Thursday, September 30, 2004

Poetry & Colour

The Scottish Poetry Library is running a series of events to celebrate its 20th Anniversary. South African actress Janet Suzman will be helping to launch National Poetry Day. Also information about The School of Poets a workshop which meets monthly in the library.

In the meanwhile as its such a gray and miserable day I urge you to go and wander around Kaffe Fassett's site to get some colour.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Interview with Julia Cameron writer of The Artist's Way

Q: Is true creativity the possession of a relatively small percentage of the population?

A: No, absolutely not. We are all creative. Creativity is a natural life force that all can experience in one form or another. Just as blood is part of our physical body and is nothing we must invent, creativity is part of us and we each can tap into the greater creative energies of the universe and pull from that vast, powerful spiritual wellspring to amplify our own individual creativity.

As a culture, we tend to define creativity too narrowly and to think of it in elitist terms, as something belonging to a small chosen tribe of "real artists." But in reality, everything we do requires making creative choices, although we seldom recognize that fact. The ways in which we dress, set up our homes, do our jobs, the movies we see, and even the people we involve ourselves with—these all are expressions of our creativity. It is our erroneous beliefs about creativity, our cultural mythology about artists ("All artists are broke, crazy, promiscuous, self-centered, single, or they have trust funds") that encourage us to leave our dreams unfulfilled. These myths most often involve matters of money, time, and other people’s agendas for us. As we clear these blocks away, we can become more creative.

Read more of the interview with Julia here.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Big Draw

Quentin Blake children's book illustrator is a supporter of this campaign to get people drawing and looking. BBC Radio 4 had an item on it in Front Row arts programme with presenter Mark Lawson being sent to try some drawing which he'd last done aged 14. I was so intrigued by the descriptions I went to look at the results. At the same place you can play the feature on Real Player. I loved that Quentin Blake's parting advice to get better was to 'practice'. I started drawing in a very undisciplined with way a class last autumn and then each time I sat down in a cafe I started drawing tablescapes of cappachinos, sugar bowls, cruet sets. At first they were heinous but you know something? After perservering over a few months they are recognisable and have a certain wobbly charm. I love that I can flip open my moleskeine and be reminded of a lunch in 'Spoon' or 'EH1'

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

DIY entertainment

I'd wanted to join a bookgroup for ages - mostly after hearing the uproarious noise from when my mother's group was in residence. I also needed to get over my fear of reading novels. I saw an ad for one and joined reckoning it would also do me good to meet some new people out of my normal circle of friends. Its taken a while but I spent last night discussing Magnus Mills The Restraint of Beasts - a Withnail & I like black comedic book. If you miss the pleasures of reading and would like to have space to discuss books I highly recommend joining a group. Bookslut has guidelines in its usual inimitable way for starting a group.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Did you know that Nobel Prize Winner author

Toni Morrision didn't publish her first book until she was nearly 40?

We are indoctrinated into believing that success must come early ... bombarded by the phase 'new young talent' well what about waiting to actually have something to say?Article on Morrison at the Guardian.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

International Talk Like a Pirate Day!


The Return of Peg Leg Pete

Ahoy there, me Hearties.

Shiver me timbers, this ‘ere be Sunday the 19th of September in the year of two thousand and four, an’ it be International Talk Like A Pirate Day an’ all.


So we be ‘aving some tasty news for yer landlubber lugholes.

Scotland’s premiere poignant piratical palaver, THE RETURN OF PEG LEG PETE, ‘as been a-gatherin’ in the booty, me beauties.


Our swashbucklin’ chum ‘as been tipped the wink that he be set to swag OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL ACHIEVEMENT award from the scurvy bilge-rats at Frederick Festival Of Film in Maryland, USA on this very evening.


An’ that not be all, I tell ye!

Since setting sail, our wee sea shanty has bagged the AUDIENCE AWARD from the Down Under Film Festival in Australia, and BEST NARRATIVE SHORT from the Minneapolis/St.Paul International Film Festival in the USA. Petey-boy also blagged a BEST OF FESTIVAL screening at the Weiterstadt Open Air Film Festival in Germany.

