Connectedness

I’ve been thinking a lot about connectedness recently. The wrongheadedness of much right wing thinking is always the driver of these thoughts. It’s easy, seductive – forget society, focus only on yourself and your family.

One of the logical extensions of this perspective leads to questions like: Why pay taxes? Surely we should keep what we earn? Wasn’t it Nozick that said that income tax amounted to theft? Why should wealthy people subsidise those less fortunate? Their tired old answer is to forget taxation and allow the trickle down effect to operate.

As we’ve seen since the late 1970s though, the trickle down is more like a torrent up. Inequality keeps on growing and the share secured by the have nots declines exponentially. And of course, left to their own devices, free of state intervention, the 1% will take as much as they can get away with. They would happily take everything.

After all, the logic of our system is to take, take take. Nothing is ever too much. And yet, the underlyimg reality is that such a system rarely makes the winners happy. Homes, cars, disastrous plastic surgery, none of it works.

But that is not the purpose of this piece. What I want to focus on is that earlier question: why pay taxes?

Because we are all connected. The children of the wealthy do not live in a vacuum. They have to rely on other people whether they like it or not. Leaving others in abject poverty actually makes THEM vulnerable.

When they’ve stolen all the wealth, and they’re hiding in their bulletproof cars and cowering inside their gated communities, who do they think will be doing their household work? Who will be driving those cars, flying their planes? Who will be defendimg their properties? People from the 99%

In truth, faced with howling mobs of the dispossessed, will those ‘ordinary’ people lay down their lives for the geeedy and indifferent. I have my doubts.

Which begs another question – wouldn’t the offspring of the wealthy be better off in a world where the people around them are well educated, well fed, inadequately housed? I believe so.

In fact, wouldn’t those rich kids be safer and more secure in a world where they weren’t so disconnected. Isn’t that why we are seeing a criminal family eviscersting the United States at the moment? The Trumps grew up in a rarefied environment, headed by a sociopath, and Fred Trump created another in his image.

The whole Trump family are pathological, and one of the major problems is their lack of connectedness which allows that to continue and fester. I believe that we need to tax the 1% massively, and find ways of demonstrating to them that, while they may want to be aloof and elite, that it isnt really in their own best interests.

Their disconnect from the rest of is a mirage, and, it’s a dangerous one – for us all.

Virtual Resister Art Exhibition: Volume Two!

Welcome! In this exhibition of great resister art we have a diverse range of people, life experiences and media to share with you. Although I think art sometimes needs a backstory or a narrative, I also believe that it should speak for itself, that the perspective of the viewer is as real and valid as that of the artist. If a picture, painting or pot speaks to us, then that is often a very personal thing. So, without further ado, please take your time, enjoy the pieces you see here, and if you would be so kind, please help us to grow this into something bigger and sustainable (shares and likes gratefully received). An artist recently told me that she’d been criticised for displaying her work on social media at a time when there are more important things happening in the world. My response to that is that once the forces of darkness kill creativity and art they will finally have done their worst.

Resist!

We begin with some beautifully created photographic images by John Hagan. John is currently in Thailand, but is mostly based in Australia.

Next we have two beautiful portraits in pastel by Lada Kucker who lives and works in the Czech Republic

From the physical to the digital, Nerissa Wilkinson, who also embroiders amazingly beautiful portraits and other subjects, presents here a digital portrait entitled ‘The Dawn Maiden’

The artist writes: ‘

I was inspired, to depict a figure from Māori lore (my culture) and felt compelled to portray “Hinetītama”. She is the goddess of dawn & dusk and was the daughter of the demi god (Tane) and the very first woman (Hineahuone). My daughter was kind enough to model for me.’

