Tag Archives: community

Adieu 2019.


Well, it’s been an eventful year, to say the least.

I’ve been doing a lot more visual arts this year, so I thought I’d do a month-by-month, blow-by-blow, pictorial representation of my year. (Lucky you.)

Actually, the reason behind it is to see if/how the images/moods have changed over the course of the year. And how that might correlate to my mental health.

As some of you know, I volunteer for an arts charity called Arc, (Arts for Recovery in the Community), which works with people with mental health issues. I am an ardent advocate of the arts as a medium to treat mental health, and wellbeing in general.

Many years ago, I visted the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and you could see the gradual decline in his mental health through his work.

Whilst I’m no Van Gogh, I am trying to see if there are any similar patterns to my own work.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

And before I forget; Have a Happy New Year and an absolutely spectacular 2020.

JANUARY

Oh dear… that’s not a good start.

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FEBRUARY

That’s a bit more positive. Birthday trip to Haworth, West Yorkshire, (home of the Brontes’), with my daughters.

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MARCH

Pros: Part of an Arc exhibition. Cons: Became homeless.

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APRIL

Ee, it’s grim up north. Charcoal sketch of an L.S. Lowry.

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MAY

“Are you sure you’re all right?”

Rehomed.

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JUNE

Think I can see a pattern emerging.

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JULY

Rehab.

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AUGUST

I guess a lot of things are obvious in hindsight.

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SEPTEMBER

The road to recovery.

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OCTOBER

Signs of improvement.

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NOVEMBER

Apart from my volunteer work at Arc, I started facilitating a Creative Writing Workshop at The Wellspring homeless charity in Stockport.

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There are always reminders.

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DECEMBER

A change of outlook.

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As you can see, it’s been a tumultuous year.

I feel very fortunate to be able to experience the last day of it. That would not have been possible were it not for the actions of my dear friend, Siobhan Costigan, over in Australia. Her, and my friends, family, NHS, Stepping Hill Hospital, Pathfinder, AA, The Wellspring and Arc have all played their part in saving my life and helping me to recover. And I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

As of 31/12/2019, I am 140 days abstinent. I feel completely blessed that I have been able to experience 140 days on Earth with my daughters, family and friends that I might not have been able to. I am truly a lucky man.

I wish you all a magnificent 2020; may the forthcoming decade bring you everything that you hope and dream for.

 

Addendum.

If you, or a loved one, are going through a difficult time, there are organisations out there who can help. Reaching out isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength that you have managed to hold on this far. And remember, if things get so bad, go to your nearest A&E dept., they will take care of you just like any other patient.

The Samaritans call 116 123

NHS call 111 or 999

Alcoholics Anonymous call 0800 917 7650

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Filed under Art, Children, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, health, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, love, Medicine, mental health, Nature, nhs, Philosophy, Photography, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

Mark Coffey – Fine Art Photographer


I first met fine art photographer Mark Coffey at Arc, where we both volunteer.

If you don’t know already, Arc is an amazing place. It’s a gallery and centre for creativity, learning, fun and wellbeing. You should pop along if you’re in the Stockport area. (They do a fabulous job for the community and a mean cafetiere of fresh coffee.)

He teaches photography, photoshop and design. Whilst I just potter about making a nuisance of myself.

Anyways, he’s been helping me with a little exhibition I’m putting together at the Oasis cafe at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport. We were chatting away, as you do, when he mentioned his website, so I went over and took a look. There’s some great work on it, so I thought I’d share it with the class.

Some shots are fun and frivolous, whilst others are mean and moody. And some, don’t involve alliteration at all. (But, are striking images, nonetheless.)

Depending on which images you’re looking at, they are reminiscent of Saul Leiter, Martin Parr and Fan ho.

Have a mosey on over to Mark’s website for a more detailed look at his work.
After, you can nip down to Arc for a nice cup of tea and a Tunnock’s teacake.

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Ewa Konior, Polish, artist, Arc gallery, Stockport

Hey! How did that get on here? To be fair, Mark did take it. (When I wasn’t looking!)

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Filed under Architecture, Art, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Design, Education, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, mental health, Nature, Photography, Uncategorized

How Art can Save the World


Okay, let’s go back in time a while.

No, even before Sky +. I’m talking about waaaay back, before we paltry humans ever even had like proper words to talk with.

Before language, before literacy, before art, before music, before KFC, before farming, before religion, before the bronze age, before the stone age, before politics, before war, before society.

Now that’s a long time ago. That’s nearly as long ago as Leeds United last won a trophy.

I’m talking about when a bloke in a cave was trying to tell his mate that there was this big mother-fucker-mammoth down by the base of the volcano that would feed the tribe for a year – if they had a refrigerator. It’s like a scene from an early episode of Give us a clue. Except he can’t. Because language hasn’t been invented yet.

