Ali smith Autumn

Working from the heart

Ali smith Autumn working from the heartWorking from the heart can be a difficult leap of faith when one is on a learning curve.  At the end of 2017, after a year of studying, including  social media marketing and goal setting, I began to feel like an automaton, or, more topically, a robot.  I was feeling exhausted and soul-less.  Focus, clarity and discipline are great and necessary, and I had a wonderful year in many ways, but there is more mystery to life and its unexpected developments than we can predict.

I was also studying how to make my website work better for me.  I have had a website for many years but the current one is more complex and has much more scope.  That too involves a steep learning curve.  As for social media, I was a novice.  But how that has changed!  I am still a novice but I appreciate the personal and social advantages of these platforms and  I am beginning to understand the opportunities for promoting myself as an artist.  The feedback and sharing on social media is fabulous.  The point is that it needs to be genuine.  If the post has authentic feeling that transmits even over the web, almost with the immediacy of a phone conversation.

After months of strenuous effort in the tech department, it was therefore a great relief to discover quite by chance (in an airport)  Ali Smith’s “Autumn” a wonderfully fluid and poetic book about the relationship between an old man and a gifted child and the sharing of his rich and creative life and his love (as a young man) of an extraordinary woman artist in the 1960s.  I myself began to soften and regain a belief in intuition and chance, which are so important in creative work.

Monty Don reminded me of the importance of working from the heart again when I found (another airport discovery) his latest book about gardening, “Down to Earth”.  He says:  “gardens have to come first from the heart or they will never reach the head”…   If you are not “pleasing yourself first and foremost or you run the risk of pleasing nobody”.  I have found too when making my art work that people have an acute sense of truth, and know what really comes from the inner self and heart.   Strategy, focus and goals are undoubtedly helpful, but passion and belief and even uncertainty have to come first.

YoYo Ma, the cellist who created the Silk Road Ensemble, also says “I make everything natural and true from the heart”. .. and … “ Art is when we arrive back where we started and see this place as for the first time”.   Yo Yo Ma travels the world with his group of passionate musicians from different countries, often using a ancient instruments and traditional techniques.

By another miraculous chance, I picked up the discussion  “Only Artists” on  Radio 4 between  Toyah Wilcox and Alice Lowe last week. Wilcox and Lowe agree that (often contrary to received wisdom) for them  the instinctive voice is the right one, of far more value than the intellectual or technical. Though I would cautiously claim that the rational always has its value. Artists also often have a natural spirit of adventure and curiosity which is with them all their life.  Wilcox speaks about working with Sir Laurence Olivier and observing his extraordinary curiosity and willingness to experiment for his entire life. For the artist, she claims,  “work is why I am born”, there is  no need to justify it.

I loved the moment when she and Lowe discussed those mysterious moment of spontaneous “super-consciousness” when creativity occurs in a flash with brilliant and conclusive success..  “you’ve nailed it”.    But, as I wrote in a previous blog, these moments are really the outcome of much experience and work and processing  of ideas, even perhaps the carried-over experience of previous lives, who knows.  No wonder high profile artists are under pressure to reclaim that state of mind and do so via chemicals of various kinds, including alcohol, and/or via the their relationships.

This blog, “Working from the Heart” is at present a collection of associated ideas and snippets, which await the magic moment of superconscious synthesis!