Of course, art is frequently an act of resistance, but it can also be explicitly so. Here we have a lovely lyrical contribution consisting of four poems by Kristin Really, starting with one entitled ‘Unblendable’

Unblendable

Your life
With schedules, directions, reflections
Blood pressure and coffee go
Hand in hand
You are always thinking, plotting,
Looking to see who may be on which list today
Your life
Was easy to slide into
And you cannot fathom why the rest of us didn't
Your breath is slow, deep, calm
Breathing in the scent of your surroundings
Or sometimes fear
Of you
And that makes you smile
Your life is power and concern for others-
Faked, of course, but that's expected
But your laugh, when truly victorious
Is deep, loud, carefree
And careless
Your life
You didn't ask for it, work for it
But it is yours to use
And you do, to impact
My life
With alarms and scrambling
But not eggs
Blood pressure and pills go
Hand in hand
I am always waiting, watching
Looking for signs of danger
My life
I accidentally tripped into
This slow sinking into the fathoms of hell
My breath is slow, silent, or held
Like an animal hunted
I breathe your stench
But my own scent of fear is overpowering you
And the irony almost makes me smile
The only power that I possess
that is greater than yours
Is fear
My life is survival and blending
With business attire and firm handshakes
Faked, of course, but necessary
But my laugh, when appropriate
Might resemble what it once was
Before it was taken from me
Now trained, restrained, careful
Too precious for careless sharing
From mingling your life with mine
My life
I didn't ask for it, look for it
But it is mine
I didn't even see it coming
I must have blinked
Before the impact
But you, you're the type       
 who would have watched
Fascinated at the force
And now your life and mine are tethered
I think I still hear the crash of that merge
Or is that the memory of  your laughter?

Pass the Bottle
(Social Issue: Addiction)  

You worship at the alter
Of some unholy creed
Your gospel is the scripture
Of want instead of need
You’re looking for salvation
At the bottom of a glass
You know it isn’t perfect
But it’s good enough to pass

Pass the bottle
Cure what ills you
Numb the pain
Before it kills you
Crush the powder
Choke the pills down
The pain of life
Might really drown you

So worship in the darkness
Surround yourself with lies
Say a prayer to emptiness
And never say goodbyes
The gospel truth won’t own you
If it melts down with the ice
Your savior is another shot
Your God, another vice.

Pass the bottle
Cure what ills you
Numb the pain
Before it kills you
Pass the plate
For all that’s right
Reality’s not worth the fight
Crush the powder
Down the pills
You might survive
Afraid you will


So Preach unto the choir
Of Never Never Land
The devil will spin stories
Only you can understand
Then pray for your salvation
At the bottom of a glass
Drink away your memories
Amen that they don’t last

Pass the bottle
It’s easier that way

Numb your whole life
Erase another day

Pass the bottle
Cure what ills you
Numb the pain
Before it kills you
Crush the powder
Choke the pills down
The pain of life
Still somehow found you
Pass the bottle...

Two more poems to come from Kristin, but first we have a musical submission. Two songs by singer/songwriter M. Brinston Berry!

Singer/Songwriter M. Brinston Berry has been creating original music for nearly a decade. With three EPs to his name, Berry has amassed a diverse catalog of neo-folk songs influenced by equal parts Iron & Wine and Bob Dylan.


These two songs were written from the heart about exposing and resisting the world we live in…

From music to a mixture of media submitted by artist and sculptor Dianne Davis…

‘Figure’
‘Chopping Cotton’
‘Little Dog, Big Cake’
‘Cat with Two Miles’

Next, Tara Tisch, a friend and ardent resister, presents some beautiful prints and paintings…

And now for two more poems by Kristin Really…

This is a song about surviving sexual assault. 
Listen
When the dreams come
Even during the day
Then it’s time to pack
Those memories away

Keep your back straight
Like you can’t fall
If it hurts, just go numb
Feel nothing at all

But the pain , I know, is crippling
It’ll eat you up alive
Don’t you allow it
Listen to me now
I know you’ll survive

Don’t show emotion
Don’t even let them in
Never cry
Because that’s how they win

When the dreams come
In the dead of night
Just remind yourself
You put up one hell of a fight

They’ll point fingers
Don’t rub your wounds with salt
They’ll try to place blame
But listen to me now
This was not your fault

And the pain , I know, is crippling
It’ll eat you up alive
Don’t you allow it
Listen to me now
I know you’ll survive

I stand with you
I grieve with you
But most of all, know
I believe you

And the pain, I know, is crippling
But you’ve already arrived
The tides of change are rippling
You’ve already survived

