Monday, January 26, 2015

Short Walks in Summer

Just a short article today. Because so many of us still seem to be in the throws of winter, at least if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, I thought that it might be nice to share with you a few of the videos that I took last summer and have only now gotten around to sharing on YouTube. 

There are three short videos of my daily walks, where I can relax, unwind, see the purpose and fulfilment of the natural world. Not everyone is lucky enough to experience these small, but precious moments, but I hope that this series of videos, all now available on YouTube, will bring a little of my world to you.

Perhaps this coming Spring/Summer/Autumn I may well get out there and take some more. Sometimes you have to be aware that it is a gift to be alive.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Fixed Perspective

Illustration: Fixed Perspective 1 by John Hopper, 2015.

If you type perspective into google the first definition you get is that of the practical perspective , as in 'the art of representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface'. However, the second definition you get is the one that serves this article today, and that is 'a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something'. Other definitions of this second idea of perspective give such words and phrases as 'a mental view of outlook', 'to self review', 'the ability to consider things', all of these are invaluable possessions to own when considering your own perspective on the world and on that of your fellow humans.

There are many ideas about human perspective, and even more about the uniqueness or not of individual perspective. One idea is that you have a fixed character from birth, that all of the characteristics that make you 'you' are set rigidly at birth and from then on there is no real change, apart from minor movements and shifts here and there. Another is that your character is in flux, amenable to change until you reach adulthood, once that is reached, your character is set rigid and that is you for the rest of your life. There are others, but they tend to run along the same lines.

Illustration: Fixed Perspective 2 by John Hopper, 2015.

What is interesting is the number of times that you come up against the idea of a fixed perspective, a form of denying growth, change, movement even, and more disturbing still, the number of individuals who believe without questioning that this must be so. Personally I do not believe in fixed perspectives. Life is about experience and that experience blends and mixes with your individual perspective, changing it, maturing it, allowing it to see so much more than you were ever taught to believe was out there, if you allow it to of course.

Part of the problem with so much of the human world today is that we are taught that perspective always has to be hard, controlled, and inflexible. You hate an individual or a group of people because they have a different perspective than you. You value your own perspective, but you feel that they do not value you and yours, even though you may know nothing at all about their true perspective, only that which has been fed to you by others.

Illustration: Fixed Perspective 3 by John Hopper, 2015.

The only way that we will ever get past this seemingly stuck period of intransigence is by embracing diversity. There are so many viewpoints on each pertinent issue on our planet, that the powers that be, including the media, can only see two versions, 'their' way and the 'wrong' way, is a tragedy set to continue as long as we allow them to captivate the perspective of us all, rather than allowing ourselves the dignity of our own viewpoint on the world and its issues.

The creative community is a great example of diversity, empathy, understanding, and tolerance, which in many cases is probably why it is consistently marginalised by mainstream society. However, it is the job of all of those directly and indirectly involved within the creative community to show that same diversity, empathy, understanding, and tolerance, to the world and to our fellow humans. So they don't get you, so they don't understand where you are coming from, they don't understand why you bother with creativity in the first place, that is their perspective. Smile and be tolerant of that perspective.

There is always room for change, always room for growth, it can come from a slow accumulation of moments, or it can come in one instant revelation, and it doesn't matter whether you are twenty, fifty, or eighty. Life is a constant journey of revelation, of petals falling from your eyes, comprehending more and more of life as you grow older. Never let it be one where your view of life becomes diminished, harder, more intransigent the older you get. Never limit  your life view, never fix your perspective so that you cannot adapt and offer more. Life can be good if you have the right perspective.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Inspirational Issue 2 is Published!

Today sees the launch of issue 2 of Inspirational. This issue features the inspirational and aspirational work of: India Flint, Sarah Purvey, Deidre Adams, Meredith Woolnough, Sue Hotchkis, Karen Gubitz, F. E. Clark, Jonathan Fuller. Each artist has an article written by me, which looks at how each individual creative perceives the world around them and within them, and then how that is projected on to their creative work.

This second issue comes about due to the enthusiasm and support of all those who bought and championed the first issue, including the artists, and for that I will always be truly grateful. For this issue I would like to thank all of the eight artists for their genuine and heart-felt support, I really couldn't have done it without them.

