Posts Tagged ‘art’

Education: Stupid talk is back

November 15, 2014

Just when you thought the pollies had run out of stupid pills and were edging towards some sort of sense, Nicky Morgan opens her stupid fat mouth and says stupid ignorant things and instead of wooing teachers back to the fold, she fucks it right up again. I was starting to think the Tories were really getting the wood on Ed and his lot, especially with Nicky’s understanding of the work-load issue, her compassion for the ludicrous hours we work; she’d even gone soft on her anti-gay stance.

She was looking promising, especially when Tristan Hunt had managed to piss us off with his ‘licensing’ of teachers and his latest beaut idea about firing us if we can’t control 30 15 year olds forced to read Dickens cover to cover. (Bring it on, Tris, you come and have a go!)

But Ms Morgan couldn’t help herself, she couldn’t keep it in, couldn’t stay nice and away from the stupid pills. No, she announced that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) subjects were the only choice, that Arts subjects “hold them back for the rest of their lives”. She also says that Maths is the subject employers value the most. I wonder where that came from – it hasn’t washed into my halls of learning.

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It’s inconceivable isn’t it in one of the world’s leading producers of culture and Arts that the Education secretary says it holds you back – limits your career choices. Possibly it does in other parts of the world, but here, in London, where the money made from theatre, galleries and stadiums is excessive, where one of the biggest draws for tourists is the West End and the museums and galleries, what is she on about?

This type of subject-ism is already damaging students’ futures. We’ve already seen the downgrading of subjects such as DT and Food Tech. Music and Drama have been disenfranchised in the government sector, as has Art. These subjects are being culled from school curriculums and are increasingly only on offer in exclusive, expensive educational enclaves. The Arts are in danger of becoming the province of the rich and well to do. Actors are increasingly coming from the posh lot, not the working classes – no more Michael Caines. And what of music? Will it all be Mumford and Sons and X-factor desperadoes? No more Keef and Mick, or Sting?

Why publically value one set of subjects – and therefore students – over another? Why say these people are better because they can do this? Do I look at my children and say my Physics degree child is more valuable than my Fine Arts degree child? Morgan has been as damaging in her pro-STEM comments as previous commentary about the value of other subjects, in perpetuating the erroneous belief that one stream is better than the other, that choices made at 11 or 15 damage you for the rest of your life. Limit is not the same as damage, and the world is full of people who chance job, make choices as they grow older.

Society needs all sorts of people. It needs the builders and makers, the thinkers and doers, the outside-the-bloody-boxers.  Importantly, Arts and Sciences are not separate beings: they are compatible and complimentary. An engineer or architect making bridges and buildings is as much about aesthetics (Art) as it is about numbers and science (STEM).

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Think about Brian May – guitarist extraordinaire with Queen, who has a PhD in Astrophysics. Everyone’s scientific darling Brian Cox also played in a chart topping band and Richard Dawkins is married to an actress. Nicky Morgan might like to consider Brian May’s career choices. His A levels were awash with Physics and Maths, yet he chose music and I hate to think how much money he’s made. More than as an astrophysicist, wouldn’t you reckon?

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A child should have a rounded education in all areas, be able to make intelligent choices about their future based on their skills, their abilities, what they can contribute to society and not just on what their earning capacity might be.

A society bereft of Music or Art, or Theatre and Dance is an impoverished place to be. It lacks heart and soul and we may as well be under the rule of ISIS or any hard-line Communist regime. The Arts breed thinkers, dissenters, those that can see the world as it really is and then make it into what it should be. Ah, that’s the problem – this government doesn’t want thinkers or dissenters, it wants sheep and cannon fodder. Silly me…

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This is a stupid question, but I’ll ask it anyway. Has Nicky Morgan sat in a class with students who hate Maths, who don’t get it and just want to be free from the subject as soon as they can? No, she hasn’t. And she hasn’t taught 18 year olds still attempting to struggle through their GCSE in English because someone says they have to have that too!

Can we get a grip on what Education is and what it should be and shut the fucking politicians up before they do any more damage to an already broken and shattered part of society? Now would be good. (Images courtesy Private Collection)

Dreams – why you need them

April 26, 2014

Dreams have many uses in our lives – they help us to sleep and keep us healthy; they help us process the nonsense of our days; and they keep us alive, they give us hope and keep us going, moving forwards, not stagnating in the morass of nothingness.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who sadly died this week, was a man of words, wisdom and dreams – some of his stuff had to have come from his night-time visions. He has this wonderful, oft quoted point – “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

Dreams have played a large part in the world we know. Here’s a few reasons why dreams should not be dismissed as romantic ramblings of useless losers, as the acerbic and altogether too cynical, Scaramouche had it of Galileo’s desire to share his dreams in We Will Rock You.

Literature, Film & Art

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Much of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry came from dreams – Dream-land and A Dream within a Dream

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Misery & Dreamcatcher by Stephen King

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Terminator by James Cameron

Inception by Christopher Nolan

Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

Music – from and about

Yesterday by Paul McCartney came from a dream

No 9 Dream by John Lennon – came from a dream

Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

Dream Baby by Roy Orbison

All I have to do is Dream by the Everly Brothers

I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables

Dream On by Aerosmith, etc

Science

Einstein’s theory of relativity came from a dream about electrocuting cows, or alternatively about sledding down a sleep mountainside!