Listen to me now
Listen to me now
Listen
You don’t have to despair
That your soul won’t repair
Cause you
You’re already there.
Preaching to the Choir 
Death in daylight screamed to us
A message to the wise
Close your heart to evil now
And open up your eyes

On the narrow walk of fate
Balancing life’s high wire
You’re passing down divisive hate
Preaching to your choir 

Deja Vu  of yesterday
Lessons learned in vain
History repeats itself
Bleeding from the pain

Your words come back to haunt you
Hiding behind guns for hire
Amplify insanity 
To feed your rabid choir 

The masses rise up now united
Left with little choice
A force of solidarity 
The world now has one voice 

You’re stumbling to the gates of hell
A blackened soul on fire
You’re not fooling anyone
Just preaching to your choir 


Violence, lies, and bigotry
Are all that you inspire
False prophet for the worst of us
Preaching to your choir 



Another digital contribution now, by Daniel J. Frey, one of the contributors to the first exhibition, this is a template for a planned oil painting. It is entitled simply 'Hope'

Daniel J. Frey is a writer/producer based in Hollywood

Some beautiful photos comprise the penultimate submission, presented by a Twitter friend known as Saje @sjeh07. These were taken in Peru and are incredibly atmospheric and evocative

To conclude the exhibition we have some magnificent jewellery created by my very good friend Bren known on Twitter as @BrenBalazs. She also has an online shop @BrensJewels…

And that concludes the second Virtual Resister Art Exhibition! Thank you so much for taking the time to enjoy these wonderful and diverse pieces of art. I hope that you come back over and over to savour this work, and, that you will share and help us create a resister art movement that will transcend these difficult times. Art is a delicate thing. without love and support it will not flourish, and we must never let the arid minds of ‘serious’ people extinguish it.

Thank you

We Matter

We matter. A simple sentence with so many connotations. At one level, at least for me, it is about self worth. A declaration of existential affirmation, howling into the face of childhood pain, compounded by cultural and systemic indifference.

But it’s also about equality. The truth that each of us matters, that every individual counts as one. A political statement. Collective individualism or individual collectivism. Too often the left forget the individual, in my opinion, while the right always neglect the collective, unless it’s about constructs such as nationalism, ways to divide us for easy manipulation.

But there’s another level to this statement: we matter; and that is where these aspects intersect. Now, bear with me because I am going to suggest that we often think we matter where we shouldn’t, and we don’t think we matter where we should.

Let’s start with the first claim – that we think we matter where we shouldn’t. I guess I mean this to cover two connected areas. The first is about a day-to-day arrogance that we all recognise, that sense of self-importance that translates into aggressive self-assertion. You know it as well as i do. That person who weaves in and out of lanes to get one car ahead, or pushes in while everyone else queues.

Arrogance. Aggression. Self-importance. Too often our culture tells us that we should push ahead, sod the rest, that being selfish is a sign of assertiveness. It isn’t. This is an example of mattering where we don’t, elevating one above others, celebrated in all the billionaire adoring movies and literature. It’s not pretty.

Another element to this is the desperate need for attention that we seem to need. Social media plays into this. Lately, I’ve seen baleful cries for attention, threats to leave social media if immediate recognition isn’t forthcoming. Why does no-one take notice when I write such amazing content???

I feel for those people. It is upsetting to be ignored, but we have to acknowledge two important things. On the one hand, we cannot control other people, no matter how much we try. If they don’t want to give us attention they don’t have to. My advice though, for what it’s worth, is to keep shouting into the void. The message is still valid even if no-one hears.

Recently, I saw a really good artist say: I want to be famous! Surely, it is more important to be an artist, to do what you love, to do it with your entire heart and soul, rather than to do it to ‘get famous’? The fame – fickle, transient- should follow the art, the art should not be a vehicle to garner fame. Mattering where we don’t

So, what about this idea that we matter where we think we don’t? To me this is about that hole in our soul that we tolerate, often feed, that makes us feel inadequate, unimportant, irrelevant. It has a political dimension, because it links in to that belief that we can’t make a difference, that our votes and voices don’t matter because they are insignificant, that we are insignificant.

It is fuelled by a system that feeds on our despair and hopelessness.

And yet, we DO matter, we have to matter to and for ourselves. We need to recognise our own self worth, a worth that exists over and above what we achieve, and certainly above whether we get a million likes or retweets. There is a job of work to done by most of us, and I certainly include myself in this, and that is to see our intrinsic worth. Our inherent value as human beings, as living, breathing, conscious entities.

We matter because we ARE. Everything else flows from that.

Human Nature

As an academic teaching undergraduates and postgraduates about political theory, public policy and equality of opportunity I found it all too common for students to have horribly cynical views about human nature. During countless seminars and tutorials I have had someone say: Of course they did [insert something bad], that’s human nature. In my mind, I picture them sitting back with folded arms and a smug expression as if they had just laid down a winning hand. That’s some backfill and imaginative seasoning – though I have seen it happen.

And it’s no wonder they see the world that way. Once they leave primary school they are subjected to endless dystopian literature, where even if the main characters are fighting off aliens or zombies, the real evil lies within. It’s the other people you have to watch out fir. As a child I had this same grounding. We were forced to read and dissect The Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men and I’m the King of the castle. Aside from the fact that dissection kills the love of a book (and the process is constructed), the stories oppressed me. They may represent great writing, but they are scary, oppressive and demoralising. But more than that they do not reflect reality – at least not entirely.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/13/the-real-lord-of-the-flies-mano-totau-survivor-story-shipwreck-tonga-boys-ata-island-peter-warner

This link is the real version of Lord of the Flies, where six Tongan youths lived together for a year without any bullying and killing. Their story is the complete antithesis of what we’ve been led to expect.

Why is this? Well, it’s simple really. The individual of orthodox economic theory does NOT EXIST. The ‘rational’, self-interested, greedy, untrustworthy character they’ve created is the real fiction. Am I saying that people are all good? No. Am I saying that altruism is the defining feature of human nature. No.

What I am saying is that human nature cannot be essentialised. It is layered, complex, and often a reflection of the culture it is embedded within. Tell children that people are bad, selfish and untrustworthy long enough and they will believe it. More than that they may, in some cases, exemplify it. As the Native American belief suggests, we have two wolves – good and bad – and the one we feed is the one that grows.

What proof do I have that this is so? I could point you towards a stack of academic work, the initial book that reached me was No Competition by Alfie Kohn. He underlined that things like wildlife documentaries focussed on the red and tooth in claw moments rather than global biological interdependency, or as the The Lion King puts it, the circle of life. There is abundant, and growing research, to illustrate the truth that human nature is NOT bad per se. But I also know because it’s characteristic of my own experience, I see more good than bad around me, even though the news channels and media want me to to think otherwise.

I know it because, although I am damaged, and I have done some terrible things in my time, hurting people that I care about in the process, I am not evil. I would rather do good than ill. I want people to be happy not sad, to thrive not suffer. I have my weaknesses, my secret passions and dark spots, but I am mostly a positive person. And, as I would point out to students, alongside more rigorous evidence, one case where someone does something utterly selfless, such as rushing into a burning building to save a complete stranger, completely invalidates the idea that human nature is essentially negative. If it was truly in their ‘nature’ to be selfish it’s not that they wouldn’t do it, it’s that they COULDN’T do it.

Of course, there are always cynical responses. I have heard students claim that people only ever do good because they get something from it, even if its just to feel good themselves. my response to them was ‘so what?’ if doing good makes them feel good then I’m glad. Moreover, that still doesn’t suggest that human nature is inherently selfish. Not in my book.

The idea that the world is dark and dangerous, and that no-one can be trusted is a politically and economically motivated one. It makes us easy to control, easy to manipulate. If we can’t trust anyone else we have to get in first, stick them before they stick us. We have to distance ourselves, isolate and defend, rather than welcome and embrace. It turns us into workers and consumers with little interest in the welfare of others. Immigrants. Single Mothers. welfare scroungers. There’s always a scapegoat for this programming.

Ultimately, we need to stop feeding our children these horrifying books, or at least balance them against more positive literature. The message moving forward, and that includes the news and related media, is that bad things happen, but that does not make people bad by definition. Human nature is complex and textured.

If you try to convince me otherwise with examples of horrors I will simply smile wryly and wonder why you are so keen to prove something that is completely natural. Let’s take some steps forward together, see the best, feed the right wolf. Things will only get better.

The Voice

As I write this I am exhausted. I’ve been drawing and painting non-stop for weeks, producing one piece of work after another; commissioned work mostly, but also things that needed to be done. Sometimes you see a face or an image and you just have to capture it, fast, before the muse leaves you. It’s been like that for a while. I know it’s part of my mental health/ill-health landscape. Produce. Burn-out. Recover. Resume. Repeat.

And that’s okay. It really is. Except that I struggle to take the time out. Resting is not something that comes naturally, even though I now realise that it’s essential to create effectively. Existing, just being, is critical. I don’t know of a single person that can create and create without some kind of recovery process.

One of the problems that I have though, is the voice. You must know it, even if you have silenced it, or muffled it. That inner sprite that tries to derail you. Frighten you. Yes, that is it. Frighten you. It whispers pure fear into your already fevered brain.

It used to have a face too, my sister. However, I have managed to work past that now. It has no face, no intonation, no accent, and sadly it doesn’t need them. The voice is potent enough in its own right. And its intent is always malign.

As I tap away at these keys it is sneering and sniggering at me, telling me that if I rest the ability to paint will atrophy. It will simply disappear. It tells me that time is slipping away, that there are things to be done, and if I don’t do them NOW then I never will. Just look, it demands, look at that pile of half-finished work. Look at the half-written books – poetry books, a memoir, a book of short stories, look at what you started and never finished. Look…

And despite the fact I am stronger than I was before, the voice still has power, it still nips and bites at my confidence and my faith. What if it’s right? What if I lose the capacity or the hunger, what if I don’t feel refreshed, simply empty. What if…? On and on and on.

But I know that I need to stop, if only for a little while. A painting I’m 3/4 of the way through was nearly thrown across the room earlier. The skin tones wouldn’t blend, the fine lines were blurring, the eyes wouldn’t come to life. I felt so angry, lost and confused.

So, I will rest, and that bloody voice can taunt all it likes, it is NOT in control. I hope that if you’re reading this and face the same struggles you take the time you need also. You’re in control too.

Creation needs fuel, don’t let your inner sprite burn through yours.

RESIST!

Outsider

Sat here writing this…

Do you ever feel like an outsider? I do. Always have. For a left wing progressive I find collective enterprises difficult. People scare me, which means I’m not a joiner. I prefer isolation, aloneness, even if I wouldn’t choose it.

I suppose there are two reasons for this outsider mind set. The first is that I was a lare arrival in my family. There is no other word for my existence than ‘accident’. My mum was nearly 40 when she became pregnant, and she went to the GP because she thought it was early onset menopause.

By the time I came along my siblings were grown and my family had an entire history I simply didn’t feature in. When the old stories were rolled out I was conspicuously absent.

The other reason relates, I believe, to being the brother of a chronically ill sister. Whether it was intentional or otherwise, I was a distraction, a problem. Mum taught me to read at 3 so that I could amuse myself quietly. And, for the most part, I did.

As I got older, if I made any kind of noise, it was jumped upon immediately. Silence was golden, but not for me.

There are no villans in my story though, none of the damage I sustained was meant. I was loved and everyone was just trying to do their best. But damage is damage nonetheless.

I never wanted to be a part of something larger growing up. My friends grew tired of my excuses not to ‘come along’ or just join in. Even the sports teams I played in didn’t fully incorporate me. I was always apart, outside, isolated.

To my shame, when my beautiful boys came along, I was overjoyed, but I also felt pushed out. Suddenly I was a bit part actor in my life again, my mum would greet me with: so where are the boys then?’ It was never meant to exclude me, or dismiss me, but it did.

And now? I am still on the outside. I look around and see the damage I’ve caused to others, the ‘pass it on’ type, where my pain ripples out and drowns other people. And I see a world riven with divisions – huge inequalities, wars, poverty, hatred and discrimination, and I feel even more isolated and alone. Anxious. Angry. Outside.

Do you ever feel like an outsider?

I do.

Art the saviour

Art has always been a big part of my life, even when I ran away from it, or simply tried to ignore it. I suppose the troubled love affair began when I actually decided to concentrate in my art class during the first year of senior school. I was 11 and, at that stage, largely defined by sport, especially athletics, and particularly 400m sprinting.

Anyway, this one day I decided to draw a rugby player about to kick a ball through the posts. It was unusual for me to sit still for any length of time, but I completely lost myself in it. Before I knew it, the lesson was over and Mr C, my teacher, was looking at my drawing.

He picked it up, stared at it for a while then told me it was excellent. My friends agreed, and I remember feeling an enormous wave of pride. From then on I worked hard in art, and Mr C was both encouraging and supportive. I believe if i’d carried on in his class my whole life would have been different…

Anyway, I’d just started to deliver newspapers every morning, after school and on Sundays, and most of the money went on a weekly magazine chronicling the lives of the great artists. The narratives along with examples of their work just mesmerised me and I read them over and over until they were dog eared and grubby. I have art books these days but they will never displace those magazines.

I wasn’t a confident boy, and so having two areas where I felt good about what I was doing really bolstered me. Additionally, Mr C. and Mr. D – my athletics coach – were great, and for a short time school became less of a chore.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to last. A year later, Mr. D lost interest in the athletitcs team, or something else was happening for or to him, and so the training sessions became shapeless. That killed my motivation. Around the same time I was streamed into the top art class, where Mr. W was the tutor. He didn’t care for me, was almost contemptuous at times, which made art difficult. Gradually, I drifted away from it.

My love for art continued, I still went to local exhibitions, read biographies, but gave up making art myself. The magazines were stowed away in the attic. Essentially, I allowed one resentful teacher to shape a large part of my life.

And that might have been that… except later on I began to suffer, which camecas a shock. After all, I’d done everything right. I put myself through night school, went to university, got a PhD, and a great job at a top institution. But while I was teaching and researching things I cared about, writing papers and books, the job was killing me. Literally.

Then, one day my oldest son needed help with his art homework. I sat and drew with him, and the love of it all came flooding back. Drawing. The freedom, the joy, not from the outcome, but in the process itself.

And as the job drove me towards a breakdown, the art and poetry I’d started to write, acted like a life raft. It buoyed me up. It gave me hope and a profound sense of peace.

And the weird thing is that since I’ve been active again, I have a new appreciation for the great artists. They are magicians to me.

One thing I envy is the style they embody. The vibrancy of van Gogh, the glowing landscapes of Cezanne, the surreal agony and beauty of Kahlo, they fill me with excitement and envy.

You see, I don’t have a style, people, animals and places, speak to me. They tell me how to represent them. I drew a beautiful young woman for her mother, and it came out as a pop art portrait. Her mum was thrilled, it turned out that her favourite artist was Andy Warhol. I’d never done anything like that before. It was weird. And cool.

Simularly, I was asked to draw a picture of a black labrador, and it came out in an art deco style. Again, weird but cool.

While I would love to have a style of my own I’m just content to be creating again. In the end art saved me, the life raft turned into a glorious tropical island full of colour, texture and light. I will always be grateful for that.

Now, where are those magazines…?

Comparison and judgement: two sources of suffering…

I’ve written previously about what I believe to be one of the key sources of human suffering, and the negative consequences it has for ourselves, our relationships and our environment- thoughtless living. Today, I want to isolate what I see as two specific, and nasty, components of such living: judgement and comparison.

Let me start with comparison first. I’ve always known that comparing oneself to others has bad as well as good facets, but the real danger of it has been reaffirmed to me recently.

My oldest son is an artist. He’s young, he’s learning, but he is dedicated, keen to develop and very talented. At the moment he is working on a picture of a lion. An A1 sized drawing in coloured pencil. It is majestic. But… is it the best work he will ever do? Not likely, mainly because his skills sharpen every single day.

The other day he refused to look at a drawing a fledgling artist sent me of the same subject matter. Why? Because he feared it would make his work look poor by conparison. Of course, it didn’t, but there are three important issues here.

First, the drawing exists, whether you look at it or not. Second, art is a beautiful and diverse church and it has a wonderful subjectivity to it; some people like van Gogh, others prefer Constable. And third, what others do has no impact on us unless we allow it to (obviously, I am not talking about actual attacks on us here).

