Thursday, May 31, 2007

'I have a friend who’s an Italian filmmaker of great artistic sensibility. After years of struggling to get his films made, he sent an anguished letter to his hero, the brilliant (and perhaps half-insane) German filmmaker Werner Herzog. My friend complained about how difficult it is these days to be an independent filmmaker, how hard it is to find government arts grants, how the audiences have all been ruined by Hollywood and how the world has lost its taste…etc, etc. Herzog wrote back a personal letter to my friend that essentially ran along these lines: “Quit your complaining. It’s not the world’s fault that you wanted to be an artist. It’s not the world’s job to enjoy the films you make, and it’s certainly not the world’s obligation to pay for your dreams. Nobody wants to hear it. Steal a camera if you have to, but stop whining and get back to work.” I repeat those words back to myself whenever I start to feel resentful, entitled, competitive or unappreciated with regard to my writing: “It’s not the world’s fault that you want to be an artist…now get back to work.” Always, at the end of the day, the important thing is only and always that: Get back to work. This is a path for the courageous and the faithful. You must find another reason to work, other than the desire for success or recognition. It must come from another place. '

Elizabeth Gilbert

hand written notes to myself

I've had an odd few days. Financial stress, being let down, sitting on my frustrations is so tiring. I've been out and about walking in the city and at the beloved Porty beach for two weeks straight. We'll I flaked yesterday. I stayed home. Read and watched terrible terrible TV. I think one can safely say the opening of Big Brother 2007 is truly terribleTV.

If I was going to write a hand written note to myself it would say.

'Its ok you don't have to do all the time. Its ok to be. And its ok to say this this sucks.'

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Travelling by train in US

interesting article via kottke.

1. Go to the ugliest or most forlorn place you know—a drugstore parking lot, the front porch of a crack house, a toxic waste dump, or the place that symbolizes your secret shame—and build a shrine devoted to beauty, truth, and love.Here are some suggestions about what to put in your shrine: a silk scarf; a smooth rock on which you've inscribed a haiku or joke with a felt-tip pen; coconut cookies or ginger candy; pumpkin seeds and an origami crane; a green kite shaped like a dragon; a music CD you love; a photo of your hero; a votive candle carved with your word of power; a rubber ducky; a bouquet of fresh beets; a print of Van Gogh's Starry Night.

2. Late at night when there's no traffic, stride down the middle of an empty road that by day is crawling with cars. Dance, careen, and sing songs that fill you with pleasurable emotions. Splay your arms triumphantly as you extemporize prayers in which you make extravagant demands and promises. Give pet names to the trees you pass, declare your admiration for the workers who made the road, and celebrate your sovereignty over a territory that usually belongs to heavy machines and their operators.

3. Where exactly does happiness come from? That's the riddle posed by David Meyers and Ed Diener in their article, "The Science of Happiness," published in *The Futurist* magazine. Write your answers to their question. Map out the foundations of your own science of happiness. Get serious about defining what makes you feel good. What specific experiences arouse your deepest gratification? Physical pleasure? Seeking the truth? Being a good person? Contemplating the meaning of life? Enjoying the fruits of your accomplishments? Purging pent-up emotion?

4. Have you ever seen the game called "Playing the Dozens?" Participants compete in the exercise of hurling witty insults at each other. Here are some examples: "You're so dumb, if you spoke your mind you'd be speechless." "Your mother is so old, she was a waitress at the Last Supper." "You're so ugly, you couldn't get laid if you were a brick." I invite you to rebel against any impulse in you that resonates with the spirit of "Playing the Dozens." Instead, try a new game, "Paying the Tributes." Choose worthy targets and ransack your imagination to come up with smart, true, and amusing praise about them. The best stuff will be specific to the person you're addressing, not generic, but here are some prototypes: "You're so far-seeing, you can probably catch a glimpse of the back of your own head." "You're so ingenious, you could use your nightmares to get rich and famous." "Your mastery of pronoia is so artful, you could convince me to love my worst enemy."

5. Salvador Dali once staged a party in which guests were told to come disguised as characters from their nightmares. Do the reverse. Throw a bash in which everyone is invited to arrive dressed as a character from the best dream they remember.6. "The messiah will come when we don't need him any more," wrote Franz Kafka. Give your interpretation of his remark . . . .

7. On a big piece of cardboard, make a sign that says, "I love to help; I need to give; please take some money." Then go out and stand on a traffic island while wearing your best clothes, and give away money to passing motorists. Offer a little more to drivers in rusty brown Pinto station wagons and 1976 El Camino Classics than those in a late-model Lexus or Jaguar.

8. In response to our culture's ever-rising levels of noise and frenzy, rites of purification have become more popular. Many people now recognize the value of taking periodic retreats. Withdrawing from their usual compulsions, they go on fasts, avoid mass media, practice celibacy, or even abstain from speaking. While we applaud cleansing ceremonies like this, we recommend balancing them with periodic outbreaks of an equal and opposite custom: the Bliss Blitz.During this celebration, you tune out the numbing banality of the daily grind. But instead of shrinking into asceticism, you indulge in uninhibited explorations of joy, release, and expansion. Turning away from the mildly stimulating distractions you seek out when you're bored or worried, you become inexhaustibly resourceful as you search for unsurpassable sources of cathartic pleasure. Try it for a day or a week: the Bliss Blitz.

From FreeWillAstrology go there to sign up.

No 1 reminds me of Guerilla Art actions which I've been mulling over for years ... time to start doing some.

"We live in a world of theophanies. Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb. Life wants to lead you from crumbs to angels, but this can happen only if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure."-Macrina Wiederkehr

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

365 Portraits

Great website by NY photographer who is doing a portrait a day for a year.

opp mildred's on Lexington st Soho


We interrupt this blog to urge you to go to and check out the info about protesting about the redevelopment of the Canongate part of the High St in Edinburgh. Large swathes of buildings will be demolished (listed buildings) and will be replaced by hideous modern buildings.

I've been thinking about the High St a lot recently. There have been really quite successful redevelopments of the High St in the past including Ramsay Gardens which was an appalling slum until Sir Patrick Geddes persuaded some businessmen at the end of the 19th Century to redevelop it. If is of course now a major landmark in Edinburgh and we couldn't think of the skyline without it. However - Ramsay Gardens in beautifully built with incredible craftsmanship and expense inside and out. What we are being promised is something with a skim on the outside which will look hideous in probably 5 years.

Similarly I was in the Portrait Gallery in Queen St in a part I don't normally go to for work last week. As I was being drawn I had to sit still for 2 hours and only had the building to look at. I had all that time to appreciate the craftsmanship. The carving on the pillars and the gold leaf applied to the stonework. I don't know how long it took to create the Portrait Gallery or what it cost but over 100 years later it is still stunning and still in use.

Then I got given a watering can by my mother. My last watering can sprung a leak a few months ago and I've been looking for another. To be honest I thought the gifted watering can the ugliest watering can I'd ever seen in green plastic. I felt terrible - looking a gift watering can in the pout. I took it home and eventually hid it under the stairs. But I thought about it more. My last watering can I lived with 7 years. The buildings they are proposing to build in the Canongate will be for us for decades or hundreds of years. Don't we have a duty rather like Morris would urge us to make sure that they are beautiful? elegant? pleasing to the eye? I would rather have something which gives me pleasure to look and and use it entirely up. Than something that 'does' then I throw it away when tired of it. I'm currently searching for a new bag and the one I currently own is in a sorry state (a very sorry state) but I will not get some thing that will just 'do'.

We don't as a city have to just 'do' because a property developer is scamming us to make money

Here is an article on the public meeting last week. And this is the installation at Causewayside as part of the 6 cities festival. Where some unfortunate woman came up to me to interview me on my opinions on design and I think I ranted for about 10 mins.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Miss B at Mildred's in Lexington St Feb 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Would they build a Tesco on the Great Wall of China?

Turn the hanging gardens of Babylon into MacDonalds?
Just back from a meeting about the proposed 'redevelopment' of the Canongate a part of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site. Please go here to read more and send in objections to the plans. You don't have to live in Edinburgh to do this. Anyone can object regardless of age, nationality or where you live. We may have a chance to stop these plans with a change in local government.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


In February when I was in London I was taking photos around Verde in Spitalfields and this workman asked me to take his photo. Lots of building work going on around there.
A few days ago I was writing in my journal sitting outside. I wrote HERE I AM in capitals and outlined the letters. Here I am sitting in my garden, the wind in the tree, clouds in the sky, cat sniffing the hedge. Here I Am.

A huge burden lifted off me. I didn't have to cloak myself in an activity in the future to justify myself Here I Am Making An Important Film About, I didn't have to qualify it by saying Here I Am Administrator/Co-ordinator/Life Model. I didn't have to qualify it with any kind of activity to justify my being.

So much of my time my head is a running list of to do's / undones' not done yets. And often they are linked to shoring up my sense of identity and worthiness. I do think that creative projects often also fall into that scheme of things. I'll write my novel and then I'll be worthy of notice. I'll become an artist and become a bohemian. I'll do X and show them! You are already enough, do enough. Just existing is enough.

Freed (I'm pretty sure this is temporary so I'm writing about it so I don't forget) from feeling a need to prove myself to myself and others I found myself walking across the city to an appointment and greedily appreciating everything, the leaves, the grass, the children wobbling across lawns, small dogs waiting for their owners in shops. Life immediately had a depth to it that has been missing for some time.

I love that photography is a way of seeing what is here already with more depth. I'm not scrabbling around creating something but just getting something already here. Of course at the same time its full of moments that I did not think had occurred. For example the black & white photos below of the beach which look like Fox Talbot. But they seem to me to be a revelation of something that was there but I didn't know was there. I find myself grappling with accepting the mysterious accidents rather than going out and thinking I can control the process.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Next time you go on eBay, try running a search for sackcloths and ashes. You won't find many for sale. Nobody is wearing them anymore. They are so out of fashion that there is not even a second-hand market. 'Guilt, darling, how very 20th century. We don't do that sort of thing anymore.' Actually, we do. We do far too much of it. The world would be a better place with a little less self-flagellation and a little more constructive action. Forget your worries and regrets now. Just be glad of what's possible. "

Jonathan Cainer

Yes and I'm having such a good time walking around the city between errands, taking photos, watching films, meeting friends (unexpected meetings as well even more delightful). I keep on thinking there must be a downside a - punishment. The long arm of Calvin.

