Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Space for Peace

On Sunday I met up with ten other artists to participate in an inter-faith event at Winchester Cathedral. This is the information from the Cathedral website:

"Space for Peace"

Space for Peace will bring together local and national choirs, community choirs and school choirs to sing from Jewish, Christian, other faiths and secular sources to create a musical vigil for peace. With a theme of “Listen for Peace” music will be shared from a wide variety of religious and secular sources proving that we can work together to create peace.
Choral and religious groups will be situated around the Cathedral, each with their own repertoire of musical material, using the cathedral as a resonant meditative space. The vigil will be created by the participants on the basis of choice. Each group will choose when to sing and also be invited to sing by the congregation. The congregation will move around the building, lighting candles, praying and participating in creating the overall musical sound.
Admission is free but there is a retiring collection for the St Ethelburga Centre for Reconciliation and Peace."

(I know the St Ethelburga's  Centre, on Bishopsgate in the City of London. I was there last year when the Greenbelt Festival Trustees met to consider artistic vision for the Festival and the year-round presence of Greenbelt as a catalyst for creativity in the realms of faith, justice and the arts. I am privileged to be involved with this movement.)

Kimvi Nguyen curated the meditative performance aspect of the event. Each artist received a bowl of matchsticks and was asked to place these on the floor in a reflective and performative meditation during the two hours of the event.

This is to commemorate the Holocaust;
Am I laying down the tracks of a railway?
How easy to make a way for death; 
to comply.
The line becomes our story.
Meandering, like life.
There is freedom and vitality in its choosing.
Lines converge; adjust to accommodate the other.
The Cantor sings the bottomless depth of sorrows.
Be still.
Commemorating the innocent who died? Who decides who is innocent?
May I ask you about this?
It is beautiful - what is it?
What is this type of art called?
What is it about?
What is the concept behind this piece?
Do they represent individual people?
Shalom, my friend. Or if it is more acceptable to you, Salaam.
Will the lines meet?
Do they confront?
Which is right, and which out of place?
Is there room for difference?
Can something grow from our touching one another's lives?
Being human.

Saturday, 26 January 2013


Art school has given me opportunities to experiment with different print techniques and I have particularly enjoyed woodcut. 

This embossment (click to enlarge) was made into dampened paper on the Alexandra Press. The impression is taken from a woodcut made in an off-cut of oak tongue-and-groove board. Based on one of my 2012 Canterbury walk drawings, it depicts some Primroses growing on a verge. The text just visible at the bottom indicates that a Skylark was singing above me as I drew.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Water Rail, Linocut, Holocaust Memorial

Today's stroll around Winnall Moors produced very close views of the squealing Water Rail I have heard here on many occasions. A male Sparrowhawk was flushed from a tree as I walked beneath it, leaving me to watch its rear-view as it flew to a distant tree-top, and the neon-blue flash of a Kingfisher's back darted along the stream.
My drawing today left me thinking I need to try a different implement. The drawing pen is a bit limited when it comes to dramatic scenes like this tree reflected in the water. I need something with which to make broader darker, gestural marks - charcoal perhaps? I will have to attempt this subject again with another medium.

My time in the studio today will be spent completing an edition of twelve prints from a linocut I made late last year.

This was the first linocut I had attempted since about 1985. It is based on a drawing I made on an eleven mile circular walk on Holocaust Memorial Day 2012. It marks the continuation of a sequence of work about 'Nothing' which included the Holocaust Memorial Day Walk and a piece of text from a 'brain-dump' about all the things that would not exist if nothing had ever existed:  

