Musings, Personal Practice

The Art of Vulnerability

Today I heard myself telling someone that I had not made my own work for 10 years, only moments later I wanted to shout ‘THIS SIMPLY ISNT TRUE!’ because it isn’t! I have MADE lots of my own work over the past ten years BUT I have not exhibited it – and therein lies the difference.

10 years ago – my subject matter was exactly the same as it is today. My work is about being vulnerable. It is about being human. It is an exploration of the human condition – an exploration of MY human condition and it is truly autoethnographic in nature. We are all humans, we are all trying our best to live this thing we call life and we are all going about it with our own complicated set of issues, foibles, wonderings and interactions or reactions to and with the rest of the world.

I stopped exhibiting my own work partly because I no longer wanted to be labelled a ‘freak’. I felt like a freak – for putting the personal into the public, for daring to tell the world how I was feeling about things in my life, I felt like a freak because I didn’t see anyone else struggling to hold it all together so I decided to grow up and stop letting any of it bother me. I decided to put my practice on a shelf, make it neat and tidy and consumer friendly, all the while feeling a little bit as though I had lost my precious artistic soul somewhere along the way.

A little while back I went to the Alina Szapocznikow: Human Landscapes opening night at The Hepworth Wakefield and the show hit me right in the heart centre. As I wandered around taking it all in I saw my own oeuvre If I’d have had the courage to create it. Her work was just like mine. Explorations of the female form – of HER female form, creations made as a way of her dealing with her own tragedies, her own experiences. Creations that perhaps on first glance make no sense to the viewer but that you could very easily weave your own meanings inside of should you so choose to. As I left the exhibition I vowed to myself that I would once again become an Artist. It was who I was born to be. And now, finally – some 10 years after shelving my public practice I am back once again.

I no longer care if you think my work is strange, self-indulgent or simply senseless tripe. I am making it for me – because without it I am empty. I was born to create, I was born to take my mistakes, my misconceptions, my human-ness and transmute it all into art. It’s a beautiful thing to once again find that my own opinion is really the only one that truly matters. Obviously, I would like other people to be able to relate, I would like for other people to walk among my works and find themselves in there too – because my work is about a human life that is lived – and where there are humans there are shared experiences. I don’t doubt this for one second. However – as an artist – I am not making my work for you. I’m making it because I need to. I need my practice and my practice needs me.

This year I realised something. I truly believe that in order to find inner contentedness, or even the other thing I have often sought (or at least mused upon my confusion about) within my work  – ‘True Love’ will never find you until you are truly ready for them and the only way a person will ever be ready for these things is by becoming whole all by themselves first. You have to put the work in in order to self actualise. Life is not handed to you on a plate – you need to be the person you were born to be. And I was born to be an artist. My life is in my work and I no longer care if this is viewed as ‘odd’, it is not ‘odd’ to me. It is Art. The Art of Vulnerability and it is my exploration of being human. A glimpse into my journey of Becoming. For I am en route to becoming my best self and this body of work will document and explore that becoming.

 

24 negative patterns, behaviours or beliefs that I hold that  I feel are holding me back will be being transmuted over the next 24 months. For one month at a time I will ‘recycle’ one negative pattern, behaviour or belief that I identified as ‘getting in the way’ of me being my best self when I took part in the Hoffman Process in September of 2017 and a body of work will be created around this journey.

Pattern number one I am working with is ‘Crossing/creating boundaries’ and will be exhibited as part of the Thresholds: The Adjacent Possible exhibition in February 2018 at the Tapestry, Liverpool with the Not Just Collective.

There is also a call for Artists – do you have a connection to Liverpool? The deadline is Friday 22nd December 2017.

Artists are invited to respond to themes of borders, barriers, doorways and liminality. Work confirmed so far takes inspiration from urban development and the cultural exchange resulting from Liverpool’s role as a port. Also considered are thresholds that are less-than-tangible – social, political and spiritual – and the well-established or newly-born practices and rituals that may develop during times of transition.

