Sunday, October 31, 2004

Amongst the Headphone People or

Paying attention to where we are
A student complained about how awful it was to take the bus to work and not read. How then she ad to listen to the hiss hiss of personal stereos instead of burying herself in a book or a newspaper. (All this was prompted by my encouragement of a week of media deprivation to kickstart creativity as prescribed by Julia Cameron in The Artists Way)

But buried in a book or a newspaper we do not pay attention, we do not see what is around us. Everything is fascinating and what we find fascinating is the building blocks of creativity and art. If we don’t look up to notice what is around us we will miss it.

I suggested that the student thought of herself as an anthropologist amongst the ‘Headphone People’ taking mental notes on their customs and cultural norms. She retorted that I was far too ‘noble’ but it isn’t noble. When we dislike, resent and find dull our lives we cannot connect to our creative part. It withers and dies without stimulation.

When we are out of our ‘normal life’ it is apparently easy to find everything unsusual, fascinating and intriguing. You have seen the odd things that Japansese tourists photograph? Take tourist eyes around the life you lead.

Try This:
Pretend you are doing photo journalism essay on your life. Carry a camera with black & white film for a week and photograph the mundane, the water cooler, washing up in the sink, fire hyrants and work noticeboards.

Pretend you are a tourist – visit tourist sites in your town. Take a bus tour.

Pass time in cafĂ© but don’t read, eavesdrop, write postcards, imagine the lives of the people you observe around you.

Draw your life. Take a sketchbook and a pen around with you. Whenever you have a moment, queuing, communting, a dull lunchtime, start sketching. Danny Gregory can provide some insipiration.

Make a poster of your life. Perhaps using your photographs and your sketches photocopied into a collage. Idea from Learning to Love You More via Keri Smith.

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Beany

Fellow blogger and online correspondent Michael Nobbs has launched a paper illustrated blog (in olden days called a zine..) The Beany.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Bebe Oulai is running a class Thursdays 6.30pm-7.30pm at 25 Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh tel 0131 624 3777 for more info.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Ameen Ali Khan - master of the Sarod

The Indian Music and Dance Collective presents an afternoon performance & workshop

Sunday 31st October, 2-5pm Buddhafields, 25 Blackfriars St (off Royal Mile, Eidnburgh) Tickets £7/5 (Children £3).

All welcome if you are a player, please bring along your instrument.

The Sarod traces its origin back to the folk instrument of ancient Afghanistan, and Persia, the 'Rabab'. It is a short-necked, unfretted, waisted lute carved from a block of teak. Its broad, triangular fingerboard is superimposed with a sheet of metal and carries eight main strings - four melody strings, two drone strings and two chikari strings (raised drone strings plucked frequently to punctuate melodic phrases and provide rhythmic variety) and between eleven to fifteen sympathetic strings that are tuned to the scale of the Raga in use. The strings are plucked with a triangular plectrum.

Ameen is vibrant, inspiring and the most promising Sarod player in the country Hindustan Times

IMDCOLL is also starting a new class in Sitar at the end of October. For more information on this or any of the other Indian dance, music or singing classes run by IMCOLL, please contact Dana MacLeod 0845 125 9926

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


A few years ago I came up with a new word. I was fed up with the old art-history idea of genius – the notion that gifted individuals turn up out of nowhere and light the way for all the rest of us dummies to follow. I became (and still am ) more and more convinced that the important changes in cultural history were actually the product of very large numbers of people and circumstances conspiring to make something new. I call this ‘scenius’ – it means ‘the intelligence and intuition of a whole cultural scene’. IT is the communal form of genius. This word is now starting to gain currency- the philosopher James Ogilvy uses it in his most recent book.

Now I would love to be involves in making something to explore this idea- to support my thesis that new ideas come into being through a whole host of complicated circumstances, accidents, small incremental contributions made in isolation (as well as gifted individuals, of course) that in total add up to something qualitatively different: something nobody has ever seen before and which could not have been predicted from the elements that went to make it up.

One of the reasons I am attached to this ideas it that is capable of dignifying many more forms of human innovation under its umbrella than the old idea of ‘genius’, which exemplifies what I called the ‘Big Man’ theory of history – where events are changed by the occasional brilliant or terrible man, working in heroic isolation. I would prefer to believe that the world is constantly being remade by all its inhabitants: that it is a co-operative enterprise. Folk arts and popular arts have always been criticised because they tend to exhibit evolutionary, incremental change. – because they lack sufficient ‘Big men’ making shockingly radical and unpopular steps in the future. Instead the pop scene carries much of its audience with it - something the fine arts people are inclined to distrust: the secret question is, ‘How can it possibly be good if so many people like it?’