No pen, No paper, No hands, No body, No apostrophes misplaced or otherwise, No punctuation, No trains, No clothes, No sun, No clouds, No rain, No squeaking doors, No ominous signs, No footsteps across a floor, No floor, No announcements, No customer information, No hunger, No love, No longing, No wonder, No way, No chance, No songs, No music, No smiles, No happiness, No birds, No animals, No pets, No fruit, No chocolate, No food, No beer, No alcohol, No drink, No glass, No windows, No glances from a stranger on a train, No grass, No trees, No hills, No fields, No farming, No industry, No money, No words, No language, No poetry, No literature, No inquiry, No science, No ideas, No absolute zero, No algebra, No fashion, No theology, No religion, No politics, No imagination, No imitation, No recording, No art, No sea,
No islands, No soil, No land, No unfathomable distances, No space between, No planets, No stars, No dust, No insects, No trace, No life, No sex, No joy, No me, No you, No people, No cities, No room at the inn, No silk, No fabric, No dancing, No elements, No philosophy, No purpose, No being, No source, No objective, No death, No cause, No effect, No time, No delight, No fear, No hate, No Daily Mail, No suspicion, No touch, No vision, No intricate design, No mind, No thought, No intelligence, No beginning, No end, No Holocaust, No progress, No disappointment, No aspiration, No Bananas, No Woman, No Cry, No Quarter, No Satisfaction, No necessity, No worries, No doubt, No heaven, No hell, No fishing, No running, No petting, No horseplay, No play, No colour, No light, No texture, No laws of physics, No laws of thermodynamics,
No sleep, No Glastonbury, No sanity clause, No mortgage, No good, No evil, No right, No wrong, No up, No down, No Night at the opera, No Holy Bible, No Hendrix, No Picasso, No Nietzsche, No myth, No story, No history, No guesswork, No cheating, No looking, No illusions, No Bach, No conception, No Blues, No Déjà Vu, No fun, No surprises, No use, No regrets, No war, No famine, No chuggers, No Tottenham Hotspur, No Jimmy Greaves, No hidden patterns, No meaning, No attraction, No chemistry, No male, No female, No plumbing, No communication, No misunderstanding, No friendship, No rivalry, No theatre, No comic timing, No point, No education, No improvement, No Funkadelic, No faith, No beauty, No parallel universe, No multiverse, No mathematics, No marriage, No family, No place like home, No dictatorial regimes, No prison, No freedom, No distress,
No euphoria, No dustmen, No enormous feeling of wellbeing, No terror, No surrender, No empire, No setting-sun, No Fellowship of the Ring, No Beatitudes, No Gethsemane, No Calvary, No Pentecost, No Apocalypse, No magick, No self, No other, No relativity, No water-lilies, No night, No day, No future, No random acts of kindness, No hugs, No blind panic, No Subterranean Homesick Blues, No ice, No parking, No evolution, No single-cell organisms, No sweat, No atoms, No sub-atomic particles, No quantum mechanics, No Bakerloo Line, No Boot and Flogger, No Monty Python, No heroic failures, No Charge of the Light Brigade, No lullaby, No revolution, No law of Moses, No Plato, No democracy, No pork scratchings in the Star Tavern, No Queen Mother Reservoir, No Father Ted, No guilt, No precautionary principle, No global warming, No gold, No greed, No inequality, No slaughter of the innocents, No rolling downland, No short-cropped grass, No syklarks,
No problem, No trouble, No sympathy, No qualms, No mysticism, No conjecture, No painstaking research, No fantasy, No journeys, No decompression chambers, No exploration, No Freddie Mercury, No coming home in time for tea, No Particular Place to Go, No numbers, No rainbows, No fire, No air, No Gibson Les Paul, No Leica lenses, No alibis, No Glossy Ibises, No self-control, No revision timetables, No new year resolutions, No thinking outside the box, No 1966 World Cup Final, No Wild Horses, No Song of Wandering Aengus, No new arrivals, No departures, No angels, No rain forest, No Amélie, No cancer, No peace, No Steinway pianos, No electricity, No gas, No nuclear weapons, No logos, No British Library, No Foyles, No illuminated manuscripts, No pyramids, No Swan Lake, No seed drill, No Jethro Tull, No diving bells, No butterflies, No discovery, No Joshua Tree, No Ayers Rock, No Dreamtime, No ancestors, No Syd Barrett, No thing, Nothing. 

I showed this block of text mounted as an A3 poster at an exhibition last year in the Student Union at Winchester. I found a visitor reading it and explained that it was a catalogue of some of the things that occurred to me that wouldn't exist if nothing had ever existed. There are good things and bad things on the list. I suggested our task, should we choose to accept it, is to increase the number of good things that exist and reduce the bad things. She burst into tears.

Holocaust Memorial Day is officially on 27th January and in Winchester it is being marked as part of 'Space for Peace' an inter-faith event at Winchester Cathedral, where I will be joining with other artists in a meditative performance(about which, more later). In an age when world leaders and powerful political blocks are again denying that the Holocaust happened, including denying the systematic industrial-scale genocide of 6 million Jews. We should remember the Jewish Holocaust especially because it has become unpopular in liberal circles to commemorate it. We should also educate ourselves about other massive crimes against humanity such as those under Stalin resulting in an estimated 20 million deaths, and the more recent horrific genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur... It continues to be vital that we remember and mark these repulsive episodes in the history of our civilisation; that we do not forget that we all have the potential to follow leaders into inhumanity and to obey orders or simply turn a blind eye, for a quiet life. Perhaps the time to object is when we see small-scale scapegoating going on in our own national politics - if we don't speak out then - when will we? Little things precede big things.