Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My Mind to me a Kingdom is..........

Following an initiative led by our philosophy teacher W.D. have started to read '
Nietzsche and Zen, An Essay in Philosophical Theology', by Stephen Priest which I discovered online from  The Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion http://compassionoxford.com/  in addition to re-reading Robert Morrison’s ‘Nietzsche and Buddhism - A study in ironic affinities’ as supplementary texts to the Nietzsche 'neat' we are reading together. 
This is a brief summary from the ‘Nietzsche and Buddhism book cover.
‘Nietzsche’s view of Buddhism has been very influential in the West; Dr Morrison gives a careful critical examination of this view, argues that in fact Buddhism is far from being a nihilistic religion, and offers a counterbalancing Buddhist view of the Nietzschean enterprise. He draws out the affinities and conceptual similarities between the two, and concludes that , ironically, Nietzsche’s aim of self-overcoming is akin to the Buddhist notion of citta-bhavana ( ‘mind-cultivation’). Had Nietzsche lived in an age where Buddhism was better understood, Morrison suggests, he might even have found in the Buddha a model of his hypothetical Ubermensch’
'A' thoughtfully brought these geraniums for the window boxes in Brussels yesterday evening and planted them in. The complementary deep red against the green foliage of the trees is very satisfying to contemplate when you look up from reading a book with a cup of tea in those 'idle' moments......

Who after all needs an Olympic size swimming pool and acres of lawns 
when you can have a window box instead....... ? 

The title for this post comes from the opening verse of this poem redolent with stoic values attributed to Sir Edward Dyer and set to music by William Byrd and sung here by Emma Kirkby in a recording by Fretwork. 

MY mind to me a kingdom is;
  Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
  That earth affords or grows by kind:
Though much I want that most would have,        5
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.
No princely pomp, no wealthy store,
  No force to win the victory,
No wily wit to salve a sore,
  No shape to feed a loving eye;        10
To none of these I yield as thrall;
For why? my mind doth serve for all.
I see how plenty surfeits oft,
  And hasty climbers soon do fall;
I see that those which are aloft        15
  Mishap doth threaten most of all:
They get with toil, they keep with fear:
Such cares my mind could never bear.
Content I live, this is my stay;
  I seek no more than may suffice;        20
I press to bear no haughty sway;
  Look, what I lack my mind supplies.
Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring.
Some have too much, yet still do crave;        25
  I little have, and seek no more.
They are but poor, though much they have,
  And I am rich with little store;
They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;
They lack, I leave; they pine, I live.        30
I laugh not at another’s loss,
  I grudge not at another’s gain;
No worldly waves my mind can toss;
  My state at one doth still remain:
I fear no foe, I fawn no friend;        35
I loathe not life, nor dread my end.
Some weigh their pleasure by their lust,
  Their wisdom by their rage of will;
Their treasure is their only trust,
  A cloak├Ęd craft their store of skill;        40
But all the pleasure that I find
Is to maintain a quiet mind.
My wealth is health and perfect ease,
  My conscience clear my chief defence;
I neither seek by bribes to please,        45
  Nor by deceit to breed offence:
Thus do I live; thus will I die;
Would all did so as well as I!


Sunday, May 17, 2015

'Only connect'.......

E. M. Foster's admonition to 'only connect' seems like a good principle to follow in life and art. 

After hearing Paul Van Nevel's http://www.huelgasensemble.be/welcome.php' Music for Apocalyptic Times 1200-1400 last week with R in Notre Dame de la Chapelle in Brussels and last Friday evening a concert by La Chapelle Sauvage http://www.lachapellesauvage.be/at the Onze Lieve Vrouw Kirk in Brugge I have been considering the connection between the sound of the human voice and the particular acoustics created by these sacred spaces constructed largely from traditional materials like stone, brick, plaster and wood. 

Birth- The Nativity by Pieter Pourbus- overlooked by the angle of death surmounting a marble tombstone in the Onze Lieve Vrouw Kirk, Brugge.   
It may be that the natural hydraulic lime which I am using to point and render the old bricks both inside and outside of the house has particular acoustic properties which resonate to sound vibrations in the same way that it absorbs and refracts light to create a very subtle muted colour in addition to 'breathing' naturally with the changing weather conditions. 

Bricks and plaster can become fascinating surfaces especially if you are stripping back, pointing and re-rendering these surfaces just for their natural beauty. It is a salutary lesson to any artist to remember that Michelangelo had to be an expert lime plasterer in order to paint fresco's which like require three layers moving from coarse to fine progressively, which is the same even if you are not painting the Sistine Chapel.........! 

Consolidating and conserving old brick work seems to be driven by both necessity and aesthetics -this labour of love requires patience and judgement but the result has a modern rustic appearance that can be  very satisfying - as long as the rest of the space is clean and warm, fully fitted with hot and cold water and does not remain a building site. 

The effects of light on gently modelled surfaces of natural lime plaster in both real and imaginary spaces, seems to be the subject of most of Fra Angelico's frescos in the monk's cells at San Marco's in Florence in which art and life, interior and exterior worlds, mirror and reflect each other. 

Now that the 'vergunning' has arrived the work is finally scheduled for the end of June and I can look forward to a summer of chipping back loose plaster and render, scraping out the joints, pointing and rendering brickwork both inside and out where necessary whilst the builder, plumber and electrician complete the essential works over July

Terrace wall being prepared for pointing.
Meanwhile elsewhere I continue to experiment with further abstractions for F using Bauhaus inspired elements in a project I am sharing with the 9th grade art class based on composing with squares and other simple geometric forms within a frame. They have to research Klee, Kandinsky, Albers and Itten as part of their investigation and search out the connections between art, music, dance and drama in specific examples of these artists works. Below are a few examples of my own works in progress......... 

GA Series 3 a - various stages.

GA series 3 b

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Art Brussels and Antwerp Zoo


Visited Art Brussels with AA a couple of weeks ago. Existentialist statements presented in forms familiar from popular consumer culture challenged the viewer with subtle dissonance and mild disjuncture between form and content that seemed to be echoed throughout by both the venue and format of Art Brussels itself in what appeared packaged and marketed as a large industrial trade show of galleries in what is essentially a warehouse or hangar size environment dedicated to the network of global consumerism sponsored by a medley of brands and corporate finance. I suppose the church and feudalism sponsored the art of the middle ages in a comparable if  somewhat different cosmos 600 years ago.   

There was a plethora of clever visual conceits and double ironies.  Oslo Contemporary had a display of statistical charts that appeared to suggest, perhaps not absurdly or ironically given contemporary educational practice in some quarters, that there could be measurable data for the following categories: Secrets and Hidden Structures in History, Greed and Desire in Genetics, Hope and Reality in Political Science, Feminism in Theory, and Chance, Faith and Destiny in Astrophysics and Space Science.  

I found myself aestheticising the banal and ordinary in much the same way that several of the 'works of art' seemed to be doing in a playful and engaging manner..........

Work of art 

Floor of Art Brussels 

Work of art 

White box conspicuously 'hiding' electronics 

Gallery chair with ubiquitous laptop 

On earlier trip to Antwerp Zoo with A I captured an image of this strange creature behind the glass in the reptile house - its a great place to observe people, especially if you are an animal.