Precious booty indeed.

We thought e’d like ter know.

David ‘shiver-me-timbers’ Cairns
Nigel ‘pieces-of-eight’ Smith

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Guerilla Art

From Keri Smith

how to be a guerilla artist
Guerilla art is a fun and insidious way of sharing your vision with the world. It is a method of art making which entails leaving anonymous art pieces in public places. It can be done for a variety of reasons, to make a statement, to share your ideas, to send out good karma, or just for fun. My current fascination with it stems from a belief in the importance of making art without attachment to the outcome. To do something that has nothing to do with making money, or listening to the ego.

My first experience with being a guerilla artist was in my first year of art school in a class taught by conceptual artist Shirley Yanover. One of our assignments was to create some form of graffiti in a public place (we were allowed to choose the were and how). We went out in groups of four, (two lookouts, and two painters), and proceeded to make our mark on various blank walls across the city. The experience made me terrified and exhilarated at the same time. I wrote quotes from various authors along the bottoms of buildings, on phone booths, and on the sidewalks. I remember the feeling of daring as we sprinted away from unsuspecting police officers.

Now I am not necessarily advocating that you do anything illegal or potentially life threatening. But there is something wonderfully sneaky about leaving some form of art in public places. I like knowing that at some point in time someone might receive a little surprise in the form of a random message from a stranger, or a doodle in an unexpected place. I remember there used to be an artist in Toronto who would bolt text books and old phone books to various things. It became a personal quest of mine to find them all, and I always felt so excited when a new one showed up just under my nose. Experiment with your own ideas.

Possible Formats

1. Sidewalk chalk
2. Sticker art
3. Flyers/posters (see "make a flyer of your day" at
4. Journals (pass it on)
5. Zines
6. Object leave behinds (money, gifts, junk)
7. Notes (slogans)
8. Graffiti
9. Book inserts (library)
10. Book leave behinds (
11. Letters (possibly love letters to strangers)
12. The age old 'message in a bottle', or a balloon. Or if you are really adventurous you might be drawn to carrier pigeons.

Potential Ideas for subject matter

-any form of artwork (drawings, collage, doodles, paintings)
-good luck charms
-variations on a theme
-many guerilla artist are politically motivated and find that being anonymous allows them to be more controversial or extreme with their message. Popular with activists.

Be sure to check out the full blog as the comments have great suggestions as well.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Andrea Scher is a Superhero of the blogging world

Check out her blog. Full of beautiful photos and writing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Gary Wilson Story: You Think You Really Know Him

In 1977 a misfit called Gary Wilson pressed 600 copies of a homemade LP then vanished. The LP called 'You think you really know me' slowly because a cult underground hit. Eventually a record company decided to reissue the record but had huge difficulties finding Gary Wilson who had to all intents and purposes disappered. He was eventually tracked down working as a clerk in a porn store.

Now there is a documentary about the mysterious album and its even odder creator called You Think You Really Know Him - the album has been reissued and even Gary had broken down and got himself a website Six Point Four.

I found the story of Gary in Dazed & Confused when bunking off from work. What the cool thing about it is that its message is 'do the work anyway'.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Treehouses... did you know they aren't just for children?

Here's a site for a treehouse builder in Scotland.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Jen Gray - a beautiful blog of writing and photography

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Wanted ! Short films, videos and animations

Silver Saucer- a new opportunity for students and indie film makers to have your work shown in alternative settings. Winter 2004/2005. A series of screenings in and around Glasgow.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Illustrated Blogs

There is now a web ring dedicated to them.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

More sheds shedheaven

In Coldingham in Scotland there is a line of beachhuts around the bay all painted in different colours and in Russia they have dachas and in Denmark people have summer huts and in Britain allotments and gardens secret sheds. What we need is £500 a year and a shed of our own.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Shedista! Shed Lovers of the World, Unite!

Author: Mark Mackintosh

Take it to the streets: a veritable shed revolution is brewing. And it won't be televised. Rory Day sheds some light on the matter.