…..But I want to say that the reality of how culture and ideas evolve is much closer to the one we as pop musicians are liable to accept – of a continuous toing and froing of ideas and imitations and misconstruals, of things becoming thinkable because they are suddenly technically possible. Of action and reaction, than the traditional fine-art model which posits and inspired individual sorting it all out for himself and then delivering it unto a largely uncomprehending and ungrateful world.

There are a few recent cultural moments where the scenius process is particularly clear: 1905-15 in Russia; Dadaism in France; the experimental music scene in America through the late fifties and early sixties; the Anglo-American psychedelic scene of the sixties; punk in 1975-8 (the eclectic and co-operative nature of which is documented in John Savage’s book England’s Dreaming); and then perhaps something as specific as the evolution of ‘adobe style’ in South Western American architecture, or even the mid to late eighties at Goldsmith’s! It could also be interesting to include some scenes that were less specifically artistic – for instance, the history of the evolution of the internet. In all of these sequences, there are sufficient gifted and eccentric individuals to satisfy anyone’s hero appetite, but the interesting thing is how they were fed and supported by a vigorous and diffuse cultural scene. That’s the process I would like to explore.

Brian Eno in A Year with Swollen Appendices: Brian Eno’s Diary Faber and Faber 1996 ISBN 0571179959 Pick up a copy through your local independent bookseller or second-hand.

Monday, October 25, 2004

A corrective to the idea that running a creative biz is all fun

either my discovery of salt and pepper potato chips has made me a size or two bigger, or my pattern maker goofed on her last two assignments. i picked up my new sweatshirt/hoodie and not only was it way too tight, but the sleeves were about four inches too short. since i only have 6 days until the trade show where i will be introducing these items, i'm starting to freak out. I'M FREAKING OUT. On a saner note, after a full night of magnet making, i was able to ship most of the orders on my "to ship" pile; only those with letterpress notecards on them are still waiting to go. it was a successful friday all the way around. as the orders went out the door, new orders came over the fax machine to replace them. normally, the phone and fax don't ring at all on fridays, but today, i got six faxed orders, possibly a friday world record. three of them are already shipped, the others will go out on monday as part of my push to get every in-house order out the door before my trade show begins. this is certainly not going to be a workless weekend. i've got colloection letters to get out, line sheets to create and print, and a huge pile of paperwork on my desk that mus be gone through. sunday is scarf day at the flea market. and if i still have some energy left, cutting of the scarves, so ana can iron and glue them, for pins, on monday. i keep attempting to get some back stock on our shelves, but i'm having a hard time keeping up. we got over 8000 pins finished last thursday, by today, they were nearly gone. this is good, i know. but with exhaustion, comes frustration. and i don't remember ever being this exhausted.

This is from Pamela Barsky's great blog in which she blogs about running her business.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Loads of events at The Script Factory

including one with director Anthony Minghella. More info here.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Free Poetry Postcards!

Send an SAE to The Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton's Close, Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DT.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Calligraphers Guild

Ran a Graceful Envelope competition. The winners are here.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Fallen Angel

Willa Cline did Nawarimo last year and posted chapters as she went along. You can read them here.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Shameless plug for family

Visual Arts Scotland is an arts organisation which organises an annual exhibition. If you search on the website for 'Carola' you can see my mom's pictures.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Being a tourist in your home town

I met someone for coffee yesterday who has moved here from the States and as I tired to explain the best shopping areas and things to do culturally was reminded of things I take for granted about my city. I was also reminded about the great things to do right where I am.

Keri Smith has got a cartoon about taking a mini vacation at home.

Go to your own tourist office and browse, check out tours and places to see, also see if there are any festivals or events coming up which look interesting. See where you live with new eyes.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Whatever anyone says

there is some fantastic good writing on blogs if you can find it. This post by Beth of Cassandra Pages got the tears going in my eyes.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Going to a hen night

My first - hopefully more upmarket than most. Cocktails to be followed by Cuban food/dancing.

Indiebride for the independent bride.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

National Poetry Day today

The Guardian has a mood poem finder.

In the meanwhile here is one by Rita Dove

The First Book

Open it.

Go ahead, it won't bite.
Well... maybe a little.

More a nip, like. A tingle.
It's pleasureable, really.

You see, it keeps on opening.
You may fall in.

Sure, it's hard to get started;
remember learning to use

knife and fork? Dig in:
You'll never reach bottom.

It's not like it's the end of the world -
just the world as you think

you know it.

From On The Bus With Rosa Parks pub by Norton

The Script Factory

"The Script Factory is a training and development organisation which places screenwriters at the heart of the European film industry by acting as the link between writers and industry.

