Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Inspirational Newsletter

Just to let everyone know that the first Inspirational newsletter will be going out on Friday (April 17), so you still have time to sign up in order to see this first newsletter. This particular premier newsletter gives you the chance to be the first to get to see the list of eight new artists that will be featured in the coming issue 4, as well as the cover, publicity material for the artist concerned, and a section of text. It will be a week or so before I start releasing publicity for issue 4, which will be on sale on May 13.

Anyone who signs up for the newsletter feature will also be told when each issue is released, so that you don't miss your chance to buy a copy.

This newsletter will now be a regular feature, but I have no intention of bombarding you with information in your email boxes. This is purely to let you have some insight into all oncoming issues, as well as a reminder when the release date comes along. So you can rest easy in the knowledge that if you do sign up for the Inspirational newsletter, you will only get two emails per issue.

I hope that you take advantage of this offer, it is genuinely and generously made. I am very excited about the line up of artists for issue 4, but it is hard knowing that I can't tell anyone who is being featured yet, but at least for those who do sign up for the newsletter I will be able to let them know on Friday!

The newsletter signing in page can be found HERE

John X

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Seventh Anniversary of ttb

This week sees the anniversary of the start of The Textile Blog way back in spring 2008. Ttb is now in its seventh year, and although every spring I am surprised that it has lasted another year, and every spring I think that perhaps it is at last time to lay the ttb to rest, move on to other projects, other vistas, new horizons, it is still here! 

Ttb has spread itself across aspects of the internet, particularly social media, which is why you can see the ttb badge on twitter, facebook, google+, tumblr, pinterest, youtube, haven't quite managed to sort out instagram yet though. I am a big fan of the purposing of the internet, of allowing it to develop as a connector of humanity, of continually emphasising the positive and the constructive, as a born optimist I can't do otherwise. Your life path should be about projecting and magnifying the positive, not the negative, call me naive, but that is my perspective on the world in this lifetime, and I'm sticking to it!

Although ttb is now in its seventh year, has a back catalogue of articles, and a clutch of books penned by me, I have not stood still. I loathe standing in one place too long, ticking over, I get itchy feet and need new challenges. One of the new challenges I started recently was the Inspirational magazine. A project that was started in October 2014 and has now become an important element of ttb. I believe it has given the site a new emphasis, a new direction, and a new zest to both myself and ttb. It's a lot of hard work, I write, edit, publish, and promote each issue by myself, but I think that it is an important project for me as an individual and for my own creative pathway, but I also think that it is an important project for me to put out into the world, and I believe that it adds value, and that is important to me, to add value to the world, to promote the positive, when so many feel compelled to promote only the negative, it has to be worth it.

In many ways, Inspirational is my way of celebrating human creativity, of projecting the thoughts and ideals of the artists featured, and to be fair, of myself. I have covered twenty-four artists in three issues, with another eight to be released in issue 4 on May 13 2015. I like to think of the artists as my Inspirational tribe, though I am sure they think otherwise, but that's OK. Who knows I might get them all onto a beach somewhere on the planet one day and we'll have an Inspirational party :)

I have also started rolling out the Inspirational newsletter, the first one should be due out in the middle of this month. It will give those who sign up a chance to see who is going to be featured in the next issue of the magazine, some publicity material, perhaps even a glimpse at some text, long before it is released to the public. For issue 4 there is a really interesting mix of individual artists and disciplines, quite a lot of colour this time round as well, so quite excited about that!

This seventh anniversary is not so much a celebration as more a marker of where I am myself at the moment. Ttb has taken on much more of a personal character over the last year or two, more than I ever intended when I started it back in 2008. In many ways, I hid behind the fa├žade of ttb, for a long time few were aware that there was even an individual attached to the site, but times have changed and now I am more than happy for people to know that ttb is actually just me, that's John by the way :) 

For a long while I tried to make ttb separate from myself, not to include me and my beliefs, perspectives, ideals, but that can only go so far before you run out of steam. At some point you need to start injecting your real passions, the things that drive you, the things that make you want to change things, that make you want to wave your flag from the hilltop and celebrate what makes your world work for you.

So as people will have noticed, the posts on ttb have become much more personal, much more reflective, more acute, focused on personal passions of mine such as nature, creativity, our unique and individual perceptions and perspectives of our inner and outer selves, and of our connection to all and everything. Not to everyone's tastes or inclinations I understand, but it is where I have to go, so what can you do, but go where you need to go.

