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Removing the Taboo from Conception

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Produced exclusively for the Birth Rites Collection in Manchester, ‘Conception’ seeks to illustrate the abstract nature of procreation, and the notion of new life. Whilst the concept of birth and motherhood is more widely accepted in post-modern society; the idea of the ‘body’, of a male and female intertwined in the glorious creation of life, is still very much a taboo amongst the majority of the public sphere.

abstract conception

‘Conception’ therefore highlights a fusion between sexuality and procreation; between intercourse as a taboo subject and the very nature of all life on earth. The abstract concept aims to create an element of distortion between the artwork and the viewer; allowing the individual to interpret the anatomy in their own subjective way, whilst attaching the emotive nuances of new life; of conception.

Frustrations of Photographing Art

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Recently I have been preparing for the Northbound Exhibition at Newcastle Central Station on the 12th May; celebrating work by local artists linked to the North of England. I already had ideas of creating abstract paintings based on images I took on my Olympus Trip 35 last year (David Bailey inspired), so this was the perfect platform for them, and one I could support wholeheartedly. Love Art North East is the brains behind this exhibition, along with many others curated by Lesley in different locations across the North East.

It was a different take on my usual style, but I have been super pleased with the results. I created a pair of paintings overlooking the Quayside in Newcastle, in a style which had a strong gold base. What I noticed however, was that the appearance of the painting changed dramatically depending on the light source, so as you can imagine when I came to photograph it for publication, I encountered huge problems!

When I came to use my usual professional setup (light boxes, tripod, QX1 etc) I found that I couldn’t capture the beautiful gold tones within the paintings, so although the image looked professional quality, it certainly didn’t do my works of art any justice.

So then I tried without the dark room and lights; using natural light as I have two very large Georgian windows in my studio…however in this way I couldn’t seem to grasp the professional quality although I did manage to capture the metallic sheen.

In the end, I decided they all had beautiful qualities so I used the professional images for publication and natural lit ones for social media…

It seems the paintings reflect the changing nature of the beautiful Newcastle City Scape on which it is based!

I simply couldn’t decide! So feel free to take a look and judge for yourself.

Which do you prefer? And if you have any tips regarding capturing metallic tones in artwork please share!

 

 

Getting Exhibition Ready!

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So today I have been photographing some of my artwork, playing around with lighting and cameras and then adjusting the resolution ready for publication.

I am also excited to announce that I will be exhibiting at the Windsor Contemporary Art Fair in November, so it’ll be a challenge with the Chester Arts Fair so soon after! Very exciting though 🙂

With all the admin, updates, photographing, forms, emails, framing decisions etc I barely have time to paint! Although, it can also be a welcome break from the easel from time to time.

So the images I’ve featured have been set to 800 resolution, but I’m aware that many organisers prefer a minimum of double that, however at this stage I’m trying to keep the file size down unless requested otherwise. Always check the requirements for image resolution though! Especially for competitions as you can be automatically eliminated if they’re incorrect.

TTFN x

 

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Cross Culturalism

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In a world of constant uncertainty, I am deeply moved by the many cultures within society, that deal with situations from poverty and war to migration and racism on a daily basis. To me, this puts life in the western world in a whole new perspective. The terror becomes the trivial; the stress becomes the stuff of dreams.

The pieces I have been working on over the last few months, have been largely inspired by the global political climate, as well as relationships and interaction within societies and institutions throughout the world.

I will be continuing to develop this body of work, with the hope that I can inspire people and raise awareness of the core issues within society, through the beautiful medium of art.

Ode to Utopia

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Inspired by a previous post I wrote about my experiences on a retreat at a monastery in 2011, I decided to compose a piece of work in the form of poetry, that expressed the experience in relation to the philosopher Ernst Bloch, and the notions of trace-awakenings, and a journey towards the realms of utopia.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it 🙂 Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section below…

And the overture arose with a voluptuous swell,

A harmonious chorus so sweet, so pure.

