Contemplations at the onset of Autumn

photography, poetry

IMG_3940

The First Days of Autumn

Sometimes it Happens

 And sometimes it happens that you are friends and then
 You are not friends,
 And friendship has passed.
 And whole days are lost and among them
 A fountain empties itself.

 And sometimes it happens that you are loved and then
 You are not loved,
 And love is past.
 And whole days are lost and among them
 A fountain empties itself into the grass.

 And sometimes you want to speak to her and then
 You do not want to speak,
 Then the opportunity has passed.
 Your dreams flare up, they suddenly vanish.

 And also it happens that there is nowhere to go and then
 There is somewhere to go,
 Then you have bypassed.
 And the years flare up and are gone,
 Quicker than a minute.

 So you have nothing.
 You wonder if these things matter and then
 As soon you begin to wonder if these things matter
 They cease to matter,
 And caring is past.
 And a fountain empties itself into the grass.      Brian Patten

Crafty by the minute.

blogging, craft, illustration

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I had a friend knock on my door today, full of modern day fury at an annoyance that was the final straw to break the camel of the day’s back.  It made me stop and think for a moment.  My husband too has been suffering from some of this common malaise.  Our world where we live is to the brim with stress. Everywhere I look I see people are struggling to manage a stress full existence.  So where does my craft come in?  Simple, it occurred to me that I choose to make things because it feels good.  It makes sense to me in a world of complexity where alot of things make no sense whatsoever – how the local authorities spend our money, how the corporate institutions gamble , how corporate companies are allowed to default on tax bills,  the list is endless.  Making something slows down your world – you have to give your full attention to something you care about.  It distances you from all the anxieties that threaten to overwhelm, there is a reason for occupational therapy in healing institutions.  The brain is active on something that contains positivity.  And it doesn’t end there – it connects me to other crafters – I only buy from small producers now , whenever possible.  If I want an electric toothbrush I have to go to one of the retailers, but you know what I mean.  It feels good to choose a gift for a loved one that is specific to them, and I can do that more easily with makers who are happy to tweak and change details to accomodate my wishes.  Suddenly its a conversation, an exchange with real value.

And when I sell something I have made, invariably I get a wonderful feedback that puts a smile on my face for days.  It’s a life-enhancing loop.

So what I want to say today is have a go – try making something, anything – motorcycle maintenance would work too, anything that grabs you, do it. I can bet your bottom dollar you won’t regret it, even if it looks more like something your Auntie threw away, it’s fun, and everyone has to start somewhere!

And I want to say thank you to all my customers, and to everyone who buys handmade. Thank you.

With an eye made quiet

Art, blogging, Life, Thoughts, United Kingdom

Wherever you are  Anne Corr

The conscious mind hungers for success and prestige. The unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence, when the skull line disappears and we are lost in a challenge or a task — when a craftsman feels lost in his craft, when a naturalist feels at one with nature, when a believer feels at one with God’s love. That is what the unconscious mind hungers for. And many of us feel it in love when lovers feel fused. – David Brooks

This passage from David Brook’s excellent book came to mind this morning, as I lose myself in the playfulness of adjusting photographs mainly captured by my husband , and turning them into images with digital tools.  I hope to enhance the power of the image by using a variety of techniques, but most probably the best image is the one that is left alone.  It really doesn’t matter, because what I am getting from the process is something Brooks terms as limerence.  And I have sought it all my life. I am full of gladness that I have the privilege of time to use pursuing it. I was a young teen probably when I first became conscious of those moments of transcendence – it may have been earlier but my memory of my young childhood is barely apparent. What I do remember is making my way through a local park, violin in hand on the way to my lesson when I suddenly became aware of the smallest area of grass at my feet, and the overwhelming feeling of delightedness and joy.  It felt as though I had been in touch with magic, and for some time , years , I assumed it to be quasi religious.  That moment made me connect to a universe in a way that I wanted to do again and again.  What I didn’t know then was that those moments can’t be sought, they are of their own time, outside of any control by me. There have been others, but few and too far between – but the upshot of me feeling that moment was that it informed me about my choices, and it informs me still.

And that is why I love the opportunity to practice my craft – I only wish I could create the same peacefulness and abandon in the kitchen, but sadly not.

If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal — that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
Henry David Thoreau in Walden

 

Revering Joseph Cornell.

Art, blogging, books

owl habitat

Above is an assemblage by Joseph Cornell, the New Yorker  who was a genius at bringing together ephemera, and producing assemblage art in a time when the genre wasn’t really considered as art.  A collector extraordinaire,inspired by the surrealists and dedicated to the care of his brother whom he cared for and who sadly died early from his condition of cerebral palsy, this gentleman produced items that inspired a new generation of artists and writers, and well, just people.  His work inhabits the hinterland between the reality we live in, and the dreams we have, the inner realities that can sustain and sometimes seem more meaningful than the exterior lives we lead.  And that is why I love him. And that is why that love propelled me to produce my own small tribute to him.  A mixture of images from some of his work mixed with my own journeys into unreality.

IMG_8558a IMG_8554a IMG_8572a IMG_8560a - Copy

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/164010242/hand-made-artists-book-original-and?ref=shop_home_feat

The job writers do.

blogging, books, illustration, literature, poetry

Anne Corr Card illustration

 

I’m not sure this is quite true at the moment, I am listening to the singing birds as they trill their hearts out at the back of my house, and I do know what Christina Rossetti was getting at when she said it.  The truth is, I like the sentiment, and when I’m not feeling it, it helps to see the words in print to connect me to the memory of the feeling.  Does that make sense?  I have been thinking alot about this lately, the job that writers do.  In my life I can say it has been critical to my sense of who I am.  I would not have opened up my thoughts and feelings to the extent that I have were it not for the courage, resilience and imagination of authors like Golding, Jeannette Winterson, Ali Smith, Shakespeare, John Donne, Tolstoy. The list is long.  How does a writer feel about the impact they have on a fellow human beings life?  Sometimes I want a line to them directly, just to say thank you. Anyway, I love the fact that years, sometimes decades or centuries after their death, there is a connection that links me to them. A line, or a passage, and I want to use it in an illustration, or a card. Fantastic. Connections- I come back to this word time and time again. It thrills me how the whole world has an interconnectedness, and I want to bring attention to it.  So we all have some perception about how time and place are not barriers to feeling shared humanity. Just saying.

Beetles, botany and a man for all seasons.

Art, books, illustration, poetry
Alexander Marshalls watercolours 17th century

Alexander Marshalls watercolours 17th century

I have just finished another miniature book, and one that has given me immense pleasure researching and adapting into a further sample for my collection of collectables.

It is based on the engaging watercolour illustrations that Alexander Marshal created over thirty years during the 1600’s.  I am always drawn to the endeavours of creative people from the past, connecting me to a shared experience , a common humanity.  This was a man of private means, and fortunate enough to occupy himself fully in his chosen preoccupation.  Fortunate for him and for us, since the consequent 159 plates were eventually passed from his descendants to the Royal Collection, and rightly so.  A modest man, he refused to sell them to anyone during his lifetime, preferring to share them only with friends.  That highlights for me how the passion he held was for the joy it gave him, and for no other reason, like making a living.  He didn’t produce these exquisite drawings to catalogue , some he barely referred to , he just wanted to see the treasures of nature and record them in his own masterly way. A keen gardener  he collected new species of horticulture and was instrumental in helping to import some from the newly discovered Americas and supplying them to the great gardens across Britain.

I like gardeners in general, they seem to me to have the virtues of patience and consideration,  often combined with a poetic sensibility.  One of my favourite poets was a gardener, Stanley Kunitz.  I think he  would have approved on Marshals lifetime endeavour.  In tribute to both Marshal and Kunitz , here is one of his poems about an insect!

Hornworm: Autumn Lamentation by Stanley Kunitz
Since that first morning when I crawled
into the world, a naked grubby thing,
and found the world unkind,
my dearest faith has been that this
is but a trial: I shall be changed.
In my imaginings I have already spent
my brooding winter underground,
unfolded silky powdered wings, and climbed
into the air, free as a puff of cloud
to sail over the steaming fields,
alighting anywhere I pleased,
thrusting into deep tubular flowers.It is not so: there may be nectar
in those cups, but not for me.
All day, all night, I carry on my back
embedded in my flesh, two rows
of little white cocoons,
so neatly stacked
they look like eggs in a crate.
And I am eaten half away.

If I can gather strength enough
I’ll try to burrow under a stone
and spin myself a purse
in which to sleep away the cold;
though when the sun kisses the earth
again, I know I won’t be there.
Instead, out of my chrysalis
will break, like robbers from a tomb,
a swarm of parasitic flies,
leaving my wasted husk behind.

Sir, you with the red snippers
in your hand, hovering over me,
casting your shadow, I greet you,
whether you come as an angel of death
or of mercy. But tell me,
before you choose to slice me in two:
Who can understand the ways
of the Great Worm in the Sky?

If you are curious to see the resultant book that I have compiled, then you can see it from my Etsy page.  You can even buy it.

Rocking all the way home.

Art, blogging, photogaphy, poetry, United Kingdom

rock and seaweed Anne Corr

Landscape holds dominion here;

rock and light; half-light,

cloud  and shadow. Moving,

sweeping , ever-changing,

ever time-less.

I came here broken;

heart grieving life losses

(disconsolate, bereft).

Time locked down, moved on

Had gone elsewhere.  Here

I was still; silenced, petrified.

 

Rock, stone, light became as

near to enchantment as life.

The breath of the wind, and

flight of the mist kissed me,

mired in sadness, mourning for

what is not; fantasies

of a mortal mind.

 

All that has gone before;

here, remains. In heart of stone,

in the spirit of trees; blazoned

over sides of mountains,

gushing and rushing  in waterfalls

fierce as thunder.

 

I am rock, and stone; grass ,water,

sand and mist. Timeless, changed.

 

Here, and here, alone.

 

Sea and rock Anne Corr Rock and sea     Anne Corr

 

All creative endeavour here is by me, please do not copy or use it without prior consent.  Of course I mean the photos and the poem,  not the landscape itself which is its own creation and spectacularly amazing.

And if Dr Quack is reading the photo  below is for you; it proves the existence of giant mallards before they were all petrified – literally. this one is just keeping its head above water.

Giant duck of stone   Anne Corr

In the Pink

Art, books, illustration

In the pink   Anne Corr  Digital mediaI produced this illustration for one of my hand crafted miniature books, being drawn to a) flowers b) miniatures and c) books.  Nevertheless, it has been uphill to keep up my motivation over the past few weeks. Perhaps its the northern clime thats affecting my mojo, not enough light, not enough warm.  I am a creature that would willingly hibernate, curling up into a ball at the coming of winter and unfurling in Spring. Ideal. These illustrations bring Spring into mind, hopefulness, growth.

I have to admit to stealing the flowers from historical botanical illustrations and playing with them in photoshop to bring them into the 21st century. I would love to have the talent and the dedication that these botanical artists put to use.  Application is a gift, and I can draw lessons from their willingness to spend focus and time on each object of their scrutiny.  I watched a young historian explain how medieval kings had illustrated manuscripts prepared for them, using exquisite craftsmenship to create works of art and status, spending years and resources on them .  These books marked them out as kings, and were to be handed down for generations, unlike other treasures that could potentially be melted down for their value in silver or gold.  I want to learn patience, and craftmanship.  I want to improve my focus , my patience. Upward and onward!!

 

Bots can’t quine a Qualia. Quan you?

culture, Life, poetry, Science, Thoughts

So just how clever are we?  Watching Skyfall last night, I was enthralled by the escapades of the villain, the extent to which he was prepared to go to exercise his will, his purpose.  It occurred to me that I was watching a fictional character display the pathological traits of a person who lacked any humanity.  It was like watching a film of a videogame where it didn’t matter about the carnage or the destruction.  Skyfall is just another Bond film where we can sit back and be entertained  but it provoked some thought in me.  Are we changing our experience of being human to such an extent that it will become less surprising when socio-paths wreak havoc and unleash their dogs of war?