So what about this coming year for ttb? Well, there will be more Inspirational magazine issues, one every two months of the year and into 2016 at least. I will be releasing at least two new books, one with the working title of 'Can Artists Change the World?' which is kind of self-explanatory, as in can artists make a positive, constructive contribution towards a better future for humanity, that would be yes by the way, but I don't think I'm spoiling it for anyone by saying that. Another working title 'The Ghost in the Machine' is to be about our connection, disconnection, and eventual reconnection with nature. I also want to put some of my photographs of nature together in some form of book project, suggested recently by a reader of the ttb actually, though not quite sure what form that will take yet. I have a few other interesting diversions in the pipeline, including the grand sounding role of international judge for a fiber art show later in the year, now that seemed to pop up from nowhere, but often it works that way as you know.

If anyone wants to sign up for the new Inspirational newsletter, getting the information for issue 4 of the magazine before anyone else, as well as to be reminded of release dates, then please feel free to sign up - Inspirational newsletter, no pressure, but it would be nice to give you all a chance to see each issue as a work in progress.

And that is definitely it. A heartfelt thanks to all and everyone who has supported ttb in any possible way over the last seven years, and to anyone who will do so in the future. Each gesture of support is one more positive step in the world :)

Thank you

All Love

John X

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Coming of Spring and the Continuing Cycle

Illustration: Spring daffodils by John Hopper.

Well spring is here for some, autumn/fall for others. The change of seasons is always one of those markers of life, it reveals to us the seemingly eternal cycle of endless beginnings, and no more so than the coming of spring. Spring gives us our renewed faith in the rebirth. The cold stillness of winter, the withdrawing of the natural world into a seasonal sleep, reminds us that everything needs a rest period, a time to take stock, to recharge batteries, ready for the next step in the path of life, like taking a breath in in order to breath back out again.

It is interesting that our contemporary world has become fixated with the ideal of life as being a straight line, despite the obvious expression of nature. Somewhere on our modern line we have designated a beginning point, a birth, and a little further down that line is another point, which is meant to denote the end of life. We are all tagged with dates in brackets after our name, we have our birth year, a dash, and then our death year, simple, effective, but at total odds with the way we actually see and experience the world.

Illustration: Spring catkins by John Hopper.

When looking at seasons, without looking to see what number the year is, all we can really see is part of an endless circle. We see spring come around, only to be followed by summer, autumn/fall, winter, and then we are back to spring. So we start off at one season and end up back at that same season, endlessly. So where has the line gone? If we remove the line altogether all we really experience is a world of endlessly recurring loops, cycles that interact and intertwine with each other, that we are part of that complex intertwining seems obvious, we must surely be integral to the whole.

By measuring time with an external measuring stick, rather than with our own inbuilt and long-term sense of time, we have become disconnected from the world, disconnected from the cyclical life of the planet, and in that respect we have become either a willing or unwilling dysfunctional component of the whole. We have stepped out of real time, creating an artificial one that we stubbornly cling to despite the obvious dysfunction.

Illustration: Spring gorse by John Hopper.

There was a time, to be honest for most of the history of our species, where the seasons were our most fundamental basis of life, it was our measure of the travel of life around the great circles. Every aspect of our planet was seen to have these cycles of life, whether they were a tree, a mountain, an ocean, a bird or a human. The cycles might well have been different in duration, but they followed the same pattern as the seasons, you were born, you travelled around your circle, came back to the beginning, and then died.

Of course that also means that everything within the great complex of cycles is born, dies, and then is reborn again, just as in the seasons, in a seemingly everlasting celebration of life. To see life and time as a circle rather than a straight line, is to understand the fundament of life, to not see it that way is to miss the point of life and the interconnection of that life with everything else. To imagine that we each have a sole, lonely lifeline that goes from a to b and nowhere else, to not understand the connections you have with all other life forms, no matter how different from your own, to not understand that you are part of the great loop of continuing life, that you are not separate from it is one of the greatest tragedies of our modern age, and leads directly to our misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and ultimately our betrayal of life on the planet.

Illustration: Spring primroses by John Hopper.

Only by understanding that we are part of this great cycle can we expect to reconnect with the rest of the planet. In order to be able to overcome our present dysfunction we need to be able to see the connections that are everywhere on the planet and beyond. The most obvious revelation of that great cycle with its endless connections is of course the passage of seasons. It could be said that the seasons give us that rich understanding for how life really is lived on the planet, rather than how we have measured it to be.

The seasons are in some ways like the ritual form of life. We see birth, death, and rebirth a number of times through the years of our lives. It is the celebration of this ritual of cycles that is important and it is something we should definitely take as being a much more fundamental part of those lives. Although a handy guide for us, it is ultimately irrelevant whether we are in the sixteenth century, the twenty first, or the forty third, the planet and its complex pattern of life forms spins through its cycles over and over again, unconcerned and probably unaware of our dating methods, as long as the cycles continue that is all that really matters.

Illustration: Flowing water in spring by John Hopper.

So anyway, I suppose what I am trying to say is spend a little less time locked into the straight line of the human calendar, and open up a little more to the cycles of the planet. Watch yourself as well as the life around you change as the seasons change. Enjoy being part of the cycle, seeing your life and the experience of that life as part of the whole. See it as a celebration of the machination that is the planet and ultimately of the universe. The cycles are endless, life is endless, therefore you are endless.

John X

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Creative Life and the Work of Martin Ebrey

Illustration: Martin Ebrey. Moby Dick.

Running along on the general theme of the Inspirational magazine, inspiring and aspiring others, I thought that it might be nice to feature one of the many artists that have recently come into the creative arts. 

Many of these individuals come into the creative arts for a range of reasons, running from redundancy and retirement, restlessness and disillusionment with the norm, to seeking new and better horizons, a way of becoming the authentic individual that they always knew they were meant to be.

Illustration: Martin Ebrey. Archangel Orifiel.

Many come from strictly non-creative backgrounds, though to be fair there is little in our lives that cannot be counted as creative in some form or another. Many have no formal training, many in fact have never been near an art college before. However, that is not necessarily a good or bad thing, it often depends on the projection and perspective of the individual. Many creative individuals thrive in a collage environment, but on the other hand, many do not. To me, it is a personal choice on whether you take that road or not, and you shouldn't be judged either way as to that decision.

Anyway, today we are featuring the work of the artist Martin Ebrey. Martin is a mixed media artist who specialises in textiles, although as with most mixed media artists, certainly not exclusively. Martin has a truly energetic and eclectic style, pulling in inspiration and reflection from many avenues. Each piece of his work is like a many-stranded story, all told through the medium of reclaimed fabrics, vintage jewellery, buttons, driftwood from the local beach, stories, observations, sentiment, and insight, all are meaningful and all have purpose.

Illustration: Martin Ebrey. Blackbird.

Martin was until recently a teacher, but because of health issues had to abandon that career, so he started another one. He bought a sewing machine and has never really looked back. Along with his partner John, also a teacher, they have formed Ebrey Decorative. They produce and sell mixed media artwork that shows a sophistication and sensitivity well beyond their relatively short period in the wonderful world of the creative arts.

I think that it is important to be able to highlight the lives of individuals like Martin. These are people who have become drawn to the creative arts, some simply, others in extraordinarily complex and circuitous pathways, but they all end up at the same place. Whether you are a newly graduated individual in your twenties, a career switcher in your forties, or a retiree in your sixties or seventies, professional or amateur, it matters little. What does matter is the enthusiasm, the positivity, the focus, and the inspiration you give others, these are the important markers of your individual path towards a creative life, and they are markers that only you can make and only you can understand. 

Illustration: Martin Ebrey. Summer Stream.

It is always important that you tread your own path within the world of the creative arts, but it is also extremely important that you try to help others along your way. To be creative is not, as many believe it to be, a selfish choice, but is in fact one that is selfless, it is showing the life that should be led, one that is supportive, cooperative, reflective, thoughtful, compassionate, the complete opposite of what we are often told is the real norm of us as humans, to be confrontational, to be singularly motivated to the detriment of all others, quick to judge, slow to forgive.

If more and more individuals are led to this wonderfully dynamic and energetic world of creativity, then the world can only become a better place. The expansion of artistic creativity through such individuals as Martin is vital. For communities across the planet to understand through example that to be an artist can be the norm, rather than the exception, is one of the most important of steps. 

Illustration: Martin Ebrey. Miss Haversham.

So to me, the real expansion of this precious world of the creative lifestyle, one in which Martin has now made his home, is one that needs to be encouraged and fostered as a norm, rather than as a puzzling alternative. The more individuals who are happy and content within their creative careers, the more examples we have to show that there is a different and better way to see the world than the one we were handed as the perceived norm.

