Tag Archives: nature

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

New Tanka Poem


I’ve been without t’internet for a couple of weeks due to moving house.

Whilst staring out of the living room window and pondering my new environment, this tanka poem occurred to me.

There’s something very calming and meditative about watching a murmuration of starlings. I feel lucky and blessed have witnessed one.

 

A murmuration

Of starlings swirling in and

Out of the early

Morning fog. Like avian

sceptres – were they truly here?

 

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Arc in the Park.


I’ve been helping out on a project for the past six weeks or so. It’s a collaboration between Arc and The Whitworth Art Gallery.

The project was called ‘A Love Letter to Whitworth Park’ and was facilitated by an extremely talented artist by the name of Wendy Hunter and project managed by Annette from Arc.

For four weeks, the aim was to engage older people with the nature of the park and the art of the gallery. (At least, that was my take on it.) Then, via the mediums of painting, printing, collage, photography, cups of tea, poetry and prose; participants expressed their ‘love’ for the park in a variety of techniques.

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The project culminated in an exhibition in the gardens of The Whitworth Art Gallery in Arc’s very own Geodome! (Which is a bugger to put up, believe me.) Thousands upon thousands came to view… okay, maybe not thousands. But there were loads. Certainly more than you could count on an abacus.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and lots of kids came along to colour in bird stencils and stick them on the tree Wendy and the participants made. They also did a nice job of polishing off all the cupcakes. (Maybe that was just my kids.)

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Anyhoo, onwards and upwards – don’t forget it’s the Saturday Art Club at Arc this Saturday 29th July. 11am – 4pm. Free parking. Great for families/kids.

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Other shout-outs and credits go to: Daisy and Francine from The Whitworth Art Gallery; Ruth from The University of Manchester; Annette and Jacqui from Arc, and last, but not least, The A-Team: Becky, Kath, Mark and Tim. (Oh, and Becky’s Mam and Dad for the sarnies and help packing up.)

 

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The Boating Party with Outside Authority


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The Boating Party is a series of Q&As with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, illustrators, designers and the like.

In times of economic hardship, the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are one of the most important aspects of our civilisation.

Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy.

Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society. To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

Perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where is the creativity that will solve the world’s problems going to come from? Including economic and scientific ones?

In this Q&A, I am delighted to welcome artist Outside Authority.

What can I tell you about OA? Not a lot really. She’s very secretive. She does a blog I follow. She posts images of drawings and paintings she’s done. Apart from that, I’m as much in the dark as you are. This Q&A will help us all get to know her a little better. She likes to keep pretty anonymous. Which is rare in today’s reality TV world we live in.

I like her work. A lot. (Here come the adjectives.) It feels spontaneous and fresh. Full of energy and vitality. It’s reminiscent of David Hockney and Joan Eardley. Anyway, you can decide for yourself after the Q&A.

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What’s your greatest personal achievement?

Opening bat and best bowling figures of the season.

What inspires you?

People who have a go.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

A Joan Eardley exhibition.

What makes you unhappy?

Smug people.

What makes you happy?

The seaside.

What are you reading?

The Double – Jose Saramago.

What are you listening to?

Let’s Wrestle.

What’s your favourite film?

Once Upon a Time in the West.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

About 20 years before I was born to meet the relatives who died before I was born or I can’t remember.

What frightens you?

There’s this man busking on the embankment that is dressed like a dog in a basket. It’s an abomination, he was licking his paw!!

What do you do to relax?

Read.

What do you do when you are angry?

Rant and hector.

What can’t you live without?

Marmite, sleep.

What’s your motto?

“It’s either too bloody hot or too bloody cold.”

Where is your utopia?

It’s a field or meadow far away with either a donkey or a pig in it.

If you only had one year to live, what would you do?

Email my resignation and hot foot it to Norfolk and Scotland.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket and why?

God, how do you choose? Jamie Oliver, apolitical my arse.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Alex Hales.

What are you working on at the moment?

Colour.

What is your ambition?

Retire asap.

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?

At present, make my combination boiler stop faulting and make hot water. Make that all combination boilers, I am altruistic.

Which 6 people would you invite to your boating party?

John Steed, Bodie, George from Seinfeld, my sister, my daughter, Joan Eardley.

What would be on the menu?

Beetroot and some other things.

What question do you wish I’d asked?

Who’s your favourite darts player?

I love nearly all of them, but will have to go with Steve ‘the Adonis’ Beaton.

Thank you Outside Authority.

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Biography:

3 things you already know about me:
I have a blog.
I draw and paint.
I am Outside Authority.

Born in the sticks, OA was always going to go to Art school right up to the time she didn’t. With the odd life class inbetween, the creative urge fought its way back through a boring job and a new loft. She likes painting, drawing, printing, stitching people, animals and things and doesn’t see any reason why she should stop soon.

https://outsideauthority.wordpress.com/

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Cherry Blossom perfume


How to make Cherry Blossom perfume.

1. Find a cherry blossom tree.

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2. Gather fallen cherry blossom petals.

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3. Place cherry blossom petals in a cup and add water.

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4. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to soak overnight. (Add other flowers if desired.)

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5. Sieve liquid into a vial – voila! You have cherry blossom perfume.

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Things for which I am grateful #48/365


No, not hedges.

What’s inside them. Well, inside this one in my front garden.

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Sparrows.

There must be about a dozen of them nesting in there. And what I love about them is their chatter. They chirrup away all day. It’s quite easy not to hear them if you’re pottering about the house with the radio or TV on. But, I tend not to have either on during the day. So I can sit and listen to them singing away while I’m writing at my laptop. It really is so simply beautiful.

They take it it turns to fly off and gather food. Well, when I say, take it in turns, it might be the same one going back and forth. I have no way of differentiating between them.

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The only time they are quiet is during the night and if I approach the hedge. I sometimes wonder what their whispered chirps are saying to each other while I am watching them.

Sparrow: Jack! Jack, it’s that bloke again.

Jack: What’s he doing?

Sparrow: He’s just staring.

Jack: At the hedge?

Sparrow: Hu-uh.

Jack: Is he wearing a hospital gown?

Sparrow: No. He’s smiling.

Jack: At the hedge?

Sparrow: Pretty much.

Jack: That’s it, we’re moving.

 

Then I go for a lie down.

But, the point I am trying to make is, that there are plenty of beautiful things all around us, if we only stop to look and listen.

 

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Things I am grateful for #18


Our gaff – Mother Earth.

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We live in a veritable paradise. Why would you want to go to heaven, when we already live in one?

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But you wouldn’t know that to listen to the news. That’s because, what turns our Garden of Eden into Hell – is Mankind. And I chose that word carefully. Not, Humankind. Not Womankind. But, Mankind.

You know what? If we banned men from governance, (yes, I know that would be discrimination). But, if we banned men from governing countries, or leading armies, or heading up religions, I bet we’d have a lot less conflict in the world.

A bit preachy? Maybe. I bit worthy? Perhaps. After all, where would we be without the internet, or medicine, or technology? Most of these innovations have come via the military.

I’m not advocating a return to the Stone Age. Just a little more awareness of what we do have, before it’s all gone.

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