Monthly Archives: October 2015

Transcript of part of Grayson Perry’s Reith Lectures on art

And the outrageous gestures of the path quite often become merchandise quite quickly. In 1960 Yves Klein, the French conceptual artist, did one of his most famous performances – which was outrageous at the time – called Anthropometries, where he had these nude models and he painted them with blue, his famous blue paint, and he printed them onto canvasses to make artworks. And this was quite a thing at the time. Now, if you go onto the web and you look up loveisartkit.com, ( LAUGHTER )you can buy a kit which includes body paint and canvas and you, according to the strapline on the website, you can make art while you make love. ( LAUGHTER) So radical art of the 60s has become a kind of messy play lifestyle accessory for the Fifty Shades of Grey generation. ( LAUGHTER)

 

And some sort of die hard avant-gardists are quite upset about the way that these throwaway gestures that were so radical have become commoditised and precious. I mean serial sort of boundary trampler, Brian Eno, the musician, he was a bit upset with the way these radical works become sort of normalised, I suppose. So when he saw Duchamp’s famous fountain, the urinal, which sort of kicked off the whole idea of anything can be art really – he saw it was on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York – he rigged himself up this thing. He got a little bag of urine in his suitand some plastic tubes coming out the bottom like that, and he sneaked up to the case that had a little slit in the side of it, he said. This was the last chance he thought to do this and he fed this tube through and he let the urine flow into the urinal. And when afterwards he was interviewed about it, he said, “Well a buzzword at the time,” he said, was “decommodification of art”, so he thought … what he called his action was “re-commode-ification”. ( LAUGHTER )

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Matthew Collings

Matthew Collings with Patrick Heron

“ The subject matter of a painting is the least important thing “ he said “ You apprehend it immediately but it’s the last thing you want to dwell on. And you can’t look at anything without moving your eye. Try it! The eye goes to this point to that point to that point. And the stuff of that is rhythm. And a robin springs from branch to branch but each move as a perfect starting point and a perfect ending point. It’s exactly the same with painting.” I congratulated him on a good an appropriate metaphor for the visual mechanics of his paintings and he agreed it was indeed a good one. “ How about some champagne? “ he said, “ I think it’s worth it – don’t you? “

Derek Walcott

LOVE AFTER LOVE

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Wendell Berry

HOW TO BE A POET (to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down. Sit down. Be quiet. You must depend upon affection, reading, knowledge, skill — more of each than you have — inspiration, work, growing older, patience, for patience joins time to eternity. Any readers who like your poems, doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath the unconditioned air. Shun electric wire. Communicate slowly. Live a three-dimensioned life; stay away from screens. Stay away from anything that obscures the place it is in. There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence. Make the best you can of it. Of the little words that come out of the silence, like prayers prayed back to the one who prays, make a poem that does not disturb the silence from which it came.

Pablo Neruda

Poetry by Neruda

 

And it was at that age … Poetry arrived in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where it came from, from winter or a river. I don’t know how or when, no they were not voices, they were not words, nor silence, but from a street I was summoned, from the branches of night, abruptly from the others, among violent fires or returning alone, there I was without a face and it touched me. I did not know what to say, my mouth had no way with names, my eyes were blind, and something started in my soul, fever or forgotten wings, and I made my own way deciphering that fire, and I wrote the first faint line, faint, without substance, pure nonsense, pure wisdom of someone who knows nothing, and suddenly I saw the heavens unfastened and open, planets, palpitating plantations, shadow perforated, riddled with arrows, fire and flowers, the winding night, the universe. And I, infinitesimal being, drunk with the great starry void, likeness, image of mystery, felt myself a pure part of the abyss, I wheeled with the stars, my heart broke loose on the wind.

 

 

 

Antonio Machado

LAST NIGHT AS I WAS SLEEPING

Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt – marvellous error ! – that a spring was breaking out in my heart. I said: Along which secret aqueduct, Oh water, are you coming to me, water of a new life that I have never drunk? Last night as I lay sleeping, I dreamt – marvellous error! – that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures.
Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt—marvelous error!— that a fiery sun was giving light inside my heart. It was fiery because I felt warmth as from a hearth, and sun because it gave light and brought tears to my eyes. Last night as I slept, I dreamt—marvelous error!— that it was God I had here inside my heart.
Antonio Machado

 

 

Mindfulness

“Restore your attention or bring it to a new level by dramatically slowing down whatever you’re doing.”
Sharon Salzberg

 

“Mindfulness has never met a cognition it didn’t like.”
Daniel J. Siegel

 

“Mindfulness meditation doesn’t change life. Life remains as fragile and unpredictable as ever. Meditation changes the heart’s capacity to accept life as it is. It teaches the heart to be more accommodating; not by beating it into submission, but by making it clear that accommodation is a gratifying choice.”
Sylvia Boorstein,

 

“[Mindfulness] is not concerned with anything transcendent or divine. It serves as an antidote to theism, a cure for sentimental piety, a scalpel for excising the tumour of metaphysical belief. ”
Stephen Batchelor

 

“We use mindfulness to observe the way we cling to pleasant experiences and push away unpleasant ones.”
Sharon Salzberg,

Thomas Merton

“Frenzy destroys our inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

“One who is content with what he has, and who accepts the fact that he inevitably misses very much in life, is far better off than one who has much more but who worries about all he may be missing . . . the relative perfection which we must attain to in this life if we are to live as sons of God is not the twenty-four-hour-a-day production of perfect acts of virtue, but a life from which practically all the obstacles to God’s love have been removed or overcome. One of the chief obstacles to this perfection of selfless charity is the selfish anxiety to get the most out of everything, to be a brilliant success in our own eyes and in the eyes of other men. We can only get rid of this anxiety by being content to miss something in almost everything we do. We cannot master everything, taste everything, understand everything, drain every experience to its last dregs. But if we have the courage to let almost everything else go, we will probably be able to retain the one thing necessary for us— whatever it may be. If we are too eager to have everything, we will almost certainly miss even the one thing we need. Happiness consists in finding out precisely what the “one thing necessary” may be, in our lives, and in gladly relinquishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed.”
“The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men!”

Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry on art….

“There are other measures of quality that I find funny. Philip Hook, who works for Sotheby’s, says red paintings will always sell best, followed by white, blue, yellow, green and black. But, and we are coming to the crux here, there’s one thing about that red painting that ends up in Sotheby’s. It’s not just any old red painting. It is a painting that has been validated. This is an important word in the art world and the big question is: who validates? There is quite a cast of characters in this validation chorus that will kind of decide what is good art. They are a kind of panel, if you like, that decides on what is good quality, what are we going to end up looking at? They include artists, teachers, dealers, collectors, critics, curators, the media, even the public maybe. And they form this lovely consensus around what is good art. I did a pot once, called “Lovely Consensus”, and I put on it, written in a decorative way, 50 names of collectors and galleries and exhibitions that I might be in, almost like the perfect CV. One of the names on the pot was a very famous collector called Dakis Joannou, and he saw the pot, bought it on the phone while he was looking at it in the Tate Gallery. So that’s a little tip there for artists. Write the names of famous collectors on the side of your work.”

“Cynics may say that art is only an asset class and that it has lost its other roles now; that the main reason that art exists any more is that it’s this sort of big lumpen load of cash sitting on the wall. The opposite arguments are that it’s art for art’s sake and that’s a very idealistic position to take. Clement Greenberg, a famous art critic in the 1950s, said that art will always be tied to money by an umbilical cord of gold, either state money or market money. I’m pragmatic about it: one of my favourite quotes is you’ll never have a good art career unless your work fits into the elevator of a New York apartment block.”

Thomas Merton

“One who is content with what he has, and who accepts the fact that he inevitably misses very much in life, is far better off than one who has much more but who worries about all he may be missing . . . the relative perfection which we must attain to in this life if we are to live as sons of God is not the twenty-four-hour-a-day production of perfect acts of virtue, but a life from which practically all the obstacles to God’s love have been removed or overcome. One of the chief obstacles to this perfection of selfless charity is the selfish anxiety to get the most out of everything, to be a brilliant success in our own eyes and in the eyes of other men. We can only get rid of this anxiety by being content to miss something in almost everything we do. We cannot master everything, taste everything, understand everything, drain every experience to its last dregs. But if we have the courage to let almost everything else go, we will probably be able to retain the one thing necessary for us— whatever it may be. If we are too eager to have everything, we will almost certainly miss even the one thing we need. Happiness consists in finding out precisely what the “one thing necessary” may be, in our lives, and in gladly relinquishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed.”

“We are obliged to love one another. We are not strictly bound to ‘like’ one another. Love governs the will: ‘liking’ is a matter of sense and sensibility. Nevertheless, if we really love others it will not be too hard to like them also. If we wait for some people to become agreeable or attractive before we begin to love them, we will never begin. If we are content to give them a cold impersonal ‘charity’ that is merely a matter of obligation, we will not trouble to understand them or to sympathize with them at all. And in that case we will not really love them, because love implies an efficacious will not only to do good to others exteriorly but also to find some good in them to which we can respond.”