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The 10th Muse

There were nine muses in ancient Greek mythology. Daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, they were the divine inspiration behind human artistic and scientific endeavour. Calliope is probably the most well known, she is the muse responsible for inspiring heroic/epic poetry. Erato is the inspiration behind love poetry.

Because I love art, a couple of years ago, I promised myself I would do some form of art every day. Whether it be a few lines of poetry or prose, a sketch, doodle or a painting – or even taking a photograph. I think I do two types of art – conscious and unconscious.

When I consciously do something, I think about what it is I want to paint, how I want to paint it, materials, medium, etc. And I have an image in my mind’s eye about what I want to achieve. Invariably, I am slightly disappointed with the finished piece because it never lives up to the ambition of my imagination. The enjoyment was in doing it in the first place.

The second type is my unconscious art. I pick up whatever is at hand and just express myself without thinking about it. Whether it be in words or brushstrokes. I tend to get more satisfaction out of this kind of work because I don’t have any preconceived standard I was hoping to meet in my mind.

And it is this work that I sometimes question whether it is actually ‘me’ who is doing it. Or, rather my unconscious connection to the rest of the energy of the universe that my own sub-atomic particles are inextricably linked with. My Divine Muses, if you like. I am merely a conduit to put the marks on paper, canvas, or pizza box lid. (My muses do like a lot of pizza.)

Yeah, I’m aware that all sounds a bit pretentious and hippy-trippy, but you can’t escape the fact that our subconscious selves have an awful lot to say if you only let them speak.

Anyhoo, here’s what the muses wanted me to say recently…

Frida Kahlo inspired by the novel “The Lacuna” by Barbara Kingsolver.
Inspired by The Gorillaz and the war in the Ukraine.
‘Noodle’, inspired by the Gorillaz and Euterpe.
‘Peppa loves jumping in bloody puddles,’ inspired by a recent court case in Russia over copyright.
Inspired by patients at Stepping Hill Hospital where I work.
Ditto for this one.
And this one.
Inspired by the Divine Proportion, or Golden Ratio.
Inspired by Ourania.
Inspired by Melpomene.
Inspired by Polymnia.

I am very passionate about the act of ‘doing’ art being the most important aspect of it, rather than the end result. I see the benefits of this in patients with mental illness all the time. Yes, it can be insightful, but it doesn’t have to be. It can just be mindful, cathartic, meditative, expressive. And most importantly, you don’t have to be good at art to do it – it’s about the process, not the result.

Because, when you open yourself up and let the muses in – be they divine, subconscious, or Earthly, that’s when you really feel the joy of doing art.

Oh, and the 10th Muse?

For me, it’s the Golden Ratio.

More on her another time.

I don’t think there is a muse of epic tidying.

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Gold for London 2012 – A marathon event.

As you clever people probably know, the marathon sporting event got its name from The Battle of Marathon in 490 BC between the Persians, under Darius I, and Athens.

A force of 10,000 Athenians took on an estimated 600,000 invading Persians on the plains of Marathon, north east of Athens.

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Marathon today. (Or yesterday. Not sure when it was taken.)

Under cover of darkness the Athenian hoplites dished out some Greek whupass killing an estimated 6,500 Persians while suffering a meagre 200 dead in reply.

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Athenian hoplites

Pheidippides, a Greek messenger, was promptly dispatched from Marathon to Athens to herald their great victory over the Persians. And the distance? 26 miles, of course. Hence, why the marathon is 26 miles in length.

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You can still visit the Plains of Marathon where the battle took place. But, unfortunately, due to global realignment, it’s been renamed The Battle of Snickers.

That extremely clunky segue leads me on to the point of this post: London 2012 Olympic Games.

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about an ad by Channel 4 for the Paralympics called Meet the Superhumans, stating that I didn’t have much interest in the Olympics.

But, after Danny Boyle’s [et al] Olympic opening ceremony, I was absolutely gripped by London 2012 fever.

Diametrically apposed to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, this was a celebration of what makes Britain – its people. Everything from farmers and factory workers to suburban life and our glorious NHS.

Music, dance, literature, art, comedy, it was all there in surreal bucket loads. (Could’ve done without the whole Queen nonsense, mind.)

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London 2012 opening ceremony

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London 2012 opening ceremony

To me, the London 2012 Olympics have helped me define what it means to be British. Not whether I am English or part of a group of home nations called England, Scotland and Wales. But a veritable smorgasbord of eclectic cultures and diverse backgrounds from all over the globe.

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London 2012 opening ceremony

London 2012 opening ceremony

London 2012 opening ceremony

London 2012 opening ceremony

The London 2012 Olympics made me feel proud to be British.

Our athletes are the true knights of the realm.

Not business people. Business people get money. That is their reward. That is what they strive for. They don’t do it for Britain. They do it for themselves. And that’s fine. That’s their path.

These athletes chose a different path. They have sacrificed everything just to be called an Olympian. And, maybe, just maybe, be great enough to win a medal.

On Mount Olympus, the mighty Zeus would have made Jessica Ennis a demi-goddess.

Here are just a few of my personal highlights, but I take nothing away from all the other athletes who took part and made it a festival of sport worthy of the ancient gods of Olympus.

I salute you all.

Mo Farah, 5k and 10k

Andy Murray after whuppin’ Federer.

Jade Jones, taekwondo.

Beth Tweddle, gymnastics.

Bradley Wiggins, cycling.

The Brownlee bros., triathlon.

Nicola Adams, first ever woman to win an Olympic medal in boxing. (And she’s from Leeds!)

Jason Kenny, riding a bike.

Laura Trott, going for a jaunt.

The legend – Victoria Pendleton sharing the love.

The demi-goddess, Jessica Ennis, heptathlon.


Filed under community, Games, Innovation, Inspiration, Sport