Descartes apparently came to the scientific method forma dream where he was in a whirlwind pursued by ghosts, while craving melons

Kekule (1800s) had two dreams that led to significant discoveries in organic chemistry – about a snake seizing its own tail which led to the discovery of Benzene

Elias Howe (1845) invented the sewing machine after a dream about being a prisoner of natives who had holes in the tips of their spears

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And…

Abraham Lincoln foretold his own death in a dream. Google came from a dream Larry Page had when he was 23. Insulin was discovered in a dream, as was x-ray vision and Hannibal based his battle strategy against the Romans on his dreams. And one of the most famous speeches of all times beings: “I had a dream…”

We can take on this inspiration as our own. We can let our dreams do some of the hard work that consumes our waking moments, let the back of the brain sort through the mess, find solutions, offer new ways of thinking and being. We may not have world shattering breakthroughs but we can solve the bits of our life that won’t co-operate in the harsh light of day. I find my writing – academic and creative – benefits enormously from dreams and baths!

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Keep your own dreams alive. However small they may be, they are your inspiration, what keeps you going. To deny dreams is to deny hope, deny the future. Okay, so you’re not Brad Pitt (as Shania Twain once said) but you can dream and hope and make plans for a big and wonderful future. To deny dreams is to deny yourself. Dreams let you into your inner most fears and hopes and desires. You need to go there once in a while because at the end of the day the only true knowledge is self knowledge and self knowledge lets you dream big and true.

So get your little dream journal out, sleep well and catch those fragments before they evaporate in the daylight and see where they might lead you… (Images from Private Collection)

The Artistic Paradox: Need spirit of a marshmallow, hide of a buffalo

October 27, 2012

Just as there is a fine line between pleasure and pain (oh how I loved thee, Divinyls) so there is a gaping chasm at the heart of every artist. In order to create you do need a soul more sensitive than others, a sensibility a bit more fragile, a world view that does not accord with the masses, which puts you inevitably and invariably on the outside. What else can it do?

 

 

The artists role is to sit outside, to view the world, humanity and its infinite foibles from a distant land, so they/we can comment freely, unhindered by the norms that stem creativity, the imagination: ART.

 

 

 

The artist is soft, gentle, searching: sensitive. They have to be or they cannot do what they do: look, see observe: find things that we do not, see the world as it really is and make us see it anew, different, real or unreal. We must have artists in our lives, our communities to comment on the world and shape it for us.

 

 

 

But the artist is caught. She has to be sensitive, but she wants to be heard, read, viewed. And that means exposing yourself to the public; to ridicule, rejection, venom, ignorance: even death.

 

 

How does the artist reconcile these two opposing axioms – the necessity for sensitivity and the need for a public?

 

 

The public is quixotic, cruel, adoring, lambasting, forgiving, understanding, ignorant. How does an artist survive in the face of this?

Sadly some cannot manage this. The road to public acceptance, let alone acclaim, is riddled with dead artists, with those unable to withstand the brutality of their public lives. Consider the alcoholics: my beloved Fitzgerald, and Dylan Thomas. And the tormented: Van Gough, Hemingway, David Foster Wallace, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Frida Khalo, Mark Rothko and of course, Kurt Cobain.

 

 

 

Please feel free to correct me but I don’t think scientists top themselves with the monotonous regularity that artists do.

 

 

What does this tell us? That the imperative to create kills? Or is the critic, the rejecting agent, the cavalier reader, the careless reviewer, the indifferent public– do they drive the sensitive, the fragile gifted ones amongst us to the precipice and then without a thought, with a casual throw away line: ‘I don’t love it enough’ tip us into the abyss?

 

 

It’s hard to wrap your marshmallow heart inside a pachyderm’s hide but it is what you must do. Withstand the storms of criticism, the cruel winds of rejections, the swamps of ignorance and get your message out. An artist needs to be heard, they want to be heard, appreciated, challenged; they need to know that they have reached someone, that their work has a point.

 

Do not be like the house that has withstood the cyclone only to crumble in the summer breeze. (Images courtesy Google Images)

Homage to Pallas-Athena – goddess of Wisdom, Warfare & Art

May 3, 2012

For you Athena

I named my baby, my beloved

My Pallas Athena Ailsa

To be strong and brave and great

To be like you.

I have been yours for years now

honouring you through my child

through my Art, my Writing, my Sewing – I have been Constant.

I  look for the Owl

Seek her wisdom and beauty

Her stillness and stealth

Find her in our oak trees

The Shee-oaks that line the cliffs down to our bay

When I sew new clothes at my table of Creativity

Of Art and Writing

I honour you

As I sew and make beautiful clothes for my family

I am with you, as a part of you

Your wisdom and grace and courage are mine as I create.

Now, I ask you

To help me in my quest, my Art.

To find a home for my work amongst the wider world

For my words to reach the stars

To be free to Write, to Create and live in my world of wonder and imagination. (Images courtesy Google Images)