Monday, 17 March 2014

A Real Website (I have business cards too!)

If you have enjoyed my posts on Blogger, I hope you will join me over on my new website: www.julie-swindel.com As time permits I will post new blog entries there and my latest paintings. Thank you all for your comments, encouragement and support. Hope to see you there x

Latest work in progress, March 2014.

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Artist as Crusader.

"Sylvia Pankhurst made paintings and wrote articles about the condition of women workers. Much of her work as an artist was connected with her human rights campaigns. Sylvia's artwork and imagery gave the Women's Social and Political Union its coherent visual identity. The WSPU is thought to be the first campaigning body ever to use design and colour to create a corporate identity, though Sylvia was not the only artist involved. She designed flags, banners and gifts for sale, and used her artistic skills to decorate halls and meeting rooms for the Suffragettes. After doing time for suffragette militancy in Holloway women's prison (London) in 1907 when she was 25, Sylvia determined to expose the realities of prison life to the press." www.sylviapankhurst.com

SELF-PORTRAIT IN PRISON DRESS
By Sylvia Pankhurst, c. 1907; in pastel and charcoal.

 Rise like lions after slumber
In unfathomable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
That in sleep have fallen on you
Ye are many, they are few.

~ Percy Shelley, 1819.


One Law for the Lion & Ox is Oppression. William Blake.

The fault is great in man or woman
Who steals a goose from off a common;
But what can plead that man’s excuse
Who steals the common from the goose?


~ Anonymous, in The Tickler Magazine, February 1, 1821.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

How we used to live.


"Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.
And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.
While poverty persists, there is no true freedom" Nelson Mandela
 
100 year old photo of destitute children.
 Last night I looked back at a poem I wrote when I was sixteen that I have always managed to keep. It was part of my coursework for C.S.E English. It was 1986. Thatcher time. Bleak times with no hope of a job. Secondary school had been an exercise in learning how to waste time and stay quiet punctuated by numerous teacher's strikes. I was fortunate enough that I had been taught to read and write by an elderly neighbour and to have received a good primary school education, as after that I learned little more in school. My secondary school was so bad my C.S.E. English teacher hadn't even realised I was able to read. I have always thought it was relevant that in comprehensive school, history lessons teach how the peasants lived (so think yourself lucky!). Conversely, public school students are taught that they are a Roman centurion and "Today you will command an army".

"I think my future is ­going to have loads of bad things in it.’ Photo: The Guardian. 2012.
The apathy I felt then is seeping in again with the current political climate here in the UK. What is the point of poetry when the uncertainty of life is pressing it's bristly back up against me and my family. The point is it can be a testament and a measure. A moment held fast as our lives forge on relentless to who knows where. The internet has given a voice to ordinary people. If we want to find an answer to why people stay in impoverished situations we should look to the psychology of the abused staying with their abuser. I do hope I live to see a solution. Everybody deserves a house with a garden.

No art today, but here are some words. I was a goth, I was a teenager, forgive me... I can't help but notice that history is repeating itself.

Waste People Basket

Overflowing apple cores,
Balancing precariously.
Crumpled papers lying useless,
Orange peel wastes away.

Nobodies slithering in the debris,
Ignored and kicked to the side.
Used up by the world, no reward.
Mouldy misfits quietly die.

Mishap teeters at the edge,
Accumulation of last straws.
Discarded litter rustles in fury.
Rage explodes all up the walls.

Scrape remains off the wallpaper,
Repeat, make do and mend.
Maggie promises better futures.
Only the chosen win.

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Suppressionist.


 I switched on the telly and I switched off. A nature programme about seasons. We are so lucky to have the variety of seasons in the UK. Lying down with a blanket, warmth, comfort. I fell asleep.

 I awoke. As I came round sentences formed like clouds gathering across my mind. I wrote them down. I went to bed.

Beep, Beep, BEEP. Life is back, time to get on. Now a blessed cup of tea. A laptop. Here are the words:

The Suppressionist

I do not do what I want to do,
I do not see who I want to see,
I do not go where I want to go.

Duty, 
Circumstance,
Me.

If there is any power in my art this is where it comes from.

I suppress, I contain, I concentrate.
The bubble bursts.

Then,
An eruption of paint,
The ferocity of a storm,
Unleashed and directed,
Down the arm.
Through the brush and out onto canvas.
Layer upon layer,
New land is formed.
On the surface,
All is calm.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Time is relative depending on your state of mind.

DON'T WATCH THIS. Pastel on paper.
  I have been feeling low and isolated for reasonable reasons: state of the world etc. but also because it just happens, unreasonably sometimes. We are all miracles retained in ludicrous impossibility. This knowledge is amazing and terrifying. Social media can help, but it is a distant connection. This morning, before the school run, I read that a fellow social media friend had plunged back into depression again. As I thought of words to send in support, an idea came to me of traveling on a train.

 When you are caught in senseless depression the last thing you want to hear is "Cheer up", even worse, "It could be worse". These casual statements, though well-intentioned are at best annoying. It belittles the experience the individual is suffering and isolates further, as it is obvious by saying these words they have no comprehension of what is being experienced, rendering the depressive more alone. It only adds guilt to how crap the recipient is feeling. They already know it could be worse and if they could cheer up they would do. So, back to the train.

 Sorrow is part of the journey of life we are all learning to ride. I think the best thing you can do is to accept there is nothing you can do and that's okay. The idea I had was being on a depression train. Stop fighting it, it will only lead to insomnia and anxiety and make the journey feel longer. It may not feel like you are moving but you are. In an emergency you could pull the red cord, but please don't abandon the train before your destination. The train will stop at a designated station, just breathe and see if you can find a window seat. Nobody knows how long the journey will be, but you may see something interesting. Even if it's just an idea gleaned from the enforced contemplation or simply more empathy for fellow life. If you cannot get to a window, try to stand in a shaft of sunlight and know that you are not alone. The depression train is full of fellow travelers. Eventually you will be able to look out and discover relativity, you will indeed "Cheer up" and the contrast of your sorrow will serve to heighten moments of future happiness. You will depart at platform "Sunshine" again.


 I have discovered two interesting things recently that have proved to be just the ticket (humour remember is important!). A delight to discover is the author Matt Haig. I received great solace through reading his blog. I have yet to read his new book, but I have just bought it with my birthday money and now I am anticipating the post. Anticipation is good. It feels alive. The other is Alain De Botton's new book on Art as Therapy. Obvious I know, but he has compiled a great resource. An analysis of Serra's 'Fernando Pessoa' can be find for free on Facebook and it helped me today. Art can serve as a map on a commute to hell and back.

  Stephen Fry's advice:

“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.

Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.” 

 

A McDonald's with a view. Oil on canvas.