To be an artist you need belief, indefatigable trust in yourself and honesty in what you do. It isn’t easy. Everyday we are confronted and put in situations in which we are put to the test. In essence an artist is someone who seeks the truth and that truth must come from the inside out. No matter what people say about you or your work it has no ultimate bearing on how you feel about your mark, process, search for the essence, the point of your existence. Money, fame, celebrity, material success, will never fill the gap, is not the goal. The goal is indefinable. It is a star we reach for. This need is what makes us human and as an artist you are always aware of the larger picture, sensitive to the truth, the search, the question, the possibility. A true artist must ultimately look for the truth in the work.
Earlier this week there was a good documentary on Sean Scully, one of the great painters of the last 25 – 30 years. The documentary was centred around boxing and his work and the relationship between the two. There were two, no, three points I remember, three points that meant most to me. The first was that he had left England because artists in England had become fixated with image and brand. For him that was too much to bear. For him art has a noble purpose and England (not just England, mind you – it is symptomatic of our western globalised culture) had forgotten that. Which brings me to the second point, that he felt that art leaves a permanent footprint in the sands of time – the making and expression of culture is timeless. His third point centred around the whole crux of the documentary, boxing. For him boxing was an art and as he talked to Barry McGuigan, looked through the history boxing, talked about the abstract expressionists as well as Hemingway and Norman Mailer you realised how much sport was connected to art. For me this is no great revelation. I love sport, I see great similarities between sport and art and although I don’t play any sports I love watching it and have never understood why, in the arts, with people I know, it is almost a badge of honour to NOT KNOW anything about sport, as if it somehow dilutes ones integrity. Ridiculous, ridiculous, ridiculous.
Today I watched Manchester United beat Manchester City in a football game (1 – 0 and I’d just like to make the point that they shouldn’t have won but did in injury time). As the players were coming off the pitch the tv cameras panned across the ManU players and there was a shot of Gary Neville (in case you don’t know Gary Neville grew up in Manchester, has been in United all his life and is at the end of his career) grabbing the Man United crest on his jersey and pulling at it, tugging at it, in pride, love and tribal recognition of what they had achieved. They had to win and as a team, a group they did. That honesty, trust, belief and pride won the game.
We must not lose sight of what is important. Without honesty, trust, belief in our expression, our truth, we are just a reflection of an image created by somebody else
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