The Script Factory has a reputation for finding and promoting new screenwriting talent and for devising creative ways to showcase and present new screenwriters and their work, by designing innovative, accessible, and enjoyable events, courses and materials, to support writers in their journey through the industry, and assist the industry in identifying new talent. It also attracts a loyal following of cinema enthusiasts who relish the chance to get a glimpse behind the scenes of how films are made"

More info here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Sketchcrawl

A marathon of drawing via Danny Gregory

You can never wait for the perfect conditions to create

because if you do you wait for ever. I can count on my fingers the number of times I've created something and it seemed divinely inspired by the muse. If I waited for the perfect moment I'd have done about 3 haikus, some needlework, a lot of knitting in the past 12 years. Instead of waiting for the gentle breeze, the hand of the muse and the twittering of birds (in the words of creativity writer SARK) I've got stuck in mostly when I'd promised something which I then wanted to get out of but I went on and did it anyway. The result, I've written poetry, been published, made 5 films, written a half dozen others, worked on umpteen films in other capacities, written articles, made blogs and websites, knitted 12 blankets, taken 1000 plus photos, journalled (a small forrest of trees have been felled), drawn and painted, collaged, learned to use super8.

So what I say to you is that if you have ever had a thought flit across your mind about trying ... oh basket weaving go out now find a book or a class and start. As for all of you who ever wanted to write a novel find a pencil and some paper becuase National Novel Writing Month is about to gear up. No excuses now this is your chance to write a short novel (175 pages) in the company of others around the globe. Do it. Allow yourself to create anyway. It doesn't matter if it sucks - get the words down and you can fix it later.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Return of Peg Leg Pete

I posted about this in September during Talk Like a Pirate Day. I've found an online version which you can play if you have broadband. Its here at the Fox Searchlab Shorts.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Creative Process is Messy and Unsatisfactory

Start with bad grace, I think ‘Whats the use?’ ‘What a waste of time to even TRY.’

Start anyway.

About 5 hours of mulling over stuff, intensive ‘googling’, finally I force myself to sit down with pen and paper to write ‘something’ ‘ANYTHING’. I scratch out a few pathetic sentences. Then I scrawl a page. Then I bake an apple/egg bake thing. Blog, email my friend at work, go outside see that my organic box has been delivered. Decided to spontaneously invite friends to dinner and make Moroccan style stew with butter nut squash. Make stew. Go back to computer write up hand-written notes. Print off document. Hide crap in living room. Clear dinning room table, turn off lights and light candles to disguise shambolic state of flat. Friends arrive we discuss document one friend disappears into my workroom (commenting loudly on the mess) commands computer re-writes document. We have a heated debate about his changes with 3 different points of view. At 11 pm two friends dash to get last bus home and my other friend cycles off.

Wake up with a groan – I have to prepare the final document, go to the only post office which is open late on a Saturday and meet some people in the afternoon.

More bad grace re-read document. Decide to tone it down as I know the potential readers have had their sense of humour surgically removed. Go to find another image for document. Realise time is passing, email my afternoon meet ups to say I’ll be half an hour later. Try and print off document to proof read and as I do lose document. Re-write document. Try to print again the printer won’t print. (Its been behaving perfectly for MONTHS). Leave workroom encourage myself to breathe breathe breathe, and make a cup of tea. Go back to workroom turn of printer turn it on again. It prints ! Fix typos, set to print again. Find more typos, print again. Find padded envelope. Write address stick items into envelope. Try and find stamps. Flee out of the house at 1.30pm giving myself an hour to go to post office and meet friends.

Now I’m in agony that I should have done the damned thing differently. But I know I could never have made it perfect. I’m also aware that some of the things I’ve done with the worst kind of attitude have turned out to be the most successful moves I’ve made. I don’t know in this instance. I do know I just have to let go of the outcome.

Friday, October 01, 2004


Nothing like having a creative project with a deadline to make other things seem more interesting!

Crossroads Dispatches is "The generalist synthesist weblog - quite often about innovations in innovation and marketing. Juxtaposing the right brain and left. Yin and yang. Analytical and intuitive. Technical and visceral. Future and in-the-now. Intersection of technology, creativity & innovation, leadership, systems, beliefs and worldviews. Eventually, on-the-road coverage from a world journey to the emerging creative class centers of the world." I started reading and got so drawn in I'm blogging the link so I'm not deflected from what I should be doing any longer!

Photography links Edinburgh

Go or rather run to Lidle's in Leith were Agfa colour 200 asa is £1.99 for 2 x 36.

Check out the facilities at the Stills Gallery Cockburn Street, go further up the hill to Beyond Words the luscious specialist photography bookshop. Check out one of the world's longest running photographic societies - founded in 1861! Finally check out the new JPG magazine.