Going outside with my coffee and journal now.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Saturday, May 19, 2007

from 'The Dreamer'

'It's not so much whether you should or should not sell spirituality, you simply can't. You cannot buy your spirituality from me or anyone else. I cannot sell you knowledge of your soul's deepest longing, an experience of your innately compassionate nature, or a connection to something later than you because I don't have your knowledge, your experience, or your connection to sell. All I can do when I am facilitating retreats is provide you with a sacred container - a place and some practices that will give you the opportunity to do the work of penning to your own knowledge, experience, and connection - and some stories that hopefully will inspire and encourage us all when we are lost or tired. I charge money for the time and energy it takes to do all of this so I can provide for myself and my family while I am doing it.'

Oriah Mountain Dreamer


At last the summer seems to have come this morning. Sat out with my coffee this morning and drew badly in my journal.

There is a ton of stuff on Leith Festival and Six Cities Design Festival.

Off to post office and back to do some late spring cleaning.

Yesterday went to the beach and Fife was slowly obscured by a rain storm and the sea went green.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Living the dream with the day job

"I consider this a little handbook to help us all feel a little bit better about the whole picture of our lives, not just the after five o'clock and on the weekends. Also, it's to acknowledge the time we spend MAKING IT WORK. The reality is, MOST of us have day jobs in addition to our "real work" or "real lives." Some people go to work and never think twice about it. Some people go to work at a place that they HATE, but can't think of anything different. I wanted to make something that honors the fact that most of us have two lives and that takes A LOT of energy. I also wanted to make something that could be an easy reminder that you are living your ONE life right now (not later)--why not enjoy it as much as you can--with a day job or not."

Summer Pierre on her new zine on artists making the day job work.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Beyond Words Holga 2007

Freedom from Self Improvement Day

Because if self-improvement worked, we’d all be self-levitating, multi-lingual, size-zero billionaires by now.

Because we know, deep down inside, that we already have everything we need right now, exactly as we are, and that accepting ourselves moment by moment, over and over again, is the fastest, cheapest and actually only way to ever be truly at peace, happy, and content— and FYI, to actually change anything about yourself (no guarantees when it comes to others; they may remain annoying and obtuse).

This is just the kind of holiday I can get behind. Free postcards to download here.

Also twenty ways to make a difference by just being who you are.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Holga's from Claire's party

find your own left bank

On Friday night I had dinner with friends. Lovely food and wine. I'd gone there from meeting some students of my last Artists Way class and so arrived already 3 glasses down. I hadn't seen F for more than 6 months, and H not 'properly' for 5.
Late on in the evening F kicked back and asked why H and I didn't spend half an hour per day doing 'proper' creative work not emailing and blogging and complained that he though creative all day and making money at it (composing for advertisements) wasn't creating something worth leaving behind. I countered by pointing out that blogs/ blogging/email have a kind of virtual community attached and one reason why people invest in them is that we desire community. We need a place to go where we feel supported encouraged, and that there are other slightly odd people doing the same. Basically what ever we would like to think, we are social animals and thrive with a community around us that supports us. Or 'Believing Mirrors' as Julia Cameron would call them.
Anyway the next day I dragged myself to an early bus and found myself in the company of these dear close family friends who have known me for 30 years. I grew up in the same street as them. As I entered their kitchen I exclaimed at the smell - exactly the same as their house in Edinburgh - instantly transporting me like a Madeline through the years, of strife pain and love to myself nearly 3 decades ago. I took my latest batch of Holgas to show them and V was convulsed by their lack of focus.
I'm convinced that we need to find and create and nurture our own lefty bank cafe in order to facilitate our creativity. I don't think creativity flourishes in a barren and rocky place without encouragement. I think encouragement and belief in each other go a long way towards our creations coming out.
Sheri Beinstock's book Women of the Left Bank popped into my head when talking to F (who is French anyway). This amazing confluence of creativity in the period of the Lost Weekend was partly because women set up structures formal and informal to support each other's creative work.
In addition to creative encouragement we need to feel generally that there are people who love and encourage us for 'just being us'. And I know that V is just such a person even if she thought my photos could have been sharper.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Just been in the country. The woods of Dumfries and Galloway are carpeted in blue. I'm clean out of film so no photos. Feel refreshed from a change of scene and overconsumption of wine over the weekend.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Taking action makes you happier

a great post by Christine Kane - hop over and read it. She's so so right. I do think my Artist Way groups have such a high success rate because much of it is about getting out of your head and doing something. Anything!

Oh and to add good results happen even if your attitude is 'bad'.

I did some action last week and processed a sleugh of holgas which I'm thrilled about and will start posting soon.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Another of the weird work places I've done temp time in but I rather like the mix of green and orange in this picture.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007