Inspirational has been purposely produced in downloadable format for two main and valuable reasons, firstly that it should be instantaneously available to anyone on the planet irrespective of where they are geographically, secondly this format does its bit in helping to save some of our precious trees from ending up as paper.

Inspirational is in PDF format so that it can easily be opened and read either on a computer using Adobe Reader, or through a tablet using a PDF app. All of this information and more is available on the dedicated Inspirational page where issue 2, as well as 1 can be reached, purchased, and downloaded from HERE. Alternatively, the dedicated Inspirational page can always and easily be reached by going to the tab marked 'Inspirational Magazine' at the top of this page, directly under the ttb-inspirational banner heading.

Although the price is in UK currency, any and every currency is automatically accepted and converted without you having to do anything but click.

Please enjoy this second issue of Inspirational. It has been a lot of hard work, but has definitely been something I believe has been worthwhile doing. 

The next issue of Inspirational featuring a new set of inspirationally and aspirationally unique artists and their perspective will be on sale in March 2015. Details of the eight artists that will be featured in issue 3 will be released shortly.

Also be aware that Inspirational issue 1 is still available and will always be available, as will issue 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on.

Thanks again for all of your support for this Inspirational project, it has been great to see this come to fruition and I look forward to the year ahead and the issues that will be released over that year.

Have a wonderful day.


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Inspirational, The Textile Blog, and the EU VAT Law

I was going to write about something else entirely today, but there seems to be a level of justified confusion both inside and outside the EU as to the new EU VAT law that came into force on January 1 2015. It seemed a good idea to clear up some of that confusion, particularly as to how it effects your purchase of Inspirational and any other instant downloadable digital product on The Textile Blog.

From January 1 all instant downloadable digital products that are bought by members of the EU are eligible for the VAT tax set at the rate of the consumers country, not the sellers. Valid proof of the customers country of residence also has to be supplied, in order to calculate the VAT percentage, not all EU countries have the same level of VAT. These are aspects of the new law and are not voluntary. 

I now use Payhip as my e-commerce provider as they are fully conversant with the new law. Therefore, if someone does buy a digital product from me, and they are resident within the EU (except the UK), they will be asked to supply their postal address, and will then have to pay a VAT charge on top of the asked for price. The VAT fee will depend on what percentage their country has set for VAT.

I must make it clear that I do not see any of this VAT charge and I will also have no record of your postal address. The VAT fee is taken by Payhip at the sale and sent directly to the UK HMRC where it is then sent to the country of the residence of that particular customer.

I would also say that VAT can only be charged for EU customers. None of this applies to any of my customers who live anywhere else in the world, they will not be asked to supply a postal address and will certainly not be charged VAT. The same applies to all UK customers, they will not pay VAT on any of my goods and will not be asked for a postal address.

What more can I say? This is a terribly thought out law and nearly as unwieldy as the EU itself. You can't help thinking that it was thought out by a bunch of politicians with little imagination, little idea of how e-commerce works, and certainly with little contact with the contemporary world.

I am loathe to add this VAT burden on to my site and I do apologise to all of my EU customers. If I could ignore it I would, I have spent many hours trying to find a way around the law, but unfortunately it is the law and I am not keen on being chased around by various European tax offices for flouting the law. We can only hope that the system is soon set for a rethink.

Thanks for your patience and your continued support.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Good and Fortunate 2015 to all

It is that time of the year in which to wish all of you a good and most fortunate new year. 

Many people start the new year off with excitement and promise. Life will be different, more adventurous, less busy, more constructive, less frenzied, the lists are usually endless and there is of course a unique perspective for the coming year for each of the seven billion individuals who face it.

Many people start the new year with resolutions, with intentions of breaking old habits and instituting new ones. It gives an impetus to an intention of a new focus, a new projection of faith in a new carved path, or the reinstitution of a long cherished path half forgotten. Setting up goals or setting up timetables for change are a great way to focus, to say out loud to yourself and others, that your intention is good, that your intention is honest, and that your intention is achievable.

Of course this is also a time of year that is notorious for the breaking of those resolutions, intentions, and new habits, often within the first week of the new year. They collapse for a number of reasons, the euphoria of the moment fades and the perception of 'reality' sets in. Often resolutions are ridiculed or belittled by others, often those closest to you. Often the intention was only ever meant as a half-hearted attempt to be part of the communal moment of new year, with no real purpose behind it. 

