Saturday, December 31, 2011


How can i write an end of year review when there are 4 hours left to go ? when my take on things is flailing about and flipping from one moment to the next ?

Do you ever get up really early before the weather has woken up ? Here surrounded by mountains and loch, with lots of wet and stormy weather this last couple of months, the wind blows night and day...except for a brief moment between the two where it pauses, still, to take a deep breath and rest. Its the same with the tide changes, the water seems to relentlessly push and nag its way in and out, except for when at the tide turns and then there is a pause. The wind will drop, a strange stillness descends, the land and sea take that deep breath, the sea birds will call out in the silence, everything stops, until a gust of wind signals the ripples and rhythms to start again, pushing in and out dancing to the moons cycle. 

Well I’ve been waiting for that in-take of breath between the old year and the new. In that darkness and cold which seems to drag for weeks, that time between Yule, solstice, Christmas, new year and folks going back to work, sometime in that slurred dragged out sluggish frustrating period of hibernation and feasting i expect some stillness to reflect. A pause to see where we have been and where we are going.
Suil air ais- Suil air adhart, consider the future- reflect on the past.

But so far there has been no pause, the wheels seem to have sped up if anything!  I crave a lull, some space, peace, silence to make sense of it all, but no. So who am i to fight it ?

Looking back at last years review of 2010, ‘stress, no money, worrying about how to make a living, how to afford to do art, how to reconcile my art, time and money issues’ well no change there, that’s the review i would have written this morning...again.

 but things have changed this year, new threads are getting woven into the glittering celtic tapestry, new chaotic cycles started turning, i keep meeting inspirational people, which is new. I’m getting dragged back into community & local life which i’d turned away from after being burnt by some toxic committee’s, having had a lack of support during tough times and wasted too much energy trying to achieve things locally and hitting head against a brick wall of entrenched negativity ( evidence item number 1 – read any local community council minutes ) . But I’m a great believer in giving second chances and forgiveness, and also reviewing the evidence, ‘did i do wrong?’, ‘ was it a little bit me?’ ‘ did i create that situation?’. So while the last couple of years have been focused on getting away from lochcarron, and getting out into the big wide world, I’m now finding projects which seem to be worth some effort locally again. That is not to say that a big thrust of this year has been about internationalism and cross-cultural projects, and i am ending the year with Siberia, Scythia and Russia again very much in mind.

This year has felt more open with possibilities, more unexpected and unpredicted events. Some have had very unexpected outcomes. I am happier i suppose when things like this happen, it fills me with hope and optimism. When things are constricting, negative, difficult and there is no money to make any change or difference, it’s good to be able to believe that the unexpected can happen. And it does. There must have been many lonely years by myself up the glen with small children that nothing happened, no spark, no magic, no matter how i pushed and pulled to make things happen, I’d go years without meeting anyone new, just work worry work, just getting by and getting slapped down for not conforming, or having a low income.
Financially now we are even more broke than before.  But there is no way I will let something like money get me down ( well of course it does really ! ), the whole world is facing an economic crisis, and i figure people like me who have lived outwith consumer fads and greeds for years, have a role to play in illuminating the way forward with non consuming based solutions. Folks laugh and comment on my 30yr old patchy trousers, but ha! Another year of the con-dem government and all the cool kids will be wearing them!

 It’s been most surprising watching a whole new generation switching onto protest, to examining why capitalism is failing, why our current lifestyles are not sustainable, why we need governance that is truely democratic and accountable to the people. More and more people are picking up the themes that only outside minority cranks like me have been banging on about for 25+ years, community land ownership, scottish independence, recycling, repairing stuff, non oil based alternatives, locally produced food, trade and barter, traditional skills, crafts, the need for a fairer more creative and vocational education system, nurturing local culture, minority languages, social inclusion, a social based not capital based economy, permaculture, communities.. this is an endless list of hippy nonsense that i’ve sat quietly on for a long time. But its great to see the concepts being discussed in the main arena at last, and bright young things picking up the banner and running with it.

In the early 90’s there was a thing called ‘phantom treeplanting’, you’d see it discussed in reforesting scotlands magazine ‘ the treeplanters guide to the galaxy’ some of my illicitly planted trees hand grown from local seed, are nice big mature trees now. Nowadays the same idea is called ‘guerilla...’ rather than phantom, we’re starting to see guerrilla art and crafts across the world ( see also street art ), guerrilla gardening even. People are bypassing the rules, regulations and money, going out there and doing things, because they are good things to do.
This is sort of what my work is, i don’t really earn a wage from my labours, but it is the right thing to do, it does influence others, it does have a positive impact, and somehow we get by. It is hard to keep the faith but this year I’m meeting others working on the same premise, working on arts projects, community projects , woodlands projects, social enterprise projects, independent galleries, etc- people ignoring the state funding tick-box hoop-jumping culture people just getting on with it, because it is the right thing to do. This is the way forward through local and global austerity, people working together, just doing the right thing.
where do I go with my art in all this ? perhaps there will be a lull, a pause, a deep breath tomorrow and i’ll get some clarity to write about art stuff that i did in 2011 and where the path may head next? Perhaps things will still be wild and crazy, swirling like our Westerly gales.

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