(Re: Yellow) “I am” and I am glad, hello!

Responding to one of Karen’s newer paintings:

Karen Wood installing her work at Spitlefields Studios (London)
for the Urban Rural Exchange exhibition this month

A depth to dive into
A shadow, a black.
Spaces to skid in with glee
Hidden from view
A secret me.
Behind my eyelids
An inner me.

A shock of gold
A beam of splendour
A heart-lifting brightness
An etheral sun-smile
Beaming from the heart of me
“I am”.

Aloft in the ceiling
this painting beams down on me
Dripping tendrils of gold on the floor
Painting the lines to dance with
Borders to investigate
Blocks of view with which to

I see myself in it;
There is an order and a wildness
in this one Karen
I said to you as soon as I saw it
This is my favourite yet
Not just because yellow has that effect on me
But because it is balanced on
the edge of vision.

Dear Karen,

I wrote this word flow for you, in response to your painting. As you know I have mentioned that yellow is usually my favourite colour in any situation that a favourite may be stated. Not to use in my palette per say, but to feel. Yellow feels good.

I have been exploring tri-colour symbolism for a while now, (red-black-white) and was rather delighted when I discovered yellow is often the fourth colour to emerge in any language according to linguists Brent Berlin and Paul Kay. Da Silva writes:

Specifically, they found that if a given language contains only two color terms, these refer to white and black. But if a language contains three terms, then it contains (in addition to the previous ones) a word for red. And so on and so forth concerning—in the following order—green or yellow, then blue, then brown, and finally purple, pink, orange, and gray.

Francisco Vas Da Silva (2017) ‘Red as Blood, White as Snow, Black as Crow: Chromatic Symbolism of Womanhood in Fairy Tales

I shared this discovery with Andy Jones last spring when he shared his maps with us at a CAS Artists CRIT and I noticed he is using the same primary colours to represent his own symbolic language.

I am really tickled by the idea that in language, these colours emerge first. Perhaps that makes them good tools for finding our own languages. In your case, with a colour palette taken from the roads of London, it occurs to me as if for the first time that you are picking up the symbolic visual language of the road system (a recognised cultural language of instruction) and dissenting (deviating) from the traditional interpretation. Your dissent is saying there is so many more ways that you can move in these spaces, not only that, you have created a visual language to express it and which others might learn to read.

In my case, I am not quite sure I have the words yet for the terrain of my cultural deviation, so I instead leave you with this:

The use of yellow here is in part inspired by your painting. In this digital drawing my impression of your painting merges with an encounter with Rapunzle (who I saw had dissented by chopping off her golden hair — an act of defiance). See my recent blog post ‘the first telling’ (of ‘The Woman with No Hair’) to decode what the red box and the gold lines represent (or devise your own meaning).

Since Susan Merrick took photos of me on Tuesday, my digital sketchbook has exploded with images. Like your fast manipulation of electrical tape, digital tools have a useful ability to keep up with my thoughts as I test out ideas.

No Lines

In response to “rules for ash”.

This was written two years ago to express an alternative viewpoint which is being pulled in to sharp focus, as we each need to create a structure, a perimeter and a parameter within which to work if we are to achieve anything at all.

There is no line
No outline
It works as a drawing exercise
But to live by it is to lose
Spacial awareness in a sea of objects
Focus in a mass of information.
Abandoning form and boundary lines
Constructed by the mind
External action is fruitless
A leak of energy, unmastered
You see everything but also nothing
Raw material remains unmanifest.

It helps to know the eye and the active
mind are pulling focus
Ordering reality, not passive observers.
There is no line until you make it
Just don’t fight too hard to keep it
As the tension between forms is the
Agitation sparking creativity
Which never can create without grinding,
Pounding, exploding forms and 
edging out on the wake of change 
that which must die
Not because it can’t co exist
But because it is food for your task
Material for new forms.

13 January 2017

Language Problems. To rant or not to rant?

A conversation on Instagram

@ashok_glow responds:
Why say “rants”? A bit disrespectful

Because that is what the invitation was. They were invited to rant. Artists responded to the open call how they found fit. It was an invitation to an uncensored or passionate expression of frustration. I think we got something from both @adaee12 and @artistsarahmisselbrook that was that but also so much more. Beautiful and potent. @maijaliepins

It was as if I was ‘given permission’ (?) or ‘the floor’ or ‘time/space’ to constructively ‘rant’ about something. Personally I found it incredibly cathartic, I shouted across The Valley, across the Channel and across the internet… and there were engaged ‘listeners’… for me, it was a truly wonderful experience. 😊@artistsarahmisselbrook

That’s true. I consider a lot of the writing and thinking and talking I do to be rants, so when I saw the ‘5 minutes rant’ I saw it as the perfect outlet for my work. Like you said, it takes away the pressure of what you’re saying having to be perfect or make coherent sense and just lets it be its own thing. @adaee12

Language persists in being both problematic and useful.

What negative connotations does ranting have?

  • How might we reclaim the rant?
  • Can rants be useful?
  • Do you need to get permission to proceed with ranting?
  • Where does ranting fit in to social etiquette?
  • Does any current social etiqutte of ranting serve one or many?


I cried in public today
On stage I stood
Before all those faces 
And I feel so proud
That I didn’t squash it down
But flowed
Staying on the thread.

Susan Merrick red and yellow
asked me do you want a hug?
“Yes please” I said and continued talking
with an embrace of support.
“I like hugs” I said.

Definitely not alone.
Perhaps when we use our voices
people will stand with us
Just enough to steady ourselves
Flowing on the tide.

I shared my experience
Pushing back
A “yes but…”
I pushed with my hands
Defining my space?

“Ooh I’m feeling quite emotional”
I admitted to the crowd.
That pushing action
Arms out, hands flat
Feeling that action

Am I on my soapbox?

(I didn’t think that then
I just felt the sensation)

Sometimes you need to push back I said
When you’ve taken on some much of the “other”.
A balancing act.

(I can’t remember what I was responding to.)

What just happened?
What did you see?

(Raw and loose
Contemplating me)

Responding to your whispers

Intrigued by the imposed audio limitations placed upon your artist group, I can assure you that your whispers are coming through ‘loud and clear’.

Observing you on your ‘island’, your cell, I can connect with you from my ‘natural soapbox’ (a large protruding rock within the valley). I will respond with a ‘rant’ with a self-imposed limitation that it should come from this place. However, the quest for clarity of thought, of word, of action risks going unseen.

Read More

Sarah, I can hear you

Sarah Misselbrook
20 October 14.59 GMT

From inside the cage of cremated branches, can you hear me?

A reply from Maija Liepins
20 October 19.16 GMT

Whispers of wisdom
Of matter, of memory

Whispers of meaning
A chapter, a wending

Sounds in the silence,
And silence in the listening

A foot in the ash
And a head in the sky

A lungs breath away
A whole world away

A conversation unending
With elements, other, and me

Read More

Reaction to The Whisperers…

I love your starting points and the soap box. Like speakers corner in Hyde park.

How will you invite people to use the square? Who will feel comfortable doing so? Will it be those who always speak out already? Or will others feel empowered to do so?

A white square, like the white cube space of some galleries…. Will it feel so art world that only those comments felt fitting for the art world will be made? or those theoretical or academic enough? Using art speak? Or lay terms?

Will this invite radical views or smaller irritations? Does it matter? Are my question showing my own pre judgements about what I feel is welcomed in such spaces?

How do we invite those who are NOT present to speak? Where are they? And what would they say? Would they speak at all or simply step over or around the strange white painted square…..

Will I speak? Will it be truthful? Will it be dissenting and dissenting to whom?