Work in any media will be considered. Please email Nicola Roscoe-Calvert at NotJustCollective@gmail.com with:

  • Details of the proposed work, including medium and dimensions (where possible)
    • Images of the work, or previous work if not yet completed
    • Any other supporting information you feel may be relevant

About us:
Not Just Collective are a group of artists and creative practitioners based in, or connected to, the Liverpool area. The collective’s first exhibition was in January 2013 at Domino Gallery, Liverpool, and since then we have continued to grow, holding exhibitions in galleries and non-traditional spaces across the region, including Camp and Furnace, Arena Gallery, the Williamson Tunnels, and a terraced house in L8. The group is diverse, consisting of artists with varying levels of experience, and working in a range of disciplines. Because of this, we are held together not by common practice, but by a common aim to support and promote the development of art in Liverpool and the wider region.

www.notjustcollective.weebly.com
www.facebook.com/NotJustCollective

 

 

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Musings, Personal Practice

India and our Great British Empire

Autoethnographic musings upon life… This year I spent the summer in India – while I was there I painted many little pictures in my sketchbook, completed my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Course and experienced ‘Life’ through a new lens. I wrote several musings and I’m going to post them here… And I’ll attach my paintings too.

Lord Krishna’s Birthday, India and our Great British Empire

Today is Lord krishnas birthday, to celebrate we all bought saris and went to a magnificent white marble Hindu temple covered in sparkly lights and beautiful, rhythmic “Hare Krishna” music and dancing and twirling and golden gods everywhere you looked! It was truly magical – and I got to go there in my very first tuc tuc!!!!!!!

Covered in sweat we waited at the road side for our tuc tucs to bring us back to the yoga school and we all chattered excitedly.

Everyone was elated!

It had been a fabulous night of dancing and singing and twirling around with gorgeous radiant little Indian girls showing us how to dance!
One of the other students had noticed some baby piglets, “Oh my God how cute!!!!!!!” I exclaimed and got closer to take a look.

And then my heart fell.  I noticed they had been born and were living in a HUGE pile of rubbish. I was then reminded of the cow I had saw just a few days earlier who was eating a cardboard box… That had saddened my heart a fair bit too.
I left the piglets with my gift from Lord Krishna – I had made an offering to Krishna in the temple and I was given the sugary butter and sweeties (his favourite foods) to eat so that my life may continue to be sweet and rich. As I climbed into the tuc tuc it struck me that those piglets would probably not have a rich and sweet life.
As our tuc tuc meandered back to the yoga school instead of gazing at the Ganga and laughing about how I’d never complain about pot holes again (as I had been saying on the journey there) – I looked to the other side of the road. The side where the beggars “lived”.

And as we drove past all of the men with no limbs I thought about how significant this day truly was. For it is not only Lord Krishna’s birthday –  it is also Indias independence day. The anniversary of the day that my country decided to “give India back” and as I looked upon those men with no legs I was reminded of all the heated debates I have had over the years about the legacy of our “Great British Empire”…
Yes, I have always “got” your logic – my life would not be sweet and rich if my forefathers had not raped and pillaged the rest of the world.
But for this – I have never felt thankful and that has at times infuriated others in the past. It is just that for me – I know at what price these gifts have came.
I always have.
Ever since I visited the slave museum in Liverpool when I was 7 and saw just how our glorious buildings were created and paid for.
And on that bumpy ride home in our tuc tuc this evening it really pained me to see how India – with its rich and inventive and spiritual past – is a third world country where the electricity is not stable and the water isn’t clean and the cows eat cardboard boxes.
Yet most of her gold lives in glass cases in museums in my country – for all of the world to see – in my country where electricity and clean water are not even given a second thought and Lord Krishna’s birthday is not celebrated, with those twinkly lights and the glorious music and all of the people singing and dancing and being thankful for the rich and sweet life that he has bestowed upon them.

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