What does art mean to you?

What is art? What does it mean to you? These are some of the thoughts I wrote down a few days ago when I was asked to reflect on these questions (by Anastasia Azure):

Art is making that expresses meaning and intention, questioning, exploration, attention. It does so by representing, by abstracting, by simply celebrating its own being. It can create or discern meaning, or even say that there is none. It springs from the longing of the artist to recreate in another way what is seen, heard, felt, thought, eaten, worn. It asks questions and sometimes suggests answers. It can break and mend your heart, transform your thoughts, make you want to dance or be still.

rusted groyne

A handmade bowl can be a beautiful vessel for soup in the mind of the cook and an expression of grief for the destruction of the oceans in the mind of the artist. Yet another person sees nothing but that it is beautiful and places it on a shelf to be gazed at. All these meanings are held, often in tension, in the art work.

I deeply believe that art is for everyone: that the way a person washes the dishes or makes the breakfast can be art; that art can be fleeting or solid, hidden or visible; that art not shared can still be art. I think that a child can make art; that imperfect art can be perfect, even that bad art can be good – perhaps it brings creative joy to the maker, perhaps we don’t need to judge.

I would love to know what art means to you…

Blessing prayer to begin a creative work

Arising from an online retreat, Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist, with Christine Valters Paintner at abbeyofthearts.com

coloured yarn

Jesus, born of dust, I seize the hem of your robe with fierce longing, bless my work.
Brigid, Sant Ffraid, your mantle heals the ground, brings forth growth, bless my work.
Foremothers, family, your creative spirits burn in my hearth, bless my work.
Madonna, black and beautiful, mother of God, bless my work.
Beloved writers, your words wrap me in rhythm, bless my work.
Dear friend, knit to my heart by all that we shared, all that is new, bless my work.

Blessing upon fibre and fabric, wool, silk, cherished cloth.
Blessing upon loom and shuttle, wheel and bobbin.
Blessing upon warp and weft and every knot.
Blessing upon pen and ink, paper and paint.
Blessing upon devices and machines and all intricate workings.
Blessing upon these hands, this body, this mind and heart.
Blessing upon the day, the hour, this now.
Blessing upon all small things that inspire, all glimpses of joy, all whispered beauty.

May what is hidden within me emerge, shine, make its slow bright way into the world.
May my making be gift and glow.

Creative retreat

I’ve just returned from a week away with a group of artists I belong to. We do this every so often and it’s special because they are special people and the creative vibe is huge, and doubly special for me because it’s in my native Cumbria, in Grasmere.

I used the time to consolidate and develop what I learned over the last few months of Considering Weave with Jude Hill. I was travelling by boat and train and bus, so no large looms for me, but I managed to pack several little ones in my case! These are tiny weavings, just a few cms wide. I’m enjoying working at this slow, small scale. The whole Considering Weave class has been very good for me, and I’ve signed up for Jude’s ‘Small Journeys‘ to continue travelling along with her as and when I can.

In Grasmere, we had beautiful surroundings, excellent food and lots of fun, with a constant flow of ideas, encouragement and constructive critique.

The space that emerges between our perspectives is ‘dialogic space’, a liminal realm of possibilities where new ideas emerge and innovation thrives. Drawing the ideas that emerge in this ‘dialogic space’ back into our practice helps us to reinvigorate it. (Permission to Speak by Dave Camlin)

There were excursions. Some of us revisited the wonderful Allan Bank, a National Trust house where dogs are welcome, you can sit on the chairs and make yourself at home, and there is something creative going on in every room.

I went for some walks among the trees and by the river – something I do miss, living on Tiree. So much visual inspiration. So much green.

It was a lovely week.

Matt Mullican

Tiree in Your Words  is the title of the  mini-project I’m doing in collaboration with the otther Art and Social Practice student on Tiree, glass artist Frances Woodhead. There are various things we’re doing for the project which I’ll write about soon, but the gist is that we’re collecting words from everyone on Tiree who wants to participate, and next weekend we’ll hold a community event to create a display with the words we collect. This  morning Frances emailed me about an artist whose work is in the 2013  Venice Bienniale, Matt Mullican. I hadn’t come across him  before but found this video and there is so much to think about in his work.

This is inspiring us to create some artwork around our own words to be part of the Tiree in Your Words display.