So is there any point in making new year's resolutions? I suppose it all depends upon the individual. I don't personally see why you have to wait until new year to set a resolution, why not make one in March, or September. However, setting intention at this time of year always has to be a good idea, though not the only one. The end of the old year and the beginning of the new helps focus intention. What do I want from this coming twelve months? What will be different this time next year? How will my perspective grow and where will my life path take me?

Life is of course full of endless possibilities and of course because of that it is also full of endless choices. How you move through life depends upon those choices. Unfortunately, so many choices are made for us, or we are made to feel as if we have no choice, no decision in whether we go this way or that in our life path. However, life paths are extraordinary things, it is amazing how many times they seem to veer off track and then slowly come back to centre again. 

A choice of youth that was dismissed by those who should have known better, often reappears in later life. Creative art in particular is often a subject that is dismissed without a thought. So many young people are guided into careers and jobs that will give hoped for security in a world perceived as insecure, regardless of the life path they might have chosen for themselves. I am always heartened by so many older individuals who take up creativity in later life, they got back to where they should have been, and that is the important point, doesn't matter how long it takes you to get back to your true path, your true intention, you got there eventually. The more we expand the creative arts world, the better off this world will be.

Life is about choices, and choices follow paths. Get those choices synced up with your life path and you are on your way. Trust your instinct, your heart, your soul. It knows which way is best for you and it knows why you are here and what you need to do while you are here. 

I wish you all well with your intention throughout 2015. This is an important period in our history, it is one of great opportunity and part of a great awakening for which the creative arts have their vital role to play. Each and every one of us involved in whatever form within the creative arts has a focus and an intention to make the world a better place. Stick with that intention throughout 2015 and we'll be going places.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Inspirational Issue 2 is on its way!

Illustration: The cover of issue 2 of Inspirational, January 2015.

It is about time to let everyone know that issue 2 of Inspirational is on its way. There is a definite release date of January 14, 2015, and from that date there will be an issue every two months after that, issue 3 will appear in March 2015 for example. 

If you are as yet unfamiliar with the eight artists that will be featured in this issue, they are textile and dye artist India Flint, the ceramicist Sarah Purvey, the textile and fine art painter Deidre Adams, the embroidery and visual artist Meredith Woolnough, the textile and embroidery artist Sue Hotchkis, the fibre sculptor Karen Gubitz, the fine art painter F. E. Clark, the glass and environmental artist Jonathan Fuller.

I always hoped that the Inspirational project would find a good home and be accepted as the unique project that it is. In many ways, this is not so much an extension of The Textile Blog, but is in fact an extension of the personal writing and perspective of John Hopper. That I am beginning to come out from hiding behind the banner of The Textile Blog may be a relief to some, worrying to others. However, this is part of my journey, but it is one that I definitely wish to share with others. 

Illustration: Mosaic of the eight artists featured in issue 2 of Inspirational, January 2015.

I have spent the last few years building up The Textile Blog, along with its facebook, twitter, google+, pinterest, and tumblr outlets, helping to be as much a facilitator and motivator within the creative arts as I could. It was certainly not an ego trip, nor any form of self-aggrandisement on my part. It just seemed the right thing to do, for the right reason, at the right time.

I am a great believer that we all have our own personal and unique perspective on life, that we see the world from our own centre, but I am also convinced that helping to share those unique perspectives helps us to understand each other, and the more we understand each other the safer and more connected will be the planet. 

I firmly believe that the sharing of the perspective of creative artists in particular, is an important step towards a better future. The creative arts community tends to be one that is by nature supportive, inclusive, non-judgemental, inquisitive, conceptual, expansive, enthusiastic, and a ton of other descriptions, which I am sure that you could easily add. We are on the whole a positive, optimistic group that can see better ways towards the future than the ones we see around us, and that can only be a good perspective for all of us. 

Illustration: The cover of issue 1 of Inspirational, October 2014.

