Terrible Trouble

It’s 1st June. I’m fairly certain, and don’t quote me on this, that it’s now British Summer Time. Check your paper diary and see what it says. There are four seasons in the year: Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn. That gives us a whopping three months for every season, it’s wonderful! We get to see the entire world change every three months, over and over forever! You wouldn’t believe what the Victorians of Great Britain were like, they thought they could bulldoze the landscape and refashion it to their every whim. They found out that at best they can do some gardening and don’t mess with a river. I mean it’s common sense really don’t you think?

Of course there were exceptions. Many landscapers created beautiful gardens that are still in tact today. They created public parks which couldn’t be taken away from the community which are still here today.

I’m from Cardiff. I was born there in the 80’s and grew up there. Like most people from Cardiff I was absolutely fascinated with my home. There seemed to be something magical about the entire city that as a child I didn’t realise was unique to Cardiff.

Cardiff is the capitol of Wales but it hasn’t always been. In fact Cardiff has only been a city for just over a hundred years. To constitute a city you need to have at least one cathedral, which in Cardiff is Llandaff cathedral. Before that point Cardiff was the centre of the Welsh coal mining industry as well as other raw materials. Coal extracted from the coal seams found deep in the Welsh Valleys of Rhondda Cynon Taff was sent to Cardiff and exported around the world. Other ports such as Barry attempted to compete but only came second. Cardiff was made a city in 1905.

The 3rd Marquess of Bute, John Crichton Stuart, helped to develop the industry of Cardiff. The Butes were a wealthy Scottish family. John Stuart rebuilt Cardiff Castle which were Roman ruins at that point. He worked across different systems of business, design, science, faith, and belief to manage the economy of Cardiff. Formerly Cardiff had been a busy region of farms, villages, and a port. Cardiff would have been an ancient region with complex social relationships with other areas of Wales and the wider community of Great Britain. Trade is a very old system of business which works within society and culture as the life blood of their community. It’s essential to the management of a community and the country’s hierarchy.

The 3rd Marquess of Bute died in 1900. At this point Cardiff would have functioned as an international trade centre of a valuable resource essential to global society and world infrastructure. ‘The end is nigh’ would have been on every front newspaper for all sorts of reasons: It’s the turn of the century, the Church isn’t scientific, the abolishment of slavery, colonialism was running out of steam, and the powers that be would have had a good whiff of something called workers rights. Those incredible combustion chambers at the front carriage of a steam train would have needed an enormous amount of coal to function. Perhaps new technology was on the horizon?

World War One broke out in 1914 and lasted for four years which isn’t very long in war waging terms. It would have been fought on horse back and I haven’t seen photographic material of World War One. Only paintings. World War Two was essentially documented like much of the colonial enterprises at that point in time. ‘The port’s coal trade fell off dramatically after 1918 and ceased altogether in 1963,’ (Britannica, 2020) The entire industry and infrastructure of the region would have been decimated within a few decades. The 3rd Marquess of Bute was survived by four children who had died by the end of the fifties. A very important business, trade, and natural resource centre was essentially wiped off the map. It would have been methodical, and it’s written into the history books that the coal was then acquired from other countries such as China for less money and where there were fewer workers rights.

Cardiff today is a thriving, bustling, healthy economy. An important cultural and historical trade centre with international and global influence. I was educated there, I grew up there, and I am who I am because I was born there. It’s the reason I’m an artist.

I have two new works up on my portfolio. These two projects were an entire month in the making. I did preliminary drawings which I then lost and I was documenting the impact of Coronavirus on the local community. I also had to take a break again in a way and just let the impact of the last three months simmer down. I usually undertake a daily observational art study, I also blog several times through out the week, I like to capture fresh ideas and pin them to my social media profiles as soon as humanly possible. I feel like I’ve dropped the ball in a way.

Please do visit my portfolio and I would love to know what you think.

Choose Wisely

It’s the 1st April and I’m happy to bring you a new post. My new project Holding On’ is now here. I’m about to finish my project for March and it will be uploaded to my portfolio shortly. I’m now in a regular routine of creating short term projects which is keeping me focused and I’m really grateful. I’ve built up a routine where I can create as much as is possible, it’s really providing a sense of achievement. My Patreon page is up and running. I post to my Art Journal every Tuesday, and Why Art? On a Saturday. I’m building up my Patreon page but it will take a bit longer.

I’ve created a lifestyle blog called The Labour Is The Maker where I post daily about daily living. It’s probably not in the true sense of a lifestyle blog where I present a fabulously enviable life of glamour, but I have found it really quite helpful. It moves all my personal thoughts and feelings regarding this life and how to manage it to a specific page. I spend a lot less time on social media as a result. Twitter has me in stitches and I consider my Twitter feed a vital part of my practice, but I would prefer to keep my time on there to a minimum. I love Instagram and I post an image nearly every day, but I want to change the conversation a little bit and not spend too much time there either.

In terms of my art practice this means I’m now posting quite a lot and that takes up time, it’s something I want to do because I think around the work and what’s involved a lot. I keep notes and diaries and I want to write frequently about the process of art making, the value in art making, and reflect on those things.

With world events I haven’t been able to get to the places I need to get to so I’ve had to continue putting things together from home. It’s a frustrating time but also an opportunity to evaluate. I hope you are doing well during quarantine and see you 1st May!

Redefining Success

Success has gained a new meaning for me. I printed off the word ‘success’ and posted it up in my hallway over my desk. I now see success every time I get up. When something deters you from taking a course of action, then taking at least one step in that direction is success. Creating small habits that will allow you to tackle bigger projects, ideas and issues is success. Communicating when you want to shut down is success. Retaining your memories instead of feeling ashamed and trying to forget is success.

During my college years I was in a destructive relationship and I was really ill when it finished. That experience became part of my work and I took positive steps to reframe what I had experienced. I focused on making work that helped me to see how beautiful the world is, how important faith and hope are. I put myself through college and when I completed the course I was able to apply for university and move on. That was my idea of success. Once I had started university I realised I couldn’t quite understand how I had done the work that I had, I couldn’t seem to repeat what I had created. I looked at other subjects but that feeling that I no longer felt the world was beautiful, that I no longer had hope or faith and I needed to do something else marred everything I was doing. I didn’t feel successful despite being at university and having a job. Maybe it was everything else that was going on but an important aspect of living in the world in feeling that you are able to succeed, to contribute, to be positive.

Consciousness is in part defined by our awareness, but we can not be conscious at all times of how everything we are experiencing fits together. When we try to understand someone else’s experiences we are just as limited. Within those limitations, however, we can achieve a lot. Art communicates, mediates, expresses and draws upon our consciousness.

I have spent a great deal of time searching for ideas and concepts that would aid me in understanding why I was experiencing the world the way that I was and what I could do about it. I found articles, books, films, art and music that provided part of the answer. Now when I write or draw or paint or sew or speak – I understand that in all likely hood someone might be experiencing the same thing I was. I speak to them even if they’re not in the same space as me because I know others have created in the same way.

We are having a general election here in the UK and it is a pivotal moment for the whole country. I will be voting for Labour on the 12th December. The general election will shape our country for us and for future generations. I don’t mind saying that I am praying.