Tag Archives: being an artist

Sculptures blast a hole in the spacetime continuum

I’ve had a tiger by the tail, trying to get to the point of actually doing this Peter Pan sculpture. I agonised over the question whether it will be worth the space and time it takes up. Sculptures can’t be filed away in 2-D like a canvas. They are 3-D, in your face, have weight and breadth and depth. They are an expensive embarrassment if bad, a logistical problem and a sales problem even if good. And, as my own responses in Melbourne recently tell me only too clearly, even a ‘good’ sculpture can leave the viewer quite unmoved. A sculpture needs to be remarkable, 3-D startling, arresting, relating to us in the 3-D world they inhabit. I’d like mine to be climbable, playable with, at least for children. I’d like dynamism, moving parts perhaps, using water in some way perhaps. Or wind, or fire. Fountains, firepits, pizza ovens, play platforms, rideable, climbable, slide-downable, adorable – something! Plus dramatic, rousing, aspirational… haunting…

So hard has this been for me to fit into my weary already-overstuffed world of mainly social shoulds and maybes and onedays, that I found myself last week migrainey – something I had almost disappeared from my repertoire of responses.

And yesterday watching some Youtube videos by artists, I suddenly got the novel idea of going right back to basics – being me, the artist/thinker/dreamer/mystic, and just doing creations by myself, for myself as self-mentor, self critic, and self-muse (without excluding the possibility that if I actually do this, some ideal mentors, critics and muses might actually appear and help me in my quest! But I’m not holding up anything any more waiting for these ideal Godots… after all, I’m lucky enough to still have a wife who loves me enough, and now knows me well enough, to not try and stop me from the mad path of art, and a brother likewise, who from time to time gets inspired enough with one of my ideas to offer me some money to follow the mad hare a bit further down the rabbithole…). So I’m trying to idea out – Dreamspace as the Peter Harris gallery and studio and workshop.

The great thing now is to not follow too many trails at once, and starve like that donkey (not Balaam’s ass but… Aesop’s? No, Wikipedia says it was Jean Buridan’s, a deterministic philosopher in the 14th Century) between not just two but multiple piles of hay… There are too many Peter Harrises, all saying, ‘Be me!’ I must make a round table for us all, sit us down, and come to a consensus… a priority list. We only have one body to inhabit… We are pretty sure though that we should ‘dig our own treasure pit’, stop trying to also open up others’ pits, to teach them, inspire them, enlighten them, at least not directly as a teacher. If others are inspired or taught by what I produce, paint, scupt, or write, good; if not, never mind. I will have made a statement, put my message and last testament in a nice green bottle of art and cast it upon the human sea. That will feel good.

Watch this space for an actual sculpture – or two! I will scale up the simplest model I made first, then the more complex one several like best. Who knows, it might just pay the rent this month, and next month who knows what doors it might just blast open?

2 Comments

Filed under art, artworks by Wizard of Eutopia, being an artist, sculptures in progress, theory of art

Art and babies: epicentres of disruption

Hi friends who may still be following here! I’ve been away in http://www.dreamspace.nz the gallery and workshops in Gisborne…and http://www.dreamhaven.nz… and the Facebook colonisations of these… I’ve been doing some sculpture ..a commission for the Captain Cook memorial…giant ferrocement gourds..hue in Maori. Now inspired by a dream and my brother’s offer of a donation, I’m doing a statue of a Peter pan figure from our epic Apples of Aeden, Quickblade.

So an artwork begins…And there’s where the DISRUPTION starts. All big art projects blast a hole in the space-time-causality continuum around them – family, jobs, timetables, miscellaneous duties… they push aside lesser values to assert their right to exist. Just like babies – only these babies are more suspect, dubious arrivals into the status quo that surrounds them. And the artist, as mother, is questioned, found guilty of wanton disregard for the careful hierarchy of values that makes up respectable life. Money, or the lack of it, is usually brought up as exhibit A for the prosecution. Irresponsible procreation with no visible means of support is the verdict.

And yet, there it is: the the mother has given birth to this new thing, this awkward artefact to be fitted into their universe. Later, if it is well accepted, the judges will pay belated respects to the artist…perhaps erect a monument in his memory.

Such is normally the outward path of the ser

ious artist. Only the rich inner life of creation of a beloved child, sometimes with the help of friend muse or grandchild – as here! can compensate for the uncertainty, the rejection and criticism, the poverty..

Happily, every now and then he receives a commission that pays well…usually a ‘safe’ project such as these hue. But safe projects do provide respite for the plotting and gestation of more daring works. 🙂 That’s about where I’m at right now. A good space to be in, however insecure.

1 Comment

Filed under art, artworks by Wizard of Eutopia, being a grandfather, Dreamspace Gallery, John Harris, sculptures in progress

What is Art and why do it?

