Sunday, 16 September 2012


Not so much painting work going on at the moment, though I have been doing some bits and pieces. One of my main strands of activity seems to be eddying around the delight of my new viola - recently acquired after trading in the previous one that I never played. It's glorious. There's something about the lower register that seems to slow me right down, naturally, in the way I've been trying and so often failing to do with the violin. You don't have to try to be fancy on a viola, at least, so it feels to me. It just is itself, in a wonderfully rich, slow way...

This week I've also been very privileged to be part of the Ecstasis workshop at the MacRobert arts centre. This was a fascinating experience, brilliantly facilitated by Mark Storor and Shona Reppe. Ecstasis is part of a larger festival, and is intended to be 'a music-film-art party that will transform Macrobert into an other planet':

Ecstasis is about getting out of yourself, which is what we do when we dance or get drunk or see great art.  It's the rapture of self loss, the happy escape from what people think we are, or what society wants us to be.  The change can be for a moment or, like in epiphanies, it can be a permanent realisation or change

This is the first time I've worked with a group of mixed artists on an external project, although the way we worked together to generate material was so similar to the May Discipline of Freedom workshop that it felt quite familiar. It was such a joy to be part of an embodied, doing kind of thing, after all those years of disembodied, cerebral groups. I've nothing against those groups in themselves, it's just that for me they were a kind of slow death. Each to his own. I feel so blessed to finally be with my own.

It's an amazing opportunity. For two days we explored experiences of ecstasis; of being removed in some way from our normal sensory engagement with the world. At the end of the second day we were taken through the spaces that will form the ecstasis journey for festival participants, and began to generate material. Can't wait to be a part of this on October 6th.

Re the 'not much painting going on at the moment', I'm beginning to wonder if I've had a very one-dimensional approach to this vast unrolling thing that is creativity. What if it's not that I've been 'blocked' at all (at least in the last two years...) but that I've simply been refusing to limit myself to one activity, despite all the cultural pressures to do so?

After all the decades of alienation from contemporary arts practices, an irritation with the focus on the conceptual, a belief that I was not remotely interested in performance, I suddenly find myself standing on this huge new plain. The impossibility of resting only with painting now seems obvious. Perhaps it was not lack of belief or discipline, but a refusal to limit myself to one dimension of expression. And, until recently, no model, no examples, of what multi-working might look and feel like...


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