So, in frustration, the caveman, let’s call him Herb, picks up a charcoal ember from the fire and starts trying to draw what he’s seen on the cave wall. His mate, let’s call him Frank, has a bemused look on his face as if to say: You can’t draw for shit. Except he doesn’t because he can’t talk.

Eventually, after a bit of practice, Herb’s pictograms start taking shape. Suddenly, the penny drops, (except currency hasn’t been invented yet), and Frank mimics what he perceives to be a mammoth down by the volcano. Herb excitedly points one index finger at him whilst simultaneously placing his other index finger on the tip of his nose.

And thus, Art was created. (And Game Shows.)

And lo, the tribe was fed.

And while sitting around the camp fire gnawing on a mammoth hoof, Frank gesticulates that Herb’s mammoth looked more like his missus than a mammoth.

And there begineth the bar-room brawl.

Now, what better way to finish off a good feed than a bit of a knees-up. So Herb picks up a couple of sticks and starts tapping out a beat on a hollowed out log. Frank and his missus, let’s call her Marjorie, start tapping their feet and before you know it they’re cutting a jig around the fire almost setting light to Marge’s sabre-tooth tiger print frock.

And lo, music was created.

And the tribe was happy.

So, maybe it was a wet day in caveman land and all the paints were a bit soggy. Or maybe there weren’t any cave walls to paint on. Or maybe there was just too much to say for one picture. But at some stage, somebody somewhere decided that ‘ug’ meant mammoth. And ‘og’ meant dinner. Then Marge said something along the lines of: ug, og, ag, pig, bag, nog, bok, jim-jams, flim-flam, muktub, jimmy choo, pak choi, bic, ram, mo jo.

Thus, language was born. And men became hen-pecked.

And we could communicate with each other. Then came writing so we could pass on information to people we couldn’t speak to – either people faraway or people in the future.

This meandering post is about creativity. And humankind’s ability to ingeniously invent and create things to make our lives better.

Now, to my point:

The first thing western governments cut in a recession is the arts. But it is the arts, in their broadest form: language, music, literature, poetry, art etc, that have shaped all the world’s civilizations.

Without the arts, we don’t have culture. And without culture, we don’t have society. Without society we don’t have civilization and without civilisation we have anarchy.

The UK government is slashing budgets left right and centre, with anything remotely to do with the arts top of the list. With all these austerity measures citizen’s wills are bending to breaking point. And it is only going to get worse. We’ve already seen students rioting. It doesn’t take a genius to work out where this is all heading.

Maybe investing in areas that nurture our more creative and innovative sides might get us all through this economic depression into an era that shows just how ingenious and resourceful we are.

Okay, so money-where-my-mouth-is time.

Here are a couple of suggestions for ideas that could change the way we live and learn.

First up:

Vote in the wall.

This is an idea I had a while ago about how to encourage a bigger turn out in elections. Basically to hi-jack cash machines on polling day.

It would result in more people voting, which would, if had been around at the last election, have resulted in a different government. Which, let’s be fair, would be better for everyone who’s not involved with banking.

Second:

Zero Debt.

Reset all the world’s bank balances to zero and start again.
What about all the people who are actually owed money! I hear you cry.
Well, maybe the banks should suffer a little bit too. If they can make billions in profits so soon after the recession, I’m sure it wouldn’t take them too long to make their money back.

Third.

Book Depositories.

Now that the ConDems are closing all our libraries (apologies to anyone outside the UK who this doesn’t apply to), how about we turn libraries into Book Depositories?

Where rich, poor, middle class can drop off their ‘used’ books so that others might benefit.

You could even have a tie-in with books shops. ‘Drop-off’ bins instore where books can be collected then redistributed to libraries/depsoitories. What’s in it for the book shop? Well, you’ve got a customer in your shop who’s already predisposed to buying books.

I was fortunate enough to live, literally across-the-road from a small library. I used to take my kids to it all the time. It wasn’t anything to do with not being able to afford books. It was a great experience for them.

There were computers for people who didn’t have the internet. There were bridge clubs, scrabble clubs, god, they even had books!

Now it’s closing down.

This wasn’t just a library. It was a community centre.

So… Council owned, and run, Book Depositories where the council doesn’t have to pay a penny for the stock on its shelves.

There you are now,

Ideas change the world. People have ideas.

Let’s put our noodles together and creatively figure a way out of this mess.

We owe it to Herb, Frank and Marjorie. Oh, and Miriam, who’s Herb’s partner, but is a bit shy.

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Filed under Art, community, Ideas, Illustration, Politics