Yet the flames, they fell silent, the air so still,

Whilst the gales bring forth a rage, a roar.

Throw off the bowlines, sail against the tide,

March through the storm, to the beat of the drum.

Exposed in the elements, nowhere to hide,

As the waves crash down, soldiers will run.

But hush now, hush. For the war is over,

A symphony begins, the faint music of a dream.

The binds of sight are shaken to discover,

Beyond the barricade, into the dust lean.

No faith held in the cycles of hope,

Find, and you must, the sensation of song.

A journey neglect of reverb and you stoop,

Away from the grasp of music’s golden tongue.

The light glows dim, but the rhythm draws near,

An uncertain adagio, soon set to fly.

Anticipating darkness, in solitude and fear,

Peering down upon the earth, on a cliff so high.

The savageness of past, strikes a chord so queer,

Grant me the still of serenity I pray.

Wandering aimlessly, a direction unclear,

As the fog clears, a flame leads the way.

As tears stream, I plead you wash away the blood,

Reach out, and take me as I lay.

Away from the drone, protected from the flood,

A promise sincere, in every word I’ll stay.

I dream of bright lights, and peaceful song,

A glimmer of hope, of wonder, alas!

Step out of the darkness, yet seems so wrong,

Hearts wide open, fall of mass.

Storms shall pass, and an opera erupt,

Weights remain, yet the cracks appear.

Emotion in waves, mighty and abrupt,

A haven to hide, with nothing to fear.

A wash of inner peace, no longer simply being,

A birth, an awakening, an enlightened soul.

A burst of chorus, the shackles are freeing,

Sweep away the ashes, for I am home.

How to Fight Back Against Societal Depression

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We live in a society that is increasingly changing, and often not in the direction that should be enhancing our lives. On the contrary, the notion of a ‘Big Society’ or ‘One Nation’ can in many cases leave us frustrated and deflated.

It wasn’t too long ago many of us were living on the breadline, fighting for rations and our weekly entertainment was the public hanging of a petty criminal. Despite how far our lives have come, there are still many aspects of our communities rife with poverty and crime, with cases of injustice still very much apparent, yet still no further forward in removing this vivid divide among society.

As technology advances so quickly around us, and our moral obligations are tested further on a daily basis, it’s unsurprising that we feel suffocated by life, particularly as regardless of these advances, many of us still struggle to get beyond the borders of poverty.

So how do we free ourselves from these barriers? How do we climb the ladder of society and truly embrace life? When simple tasks seem so arduous, our motivation to succeed is at an all time low. Unemployment is consistently high or rising, and our faith in the political system – any party – is slowly diminishing. No wonder we have encountered a coalition when no one party stands glowing, we are merely ushered to the polling station as an obligation yet without gusto, on the premise of a brighter future. Angela Merkel did not win a majority vote either – is this lack of faith becoming ever global?

To avoid further decline or lack of ambition, we need to turn to opportunity and faith in all around us. Faith is often associated with religion but in fact it can refer to anything that we hold close to our heart; anything that makes us feel empowered and motivated. By surrounding ourselves with something that lifts us, we can begin to consider furthering our potential and embracing the opportunities around us. This could be your family, music, art or nature and the great outdoors. Whatever gives you warmth and happiness, and you can lean upon in times of trouble to lift your spirits, is the faith you need to further your life and aspirations. So no matter what is happening in the world, you can be determined and ultimately feel fulfilled in your life.

Animal Rhyme 1 Year On

It’s amazing to think that this original story has now become a full series and a book available in paperback!

Sara-Louise Dobson

Slithering slowly through the field,

Suzi snake searched for her meal.

Cold and dark with sad little eyes,

She didn’t know of her surprise.

Today was Sunday, September the 6th,

Suzi’s friends had granted her wish.

She slid through the trees, low to the ground,

But Oh! Oh! Oh! What had Suzi found?

A small furry mouse had climbed through a hole,

But Suzi was too slow, so she searched for a mole.

She carried on for hours and hours,

Slipping through trees as tall as towers!

Suddenly she came to a stop,

As a noise could be heard from high above the crop.

Suzi peered through the grass,

Slowly she sneaked through the mass.

Shining brightly Suzi could see,

Three little mice dancing gracefully.

Behind the mice were rats and moles,

All of Suzi’s favourite friends, including little vole!

For hours Suzi searched for something good to…

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And So My Journey Begins…

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As I write I sit here in the early hours of the morning, at Terminal 3 in Manchester Airport. My first thought is, “Could I be the first person to have written a post whilst waiting for my gate to open?” Probably not. In fact I would like to think that more people would open up their laptops in the spur of the moment and share their imminent thoughts with the world.

Strange places, Airports. Well certainly at this time. There are a scarce amount of people, but everyone with a story to tell. The drunk who missed his flight takes up 4 seats as he snores blissfully unaware that his gate closed 40 minutes ago. A loved up couple snuggle together upon the floor hoping to catch some shut-eye before their whirlwind departure to the capital of Romance. And then there are a sprinkling of lone travellers. Like myself. Who wander the floor of the terminal, looking perplexed at what to do with themselves at this ungodly hour, perhaps questioning whether or not it is safe to lay their head upon their case and rest.

The common factor in all this, is that we are all here to reach an alternative destination. Whatever the story or reason behind this. I see four flights due to depart within 3 hours. Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and the other slips my mind…but it is interesting to look at the appearance of a traveller and try to work out their destination and why? Is this just an innocent last-minute break, or are they a double agent working for the CIA on their way to deliver incriminating information to intelligence in Moscow? Doubtful, but possible.

The great thing about all of this is that despite any fears these people may have of travelling or the outcome of their journey, they or should I say we, have no doubt that for whatever reason the journey is one which is never regrettable. One of my favourite quotes was by Mark Twain, and he said;

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do….

So throw off the bowlines….sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover….

And how true it is. I always had dreams, as do we all. But do we really consider that our dreams or aspirations can someday become a reality? I have to say no. I hear of people all the time who describe their dream as it were a dream and not an objective for the future. I once felt that way, but in fact I have recently realised that our dreams are only a short path away.

There should be no excuses. Time? We all have 24 hours in a day. You nor I have any less or more than one another. Consider the achievements of Mother Theresa and Thomas Jefferson? Each had the same amount of time as you and I. Realise its potential, and see the glass half full, rather than worry how it will all fit within the hands of the clock.

Embrace the Festivities…

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Indeed, Christmas is a special time of year. But it’s also tremendously difficult for many, including myself. It’s a time for peace and reconciliation. A time for family and friends to come together and celebrate life, in all its glory.

Sadly we all endure loss at one time or another. So this is also a time to remember those loved ones whom can’t be here to share the magic of Christmas, as their place remains unseated at the table.

I think when you have experienced such deep sadness from loss, it certainly changes the way we see everything and everyone around us. Yes, it makes us thoroughly appreciate what we have. After all, we have the gift of life. But I feel one aspect of loss we tend to brush aside, is that feeling of emptiness and actually feeling very negative about life as a direct result of our grief. We tend to try and remain positive for the sake of our friends as well as our own sanity.

By no means do I believe it is wrong, selfish or cowardly to feel this way. In fact I believe that it’s a taboo subject we should address more than we actually do. For example, at what point does a person stop grieving? Do we actually stop grieving at all? There always seems to be a point where the ‘time’ to grieve has passed, and people around us no longer tread quite so lightly around us. From experience, I always feel that this is the point where you ask yourself if everybody has forgotten? It certainly seems that way…

I do know however, that despite time being a great ‘healer’ as they say, Christmas time is very rarely an easier time when we think of those passed.

