Join me to view some new pieces from me on show at the Rabbit Room Gallery in Napier, Hawkes Bay.
Join me to view some new pieces from me on show at the Rabbit Room Gallery in Napier, Hawkes Bay.
Art is good for you – Guest post by Emma Lord
The Spanish surrealist Joan Miró said, “A simple line painted with the brush can lead to freedom and happiness.”
Dog Barking at the Moon 1952 by Joan Miró. Image credit: Artists Home
The benefits of painting and other art forms are well established. From concentration and fine motor skills to mindfulness and confidence boosting, the act of painting, sculpting, or making can be therapeutic.
I recently joined a painting class with a friend. While I have a basic foundational knowledge and experience from high school art classes, my friend has never painted before. Although we’ve only been to two sessions, there have already been a number of “wow” moments.
In our first class, my friend whispered to me, as though it was a secret, “It’s so nice!” Her usual art practice is with coloured pencils, and she was surprised at the relative speed at which she could colour the background. Her sense of happy discovery was as good for me as it was for her. In that session, we both received an injection of joyful wonder at the world and what we were capable of, a shot of satisfaction within ourselves, and a dose of appreciation for the power of colour to affect us.
“This is just playing for you,” our tutor said, watching me apply paint to the canvas for my background, before I knew what the painting would be about. The comment made me think of drawing with crayons, and that always gives me a little thrill of joy. For me, using crayons and paint really is a form of play, and that is something most adults don’t have nearly enough of in their lives. And you don’t have to be a ‘good’ artist to experience this. In fact, it’s precisely because I have no aspirations to produce great work that I am able to treat art as play. That’s the “freedom and happiness” Miró was talking about.
But it’s not just the act of creation that can soothe and enliven us. The presence of art in our environment is vitally important to society, and can have a powerful effect on the individual.
For the past two weeks, the Hastings Community Art Gallery on Russell Street South has hosted an exhibition celebrating the first decade of the David Fine Scholarship, supported by local collective Iwi Toi Kahungunu. David Fine played an important role in forming the Arts Centre, securing the the gorgeous Harvey Building as a designated art space, and creating the Hastings District Community Arts Trust. After his death, the Trust established the David Fine Scholarship in his memory. This ten year anniversary show of the recipients’ work drew me back again and again during its two-week showing.
Many of the works on display, especially those from Iwi Toi artists, were an exploration of heritage and identity. This is something that always fascinates me. New Zealand’s colonial history has created (and still creates) a great deal of pain and division. Yet within nearly every New Zealander, whether Māori, early European settler, or more recent immigrant, is a combination of
Living here means being ‘of’ here. I whakapapa to the mountains and rivers of my tūrangawaewae. I whakapapa to the journeys my ancestors took to get to New Zealand. I whakapapa to the distant and varied countries they started in. The knowledge of this connection to the land, and therefore also a connection to other people of that land, gives me a greater sense of belonging in this world. And belonging is good for us.
One of the two scholarship recipients for 2019 is Toimairangi student Moana Munro. Her artworks particularly stood out to me as she combines iconic imagery from Māori visual arts with hints of Australian Aboriginal painting techniques, designs and colour palettes. The high-contrast landscape background of the painting below reminds me of my hometown. The way the stylised figures interact seems to represent the way I feel about the painting.
At the top of the stairs, presiding over all of the other work, was a painting of a tuatara by Wairarapa artist Sam Te Tau. I fell in love with him immediately. I say ‘him’ because
You are present, appreciating what’s in front of you. You connect with the artist, who may never meet or know you, and the artist’s influences, colours, shapes, ideas… this connection is
A big thanks to Emma for writing this post. If you have an art related piece of writing that you think would be of value to my audience. Get in touch.
In her own words
Emma Lord is a work in progress. She loves learning, creating and sunshine. She lives in Hastings with her cat Galileo.
I was lucky that Cait from Fabricate Magazine thought of me and got in touch. I wouldn't have known about the exhibition otherwise.
Loving the idea of the show and have contributed a small sampler. See below.
An exhibition of historical and contemporary New Zealand textiles.
I've always been intrigued by samplers and have wanted to do one of my own for so long. I let myself play with this piece not really worrying about the end result too much. That's the beauty of a sampler for me it's a working reference piece it doesn't need to be a finished art-work. So I let it be that.
Have you ever stitched a sampler? let me know below.
I hope that this might spark you to think of your best reads of 2017. Did we read some of the same books?
Growing up we went to the public library frequently. I have my mother to thank for this and my father was a great reader too. I'm endlessly grateful for being introduced to books and seeing my parents read. I can't imagine not having a book on the go. The only time I can remember not reading every day was just after my son was born. It took me a few months to have the energy to do anything other than just getting by. But man I missed it!
When I read time just disappears. I think this is called being in the zone or something. Unfortunately reading itself is not a career. You have to do something with it to make a living from it. For years I've worked in libraries on the basis of a love of reading. That's right I'm that cliche.
Unfortunately, librarians have very little to do with reading in their daily work. I have known many librarians who don't even enjoy reading. Personally, I question if they are in the right job but hey we all end up in interesting places and stay for various reasons.
I read a variety of things and currently being a school librarian I spent a lot of time reading young adult fiction. Generally, I find contemporary fiction bores me as I like to use reading as an escape. I'm not very interested in reading about the current world we live in. I have to deal with that every day... But of course, when I force myself to read it I normally get something good out of it.
Without further ado. In no particular order, here are my top 5 books of 2017
I've never read a book in verse before but man this one was a good place to start. What a fast-paced read! We journey down an elevator with the main character as he has a ghost of Christmas past experience. Every stop brings a new piece of information to aid his decision, to avenge his brother gang death or not.
“ANOTHER THING ABOUT THE RULES
They weren't meant to be broken.
They were meant for the broken
― Jason Reynolds,
Everyone loves a good heist and I'm no different. I loved the Grishna trilogy so getting to delve back into this universe was awesome for me. If you liked Oceans 11 you might want to check this one out.
Fantasy, Magic, Crime, Heist
“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”
― Leigh Bardugo,
I loved this for so many reasons. It really made me think of my prejudices and what I can do to become more aware of them. The story is the fall out after Starr watches her childhood friend be fatally shot by the police.
racism, family, prejudice, America
“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”
― Angie Thomas,
There is a bit of swearing in this book. Personally, I don't mind a bit of cussing but everyone is different so thought I better mention it. A Science fiction future that seems very possible with a lot of black humour equals an excellent read. I've wanted to pick up a John Scalzi book for ages after really enjoying fuzzy nation years ago. Now I want to read everything he's written.
Science fiction, space, humour, politics
“I’m continually confronted with the human tendency to ignore or deny facts until the last possible instant. And then for several days after that, too.” Attavio”
― John Scalzi,
I picked this up because I loved her other books. It's the story of a librarian who joins an expedition to help a neighbouring city (the lost city of weep). We uncover what happened in this city's past and the issues they are dealing with currently. Gods, strangeness and egos. Oh my!
Gods, dreams, fantasy,
“I turned my nightmares into fireflies and caught them in a jar.”
― Laini Taylor,
Please please read this right now. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the 3rd instalment. It covers so many things but really it's about ethics, morality and mortality. Big themes and questions about right, wrong and power?
“Therin lies the paradox of the profession,' Faraday said. 'Those who wish to have the job should not have it...and those who would most refuse to kill are the only ones who should.”
― Neal Shusterman,
I'd love to hear about what you're reading. Leave a comment below.
I’ve been struggling with my motivation for many years, I was actively making make work but my consistency was lacking and the meaning behind it changed quickly. I couldn’t figure out why I kept changing direction until I watched this TED talk from Simon Sinek. Hello! I didn’t have a clear direction because I didn’t know where my motivation came from. Simon’s video really resonated with me and since watching that and reading his book I’ve been trying to articulate my why.
Finding your why is very useful to everyone, not just artists.
As an artist I have gotten very familiar with what I do but not why I do it. I felt like a lot of whys were being put on me by external sources. Artist’s need to figure out why, how and what they do to make their work otherwise there is no collective feel to their work. I’ve been missing this motivation and searching for it.
Growing up I reacted to my parents’ criticism by not feeling good enough. I created this drama cycle in my head where I struggled to make good decisions about my life because I didn’t trust myself. The feedback loop was “you can’t make a living being a creative person it’s not enough you’re not enough” I kept trying to give up art because I could see no future in it.
Cue sadness, I’ve never been diagnosed with depression so don’t feel comfortable making claims in that direction. However, I do suffer from anxiety and went through a very difficult time after having my son. Parenting is really hard. The number of times I ended up at the doctor in tears… well there were a lot. The advice was always the same, you need to rest but you can’t get it because you have a young child and not enough help. When western doctors tell you to practice mindfulness it can make you stand up and listen. I really appreciate not being given a magic pill but mindfulness is a long road. Worthwhile but really long.
Well, some of this drama is real. It is very hard to make a living as a creative. What would have been more helpful as an internal dialogue would be something like? “You might have to work a job that is just a job while you pursue your art career and that’s ok. There is no shame in having a day job. Actually, it can take the pressure off your more important work”.
Two books that have helped me get out of my slumps over the years.
The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte
I’ve worked away at this for years. Things really don’t happen overnight for me. The struggle is real. But now that I’m in a more positive headspace and trying to put a lot more mindfulness and self-care into my daily routines. What I realised is for me the thing about my art that thrills me when someone buys my work is the connection we share. The piece spoke to that person about what it depicted to them and me. The common threads that we all have that unite us.
I want my work to break my cycle and help others by sparking conversations about the connections between us myself and them, them and others. All of us and our relationship to the subject matter. It seems so obvious now but it’s been a really difficult idea to get down into words. So many of the conversations I have seem to be about things which divide us, I’d like my work to be able the things that connect us.
My current version of “my why” is on my about page
To encourage people to look closer at their surroundings so that, together, we see that more connects us than divides us
It’s taken many many tries to get to this and I think I might have finally hit it on the head. I’m not 100% that I’ve written it perfectly so I might tweak it after sitting with it for a while. What I’m really happy with is that I might have figured out the why behind my why. Haha, it’s like going down a rabbit hole.
This is groundbreaking for me. I can now choose my subject matter with greater ease because for me to see the connection between myself and others in something is all I need. I also know now that things which have repetition but variations are easier to start these conversations. Sometimes we don’t see the connections until we see something a few times. So how I choose the subject for my drawings and art makes sense to me and how I make my art also ties into my why. What I choose to make also comes under this umbrella. It all aligns once you have your motivation.
It also makes it easier figuring out how to talk about my work and find people who are interested in it.
A website I found useful for working out my why. Go check it out and follow the suggested steps.
Step one: look to your past and search out that connection between moments when everything felt really awesome. Write down the common threads
Step two: write down a “why” that is about other people. Use Simons template and then mix and match it to make it yours.
Step three: get into a positive head space to live and find your why. For me, this was an essential step and I when I started to write down my why statement I couldn’t really get there until my mind was in a better place.
Step four: revise your why until it feels just right. Don’t worry once you have your why the what and how just comes naturally.
That’s it, four steps to finding your motivation.
for me the thing about my art that thrills me when someone buys my work is the connection we share
Please let me know what your why statement ends up looking like.