Why I do what I do

For as long as I can remember, creating art of any kind has been been more about the process than the product. Even as a child, I didn’t draw to replicate what I was seeing, but to explore things emotionally. I was acutely aware of how what I saw affected me, and how what I was feeling affected the way I saw. For example, a donut would look very different to me depending on how hungry I was. When not hungry, I’d be more relaxed and inclined to notice and wonder about all the various ingredients, colours, shapes, textures, smells and tastes. I might even notice how the light reflects off the individual specs of sugar; the contoured edges of the glossy frosting; the spongy, rounded surface of the golden pastry…

When starving, I’d simply see a doughnut.

The Process

When I produce a visual representation of my internal chatter, I can see things more clearly. My muddled thoughts start sorting themselves into orderly queues instead of simultaneously clamouring for attention.

To put it another way: imagine hundreds of oddly shaped, different coloured Lego bricks scattered across the floor around you. Sharp little boobytraps everywhere you look! Each individual piece unidentifiable as anything other than part of the one big, insurmountable MESS. You can’t step in any direction without hurting your feet.

It is easy to become so focused on getting rid of or around “The Mess” that you fail to see The Bigger Picture. You might even find yourself paralysed (Procrastinators Unite!) stuck to the spot, awaiting rescue.

But what if you were to stop for a minute, crouch down, give each and every little brick your full attention; start sorting through them, finding connections and piecing them together…? You might see how each seemingly insignificant piece, while not of much interest or use on its own, transforms into something entirely different when it’s linked to others. Each little piece plays a vital role in constructing The Whole. By the end of the process, you’ll still have the same number of oddly shaped, different coloured bricks as you had before, but now there is cohesion and clarity, and more space in which to manoeuvre (For the techies: think defragmenting the hard drive on your computer)

To all those people thinking “But I don’t have time to sit around all day playing with my problems! Hand me a broom!”, think of all the time that you’ve already wasted trying to avoid doing emotional housekeeping.

So that’s how I’d describe the art-making process; forcing myself, despite the discomfort, to slow down and confront the chaos, start picking through the minefield in my head, treading carefully to avoid detonation! Examining and fitting together seemingly random thoughts and feelings until I find a common thread or an image starts to form. Because everything is related. No thought, however trivial, meaningless. Everything matters. The answers to most of my questions are hidden somewhere amid the jumble, so I just keep sifting and sorting my way through it, without any real sense of direction, until I have what I call an “AHA! moment”.

And then, there’s ….

The Flow!

Have you ever tried catching a feather or leaf that’s fluttering about on the breeze? The more you wave your arms or move your hand, the further away it will get. That’s what it feels like for me when inspiration is just out of reach. The AHA! moment comes when I have managed to grasp an idea. Then, the the hard part is over.

When in that creative zone, known as “the flow”, my mind becomes very still. I’m no longer chasing or running or flailing about desperately trying to make sense of things. I am completely tranquil, opening myself up, letting those fluttering objects drift down and settle upon me. I loose all sense of time and space, and switch into cruise control. Emerging from this flow state feels like waking from a dream, only I’ve brought something tangible back with me. A souvenir from my subconscious.

Externalising my thoughts and emotions in this way helps me gain better understanding of them and how they affect me, but it also makes my internal world accessible to others. Exposure to scrutiny and criticism absolutely TERRIFIES me, and makes me extremely vulnerable. So why do I do it??

Because my deep seated longing to make authentic connections only very slightly outweighs my paralysing fear of rejection.

It’s something I find difficult to write about without feeling a tad wanky, but there you have it.

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OHLOOKASQUIRREL!!

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Kaleidoscope in the sky: The swirling star trail taking centre stage high above Mount Everest

It looks like an Artex paint finish so beloved by suburban households in the 1970s.

But this amazing images is actually a swirling star trail above Mount Everest in the Himalayas.

Photographer Anton Jankovoy spent months camping at the foot of the world’s highest peak patiently waiting for the right weather conditions.

Swirling sky: A star trail above Mount Everest in the Himalayas, this image took photographer Anton Jankovoy months to capture

Swirling sky: A star trail above Mount Everest in the Himalayas, this image took photographer Anton Jankovoy months to capture

The 23-year-old was so determined not to leave until he had accomplished his mission that he even began meditating to overcome the freezing temperatures.

After three years dedicated to the project, Mr Jankovoy finally caught a series of stunning star trails.

Landmark peaks including the Annapurna South and the Hiunchuli can be seen in the spectacular images which took hours to capture and expose.

Mr Jankovov, from Zhytomyr in the Ukraine, said: ‘I adore photography, especially landscapes because I can just sit there and observe the nature around me. It’s so peaceful.

Peaks including the Annapurna South and the Hiunchuli can be seen in this spectacular image, which took hours to capture and expose

Peaks including the Annapurna South and the Hiunchuli can be seen in this spectacular image, which took hours to capture and expose

Photographer: Anton Jankovoy

‘But because star trail images need very long shutter speeds they take a lot of patience.

‘I’ve learnt how to endure the freezing cold by meditating. It’s surprising but it really helps.

‘Although I started taking photographs when I was nine years old I really learnt to cultivate my skills when taking photographs in the mountains.

‘All my childhood I dreamt about mountains and hoped to visit Nepal one day.

‘Then four years ago, after saving for a year-and-a-half, I made my first trip to the Himalayas.

‘I visited Mount Everest and it was like a revelation to me, a different world, a different way of life, almost a different universe to what I had known in the Ukraine.

‘It had a profound effect on me and seriously changed my life. I fell in love with Nepal, the people and the amazing scenery.

‘When I came home I realised I couldn’t go back to my old way of life and so for the last three years I’ve lived in Nepal for six months of the year.

‘It has taken a lot of dedication and patience but the result has been worth it.’


Kaleidoscope in the sky: The swirling star trail taking centre stage high above Mount Everest | Mail Online.

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The Beatles’ yogi’s teachings of spiritualism set to continue at first of Michael Gove’s free schools

Meditation is to be taught at a state school for the first time.

A private school run by followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – the spiritualist who taught The Beatles the technique – will transfer to the state sector in September.

The Maharishi School in Ormskirk, Lancashire, will be part of the first batch of education secretary Michael Gove’s free schools.

These are opened by parents, teachers and charities but funded by the taxpayer.
Pupils – aged four to 16 – have transcendental meditation sessions every day.

They sit quietly at their desks with their eyes closed twice a day for ten minutes at a time.

Head Derek Cassells said: ‘Meditation brings balance to the nervous system.

‘This leads to greater creativity, intelligence and harmony, and better behaviour.’

He added that the school would be run along traditional lines and pupils would study the same subjects as in other state schools.

He has also held meetings with the Department for Children, Schools and Families about sponsoring two new academies

Critics say some practitioners use transcendental meditation to spread a quasi-religious message.

But a Government spokesman said: ‘The academies programme allows for a diverse range of schools, each with its own ethos.’

Mr Gove said today that interest in creating free schools had come from a ‘wide range’ of groups.

Guru: The Beatles with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, were one group to benefit from the spiritualist's teaching

Guru: The Beatles, with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, were one group to benefit from the spiritualist’s teaching

The nature of the process is to help encourage innovation, he said.

The Education Secretary was speaking on a visit to King Solomon Academy in west London, an all-through school for three to 18-year-olds, where he was joined by education experts from the United States.

The visit came ahead of a Free Schools conference in London tomorrow.

Among the US visitors were Joel Klein, former chancellor of New York City Department of Education, and Josephine Baker, executive director of the District of Colombia Public Charter School Board.

US charter schools are run independently of the traditional public school system, tailored to meet their community’s needs, and the movement has helped inform the coalition Government’s plans for free schools.

The Maharishi School in Ormskirk will be part of the first batch of education secretary Michael Gove's free schools

The Maharishi School in Ormskirk will be part of the first batch of education secretary Michael Gove’s free schools

The US education experts warned today it was important free schools are held properly accountable, and are able to get rid of weak teachers where necessary.

Mr Klein said: “One of the lessons I learned in eight-and-a-half years is the need to have reasonable processes in place for terminating non-performing and under-performing teachers.

‘Every child is entitled to a good teacher.’

Mr Klein added: ‘It’s easier to prosecute a capital punishment case in the US than terminate an incompetent teacher.’

Ms Baker said charter schools are judged by their achievements, and if there is a teacher not meeting pupils’ needs then it is down to the schools to dismiss them.

The Beatles’ yogi’s teachings of spiritualism set to continue at first of Michael Gove’s free schools | Mail Online.

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