Across the globe, shed lovers - aka sheddists or shedistas - are strengthening their efforts to promote global shedderdom: a shed for every person on the planet. Their starting point, as with so many lofty causes these days, is the Internet. One of the command centers in the worldwide sheddist web is, run by Rory Day. We caught up with him to talk revolution (tell it to your mama).

So, Rory, who are you and what's up with this shed heaven thing?

I'm a wandering Scottish shed addict who landed in Amsterdam a few years ago but regularly takes the Easyjet home. When I was working in Russia a few years ago, I fell in love with the Russian home-made holiday house or dacha. I was lucky enough to have access to a bit of hillside in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland, where I bashed one together. It was a little self-built miracle. I haven't been the same since.

Please delight us with a concise history of sheds, the watersheds in shed history, if you will.
Ah, how pleased I am you asked! Well, let me see. I suppose that except for the cave, the shed was probably the first human dwelling. It was probably somewhere in Africa or maybe Mesopotamia - the plans will have started out as something ambitious in corrugated iron on overlapping planks with a 2 inch by 4 inch frame and maybe a transparent roof section to let the sunlight in. Heavy foundations, half doors, fancy things like that. But with the lack of Builder's Merchants in those days it is likely they ended up with a pile of leaves on some sticks leaning against a rock. That's the thing with shed building; you can start anywhere you want, and the likelihood is you're only going to get better. And the rest is history, so you should probably ask a historian.

What are the main shed art forms/building techniques around the world?
Well, unlike human evolution I believe sheds were born spontaneously all round the world, fully-formed out of what was locally available to build with. For instance, on the North American plains, with a shortage of wood and plenty of buffalo hide, the tipi sprang up - a top shed. And in Asia it simply had to be bamboo-based, probably with banana leaves on top. In the far north the first shed was an igloo; in Mongolia a ger or a yurt, using lots and lots of manky felt. In Britain everyone (including the animals of course) chilled out in big round thatched houses with fires in the middle.

There have been some big leaps since those days, of course. I think the roof of the Dutch Barn roof was one, and it influenced American architecture hugely. Corrugated iron, the main ingredient of the modern shanty town, was another. Ashphalt and rolled felt roofs revolutionised the garden shed. And bitumen, a lovely sheddy smell that they should bottle.

Is there an international sheddist conspiracy in the making?
I think conspiracy might be too strong a term; it's more like revelation leading to revolution. People, particularly hairy people, are increasingly remembering their shed pasts and yearning for the simplicity that comes with building your own place and hanging out in it. I believe it's in the genes (maybe it comes with the hair), which is why the bitumen BO spray would be such a winner in the shops, if a little tough on shirts. Also, it might attract the wrong sort of person, but then again...

People are getting sick of things like plasterboard, building regulations, net curtains, carpets. They want a wall you can nail things into without a care, and floors that can be hosed out if you make a mess. Somewhere to put old tins of screws where they feel important. A place for old windows. Sheds are very inclusive and very recycle-friendly. They occupy the middle ground between the modern home and the landfill site. And more and more people are tapping into the shed subculture, so it's just a matter of time before everyone will experience the zen of sheddism.

More on the Zen of Sheddism here

Monday, September 06, 2004

Interview with Julia Cameron

Samuel Bercholz: Your work is nominally about creativity, but it seems to be as much about tools for spiritual growth. What is the connection?
Julia Cameron: People often say to me, "Your book is a Buddhist book," or "This is a book about mysticism, really, or this is a Sufi book." That is probably because creativity is a spiritual path, and at the core of the various spiritual paths are the same lessons. For instance, I recently read Thich Nhat Hanh for the first time, and I found myself thinking that he sees the world with an artist's eye. I think that's because he is very heart-centered. Even though we think of creativity as an intellectual pursuit, in my experience creativity is a heart-centered pursuit. We actually create from the heart. I think it's interesting that the word "heart" has the word "art" embedded in it. It also has the word "ear" embedded in it.
So both Buddhism and creativity involve the art of listening to the heart. That's where the creative impulse arises from. That's why I cannot distinguish between creativity and spirituality. When you're practicing creativity you become a grounded individual, and that communicates the universal.
I've been a writer for more than thirty years, and the issues that arise in the creative practice are the same kinds of issues that arise in a spiritual practice. You get to look at your insecurity. You get to look at your inquisitiveness. You get to look at your fantasy that a satisfied desire will lead to satisfaction. As near as I can tell, this is what happens with a grounded meditation technique: you go through all of the shenanigans of the restless nature of the mind and what you are left with is, just be. Out of being, things are made. So creativity is the act of being.

