When I look at objects; especially stone, but also wood, twisted pieces of wire, well almost anything, I see things. I like saying that the stone tells me what it wants to be. Sometimes people look at me strangely, sometimes they just look at me, and sometimes they laugh.

Sometimes people understand.

While I make the sculpture I normally have a phrase that keeps circling in my mind, this is usually the direction the sculpture takes. The sculptures are a relatively direct link to my experience of life. This is the way I can comment on what I perceive as important at a specific time.

Sometimes while I am busy with the sculpture, I will catch myself smiling, even giggling, and that to me is the indication that what I am busy with is worthwhile. That is the reason I do sculpture, for those rare times when I smile because I know it is good.

The Shrine of my Art

 

I push my arm down my throat

to pull out my guts

I vomit my soul

and hurl my essence

onto the shrine of my art

 

I light it on fire

it has to hurt

it has to torture

 

I stand back

Tail between the legs

ears pulled back

imploring eyes

I beg double handed

for the smallest sign of appreciation

 

I am grateful

for every word of admiration

relieved when someone says

it is good art

 

The shrine of my art

on which I burn in flames

the shrine of my art

on which I daily offer myself

the shrine of my art

for which I torment myself

 

And if the muse smiles

the result stands proud

shining and golden in the sun

bright and pure and clean

on the shrine of my art

 

Together with the agony

springs eternal hope:

maybe one day I will turn

yoú into a convert

on the shrine of my art.

Some thoughts on art:

ART IS TECHNIQUE

Without perfect control over your medium creating art is impossible.  If you do not have the knowledge to build a house you can still attempt it but it will probably not be successful, and will definitely not look like the picture you had in your mind.

ART IS PLANNING

Your ideas have to be put on paper, and developed to make the painting successful.  Just copying a photo faithfully is good technique but not necessarily art. Let us use the building of a house as an example again.  Without a plan it won’t be possible to build a house; the kitchen is over there, and the lounge here, and the bathroom is on this side.  Maybe the plans aren’t any good but still the house will be built. Get the idea?

ART IS IMAGINATION

If you do not have ideas that you would like to express in art it would be very difficult to paint anything.  This is like painting the house before it was built, or even before you have thought of how to build it.  More importantly an artist is like an architect.  The architect can convert ideas into solid structures for different reasons: he has technique, he has imagination, and he has talent.  In architecture we also find better or the humdrum architects, some design hundreds of cluster homes and some design award winning building which become famous worldwide.  You have to think of it before you can make it.  And preferably something spectacular, something that has never been done before.

ART IS TALENT

Talent comes in so many forms that it is difficult to define it but without natural talent it is just putting paint on a canvas.  You must have talent to be able to make sense of all of the above.

If you paint pictures you are a painter.  If you repeatedly paint the same kind of thing over and over you are a painter; a landscape with the cute little house, the pretty seascape, the sweet little scene with the children playing.  Painters do this because it sells. People will buy it because it is familiar and they do not have to think.  I do blame these painters because to be a true artist you also have to educate the public to look at life differently.  Not follow in other people’s footsteps but to make your own.

WHAT IS IT TO BE AN ARTIST?

If you try to be an artist you avoid the mundane, you try to find new ways of saying the old things.  You find an old bone in the veld and have the imagination to turn it into an angel. You have the technique to change it.  You have the talent to bring all the elements together.

And then you must have the guts to hear: “ Oh goodness no, I do not want an old piece of bone in my house…”

Yes, that is art, a rich fulfilling life, just outside the normal, because you see and think just outside the normal.

But there is a little space for every person on the good earth, those of us who paint pictures because they enjoy it, and the poor artist who fly in the face of convention and try and make árt.  It depends on your bravery, or wilfulness, or purely how much cheek you have.

I will forge ahead, against the stream, I will keep trying to make art, because if I succeed it will remain long after I am gone, maybe if I am lucky, as something valuable.

That is what an artist does.

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