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What freedom is… Nina Simone

This is one of the best films available on Netflix. I’m reposting, as a friend of mine saw it recently and was just as profoundly shaken and stirred by it. Totally absorbing.

Comma And

Last night I more or less idly began watching a documentary on Netflix about Nina Simone – and was right from the start transfixed by her words: “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me – no fear!”

From those opening comments in “What happened to you Miss Simone?” I was glued to the screen.  One of the words most used by the singer herself is “compelling” – and it fits her appearances.

Musically, she is electrifying: confident, powerful, emotional, unpredictable, distinctive.  Like all great artists in any genre (and this is something someone needs to tell warbly teenage wannabe popstars)

  • she inherited powerful art skills through her family (literature words and performance as her mother was a Bible preacher)
  • has invested depth into her art by years of studying and acquiring classical technique (classical piano study),
  • responding to her times and national culture (Civil Rights),
  • bringing in her most personal…

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photo, Jennifer Watt, Sculptor

Sculpture: Jennifer Watt

The best art needs little explanation: here are Jennifer Watt‘s sculptures – you only need to look at them for a moment for them to speak to you.

sculpture, dancers, Jennifer Watt, sculpture

Dancers sculpture by Jennifer Watt http://www.jenniferwatt.isendyouthis.com

 

 

 

“Dancers” A sculpture of two figures dancing.

Limited Edition
30cm x 50cm x 25cm
Edition of 6

£3,500

 

1861529

La Grande Fete, Sculpture 208

1873834

The Walk, Sculpture 122

Sculpture in three sets of two figures, that can be arranged in a circle or in a line as photograph.

Limited Edition
Cast Aluminium Resin
35cm x 40cm x 10cm
Edition of 25

£900

 

 

 

 

Figurative sculpture of an adult and child suitable for indoors or outdoors. In bronze resin on a green slate base.

Limited Edition
53cm x 30cm x 22cm
Edition of 25

£850

 

1862183

Protege, Sculpture 112

 

 

 

 

Sculpture on green slate base suitable for the garden.

Limited Edition
‘Cast Slate Resin’
76cm x 23cm
Edition of 25

£750

 

(Note: you can get an idea of the scale of these last 2 pieces from the featured photo of the sculptor with her works: you can see them on the right of the picture.)

Jennifer Watt was born in Dumfries, Scotland, and has returned to live near her birthplace.

You can find out more about her sculpture at her website or Instagram site

Memorial

I happen to have come across these sculptures on the anniversary of remembering a good friend’s wonderful mother.  The loss is still painful.  Perhaps an appropriate way to remember someone is with a beautiful piece of art or sculpture – I’ve also seen a stunning example of a woven tapestry of a lake landscape commissioned and made to commemorate a GP who was also a keen canoeist, which was gifted to the doctors’ practice by his family.

Creative Takeaways

You can use Jennifer’s sculptures as a prompt for writing creatively.  In her artist’s statement, she says “I search to create work which achieves an emotional response.” I certainly find her work inspires emotion and is easily readable.

If I were an organisation with a garden or entrance way, I would invest in her figures – they are surprisingly inexpensive, with many suitable for outdoor as well as indoor display.  (You can get an idea of the range of sizes of her figures in the featured photo of Jennifer with her works)

Simon Armitage, videopoem, video, poem, travel, poetry

Making poetry from the ordinary: Travel

Proof positive that when you’re writing a powerful poem, its shape can be something as simple as a twist on an everyday voice/situation, or the banal pauses between events. And yes, it can include humour.  And it can be great in a video.

(Video by Faber & Faber to illustrate poem “Thank you for Waiting)

Creative Takeaway Prompt

Do you have a very ordinary, boring situation/conversation/speech which you hear everyday?  Take that form and write it so that you make it talk about something else, something you feel passionately about.  Increase the strength of your words at the end to the extreme.  (As Simon Armitage does, in this video).

Advanced – time how long you think it will take you to read your poem, allowing an extra 5-10 seconds. Have a friend video you on a mobile phone in that banal situation, then do a voiceover of yourself reading the poem.  Finally, have the courage to put it on Youtube and publicise it in social media (this could be as simple as your personal Facebook page or Twitter.)

More video work – look at your written poems so far – is there one whose atmosphere could be videoed in a setting which reinforces the message?

Mondrian in neo-Calvinist view

There’s been a lot of looking back over 100 years, to the just-post World War 1 in this blog – Paul Nash, Russian Revolutionary Art, and although I haven’t written it up yet, I’ve been pondering on 1917 poetry with Wilfred Owen meeting Siegfried Sassoon).

The painter Piet Mondrian, key to development of abstract art – also goes through changes in his artwork around the same time.  Recently, I went to a lecture by Edinburgh University on “Classic Mondrian in Neo-Calvinist View” by Joseph Masheck, art historian.  (If I began describing his titles, publications and positions held, it would take too long – google him).

(more…)

Creativity and Spirituality

Erwin McManus wrote the book “The Artisan Soul” – when asked to sign it, he often writes “Dream. Risk.  Create.”

Today, I’ve been energised by his short inspirational video here.

“Creativity takes incredible courage – to live out your most creative self, to live out the core essence of who you are as a human being, the dreams that truly consume you and must be expressed and lived by you – that takes tremendous courage because it’ll push against what other people want for you

Screen shot 2017-10-15 at 15.03.29

still from the Artisan Soul video

“What I love about the word ‘artisan’ is that artisan bread is really very primal – you get rid of all the artificial ingredients… and you just get down to simple things like flour.  when you go back to the simplicity and the beauty of it, something extraordinary begins to happen – it becomes authentic, it becomes real and healthy and whole”

It probably helps that I love the visual work done by the videomaker Travis Reed and his Work of the People studio.  There’s thought-provoking and eye-inspiring words and visuals.

Enough speaking, energise is the word – I’m off to make and create.

21 questions to help you find your life work

It can be very difficult to find your best career/job – here are 21 questions I’ve put together as a warm up.  They’re positive and imaginative to do.  Why not take some time, get comfy and answer them, see what emerges?

Disclaimer: Right up front, let me say I don’t have professional training in careers, these are just some simple queries to get you started thinking broadly.  There are excellent professional books and advisors out there, do invest in them.  

All you need for these questions is space to think and answer, and some way of writing down your answers as you go.  Please don’t read all the questions before starting them – just start with number one and complete each one before reading the next.  I’ve deliberately left spacing between each question, so everything isn’t crammed together.  Don’t rush it, they involve imagining and this can be fun to do.  At the end of the questions, there isn’t a magical sentence of exactly what career you should follow, but the process should give you clues to check out.

eau de parfum

Know thyself” is very wise advice, but sometimes not easy to do.  Fortunately, our lives have traces in them of our passions and interests, and that’s where we can start.  Here beginneth the questions:

 

1.  Think through the friends you’ve known in your life – who were most interesting to you?  why? (remember to take your time and write answers down before moving on to next question)

 

2.   If you were to appear on a TV quiz show, what subjects would you hope for questions on?

 

3.   Go to your internet device and look up the browser and what you’ve bookmarked – which subjects have you bookmarked heavily?

 

 

4.   Of all the ways you’ve helped people, which ways have people repeatedly said were most helpful?  How are you repeatedly asked to contribute, by other people?

 

 

5.   Go to your bookshelves/media stores – if you could only take 10 influential books or movies with you on your next house move, which would they be? (this list can include other books/movies which have influenced you, but which you don’t currently have)

 

 

september 9, 2019 - 2-00 pm - findlay residence

 

7.   When you walk into a bookshop or look at a collection of videos, which subject area do you go to, first?  fiction?  non-fiction?  biography?  science?  art?  general knowledge?  maps?…..

 

 

8.   Apart from sight, which sense is most important/enjoyable to you?  touch?  taste?  hearing?

 

 

9.   Which magazines do you tend to buy?  (even if you only buy them occasionally)

 

 

10.   If you were given unlimited funds and couldn’t fail, what 4 projects would you want to do.

blah blah blah blah blah

 

 

11.   You have been asked to represent your country in a speak-as-long-as-you-can contest, starting now.  What is your chosen topic?

 (apart from family members and friends)

 

 

 

12.   Looking back over your life, what do you regard as your biggest achievements, so far?

 

 

13.  In your biggest achievements, what did you overcome?  (Could you help others do the same?)

 

 

14.   You have a free day off work, all expenses paid, unlimited budget, what would you do?

 

 

15.   You have a free day off work, with just the money in your purse, what would you do?

 

 

16.   Who are your heroes?  (people you’ve read about and watch TV programmes on, when you get the chance)

 

 

17.   Do any of your friends have a job you’d like?  could you do it?

 

 

18.  Imagine yourself at your own, happy retirement.  Who are your colleagues in the room and what are they saying about you?

 

 

19.   Do you feel a calling to do something – no matter how nonsensical it may seem to your current life – what is it?

 

Feedback/Answers

Look back over what you have written, are there answers you felt most passionately about?  You should spot themes recurring.  Note which is strongest and which repeats most often.  Some of the themes will have to do with convictions and values, such as environmental, social, faith, political – but these may well have a bearing on what areas you have the vision to work in.  You now turn detective to look at the clues in your answers – what life work can you find them combined in?  Or are there several separate career calls indicated?

 

20.   Try on the hat.   Looking at what your answers highlight is your strongest theme/area of interest, Imagine yourself working in that area.  What are you doing?

 

Because life isn’t simple, you may feel  “I can’t pick between two or three areas”.  You could try on the hat for each of them, separately – which fits best?  or can they be combined in one job?

 

Checkup – because life work is more than a quick project, you need a longer perspective than a snapshot.  Ask a trusted friend who has known you more than 10 years – “What am I best at doing?”  Listen carefully for clues, bearing in mind that they may skew their answer to what they value themselves – they have their own natural bias.

 

21.  Finally – and I heard of this exercise from someone else but can’t remember who, so can’t credit them – imagine you are in a very large airport waiting room.  You have a lot of extra time.  Everyone is congregated in groups, talking about different areas they work in.  Imagine going to several groups – what are they talking about?  Then choose the group you want to be with.  What is it about?