That is why I have taken on the project of Inspirational, and that is why I decided to feature the work of Martin on ttb. Life is changing, the creative arts population is expanding, becoming more complex and inter-dimensional, constantly bringing in more and more practitioners into the community, from so many avenues of life.

Illustration: Martin Ebrey. Atargatis, the First Mermaid.

I am sure that we all wish and support Martin and his partner John in leading the best of lives, having the best of creative perspectives, and the best in happiness, and contentment in their life within the community that is the creative arts.

Martin and Ebrey Decorative have a great visual website at Ebrey Decorative as well as a comprehensive Etsy shop 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Release of Inspirational Issue 3 is Here!

Today sees the release of issue 3 of the Inspirational magazine. This issue is a bumper one as it is more than twice the size of earlier issues with over twice as many pages, 157 as opposed to 75 pages, and more than twice as many colour photos, 151 as opposed to 70. It also has, on top of the eight articles featuring the work of artists, an extra article entitled Artists and Nature. 

When you say that you are going to release issue 3 on March 12 it is always difficult to decide when that will be, as different people experience the date at different times. So, rather than wait until I in the UK get to March 12, I have decided to release it a few hours early as some of you are already at the date, and it only seems fair that if I want this magazine to be a truly international experience, rather than local or regional, I should be aware that we live in a world of different time zones, a circle of continuing life, of getting up and going to bed, which is a nice way to think of it.

Illustration: Sample of the inside of issue 3 of Inspirational.

Anyway, this issue features the work of eight new artists, some of whom you may be familiar with, others not, but each and every one have vision, perspective, and a dynamism in their work and character that makes them truly inspirational and so worth finding out more about if yuo are unfamiliar with the names.

The eight artists featured in this issue are in order of appearance, mixed media artist Wen Redmond, textile and mixed media artist Gizella K. Warburton, painter and visual artist Karine Leger, ceramicist David Brown, textile artist Caroline Bell, basketry artist Matt Tommey, mixed media artist Annie Coe, mixed media artist Christine Mauersberger.

I hope that you will enjoy this issue as much, if not more than you have enjoyed the other two issues. It was written for you as much as it was for the artists. We are all involved in this inspirational and aspirational creative world and if this magazine can help to highlight and expand that world, then it has done what it has set out to do.

Illustration: Sample of the inside of issue 3 of Inspirational.

This issue, as well as issue 1 and 2, is available for purchase from the Inspirational Magazine page, either follow the link just given or press on the 'Inspirational Magazine' tab just below the ttb-inspirational header at the top of the page. All details on how to purchase, and how to view are included on that page. 

Issue 4 will be released on May 13 2015. If you would like to sign up for the Inspirational project newsletter, to keep yourself updated as to what is happening next as far as new artists, new articles, new release dates, please join the Inspirational mailing list

Thank you all for your most generous support and enthusiasm for this project, it would be nothing without you. It has been a lot of hard work to get this project off the ground and each issue is a journey in itself, but knowing that I have that support out there is precious an lifesaving. Till the next issue.

John XXX

Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Artist and Nature - Ambassadors of Connection

Alongside the eight regular articles featuring the work of contemporary and inspiring artists, I have decided in issue 3 of the Inspirational magazine, to add an additional feature article concerning the artist and nature. I have been wanting to start adding extra articles alongside those of featured artists since the first issue, but have only now had time to do so.

Anyone who has followed ttb, Inspirational, or my social media platform will be aware how important I see a good perspective on nature towards the heath of the creative arts. It is one of the major themes of ttb and I have never made any apologies for such, nor will I.

To me it doesn't matter where you are on the planet, you have access to the natural world. You can be deep in a forest, or deep in a city centre, high on a mountain, or at the edge of an ocean, all should be equal and all should be touchable. Everything in and on the planet is ultimately about perception and the perspective you give to that perception.

All is very much rooted in and on the personal, from moment to moment. We all see the world around us coloured by our lifestyle, by our expectation, by our history, and by our emotions. The world we see through these and more prisms, is the world that is our own definition of 'real.'

But how do you see the world, truly see the world from your standpoint, the space that you inhabit on this planet, from moment to moment, during this present lifeline?

To be a creative artist is to often have an acute sense of perception, particularly when it comes to the natural environment. Nature is in the blood stream of all of us, it is in our essence, in our past, and in our direction of the seemingly yet to come. But it is often the artist that gets to explore that essence of nature that flows through us all, and it is often the artist that can project that understanding of the importance of nature towards the rest of humanity.

Artists often sit within the realm between worlds, they are the connectors between human and natural worlds. Despite the fact that we humans are part of the natural process, part of the planet and its structure and life stream, it is sometimes difficult to understand that particularly when we are within our artificially created shell, difficult to understand that we are in fact a part of the whole, not apart from the whole.

The human species needs ambassadors of connection, now more than ever, which is what the contemporary artist of today is and should be. We are reminders of the ongoing real, as opposed to the transitory real, we are the reminders that the relationship with nature is the primary one, not the secondary, but above all we are reminders that the natural world is not a material asset, not an adventure park, not even a meditation zone, it is the beating heart of the planet and it echoes our own beating hearts.

We are forever enmeshed within the planetary system, to forget that is to forget who and what we are, so it makes perfect sense for the creative artist to be the reminder. It is a job worth doing, and it is one that has a vital role to play in the unfolding of our future as a species, and that is one of the main reasons why I have made the additional article available to all readers of issue 3.

Issue 3 of the Inspirational magazine, with the additional article 'Artist and Nature' will be available from March 12 2015.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Celebrating Multi-Discipline Artists

Illustration: The work of the 24 artists featured in Inspirational issues 1/2/3

Since starting the Inspirational project last year, I have been lucky enough to connect with twenty four artists that have been featured in three issues. That is pretty good going in its own right, but what has intrigued me most, and has caused me to celebrate the fact in this article, is the number of artists who have taken it upon themselves to expand their creativity beyond the limits of their own discipline, which would be the one they studied for, or started in. 

In so many cases I have come across artists that have made decisions to move their work forward by incorporating different disciplines into their work method. This could be anything, depending on the main focus of the artist, but often includes photography, ceramics, fine art painting, print, natural dyeing, the list is a long and varied one, sometimes surprisingly so. 

There is also an interesting enthusiasm for using a wider range of raw materials, including the recycled and the thrown away, the natural, the manipulated, and the engineered. Many of these materials are not sympathetic, or expected, they are rarely the norm for the disciplines of the artists, yet the artist still feels a strong call to expand their world of creativity. Why?

A lot can be said for the work of those artists who have taken to teaching their skills and their mindset to others. There are many artists who now teach for segments of the year, not only practical skills, but teaching of the natural expansion of creativity into other areas of work, and how that can help to enrich perspective, and the road to artistic individualism.

Another influence has to be the growth of the internet. The net is barely into its third decade, google wasn't founded until 1997, facebook in 2004, pinterest in 2010, but already it has had an enormous influence on the amount of information that each individual has at their fingertips. The creative artist is particularly well suited to this phenomenon as much of the internet today is visual in nature. Never before have we been able to see so much artwork in one place at one time. 

The increased interconnectedness of the net allows us to share, discuss, praise, support, and celebrate individual artists, as well as the community in general. It allows us to highlight work, to cross-over work, to connect between, over, and through disciplines. It allows us to become familiar with artists that use the term multi-discipline as a true moniker, rather than someone who 'didn't quite fit'. Multi-disciplined artists are quickly becoming the norm, and for that we should certainly celebrate.

There is also a general feeling, particularly amongst, but not exclusive to younger artists, that it really doesn't matter anymore. It doesn't matter what you call yourself, or what others call you. It doesn't matter if you use textiles, ceramics, glass, metal, wood, stone, or if you use all of them at once. That to me is a particularly healthy place to be, healthier still is that no one seems to care much what the purity discipline experts have to say any more.

Creativity should never be about purity, never about historical accuracy, and certainly never about non-contamination with other disciplines. No discipline should ever have to have walls put up around it to protect it from the contemporary world, do that and a discipline becomes an historical enactment and nothing more.

To me, all disciplines should be coaxed into areas that are unusual for them, perhaps even uncomfortable for them. A creative artists life is about the excitement of exploration, of cross-pollination, of what can be done with their own perspective on the world of creativity, regardless of the rules. That is all anyone can ask for and all anyone should expect, and I for one am celebrating that fact. Happy mixing everyone! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Workbox Magazine, TTB, and the Art of Mutual Support

I was kindly asked by Workbox magazine whether I would agree to be featured in their March/April issue. I said yes of course, and here we are being featured, John Hopper and ttb in that March/April 2015 issue. 

For me it is an opportunity to help spread the message of what I am trying to do through ttb, the Inspirational magazine, and me as John Hopper the individual, for the magazine it is an opportunity to highlight an aspect of the contemporary creative world, giving a window to that rich complex, but endlessly creative world that they are helping to represent.

This opportunity to form a connection between myself/ttb/inspirational and Workbox magazine made me think about connections in particular and in general. It started me thinking about all of the mutually beneficial connections and support mechanisms that I have been involved in, and how they have managed to change my life.

I am not talking about financial or business connections and support, I am talking about mutually beneficial personal connections and support within the creative community. I have been lucky in finding so many individuals within the contemporary creative arts community that we all find ourselves in, individuals that are genuine, open, compassionate, thoughtful, understanding, and above all fully supportive of each other. 

That can be hard to find in our world where it is still considered the norm by many to step on others before they step on you. Many still see the individual as all that matters, that support groups are a form of weakness, that tolerance and understanding are irrelevant. However, things are changing and the former perception of me, myself, and I is gradually beginning to break down, to be replaced by the infinitely preferred we.

The internet is doing much to shift focus from the I. Although many still use that particular platform to spread the word about themselves at the expense of others, there are many more that are forming groups, communities, as well as mutual support between individuals that are not based on single egos, but on the mutual support of all. 

We live in a world where for perhaps the first time, we are in a position where we are all able to help to foster a feeling of genuine support for each other, even in small ways, a gesture, a smile from one side of the planet to the other, a 'good morning', a 'how are you', a 'thank you'. Most of us will never see each other face to face, but that's OK, we don't need to if we know that we are always there.

A mutually supportive network, a framework of connectivity is something that we as humans need and should be able to deliver. More specifically, we need one for the creative arts world. Many artists or would be artists struggle by themselves, feel cut off, abandoned, starved of positive creative conversation. Those who feel an aggressive antipathy towards the creative arts are not generally the most supportive of voices, and there are still a lot of them out there and they can be needlessly hurtful and dismissive.

The art of mutual support must be seen as an ongoing process. We have entered a century that can be seen as dark and forbidding, with complex and seemingly endless problems. However, we could also see it as a century of potential, of a growing together as a community, of the final laying aside of the ego in favour of endless connectivity. 

These things don't happen overnight, you have to put intention out there for change, but change can happen and there seems no reason why the creative art community, a community known for its tolerance, understanding, expansive thoughtfulness, compassion, and support, cannot lead the way. It is through mutual support that we help change, that we begin to unglue the codes of the selfishness of the lone ego, and start creating a much larger world, one more celebratory, one in which we can all grow and flourish, not just the few. 

I thank Workbox magazine for helping to give me the chance to expand connections, it is much appreciated. Visit the Workbox magazine website, where a sample of the March/April 2015 issue can be found, including the feature about yours truly, the site can be found HERE

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Nature is Everything, and Everything is Nature

Illustration: Lilly Jacker. Detail of a costume, 1928.

Nature is everything, and everything is nature. What do I mean by that? 

Nature is the world, there is no other world but the one we live in, and all of its elements no matter how artificially derived, have compounds that are part of that planet. There is nothing on earth that has not been home-grown, that is not part of the process of life on the planet, no matter how remote from nature it may appear to be, and no matter how many fantasies we roll out in our urban enclaves that appear to separate us from the rest of the planet. 

Contemporary technology for example, is a great addition to our lives, and I for one would be bereft without it, and I certainly would not be able to connect with you all out there without it. I think that the future of technology has the potential to link us all to the greater good, but let's not fool ourselves into believing that our mobile technology has somehow arrived fully formed without having any contact with the planet. They are all made from elements of the planet, its ores, its chemicals, its life cycle processes.

I don't wish to belittle us as a species, we have achieved much through a haze of, at times great difficulty, much of it our own making I would add, and although we are set on a path to eventual maturity, that path to maturity will have to entail stepping back and realising that we are an integral part of the planet that we sit on. Part of that maturity would be admitting that we as humans put the elements of our world together from the already existing world, we always have, and as far as we know, we always will do.

We move elements and raw materials around to suit our needs. We build our shining towers, our hermetically sealed apartments, our almost sealed lives, but we never seem to connect that all of this doesn't just appear, we cannot grasp something from nothing, we cannot wave magic wands and our technology and lifestyle artefacts appear from thin air. They are all rooted within the planet, we bring them into their present form, but from the raw materials that the planet supplies. It would be like saying that I as a human baked a cake, but that I didn't need any ingredients from the planet. I might vindicate myself, swagger in a whirl of self-pride, but I would still eventually have to admit eventually that there was no cake. We cannot create the fantasies of our urban lives and pretend there is no connection with the planet.

No matter how remote the material may seem, all derives from the planet. Plastic is based on an element of the planet, glass is derived from sand, metal has to be dug from the earth, many of our drugs are based on the plants that grow across the planet. In many ways we should be looking at our TV's, our cars, our aircraft, phones, computers and saying "you are of the earth, the same as me". 

I am not going to get into the issue of what we are doing to the planet in order to get those raw materials, that is not what this article is about. It is also not about what happens to materials such as plastic once they come into being. It is about understanding that our human world, no matter how artificial it may appear sometimes, is rooted in the life of the planet, it is not an aesthetic world divorced from the natural world, it is the world, and with that understanding it becomes self-evident that we are enmeshed in that same world. If we don't make that connection then we will not be able to move forward in our path.

There is often the case put forward that the planet would be better off without us humans, and I can understand the reasoning, but the reasoning is also flawed in one vital element. It implies that somehow we are not natural to the planet, that we are outsiders that have imposed ourselves onto the system. We may not be acting naturally, certainly not for the betterment of all lifeforms on the planet including ourselves, but that doesn't mean that we are not just as much part of the lifeblood of the planet as every other creature that inhabits it with us, and it is a mistake to believe that because we are estranged from the planet at this juncture, that that will always be the case.

Perhaps when we begin to understand that we belong, that we are rooted within the planetary system, will we begin to understand our role in its life, when we begin to understand that we have not been separated from the rest of the planet by the will of deities, history, or character, then we will be able to move forward into our true destiny.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The First Hint of Inspirational 3

Illustration: Cover, minus artist names, of Inspirational 3

Here is the first look at the cover of issue 3 of Inspirational. I have purposefully left off the names of the eight artists that will be featured in this upcoming issue, you will see why a little later on.

With this future set of eight artists I will, counting all three issues together, have featured twenty four contemporary artists that in my opinion are both inspirational and aspirational. I personally think that that is pretty good going considering that all aspects of the Inspirational project/venture has been personally done by myself, that includes writing, editing, graphics, the actual putting together of the magazine, publicity, selling, and so on. Contrary to what some may assume, I do not have a ttb team, it is just me, my keyboard, and my unbounded enthusiasm for the creative arts :)

This is by no means a chance for me to show off, far from it, but I do want to make it clear that what I am trying to do can be done by others. We live in a world now where we are not constrained by what cannot be achieved, but are entering a much wider world of what can be achieved, and that is important. No longer are we constrained by the stranglehold of the few, those that held the reins of power for so long, allowing so many truly talented and struggling artists to live in the negative; the creative scene is now so much more fluid, much more dynamic, full of enthusiasm and progressive optimism. 

Illustration: Mosaic of the work of the eight artists featured, as well as the front cover, minus artists names, of Inspirational 3

I do understand however, that many see the crumbling of the old institutions as threatening in some way, we have all lived with the old pre-internet options for so long that we have seen them as permanent, rather than being just useful for their moment. It can often appear to be an unsettling notion of the new that concerns many, of the untried, of the untested. Perhaps it would be good to take notice of many young people who are involving themselves in the creative arts, building new strategies and new formats for the age they live in and not the age that has been left behind.

So many people across the planet, whether younger or older, have had the first opportunity to set up creative businesses of all descriptions, mostly due to the freedom and international reach given to them, by the internet. Personally, I see great things for the creative arts, a great expansion of artistic creativity, of inspiration, of ability, of influence. It is a time when the creative arts can finally do what it was always meant to do and that is be at the central core of the human experience, not at its edges.

Anyway, back to issue 3 of Inspirational, it will be released on March 12 to a full fanfare by yours truly. The eight artists that will be featured in this issue will be released within the next few days, but I did think it might be fun for you all to try and guess from the photo mosaic, who some or all of those eight artists might be. I will be releasing the same challenge on my facebook/google+/twitter sites, so you won't or can't really miss me.

Thanks so much to all of you for your genuine and enthusiastic support through the years for ttb, and now for the Inspirational project. It makes such a difference to know that you have people out there who are rooting for you and appreciate what you are trying to do, but I would say, that if I can try to make a difference, then I feel anyone and everyone can.

Thanks for everything.