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:

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Creative and Personal Change and Growth

Illustration: Paul Klee, 1935.

Change and growth can often be seen as the engine and result of impetus, change being the engine, growth being the result. Like throwing a pebble into still water, the pebble can be seen as the change, whilst the ripples can be seen as the growth from that point where the pebble entered the water. Change can often be interpreted as a forcible move from the status quo, taking an individual outside of their comfort zone, taking them beyond the familiar and the settled, in both personal as well as creative life. 

Although change can be near cataclysmic at times, a lightning bolt shot out of the dark, shifting perspective and outlook seemingly overnight, at other times change can seem slow, methodical, a building up of truths and ideals towards a larger picture of the world and of yourself. Sometimes it can be somewhere in between, a momentary revelation and then a long journey of slow incremental growth.

Change can come from all angles and from all perspectives. Individuals are hugely popular as those that can foster change, whether living or dead. Those who are or were artists, writers, philosophers, spiritual guides, all can give impetus for change and growth in one form or another. Having a favourite artist, author, dancer, actor in your formative years should never be underestimated; they can be the lifeblood of changes in perspective, and certainly of future growth.

Illustration: Paul Klee. 'Diana', 1931.

Events in your life, whether personal or shared can do the same. Whether it is a concert, an exhibition, a movie, or receiving a timely present, a conversation, or a stroll along the beach, each has their moment of influence, what effects you may not effect another and vice versa. It is the story of life, what interests, or intrigues you, what has you in awe, in raptures, perhaps does little for someone else. 

Sometimes abstract ideals can foster change and then growth, such as art or musical movements, philosophical/spiritual perspectives, nature, the rights and wrongs of the world. All can galvanise us in their different ways into seeking change, and through that change, growth. However, sometimes abstract ideals can be intensely personal, a dawning of a revelation that effects the individual only. 

Whatever the form takes towards the passage of change and growth, it is beyond doubt that both parts are needed in order to meet the true purpose of your life path. You are not here to stand still, to close yourself off from experience, to turn your back on exploration. I don't of course mean that you need to hike around the world, or throw yourself off a waterfall in order to experiment and gain experience, it is much closer than that. It is about opening yourself up, allowing the outside to come in, to nurture your spirit with the waters of change.

Illustration: Paul Klee: 'A Woman for Gods', 1938. (Google Art Project)

Although change and growth can of course happen on a community level, much of the change I have talked about in this article has to do with change on a personal level, and here can lie a problem. Change and growth along your own life path is a wonderful thing, it can open up so many avenues of choice, it can expand your horizons, it can take you to a level where you believe that you can interpret the meaning of life, but it can also be lonely, it can lead to intense criticism from others, often those closest to you, where you can be accused of selfishness and egotism. 

To allow yourself to change, to expand yourself through exponential growth can be seen as following your own path irrespective of the feelings of others. This is nonsense of course, and it says much more about other people's perspective than it does about you. People around you should be happy that you have a path in which you can change and grow in a style that suits you. They should revel in your journey, whether creative or personal, revel in your differences, and offer to be there if they are needed, but to try to contain you, to veer you off your course is a sad reflection of their space in time. How many promising careers, interesting and fulfilled lives, have been thwarted by others insecurities. It is a selfishness on their part that so many have been persuaded away from their journeys of change and growth, it is after all why we are all here in the first place, to grow, to be more than we were, to expand our experience, to explore the journey that is this lifetime. What could there be in the human condition that could more important than those two factors of change and growth.

Further reading links:

Monday, December 01, 2014

The Textile Blog Winter Book Sale


I thought, considering that this is the last month of the year that it might be a good idea to have a winter sale on all of the downloadable books that I have produced over the last couple of years or so.

There are eleven books in total, all of which are in the world of historical textiles and decoration and include books about subjects and individuals. So, they cover Islamic and Medieval decoration, Victorian Gothic and Art Nouveau, as well as individual creative artists such as AWN Pugin, William Morris, and Ann Macbeth.