This is the framework of being in which I perceived the idea of Inspirational. It was to be its intention and it was why it was launched out into the world. I admit to being cautious at its launch, but soon became emotionally overwhelmed by the reaction to the first issue. So many people were kind, generous, supportive, and enthusiastic. If there had ever been any doubt that a second issue would be delivered, the reaction I received put those doubts to rest. 

Above all, Inspirational is not a magazine as such; it is a continuing portfolio of unique perspectives. Each issue highlights not only the work, but the space that each artist inhabits. The individual, how they view the world, and how that view becomes represented in their artwork, is the purpose of Inspirational. Therefore, each issue is and will always be available as a standalone portfolio of eight artists and that is why I will always make sure that all issue are available to anyone who wishes, or is interested in those eight artists.

Lastly, I want to thank all of the artists that have been featured, and are about to be featured, they have all been generous supporters of the Inspirational project; it couldn't have been achieved without their enthusiastic help. I firmly hope and believe that some of you out there reading this article about the second issue of Inspirational may also appear in a future issue. I want to be able to highlight and promote as many individual and unique perspectives out there as I can.

Thank you, as always for your time and your generous support, it has always been most welcome and endlessly reciprocated.



Monday, December 15, 2014

The Interstitial - the Space Between Spaces

Illustration: The Space between Spaces. Photo by John Hopper, December 2014.

The Interstitial or interstice is often described as being 'of the space between'. Many see it as being a very practical explanation of the small voids that can be found between forms, and is used a lot in biology. It is even used in our contemporary online world, denoting 'an advertisement that appears whilst a chosen website or page is downloading', but probably the less we say about that reference the better.  

Sometimes it is good to be given a word like interstitial, just in order to play with the meaning. What can be meant by 'the space between', or perhaps better still, what can we ourselves get from the meaning. Should we be looking at the empty space between areas that are full of physical matter, or should we perhaps be looking at the space between spaces? It can all quickly become confusing, or at least wrapped up in conceptual thinking, but sometimes that can be no bad thing.

Creative thinking, which is what conceptual thinking is all about, is the lifeblood of the creative arts. Taking away boundaries, whether placed there by individuals or a culture, allows ideas to expand across the horizons of constraint. Dissolve those constraints and your perspective on the world around you becomes less, rather than more complex. The universe becomes intimate, understandable, interdependent, harmonic, infinitely balanced.

Illustration: The Space Between Spaces. Photo by John Hopper, December 2014.

Get into this perspective and suddenly the space between space actually makes sense. There is a whole world of meaning and understanding that inhabits what some would see as dead space, Those that are comforted by the the ideal that there is a material world and nothing else, see their environment as a place of the tangible, the easily identifiable, the sensory, the practical; to imagine a place between those absolutes would seem incomprehensible, a fancy even, but ultimately this is a truncated view of the world around us and life itself. There is so much more to living than what can be measured with a meter rule.

The creative arts are full of individuals who can recognise and inhabit the interstitial. Artwork is often produced in these spaces, areas of being that just are; moments that are thoughtless, calm, unhurried. These are uncluttered spaces where time has no meaning, where the mind rests, and the soul drifts. Deepok Chopra says that for him the definition of the soul is the space between thoughts, and in the context of the subject of this article, that makes a lot of sense.

Whenever I walk in nature, I always recognise that there is a defined stillness that lies beneath the busyness of the practical material life. Beneath the constant drone of insects, birdsong, the rustling, and cries of animals, lies another space, one that has a depth and stillness to it. The same can be felt on a busy High Street, it is much more difficult to recognise beneath the sound of traffic, the banging of construction work, the constant chatter of people, but there it lies, a stillness that is age-old, it is the space between, it has always been there and always will be. 

Illustration: The Space Between Spaces. Photo by John Hopper, December 2014.

Whether you want to see this space as the essence of the universe, the calm form of consciousness, or just the poetic ramblings of the writer, it is fair to say that it is a space ideally formed for creativity. It is a place that so many of us go to when we are just sitting and staring, doodling, playing with ideas, a place we can be where we don't have to think, and that can be a great place to be, imagined or not. 

One last moment before I end, there is such a phenomenon as interstitial art, and that is defined as art whose nature falls between, rather than within, the familiar boundaries of accepted genres of media. I know for a fact that there are many of you out there who fit well into that category, or lack of category, I should say. Long may it continue to be so.

Further reading links: