Friday, 27 April 2012

I Hate Reading but I Want to Read!

For many creatively minded people reading is a real struggle which causes great frustration when there are countless great books (not least the bible) out there to read.  In my experience working in the art colleges more than half the students I meet have been diagnosed dyslexic and there are many more (including myself) who suspect they have some form of dyslexia.  If you are a student do go about getting tested; it's free and you will receive lot's of extra support from your college or university.

If you do struggle with reading don't fret!  God knows why he has made you the way you are and there are wonderful things about your creative mind that competent readers can only long for.

There are plenty of resources that can help you with your reading such as audio books and online talks (check out the talk section on this blog).  You can buy audio books on Amazon etc and there are lot's on Youtube for free!  For example follow this link to listen to C.S Lewis's The Screwtape Letters...

The Screwtape Letters

I often use Bible Gateway to have the bible read out to me as I follow along.  You can choose any translation and there are even options for what style you want to hear it in!

Bible Gateway

Happy Listening!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Culture Producers

And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion… over every living thing…”
 Genesis 1:28

After God created man he gave him dominion over every living thing.  He gave man creative freedom to rule over his creation, to work the ground, to name the animals and by chapter four we read that a city is built, musical instruments have been made and are played, livestock are farmed and bronze and iron tools are forged.  All this and much, much more began in the world within the lifetime of Adam!  What an amazing thing it must have been for Adam to see his blank canvas subdued and transformed into a culture; producing culture is exciting!

And here we are today still in the business of producing culture.  Whether we like it or not as humanity works, plays, builds, cooks, travels, and paints pictures we are producing culture.  Cultures differ around the world because people differ.  In the 1840s, Thomas J. Smith of London decided to develop his bon-bon sweets which he sold in a twist of paper.  As sales of his bon-bons slumped, Smith began to come up with new promotional ideas. His first tactic was to insert mottos into the wrappers of the sweets like in fortune cookies, but this had only limited success. Inspired by the crackle of a log as he placed it on the fire, Smith decided to add a crackle element to his sweets by incorporating a banger mechanism.  The only problem with this was that the size of the paper wrapper had to be increased which wasn’t practical for the packaging of a small sweet.  Eventually the actual bon-bon was dropped and replaced by a small gift. The new product was initially marketed as the Cosaque but the "cracker" soon became the commonly used name as rival varieties came on the market.  And so was born an essential element of British culture – the Christmas cracker.

Everything we do churns out new culture which is unique to our circle of influence.  In South America most people have never heard of a cracker and yet here in Britain it’s something we assume will appear on the Christmas dinner table.  This is true of our music, our sport, our tea drinking habits; there is cultural diversity all over the world.  But we have a choice.  We are not mindless machines; we are mindful human beings.  We will inevitably produce culture but we can choose what we produce.  It might be that we continue to pump into the flow of the culture in which we live, or it might be that we are counter-cultural and what we do stands against the current.  Whether you are based in an art college, a university, or an office, they all have a culture of their own which has been produced by the people of that place over years.  Do you ask questions of the cultures you live in?  Are you contributing in a Godly way to your cultures, or are you just going with the flow?  Are you mindful of what you paint, sing, dance, design?  Cultural history is easily read through the art of the time so we really do have a great responsibility as the current generation of Christians making art.  Let us have dominion, make work and live lives that produce a cross shaped culture.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Making the most of the web...

I like to think of the internet as a kind of spider web.  Who knows where that picture developed from but I think it represents something of its never-ending nature as a place where a couple of clicks leads you down a whole different avenue to the one you were on before.

What is particularly weblike about the internet is the opportunity to build networks and find like-minded people, professionals and opportunities  that can inspire and hopefully ignite our continued passion for being artists.  Getting to know a couple of people and contexts can open up a web that is much wider and more far-reaching than just you creating your web on your own.
(How are we doing with the web analogy? Confused yet?!)

Sometimes however it is quite hard to know how to even get yourself spinning on the web in the first place.  Well in case you haven't glanced over to the right hand side of this blog, cast your eyes there now [to the 'worth checking out' section]... for what we are building there is a list of websites that hopefully will inspire you to get spinning and creating and networking and meeting and collaborating and the like.

A couple of websites to flag up for today: Have a look at this website for some really helpful articles, guidelines, exhibition opportunities and more.  It's worth signing up with these networks to widen your horizons and see what opportunities are out there... Another networking site with loads of opportunities for residencies etc and a really useful 'frequently asked questions' page for freelance artists.

Morphe Arts: For all of you graduating this summer, do sign up with Morphe Arts.  It's a network of graduate Christian artists across the country seeking to support and serve one another, and build one another up as you seek to delve into the professional art world.  There are monthly meetings in London and Scotland and events happening throughout the year.  It's run by Ally Gordon (London) and Cully McCulloch (Scotland) - two great guys and practising artists who have tons of experience and used to work for UCCF.

Happy spinning!