The book sale runs from December 1 to the end of December 8, all books are half price and will remain so for the full week. All the books can be found by pressing the 'Downloadable Books' page tab at the top of the page, just under The Textile Blog header, or just as easily by following this link.


All the information that you will need as regards the books, the download procedure, prices, and so on can be found on the Downloadable Books page.

I try to do what I can in my own way to help others within the creative arts community and to make this site, along with ttb facebook, twitter, google+, pinterest, tumblr, youtube extensions, as well as the new Inspirational magazine, as interesting and inspiring as I possibly can. I hope that you are finding all of the different avenues that ttb projects into, useful. The purpose of what I do is to be as supportive as I can for all of you out there, and I am always thankful that so many of you out there are just as supportive of ttb and myself, that I find extremely gratifying and I can only be thankful for your support. I feel blessed.


Thank you for your time, I hope that you make use of and enjoy The Textile Blog Winter Book Sale. Any problems with the procedure of payment or downloading please do not hesitate to contact me, I am just the other side of your screen and am here to help :)

John

Monday, November 24, 2014

Terraqueous - of Land and Water

Illustration: Helmer Jonas Osslund. 'Sommarlandskap från Nordingrå'

I came across the word terraqueous a couple of days ago and had no real idea what it meant, but like so much in the strange and enchanting world of the synchronous, once seen it appeared persistently for the next couple of days, online, offline, in daydreaming, in meditation, in walking, like a messenger banging on the door of my lifeline asking to be admitted. I never believe in dismissing omens or signs, and that everything comes across your path for a reason. Therefore, today's article is entirely devoted to the word terraqueous, make of that what you will.

So what does terraqueous actually mean? It literally means land and water, but its meaning can be conceptualised into the much more poetic ideal, that of the near magical composition of land and water, the coming together of the two most precious elements of life, those that have engendered countless cycles of birth, death, and rebirth, namely earth and water. 

Our planet is the product of this most symbolic of relationships, we live on and for a terraqueous globe, we are nothing without it, we cannot exist independent of its relationship, despite what some may think. We enter our present life as physically a percentage of earth and water, and when this life slides away, our physical remains will be the same percentage of earth and water. 

Illustration: Helmer Jonas Osslund. 'Sommarafton vid Faxälven' ('Summer Evening at Faxälven')

It is this inbuilt relationship, this symbolic harmony between land and water that is often reflected back from within us in the form of creative art. It is perhaps our homage to the good fortune that we find ourselves in when observing and understanding this most remarkable terraqueous globe, a blue and green planet, full of life, cast amongst the stars. 

It is through creative expression that we can put motion and form to this our most fundamental of relationships. We are physical manifestations of earth and water; we are a consciousness wrapped in a terraqueous composition. It is important to at least contemplate the notion that we may well be a natural conscious expression of the planet. Too many critics have relegated humanity to a series of negative roles, from that of a cancerous growth, to the engine of armegeddon, and whilst we have lost our way, we are not irredeemable. 

Despite the hurt and chaos we have, and continue to inflict upon the planet, it would not necessarily be a better place without us. We are not an outsider, an occupier, a species that came upon this blue/green planet from another place, we are natives, a species that is integral to the soul of the planet, we are native flora and fauna. That we are having a decidedly difficult adolescence, no one would really disagree, but to throw us out of our home because of it seems counter-productive. 

Illustration: Otto Hesselbom. 'Summer Night Study'

If we are to be the expression of the planets consciousness, wrapped up within our own collective human consciousness, then we had better start acting like it. The role that the creative arts play is one of the most vital and important of human expressions. Through all of the disciplines that make up this extraordinary outpouring of humanity we have been able to guide and give projection to the fundamental relationship that we have with our planet and it is the creative arts that will show the species the way forward. 

By expanding our appreciation of our own inbuilt creativity, both as a species and as an individual, we can help to reveal the complex understanding of our terraqueous globe and our role within it. We are, above all an outward and inward expression of the relationship that makes up a terraqueous planet, the most precious relationship of life, that between land and water.

Further reading links: