When you think of the word ‘Revolution’ another word automatically springs to mind to precede it….
extract from the essay:
…When you think of the word ‘Revolution’ another word automatically springs to mind to precede it. American is one, French and Russian perhaps are others. These Revolutions involved violence, out right war and sudden social changes. Few people automatically think to put the word ‘Industrial’ in front of that emotive word. Maybe because the ‘Industrial Revolution’ was more of a ‘slow burn’ and happened over time, a slow change to society rather than a dramatic instant thrust of evident and far reaching dramatic changes of the social fabric like the well known revolutions.
Yet the industrial revolution was by far the most important and influential revolution that has ever happened to civilisation since someone in the middle east discovered that a seed bearing plant could be turned into food (bread). That particular amazing ‘discovery’ enabled ‘spare-time’ for humanity to develop other skills and helped to propel a human society beyond the limitations of living as the nomadic hunter gatherers that humans had been living for millenniums up to that point.
For our story, about how the industrial revolution affected Art and Artists, let’s start by making some educated assumptions as to why the Industrial Revolution came about. Without labouring on the individual details too much, you could say it was the need to increase productivity for goods to trade with for a growing population. Initially, the energy needed for these goods was provided by manual labour, mules or horses to haul the wood that gave-up it’s stored energy, directly or through the making of charcoal that provided the power to make other things, like smelting metals or firing pottery. Manufacturers also used ‘water driven’ machinery to increase productivity in food production (i.e. bread). And then the most important source of energy of all was unearthed (literally) as the best energy source of all, Coal. This was, by far, the most important of all the energy sources, because it was cheap, plentiful, efficient and England, in particular, had plenty of it. The fact that ‘Coal Power’ greatly expanded the production of goods is unquestionable and it was to change the face of Western Civilisation as much as ‘ Crude Oil’ did in the latter part of the 20th century. continued…
issue #7 of painters TUBES magazine featured four brilliant artists each with their own article..
Here is the extract from one of those articles… Patrick Blower – famed as a cartoonist for the Telegraph in London (UK) but he is also known as an accomplished painter..
“Politicians get drowned…by the wonderful seascapes of Patrick Blower”
As the Editor of Tubes I often make trips to visit artists studios, sometimes unannounced, and very occasionally I am lucky to view some fantastic paintings, ones that are totally unexpected. This was the case in my recent visit to London and the Make Space Studios in Lambeth. I’d gone there to catch up with Laurence Causse Parsley, another artist who was featured in issue #5 (Landscape..from Poussin to today). After we chatted for a while about her recent work, she gave me a guided tour of the large building which housed up to twenty artists or so.
Laurence escorted me round the labyrinth of corridors, gently tapping on various doors to introduce me to those artists that were behind them. It was one of those days wintery days in London, the kind that, if you need not venture out then it was better to stay in and watch You Tube videos. The skin-penetrating drizzle was driven by a biting wind, which was enough to put off most of the artists from journeying to Lambeth.
However one of the artists that made the journey daily, rain or shine, was Patrick Blower.
Laurence tapped on his door, and a voice shouted “come-in:”
As I walked into his studio his out-stretched hand was married with a broad smile, which immediately endeared me to him. I spoke a few a words to introduce myself, he reacted to my short personalintroduction with “You’re a Manc.” (sic: someone born in the City of Manchester, North West England, ‘Manc’ being a specific term to identify place of birth and specific culture). Patrick’s accent was soft, with a definite southern twang. His quick witted, almost caustic humour was however totally natural and inoffensive. It came as a surprise to me, to learn later, he was actually born in Brussels (1959) to a Belgian Mother and a British Father. He says his “ head is in London, his heart is in Europe and his balls are somewhere over the North Sea.”…continued in the back issue – available soon,
…way back in 1986, I decided to become a full time artist (painter). Not live off Art, but for it.
…way back in 1986, I decided to become a full time artist (painter). At least painting full time when it was possible. My self imposed rule #1 – was “to live for Art, and not live off Art.” – which sort of boxed me in, as I still needed to earn a living. This I did by working in a variety of jobs, writing articles and catalogues and selling the occasional canvas to interested parties, or taking on commissions, but only when someone asked me.
Somehow, years later, I found myself ensconced on island called Aegina. The island is close to Piraeus (19 kilometers) and thus Athens, where I could buy (piecemeal) oil paint, when I had the money, for Art supplies that is. It was here that I confronted the age old enemy of creatives – Ego – And it was here that I defeated it, albeit with the help of an invisible helping hand, which many people call their God. Unlike my home in Northern Europe, the Greek belief system was strong, and it would be unnatural for any creative not to absorb the atmosphere that surrounds them. The outcome was work which, up to then, I had never envisaged painting. This was linked to an incident, one that is too long to explain here, but let me just say, a miracle occurred that saved my life.
Time passed and my collection of paintings grew. Eventually I met my future wife, on another island, where I had accepted a commission to paint ‘Walls’ for a Greek friend who was setting up a ‘Rock and Roll cafe on Anti-Paros, a very small island in the Cyclandic’s. This chance meeting led to a Gallery exhibition in Stockholm (1995) and another one in the same year, before I knew where I was I had several shows, created a ‘radical’ group of mixed media Artists and curated, designed and participated in three major exhibitions, one of which was a commissioned [non paying] job for the Swedish Government Estonia Trust Fund and the International Support Group, that one took over four years to complete [sic: Heart 2 Art- Stockholm January 2002]. And all the time, keeping to my #1 artists rule, I was earning a living doing other things [in the UK] remotely or directly.
Almost twenty years later, and now an artist in the Grey hair sector, I and my wife could scrape together enough time and money to spend a month on Aegina [July 2018]. And, as luck would have it, we were able to take my ‘Greek-Niece’ up on her kind offer to stay at her family home – which just happens to be above my old studio from all those decades ago. Hence the ‘time travel’ headline of this post.
The studio had not been lived in or attended to for some years (my niece no longer lives there) And nature had began to take the place over. I resolved to spend the cooler mornings and late evenings bringing the place into ship shape. Mainly because I couldn’t bare to see it in that condition, and I wanted to ‘feel’ what I felt when I was a much younger artist, how I’d grown and developed in comparison, which was insightful. I recalled every single canvas I had painted there, in that place, the struggles, the ecstasy of a breakthrough and the disappointment of failure. I remembered the people, those characters who became more than close friends, now most of them, passed to the other side. At the back of the house I found my white plastic chair, and another for visitors, who would sit with me to discuss the painting I would have been currently working on.
I was time travelling, inside my mind, as I doggedly swept and moped, and swept and moped again and fought the weeds that had embedded themselves in ever crack and cranny. My human form bled salty water from every pore in its body, to cool itself down, but my mind was far to busy ‘travelling back in time’ to take any heed or warning to rest up and drink water.
At the end of all this, my voyage ended with a realisation of what I had actually achieved in Art per se, despite my rule #1, or because of it – And a truly personal sadness, that I could not share with them, that their high expectations, ones they were convinced that I could achieve in Art, had been.
So, ‘Time Travel’ is not easy – for many reasons – but I am sure it’s a trip everyone takes at some point in their life, the good, the bad, the tears the happiness. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
posted and written by Denis Taylor. Artist and Writer.