I hope that when you read this, you are coming to the end of a wonderful year. But for some, there are many obstacles to overcome in life, and this year may have been one of them. And I think you could agree that no matter how uplifting our friends or family try to be, no matter how positive we usually are, or how positive we know we should be, it’s pretty impossible sometimes to see beyond the hurt. All I can tell you is that YES it will get better, but it takes time.

As I have got older, admittedly I have found it increasingly difficult to jump back up from a knock down. Whether it is health, money or relationships, it does seem to get harder and take that little bit more time to ‘recover’. The difficulty is, that when you begin to realise that life just keeps on throwing hurt at us, no matter how much you try and stay positive, you kind of know it’s inevitable. That every now and then, things just don’t go the way we’d like them and we have to face life. And what else can we do but deal with it?…

But the biggest question I find myself asking more and more, is ‘what’s the point?’ why do I bother even trying to be positive when things inevitably go wrong. What is there to look forward to? The same mundane routine? With a bit a drama added in here and there?

It’s easy to feel this way isn’t it? And I would guess that many of us if not all of us have had these thoughts. There is no answer I’m afraid. There’s no magic wand to make everything better all of the time. ..but. What we can do is focus on these experiences, however difficult they may be, in order to learn from them and move forward in life in the best possible way that we can. It sounds easy to say this, I know.

But really embrace the highlights of your life, no matter how small. And take each day one step at a time. And never be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone when you feel ready and try something new. That something new, might just change your life…

Reflection

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Take a small seed, and plant it into an already highly compacted and messy world; the seed will grow and take life from all that surrounds it. Suddenly that seed that felt harmless in the beginning, becomes the bane of your life and everything in it. This is my story and the incredible journey I entered in becoming at ease with myself and all those around me and the feeling of loss when you continue to drag the demons of life upon your shoulders and suddenly they are lifted and you are given new air to breath, new strength to fight the colour and complexities within our lives…

When I was asked to attend the Retreat, I felt a little uncomfortable to say the least. The idea of opening myself up to religion and other people in that same mindset was quite daunting. However I do consider myself to have an open mind, and luckily as I tend to ruminate, I agreed to give it a go. As the weeks passed leading up to it, I decided initially to research the notion of a ‘retreat’ and what was to be expected as well as how I could benefit from it myself in relation to my aspirations of becoming a writer. A few days before I began my journey, I celebrated my 27th birthday. On my birthday I got several cards and one of them was someone close to me explaining their understanding of my need to find faith in this way and its importance in my life and the positive impact on others including my children. I already felt strongly attached to a remarkable emotional and spiritual path, but those words completely put into perspective how and why this was so necessary in my life;

“If you can’t have faith in what is held up to you for faith, you must find things to believe in yourself, for a life without faith in something is too narrow a space to live” Alec Bourne.

The day arrived and as I began my journey I was already deep in contemplation, but I had promised myself not to expect anything precise and keep an open mind to the people and places I would meet both in mind and spirit. On the first day, I found it rather difficult to simply do nothing other than sit quietly and think or pray. I had spent my whole life busying around, not giving myself the opportunity to feel the calm and quiet. I found myself wandering aimlessly. That evening I sat with the fire roaring in the lounge, completely at ease. I began to reach out to God and ask that he walk with me along this journey. I sat for possibly hours, focussing on the many corners of my life and the cracks I had created, forever preventing me from reaching across and alleviating those memories.

Finally I had tired myself out with these thoughts, so I prepared to now empty my mind and sleep. The most incredible experience was that first night’s sleep…I dreamt of bright lights and peaceful song, it was as if I had stepped out of the darkness and opened my heart and mind into a life of peace and serenity.