Read the rest here

Saturday, September 04, 2004

" . . . you are all original and talented and need to let it out of yourselves; that is to say, you have the creative impulse.
But the ardor for it is inhibited and dried up by many things; as I said, by criticism, self-doubt, duty, nervous fear which expresses itself in merely external action like running up and downstairs and scratching items off lists and thinking you are being efficient; by anxiety about making a living, by fear of not excelling.

Now this creative power I think is the Holy Ghost. My theology may not be very accurate but that is how I think of it. I know that William Blake called this creative power the Imagination and he said it was God. He, if anyone, ought to know, for he was one of the greatest poets and artists that ever lived.

Now Blake thought that this creative power should be kept alive in all people for all their lives. And so do I. Why? Because it is life itself. It is the Spirit. In fact it is the only important thing about us. The rest of us is legs and stomach, materialistic cravings and fears.

How could we keep it alive? By using it, by letting it out, by giving some time to it.

We have come to think that duty should come first. I disagree. Duty should be a by-product. Writing, the creative effort, the use of imagination, should come first, - at least for some part of every day of your life. It is a wonderful blessing if you will use it. You will become happier, more enlightened, alive, impassioned, light-hearted and generous to everybody else. Even your health will improve. Colds will disappear and all the other ailments of discouragement and boredom.

Now, you see, I have established a reason for your working at writing, not in a trifling, weak way, but with affection and endurance. In other words, I want to make you feel that there is a great intrinsic reward to writing. Unless you feel that you will soon give it up. You won't last very long at it. A few rejection slips will flatten you out. A few years of not making a cent out of it will make you give it up and feel bitterly that it was a waste of time.

I want to assure you with all earnestness, that no writing is a waste of time, - no creative work where the feelings, the imagination, the intelligence must work. With every sentence you write, you have learned something. It has done you good. It has stretched your understanding. I know that."
- Brenda Ueland
If You Want To Write

From Whiskey River

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Year of Sleeping Dangerously

Those bouncy 'lets just all go and follow ones bliss' books can be pretty terrifying but I stumbled across the website for one author Tama J Kieves author of unbelievably enough This Time I DANCE! How one Harvard Lawyer left it all to have it all but she won me over in an extract from her book.

" After I walked out of my hight paced, breathless career I funtioned at what seemd to be two notches above the living dead line. I waited tables, bought groceries and fed my cat. But I slept for what seems to be unnatural numbers of hours. My mind revved up like an eager sports car engine racing the need to create a new and improved life. But I found my physical self dragging around the apartment in slow motion in my underwear in the middle of the day and then taking naps to recuperate. I felt like a beached whale hungering for the sea. I ate bagels and cream cheese and leftovers, and lunchmeats instead. Guilt took finky little notes about my attraction to the refridgerator and read them over in my head.

It didn't take long before I found myself haunted by ratling questions and rude images of wsting away in oblivion while the rest of the world drank lattes to go. Would I just extist in limbo now> Was gazing at my walls for hours 'following my bliss'? just how much could I eat anyway? And how would I pursue "the hero's journey." if it tooke me three hours to get up and bursh my teeth?" "Oh, this is great,"I thought "I've wrecked a Rolls Royce career so I could grow as wide as a Buddha and contemplate the daisies on my quilt.

...Months down the road, my grieving and self - exploration gave way to curiosity and wonder. The naps with a life force of their own ended. Stabs at creativity and expression began. The juice returned and the breath-stealing adventure before me unfurled its shapely red cape. I have almost never felt as small or lost since."