Of course history can attest the existence of human terrorists , human dictators and brutality is as old as the hills.  What is more concerning to me, is the manner in which our ordinary experience of being human is changing.  Over the progression of time we have seen civilizations appear, and disappear and the overall direction of human knowledge has tended to be progressive, building on what has gone before, adapting our behaviours and our environments to generally benefit humankind.  That is a very simplistic statement, but since homo sapiens has been around, its ability to adapt has secured its future.  Is the next adaptation to include the introduction of Artificial Intelligence?  Brian Christian reminds us that’

‘We forget how impressive we are. Computers are reminding us.’

 

What Brian Christian explains to me in his article , is that it is the minutiae of life, the absurdities of being human that separate us from Artificial Intelligence, and it is the marvel of human experience that we need to maintain our connection with to withstand the onslaught of an automated environment separating us from it.  We have to reconnect with the ability to make special, as Ellen Dissonayake expresses the creative impulse.  We need to produce in order to fully live, wherever and however that impulse takes us.  We need to sculpt, compose, paint, build a garden, build a boat, sketch , photograph,  we need to engage our senses with our environment in order to feel our lives are full and valuable.  One of the downsides I see of the last couple of generations is the way that we have celebrated excellence in lots of fields, and removed ourselves from the possibility of doing things for the sake of it.  So now we listen to artists play music , knowing they are far more easy on the ear than ourselves. It is the same in all walks of life.  In celebrating excellence we often refuse to partake ourselves, believing the pursuit to be worthless because it will never resemble the professionals work.  I don’t want to turn back time and not enjoy the brilliance of Radiohead or Mozart playing over my headphones, but I do want to allow my impulse some expression too.

 

I have included some of Brian Christians article here, because it is so interesting. And scary. And hopeful. Can we embrace some of the neglected thinking that is generated by the part of the brain engaged with emotion, rather than logic? Will this more sophisticated understanding of intelligence lead our species to a future that celebrates connection, ritual, and expression as much as acquisitiveness?  We can but hope.

‘Indeed, it’s entirely possible that we’ve seen the high-water mark of our left-hemisphere bias. I think the return of a more balanced view of the brain and mind—and of human identity—is a good thing, one that brings with it a changing perspective on the sophistication of various tasks.’


Brian Christian
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/print/2011/03/mind-vs-machine/308386/

The computation theorist Hava Siegelmann once described intelligence as “a kind of sensitivity to things.” These Turing Test programs that hold forth may produce interesting output, but they’re rigid and inflexible. They are, in other words, insensitive—occasionally fascinating talkers that cannot listen.
Who would have imagined that the computer’s earliest achievements would be in the domain of logical analysis, a capacity once held to be what made us most different from everything else on the planet? That it could fly a plane and guide a missile before it could ride a bike? That it could create plausible preludes in the style of Bach before it could make plausible small talk? That it could translate before it could paraphrase? That it could spin half-discernible essays on postmodern theory before it could be shown a chair and say, as most toddlers can, “chair”?
As computers have mastered rarefied domains once thought to be uniquely human, they simultaneously have failed to master the ground-floor basics of the human experience—spatial orientation, object recognition, natural language, adaptive goal-setting—and in so doing, have shown us how impressive, computationally and otherwise, such minute-to-minute fundamentals truly are.

Here’s a poem from one of my favourites, expressing the ineffable mysteries of ordinary , extraordinary life.

A Note
Life is the only way
to get covered in leaves,
catch your breath on the sand,
rise on wings;

to be a dog,
or stroke its warm fur;

to tell pain
from everything it’s not;

to squeeze inside events,
dawdle in views,
to seek the least of all possible mistakes.

An extraordinary chance
to remember for a moment
a conversation held
with the lamp switched off;

and if only once
to stumble upon a stone,
end up soaked in one downpour or another,

mislay your keys in the grass;
and to follow a spark on the wind with your eyes;
and to keep on not knowing
something important.
— Wislawa Szymborska