When I arrived home, I felt strangely different. I was noticeably calmer, but couldn’t help feeling like there was a piece of me missing, like I had returned with a hole in my heart… It took me a little while, but I soon realised that the part of me that I had left behind was the grief and heavy turmoil I had been carrying around with me for several years. Overall, the experience albeit a short one, was the most incredible, emotional and spiritual journey I had ever encountered. If I took anything from this, it would be that it was paramount to my life to heal myself before I could begin to heal others and that is essentially why I believe I can now be a better person. But in order to heal myself, I needed to have greater clarity in my life and others around me and accept that other people aren’t necessarily ‘wrong’ but perhaps come from a generation in time where their opinions are suited to their individual life experiences. All I can do therefore is allow them to recognise that my views are based around my own encounters with the life that I have been given, and in expressing my passion, I should absolutely not attempt to be forceful or persuasive.

Now go… set out and find your inner peace, for without it you are simply being.

Ninety-Six

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For my Daughter Paris-Ilana – who would have been 8 years old on the 6th August ❤

And I.

Cannot do significant dates.

Only patterns, numbers and made up fates.

And I.

See only two shades of colour.

That of nature in all it’s prime,

And that of it’s tempo, rhythm and rhyme. 

The world has turned in ninety-six.

Each chapter. One that I. Can’t fix.

Ninety-six.

And I.

Still dream.

Of ribbons and curls.

And I.

Still dream.

Not a day in ninety-six have I.

Not thought of a time with you.

And I.

As the waves kiss my feet,

And raindrops cool my cheek,

I breath deeply and sigh,

For it is only you.

And I.

Ninety-six and still aches.

Ninety-six and you’d be eight.

Ninety-six and now you fly.

Just you.

And I.

We All Have a Voice

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Hi. If you don’t regularly follow me, or you are completely new to the idea of ‘blogging’ welcome to my blog and a great big thank you for taking the time to read this.

I don’t know what led you here. To this blog specifically. Maybe you were told about it. Perhaps I commented on your blog so you thought it only right to have a look at mine?

Whatever your reason, I’m very glad you came. You will find my blog very open and honest and inquisitive about you, me and the world we live in.

I’m not saying I hug trees in my spare time. They make me itch. What I am saying, is that I have learnt to open my mind to everything and everyone, from Politics to the Pope and this blog is my way of channeling that anxiety to express myself in this way, as well as help at least a handful of people to open their minds and become much more ‘allowable’, none judgemental and ultimately understand the direct and indirect consequences of doing this.

Going back to the basics of the blog. I do not expect the world to stop and immediately come and read and rejoice in my little voice. Absolutely not. I am very happy if my stats in the morning show an increase in followers or ‘views’ to my blog, yes, but what I want more is the quality of how my voice is portrayed to the reader rather than the quantity of readership.

I actually spend most of my time reading other blogs. Perhaps your blog? That is how I learn. I listen to others, I listen to you. I do not easily disregard an opinion, no matter how ludicrous it may sound on the surface. And I am always pleasantly surprised when my subconscious comes roaring at me with ‘I told you so’.

I write this blog, because I have something to say. I have a burning desire in me 24 hours a day to put into words what my tiny brain can no longer comprehend and share it with you. Others may not have that same strength of desire or ambition, you may not write your blog with the principle aim of educating or promoting anything specific at all really. You may have simply found an outlet to help you cope with obstacles in life, or put your comedy show at the local pub to some greater use online.

Whatever your reasons, I applaud you. I love to write, but more so I love to read. I love to read what you have to say and in turn how others react to that. We all have a voice, so let’s hear it.

Revolution from Fate or Misfortune?

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Let’s be honest, the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics was phenomenal. Thanks to the artistic directory of Danny Boyle, the way in which Great Britain was creatively illustrated from the point of the Industrial Revolution, certainly made me feel proud to be British!

It also got me thinking. I’ve always been intrigued by the speed at which we rose towards industrial glory, and let’s face it without those magical years, of which some may think a little eccentric, perhaps we would not be hosting the world-famous games right now.

The invention of the atmospheric steam engine was truly the start of a period of time, perhaps distinguishable in its own right. However, although we may be aware of James Watt and George Stephenson as pioneering entrepreneurial inventors, it was in fact Thomas Newcomen who had invented and produced the first atmospheric steam engine (the Newcomen’s Engine) at the start of the 18th Century. This was initially designed to pump excess water out of the mines, but was later redesigned by James Watt, as the patent expired following Newcomen’s death, allowing the design to be within the public domain.

This perhaps being one of the first of many ‘chance opportunities’. For if the patent remained, there may never have been a redesign as there was. A gentleman of the name Roebuck helped Watt out financially so as he could pursue the design for the engine, however several years later, Roebuck’s debts meant he was forced to sell the patent. The remaining shares were then sold on favourable terms to Boulton of Soho Birmingham. Again, had it not been for these debts, Boulton would not have had majority share in the patent.

Correct me if I am wrong, but at this point I believe Watt was bound to pursue his career as a surveyor of bridges and had almost given up on the idea of the engine. As fate or misfortune would have it, in September 1773 James Watt’s wife suddenly passed away, and he and his family decided to relocate to Birmingham to join his partner Boulton.

The beginning of the most remarkable partnership in the history of the Industrial Revolution

I think this brief outline has demonstrated clearly, that despite the arduous grind of successfully producing the atmospheric engine that we know of today, a tale of woe and misfortune led to the rise and fall of the famous Cotton and Wool Industry, carving a path for technology to behold for generations to come.

This leads me to suggest, that although life may take an undesirable path at times, it is worth contemplating that whether you are dealt a hand of fate or misfortune, a mass of incredible fortune may indeed rise from within.

So, don’t dwell on the could have or should have, but embrace the present and begin to carve your future.

Literature vs. Screen

Very good post on a topic I am keen to debate…and a fab review of the Help, a book I have recently been given. Thankyou for sharing.

Popular Fiction and Film Reviews

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It has long been debated whether a film adaptation of a really popular novel can ever truly live up to the reader’s expectations and equal its paperback’s sucess. I started thinking about this whilst in Waterstones purchasing the Help when the store assistant enthusiastically announced that the film version was almost as good as the book, as though this was some sort of revelation. What really struck me was her emphasis on ‘almost’, as though it was never a point in question that the film could rival the book, but it was to be applauded that it had even come close.

As a self-confessed book-worm I’m concerned I might be approaching this debate with a slightly biased opinion (as you can probably tell from the title of the post) as, for me, there’s nothing better than those rare moments when you find yourself in possession of a book you just…

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Respectful Differences

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Following on from my previous post on ‘Aspirations’, I wanted to share my thoughts on the notion of ‘Respectful Differences’.

It is widely known, that many of us have strong opinions on what we believe to be ‘right’. Whether it is aspirations of career, social activities or even political preferences and religion. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. If you have a passion for anything at all, and it makes you happy then by all means, follow those aspirations wholeheartedly.

But. Consider the fact that as individuals, what suits one person is unlikely to suit another. Our personalities are unique; moulded from environmental factors, nature versus nurture but most of all our experiences in life. Our environment lays the foundation for the person we evolve from, but our experiences determine our views and opinions in life, and in turn how we act or react as the case may be, to our day to day encounters.

From this it could be said that our central doctrine of life would change and evolve over time, and so it should. And furthermore we should use these experiences to educate our descendant generations. However do not be fooled that you can ‘prevent’ them from making the same mistakes as you did, for this is a lifelong misconception. Instead, we should educate them in ‘preparation’ for mistakes or problematic encounters, and rather help them to deal with them better than you or I.

Finally, remember that it is not a failing of others to have an alternative opinion on any particular subject. If you are fortunate enough to have a clear understanding of your morals and values in life, then that is a blessing, whatever those are.

So two things lead from this; the ability to help others reach an ‘enlightened’ stage of their life, and the ability to listen carefully to the words of others and be open to their views as much as you hope they would be open to yours.

A purely altruistic approach to life, I believe, is the key to pure fulfilment.