For about fifty years I’ve asked this question, off and on. Maybe I’d have done better off just to DO it, but… ‘the philosopher is strong in this one’.

moe 4295 CROPPED

So, ‘Art’ was one thing I found very slippery to define, so I kept worrying away at it, even while I avoided doing it. (Acknowledgements required: When I was a Christian I found Hans Rookmaaker’s ‘Modern Art and the Death of a Culture’ helpful in allowing me to do at least a bit of art while still shackled to the evangelical imperative; and more recently (though I am not an Ayn Rand disciple) the ‘Romantic Manifesto’ by Ayn Rand. Her argument that art is the expression of a sense of life obtained through a philosophy of life is very clear.  Also (though I find Schopenhauer’s general attitude and pessimism hateful) ‘The World as Will and Representation’ has some good things to say about art as a means to ascend through the vivid perception of the particular to be the ‘pure, will-less, painless, timeless’ perception of the transcendent and general. And Robert Pirsig’s life-changing ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, really all about art, really did change my whole life; as did Nietzsche, despite his proto-nihilism.)

Now I feel I am brimming with answers, but mostly hungering to just do it and let the answers inform the art. Happy state, to be guarded against all that would divert this conative  energy into lesser tasks and diversions of all kinds! Narrow is the Way that leads to the enchanted land of Art… ‘O afternoon of my life! What have I not given away that I might have one thing: this living plantation of my thoughts, and this dawn of my highest hope!’ (Nietzsche’s Zarathustra)

So, while the ebook soundtracks upload for about my last ebook upload customer (touch wood), I’ll say what Art is. IMHO.

Art is being vividly conscious in the World, not on autopilot, sleepwalking, but intentional, conscious and self-conscious, and communicating something of what you sense  (see, feel, hear, taste, imagine, conceptualise, understand, intuit) when in that heightened – enchanted – state.

Or, as Robert Pirsig says, ‘Art is high-quality endeavor’.

But a precondition for high-quality endeavour of any kind is a high-quality structure of knowledge and belief, within which to frame that lucid awareness and that endeavour. This is where art can be ‘high’ or ‘low’, depending on the quality, breadth and depth of the structure of ideas in which it is set.

What has happened to ‘fine’ Art, when so much of the production of modern artists in galleries seems so ugly, silly or pointless to people who take pride in doing high quality work but would never call themselves ‘artists’?

Well, first, there is good art and bad art. Bad art is mixed, conscious with unconscious/derivative/insincere/crude/hateful even; framed within a narrow, faulty philosophy of life.

Secondly, some good art is about something bad the artist feels the need to protest/point out/ridicule/expose. So it will (partly) not feel good – there will be some discord. But good art still enchants and ennobles even while it saddens or angers. It doesn’t demean our existence, but gives us a sense explicitly or implicitly of an alternative, something good, something which is not that bad thing.

Bad art about bad things is merely rubbing our noses in badness (or meaninglessness). It’s loveless and joyless, disenchanted. There’s a lot of it about. It’s a cheap shot at life. It’s had a very, very long run, this kind of art, a century or more. Modern art of this ignoble, shameful kind should be refuted and banished from our galleries by total lack of sales (and replaced with good art sold with a good conscience), but modern philosophy (I mean the philosophy which is approved by the zeitgeist and therefore the universities) has no means to refute bad art or anything else bad, since it has itself become corrupted, by materialism, nihilism and relativism. Bad art is the offspring and creative expression of bad philosophy, and both together have presided over the gradual disintegration of the foundations of our civilisation. The Emperor of our culture is clothed in the filthy rags of its bankrupt father, the philosophy of materialism, relativism and nihilism.

The reason I love Art is because I know there is such a thing as Quality, such a thing as Good, such a thing as Truth, and I love to see those things shining through the particulars of things as portrayed in art.

Love, Beauty, Truth and Freedom, honoured in a coherent philosophy, and in word and deed, will at least set the stage for good art. Then we have to Just Do It. Whatever form it takes, in galleries or architecture or writing or everyday life. The final aim of Art is the  ‘re-enchantment of everyday life’. All of it.

Now that would be a Renaissance worth painting for! That’s the kind of art I will do while the sun still rises and I am still here to greet it. Here at the Quarry Arts Centre, probably, I hope. It’s a Good Place to be at, this afternoon of my life! Once I was a young man, and I worried about what to do when I grew up; now I am grown up, and I realize with Zarathustra that the final ‘metamorphosis of the spirit’ is to become the Child again, but with full powers of understanding and experience.

A final point, about Freedom, that controversial precondition for the truly creative artist to do his or her best art. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra says the the ‘reverential, weight-bearing camel’ of the spirit must become a lion:

‘My brothers, why is the lion needed in the spirit? Why does the beast of burden, that renounces and is reverent, not suffice? To create new values – even the lion is incapable of that: but to create itself freedom for new creation – that the might of the lion can do. To create freedom for itself and a sacred No even to duty: the lion is needed for that, my brothers.

…’But tell me, my brothers, what can the child do that even the lion cannot? Why must the preying lion still become a child? The child is innocence and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a sport, a self-propelling wheel, a first motion, a sacred Yes.’

(Of the Three Metamorphoses of the Spirit, from ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’, translation by Walter Kaufmann)

So, a last unscientific postscript on art: it is the way we must go to become truly free, and ‘become what we truly are’ (Nietzsche again) – creative, playful, childlike, transcendent, godlike. Of such is the republic of Art and Eutopia.

1 Comment

Filed under Love, Love Beauty Truth and Freedom, musings by the wizard, philosophy, the Quarry Arts Centre, theory of art