilience and a strong presence over absence and therefore not 'reactive' but rather an 'enabling' and positive action. A dismissal or negation of the famous void (Derrida's void). It is in many ways friendship within ones self.

Preserving these observations ‘seen’ or perceptions ‘felt’ in a drawn act - as an expression of visual language or text etc - is an entanglement of sensory observations from the present and of the past - depicted and preserved into one capsule – and therefore the work may become an expression of immediate experience - and even if the work has a natural involvement with the historical past - the work is paradoxically born out of knowledge and feeling gained in the present - therefore it is a recording of that present moments perceptions and not an echo.

Interestingly some corners of this psychic space are not re-visited once it is felt that these narratives have been successfully navigated and preserved in text or drawing - and thus they no longer own such priority once the feelings are expressed.

As a result the work when successful helps define a more acceptable state of 'being' - the friendship or fellowship Orwell talked about - amidst the plethora of simulated 21 century stimulus that is both heterogeneous and conflicting).

The drawing helps navigate away from potential senses of absence or disenchantment, away from anthropocentrism and Illusions and negativity that we can feel from status anxiety etc. 

Creative Practice steers us away from 'the Other' toward levels of contentment through engagement - remaking and re-owning things presently - in the now. 

*noumenon's original meaning is "that which is thought"  Kant evolved it towards 'an object or event that exists without sense or perception'
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Archive post 2014/5

Feeling subconscious - Non focal awareness

Digging through the top soil

The absurd - Below the Wind : Ardennes Belgium 1944 Topographically missing in action 
Family narrative Painting MM

  





















































When Herman Hesse wrote that 'Every man or woman is not only him or herself for he or she is also the unique particular, always significant and remarkable point where the phenomena of the world intersect once and for all and never again'

Hesse is not saying we shouldn't embrace our shared social sisterhood or brotherhood etc nor is he claiming that we should ignore our collective strengths as a closer knit society or humanity. He is stating that personal experience - though often shared - is always unique and particular to the individual - we are all different due to a myriad of circumstances, responses - the quirks and nuances of an individuals genetic make up within the 'self'. Using this unique auto biographical experiential voice and knowledge is vitally important for any Artist, Musician, Author etc if they wish to make work that has genuine authenticity and honesty - and crucially if we wish to share it as a visual 'opinion' / subtle experience - OR indeed to 'raise the volume' and make societal work that supports, subverts or criticises society. This 'voice' should also be applied to any smart creative school or Institute that seeks to cultivate and harbour creativity. Seeking to emote new knowledge takes risk and deeper levels of self awareness beyond the superficial, aesthetic skills - it requires digging deeper - down through the strata of surface turf that can stifle intuitive germination - stifling original ideas and concepts.

Digging a little deeper through the top soil is necessary if we wish to 'Practice or Teach' Creativity. This is Authorial Practise.

There is also the esoteric turf of Iintellectual and analytical theory within the Creative Arts and Humanities. The Academisation of the Arts is concerning.

Don Marquis the great American poet and writer said something along the lines of - to publish a line of poetry is akin to throwing a feather down into the grand canyon - there will be no grand resounding echo.

Now I may have added the last bit -  but Marquis' truth can also be applied to the act of producing a drawing, doodle or painting -  or playing the fiddle  - or indeed to any non commercially commissioned creative practise. It is akin to whispering to ones reflection in the mirror - not an act after approval and with no aspiration attached to it other than the doing 
Making at its best and most honest is most often just performed as a statement of existence - an individual or collective act of being.

Like the megalithic hand stencil in the cave of dreams. ''I am here'' .... and if the work survives ''I was here'' ( the hominid hand on the cave - or the 'graffiti'  on the alley wall )


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Biography and authorship occupy a far wider horizon than the umbilical chord ( naval gazing ) and are often just about the act of drawing itself ( with no audience sought ) Authentic creative work can never be indulgent as such ? Indulgence or self navigation is often sneered at by more pragmatic people  - but self reflection is very much needed in order to get under the skin of things and to then enable the work to mature and eventually find root in more universal social histories - that reflect us all as a race of people. The wider human family and the many shared mythologies of our ancestral memory itself , and the feeling we all feel and own for that root.

notes: Is speed of thought 'superluminal' ? And what of the 'magnetic moment'  (Magnetite biomineralization in the human brain - as is Gold, is this  how we sense forces etc ?)  Though Magnetite is found in all the body’s tissues, it is highly concentrated in the meninges and brain). Also what of the empathetic ocurrances of transference, fusion and counter-transferance in psychoanalysis.



We are spellbound when we read Shakespeare, Ursula Le Guin, Joyce, Plath, Hughes or Harold Pinter or look at a William Blake, Goya or Francis Bacon painting because they generated a sublime mythic connectivity and captured the poetics of life in an almost cryogenic freeze frame - the extraction and distillation of the Sublime and the Mythic - and through this Lens we see not only the Human and the Earthly Condition - but also the possibilities of our wider Ontology, the unknown or 'Super nature'. It is an ephemeral timescale that we have on Earth – we don't get long to work it out, all the universal Shakespearean content, trials and reward, the metaphysics of the human condition.

For me it feels negligent not to look hard at all of that matter face on, eye to eye. I can only do that through the Lens of my own experience. It is not for me to presume or visualise other people’s experiences. Ultimately much human creative investigation and expression is, I suspect, allusive of our material mortality and an inquisitive emphasis on how we live - on 'being' here. George Bataille said something along the lines of 'There is no better way to know death than to link it with a powerful image'. For me it is more like creating an alter-icon - a Golem who is present 'at table'. An active accepted protagonist. It is about framing the knowledge of death - not just to try to understand it - but eventually to include it and accept it in life. (rather than deny it and allow 'negation' or 'acting' out - via a displacement activity taking one away from what really needs to be processed and accepted ). 



I think the concept of our human mortality and transience is something many of us learnt early on when young. That awareness matters to me. I make things to explore or preserve that kind of matter, or to placate or re-balance some sort of 'lack' (Lacan). To evidence that it mattered then and that things alter but still matter now (Not unlike the archetypal initials carved into a Laburnum tree. Recorded crudely and then left out to be weathered by time and the elements). ''Yes ! '' Lacan or Derrida would say ''Yes dear Mack yes, that is it ! - that is indeed what is the matter - indeed the matter with you''.


What is 'Matter' exactly ? We are all made up of stars, Carbon, H20, amino acids etc. It goes beyond interesting! (Laughs). So yes, it is ultimately about engaging and not shying away into escapism.
In Particle Physics the theory of 'quantum entanglement' is complex  - but I grasp the notion of two or more points in separate spheres being in contact with one another instantaneously or simultaneously - the lack of a 'threshold' - where a conventional notion of 'time' and distance falls away. A point where the ever present and the very faraway converge and manifest a thought or an action. This happens in the human mind all the time if you think about it  - and happens when we think deeply or dream and when we engage in this type of creativity. Coleridge famously wrote the epic poem saga Kubla Khan more or less in his sleep after dreaming the whole tale (granted via Laudanum /Opium). There are more sober examples. A Humanist would celebrate all of this - it is not faux mystic shamanism. 


I originally worked alongside the UN and Unicef in the early 1990's and saw then how it gave my own work a more social and universal perspective and context. In other words we are not alone in what we experience and although it is our own knowledge and is unique - it is also shared - and it is  'known' (by others) - even if not talked about openly by them - so the work is not just introspective or another navigation of the self. Analogy is important - having settings and props and the idea of a stage for the imagination to inhabit. I have recognised that it enables a slight distance from the personal nerve of things and allows more scope for irreverence, play and celebration - a slight deflection from the nerve - some theatre to frame what Pinter calls the wound.

Writers do that well and avoid being too close or too self-referential with too sticky a subject, too dense - like glue or bad spaghetti. I try to avoid sentimentality. I don't shy away from authentic sentiment which is very different to sentimentality. The recent emigre and migrant unicef work referenced universal families and loss, post-traumatic stress - how families are separated by loss and estrangement - be they migrant, emigrant or indigenous (the displacement of people, children, families is known by all). The ongoing series I am making for British Heart Foundation awareness called 'By Heart' drawings are rooted in these emotions of well-being too. Other work about DNA and dark age BC migration is also rooted in our human need to both be on the move - roaming - but also to have 'settlement'. I am fascinated about that paradox. How Instinct, hormones, Seasons, and our Circadian Rythm's alter us- just like birds and animals - this has always interested me in my work. 

The Creator of the popular 1980s 'He -Man' cartoon character in Popular culture said in an interview that his anti-hero and nemesis 'Skeletor' was BASED on the terror he FELT as a child from the Mummy he would see at Long Beach Pike Funpark. Also, back In 1965 in a BBC interview with Malcolm Muggeridge, Robert Graves the soldier and author of 'Goodbye To All That' recounted his acute experiences in the trenches in WW1 and said he believed the greatest killer of the 20th Century was 'adrenalin' - he was referring to the release of the hormone adrenalin in people under stress in any Conflict - and how such huge doses into the body in moments of fear - flight or fight mode - takes its toll, very often decades later or even a generation later. Statistics of WW1 and WW2 survivors evidence his fears. This is being studied also in the research project with 9/11 survivors and their offspring with regard to DNA and generational effects and how 'fear' is passed down.

I do feel a sense of connectivity when I work, between the past, the present and somewhere else, somewhere way off. This is common for many creative people. For me there are often ghosts 'at table' when I engage and compose these images and texts. Loved ones don’t go away, so the dead are often present it seems and it can be a complex emotive process to be involved in – it’s not light material (laughs) however it is not melancholic - it once was, but not so now - it is more understood – more emotionally mature.



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*addendum

You are all Welcome 

Drawings can be elusive. Dreamlike, (oneiric) thoughts of instinctive knowledge that through the expressive act of drawing become real observable material things - real Phenomena (in the form of the drawn visual outcome - they are rarely re-worked by me after the event but kept as they arrived - travel weary and worn, or  'sold as seen'. We know that 'Perfection' is a construct, a falsity. 

I also think of a Rose as a good analogy -  that there are other lifeforms - on the flower and petals - seen by some as imperfection ? Yet this is all part of the holistic natural truth of the Roses beauty. The natural cycle and authenticity of the whole - with no eugenics or weeding - so I see this philosophy for drawing as a sort of re-wilding of ones own more primordial thoughts. Allowing them to be expressed and to be welcome 'at table' - to counterbalance the more learned and sophisticated manors one has to apply socially. 

The more cleansed and managed a society or bio-culture becomes then surely the less natural or honest it is ?
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Material Culture  Lecture notes:

As a race - Humans have the ability to poetically re evaluate perception through a state of almost neurotic and obsessive curiosity. Excavation occurs subconsciously before reconstruction - and so therefore there is never a 'construction' it is always a reflexive reconstruction of previous felt or read phenomena and mythologies. Pure originality is a rare thing.

Rabbits dont do this - Hares dont do it - nor does the Ant or Whale - but Neanderthals did it – and we do it ... we make things ! 


We have a unique access as a race to the trail of historical artefacts of our shared lived materiality - A museum trail. A Hansel and Gretel trail of bread left only by the active, enabled and fortunate - so what of the evidence lost by the disadvantaged and defeated? - what of the lost voice ? It is said that history is written and re-written by only the survivors - the victors. 

What if one day we may come to understand that the un-actioned or 'lost' threads of creative thought is still collectively active and within us somehow -  and may still therefore have been recorded - and if so then can it be accessed - Where are these tales now - Do we still hold them subliminally in deep memory. The Ancient Greeks and many other cultures thought so. Poppy Cock ? Well maybe not DNA memory of trauma is now being evidenced so it opens up a new paradigm in terms of ancestral memory. 

This is what has always interested me and fired the work I make - catching the unknown, the elusive - the in-between - the seeking out of the oneiric and speculative into a physical material realm - into a poem or picture. It is viewed by some cynically as a shamanic approach - and yet for me it just seems a very natural and intuitive way of approaching things - and I think it is the case for many kinds of meaningful creative alignment - whether you write music or paint.  You relinquish or give up the intellectual control in the shallows and go further out to sea – tred the deeper water, and risk what’s further out.

So what we have here is not another walled up country and not a shuttered room - but somewhere else - in between - border less - west of Pediment - between the rational thought and the practical act these places exist - and even if no one is looking - they often find you. There is water there - Iron, Fire too.