Rather than feel intimidated by the talent of others, I find it more rewarding to appreciate it. Apart from anything else, we might learn something, either new techniques or fresh perspectives.

As an academic, I constantly had to counsel students about the negative comparisons they regularly drew with their peers. If someone works faster than you, good on them, if they grasp something quicker, all power to their elbow. That does not reflect badly on you. Indeed, they may be sloppy or have a shallow understanding that a more careful reading might produce. But either way, their work is not yours. Keep your focus on what matters, learn what you can from others, be generous wherever possible. It is, in my experience, a far healthier option.

So, what about judgement? Of course, we make them all the time, and often they are positive and healthful. Sometimes, when they are negative they are objectively based and justified. In my view, anyone who believes Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are capable and well-intentioned leaders are delusional. That is based on my reading of the readily available and abundant evidence.

What I’m talking about is the throwaway, spiteful judgements we make, and, as with so many horrible traits, I am as guilty of this as anyone. That tendency to be snide, to sum up a person on their appearance, to, in modern parlance, be snarky.

It may be funny, in cruel way, but we know when we do it, and, unless you are very different to me, it never leads to good vibes in the end. And, I believe, we frequently make judgements of others by projecting our own insecurities outwards.

I do find both Trump and Johnson physically unappealing, but the main source of my revulsion is for their character, or lack of it. They are, in my opinion, natcissistic, sociopathic, imbecilic products of a corrupt and unjust system. That is what matters. I’ve taken some cheap shots at them recently, but I will try to do better.

A thoughtful life, to me, means eschewing negative comparisons and avoiding superficial judgements, of the self and others. It’s taken me a long time to clarify these things. But, hey, maybe I’m a slow learner?

So what? 🤣

Resister Art: Inaugural exhibition

This is the beginning of what I hope will become a regular feature, and maybe even a noteworthy virtual event. The objective is to share art, to make the work that people do visible and accessible. But there’s more… This is a place for resister art, artists that resist unfairness and injustice, both in their private and artistic lives. It’s not really my place to interpret ‘resistance’ in close grain because I do not speak for others. My own specific resistance was provoked by the nightmare that began with the ‘election’ of Donald Trump, and was followed by the Premiership of Boris Johnson. Two peas in a revolting pod. I think that is something every artist exhibiting here would recognise and acknowledge.

The brief for this exhibit was, well, brief. A piece (or pieces) of art, a short biography, and a similarly short description of the work, such as its motivation, its meaning or whatever else the individual wished to share. I’m going to leave this introduction here now, in my opinion far too much is said about art, and far too little time is devoted to its enjoyment.

Above all else, I, we hope you enjoy this exhibition. Thank you 🙂

DANIEL FREY

Portrait of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Daniel J. Frey, aka. Toby is today a writer-producer in his company Forces Film. He lives in the entertainment capital of the world Los Angles, California.

ELS KARLS

a stoneware dish/plate I made inspired by Marc Chagall. 
His art has this dreamy, light and delicate quality that I tried to capture by using transparent glass like glazes, and not having one clear focal point. 
The decorations show elements (nature, pets and people) of my youth in Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands. 
Just like Chagall, I’ve had to endure discrimination and violence simply for who I am. Nonetheless I focus on the beauty and love around me, refusing to let the bad things take the upper hand. 

My name is Elisa (people call me Els). Born as a boy named Elia in Italy, out of my Dutch, Italian, Peruvian, Swedish parents. Transitioned to womanhood 11 years ago. I’m an Art Historian turned potter. Currently I live in the Netherlands where I own a pottery studio with my business partner. 

HAP

MIXED BEAUTY

HAP is a 12 year old  artist who uses her life experiences and youthful perspectives as inspiration. 

STEVEN EHRLICH

These seven pieces are by Steven Ehrlich

Born in N.J. living in Ft. Lauderdale spent most of my life drawing as a hobby. When I retired from a career in Interior design I have focused on getting my work out into the world. I  use color pencils and ink on paper as well as fabric.

EMILY CAESAR

I create videos and artwork that are mostly used for educational and informative/marketing purposes. I also illustrate images for textile and product companies that range from kids clothes to adult designs. 

I have experience in marketing on social media as well, with either managing the content or producing the material used in the campaigns. The material can be short ads, images, or full animated series.

My name is Emily Caesar, and I have been an animator and illustrator since 2004. I graduated from the Art Institute of Seattle that same year, and have lived in many places since then. Now, I am back in my hometown in Los Angeles, CA. 

RADICAL RHYMES

Radical Rhymes: A selection of works from my school years – graphite, coloured pencils and acrylics
A rendering of a classical painting – Acrylics on cardboard. This is an example of what I call ‘scrap art’. Artwork produced on recycled materials
A commissioned portrait – marker pen on paper. Dogs and cats have been a favoured subject so far
This painting is acrylic on canvas – along with the collage above – of 9 cats and a dog (canvas on board) – is the largest work I’ve produced to date 3″ x 2″. I hope to produce much larger paintings in the future…

My artist name is Radical Rhymes. I always wanted to be an artist but found my ambitions thwarted by a rigid system and some unhelpful tutors. I have worked in a number of jobs, latterly as a senior lecturer in Social Policy at a top UK University. I am now a full-time artist, poet and writer, recovering from my long stint in academia (which almost killed me). One of the motivations for my art is to resist oppression and injustice, and the Presidency of Trump and the Premiership of Boris Johnson provide a great deal of fuel for such resistance. Every. Single. Day. Resist!

THANK YOU!

I hope you enjoyed this inaugural exhibition of resistance art. I hope to create something bigger and more enduring for the future, themed and focusing on certain artists. And for the fellow artists who politely challenged me to do more to help promote the work of others, here you go.

Over to you… 🙂

Praise for paradox

What struck me this morning, talking to my son about the difficulties of families, was the paradoxical nature of paradox. One of the things that I used to teach as an academic was research methods, and within that, the insider/outsider paradox.

Essentially, as researchers we can bring different perspectives to different research contexts. For example, if I were to research being a child with a chronically ill sibling I would have an insider perspective. This means I would have insights and knowledge that someone else might not.

However, I would also miss things because of my familiarity with the experience. An outsider would bring fresh insight, they might see things I would miss. So, which of these perspectives would offer more? Perhaps the answer would be to have a team comprised of people with a range of perspectives?

Anyway, the basic point is the paradox, and I began to think about my own life more generally. You see, I’ve been an outsider for most of it. At school I was largely ignored by teachers – with a few honourable exceptions – which meant that I didn’t have access to the building blocks of a good education.

My appreciation for writing comes from my own self-directed, eclectic reading. My mum taught me to read at the age of three so that she could care for my disabled sister more easily. Consequently, I appreciate beautiful writing but I don’t fully understand the rules. No-one taught me how to use grammar properly.

This pains me, but also provides a source of liberation. I can produce unusual work because I have no boundaries, no rigid pathways to travel; although I often wish that someone had taken the time to teach me properly.

The same problems assailed me as an academic. I was lucky enough to have worked with a famous social work scholar,and I truly envied his classical education. He went to Oxbridge and learned about western philosophy, its history and structure, whereas my philosophical reading has been widespread, but unstructured. This meant my narrative was always slightly strange, but, it also meant that I could juxtapose schools of thought in unexpected ways to create new viewpoints. Paradox!

Now that I am a professional artist I sometimes stress about my lack of knowledge about artistic principles and methods. As I’ve said before, a teacher ended my formal education because he didn’t like the fact that an oik, a chav, had talent and ability. In fact, my class position has been a barrier I’ve had to climb over my entire life. In the end it helped to finish my academic journey, I just didn’t belong there.

I would love to have experienced a formal art education, but… I am not bound by any rules. I paint what I see, I commit to paper, card and canvas, the beauty I see around me. If I don’t know the rules they can’t constrain me, I am, for all intents and purposes, free.

A while ago I saw a stand up comedian argue that qualifications were as much railroads as trampolines, that they limit as well as open up our options. That appealed to me. When I was floundering as a scholar I realised that my earning potential was limited. I was an expert, but that corralled me as much as rewarded me.

So, I’ve learned that despite all the things I’ve missed, and been denied, being an outsider has its upsides. It really does.

Paradox. Always paradox…