5 things to do at the Berlin Wall

Pausing for thought


This is my first visit to Berlin and I guess new cities are always difficult to negotiate. The following blog explains a bit about my own approach to this and is both a reflection and a recommendation centred around the Berlin wall “East Side Gallery” and the wall’s “Memorial Museum”.


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“In from the cold”:

Oil, felt pen and spray paint on canvas

60″ x 60″: Claytor 1990


1. Think about the power of Art.

Go to the East Side Gallery and walk along looking at the different bits of grafitti art. Ask yourself what was the purpose of those paintings on THIS wall. Wasn’t the job done anyway, before the paintings were  completed? Make sure that you look at the other side of the wall also while you think about this.

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2. Remember your own art

Think back over any of your own drawings, paintings, film, ceramics, printmaking, photography.

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Ask yourself if anything you see is like anything you have done? If so why and if not why not. The paintings on the wall are for the most part, not that attractive, but they are situated entirely in the right context. They are political in a way that most art is unable to be. Picasso achieved it with “Geurnica”, but that is pretty much the exception that proves the rule.

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Social media affords some wider political context for our work as artists. Is this good enough? I ask myself how important is it to have an audience who can stand in front of my work as an artist. To be more than just a “meme artist”, do I have to literally reach my audience? Do they need to be able to touch my paintings.

3. Look really closely and close up

Study the details of the paintings on the concrete wall surfaces. Not because you will appreciate the grafitti art on the wall sections better, but because it will help you in just BEING THERE.


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4. Make your own piece of art out of what you see.

This landscape is not dead. Its story continues and you have an obligation to tell it.

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5. Move on to the wall museum

Look out over at the last example of the watch tower and the Berlin wall

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“Its forbidden to deface or damage the wall”

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Famous Gorbachov kissing picture

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Crowds taking their photos

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View from platform: Berlin Wall Memorial and Visitor Centre: July 2016

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Concreted stained glass work: Berlin wall memorial and visitor centre

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Berlin wall memorial and visitor centre

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Berlin wall memorial and visitor centre. View of last double section of wall including watch tower.


In conclusion, all the walking around and climbing stairs and viewing platforms combined with museum exhibition stuff, makes for a very exciting and thought provoking day.

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“In from the cold”:

Oil, felt pen and spray paint on canvas

60″ x 60″: Claytor 1990

My own thoughts turned to this painting that I started in 1989 around the time the wall came down. In the first instance it had been a response to reading “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” by John le Carre. Then watching the film of the same name staring Richard Burton. It eventually became interwoven and tied in with the events unfolding in Berlin.

It is perhaps one of my own favourite paintings and so it has been splendid over the last few days to see my original “statement of ego” (for that is what most art is) taken a little bit further after all these years. I was struck by the similarity of the close up texture and tonal work between some areas at the beginning of the gallery wall and my own “In from the Cold” piece.

The painting itself was finished many years ago, but I feel that I have only just finished it properly in my own head now, after this first visit to Berlin and the unrelenting mosaic of social, political and historical detail I have taken on board.


 

Testing header gifs for WordPress

Header GIFS


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New header for website. Just need to get rid of the white space beneath this animation now.


Well I got rid of the white space and then had it working ok on the banner at the top. It won’t accept a banner wider than 720 pix though, or at least that was the size of the one that worked. To cover the whole page I need 1200 pix though. When I make one that size it won’t run the animation. I must get on the sites to check this out.

Here is the 1200 pix header that works ok:-

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What I really want is to get a longer one like this or the slider one:-

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to work on the header at full stretch of 1200 across the top of the whole page.



 

Facebook or blogging/Aragorn and the Tower

Aragorn Tower

Burnt Tree: Chatsworth Gardens 2016


Facebook or blogging

The great thing about a blog as opposed to Facebook for instance, is it being implicit that a more opinion based diary content is expressed. I feel a bit freer to say whatever is on my mind, rather than tailor it for the limited Facebook audience that I have. In a seeming contradiction, I therefore feel as if my audience is easier to address for being smaller (and at the moment -none existent). Talking to no-one at all (or potentially everyone in the world) via a blog is more liberating than the guaranteed audience of Facebook. For me, Facebook is a bit like a parental filter on what I feel able to say. I incline to get wrapped up in trying to be the correct version of the slightly different person that I am with all my different friends and acquaintances.  It is not that it is impossible or unrewarding, it is just that I am struck by the more relaxed nature of the writing when “Facebook approval” is removed, and inspired rather than daunted by the idea of communicating with the “anonymous World”. Another way of putting it is that my idea(s) take priority and once they have formed then the audience will follow. Say something and then see who listens.


With this in mind I am going to describe a dream that I had last night (which is unlikely to reach Facebook) and reflect upon where it came from as well as how I might use such an experience from a creative point of view.

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Chatsworth House wrapped in scaffolding July 2016

Aragorn and the Tower

I was looking out over my back garden which sloped gradually upwards. I became aware of a strange scaffolding like tower in the middle of the garden that I felt responsible for. A couple of families with small children wandered up the slope of the garden past the tower and then out of sight.

I began to feel slightly anxious. Wandering over towards the tower I could see that it needed some renovation work. However I was increasingly concerned that the tower was in too bad a way for me to repair it. I held it by one corner wall and the whole thing seemed in danger of falling; swaying a little. It stayed up at this point though and I looked closer to see a part of the scaffolding with a missing bolt. Had it been sabotaged? What did this mean?

I started looking for a replacement bolt as well as considering some other tasks that needed completing to restore the tower.

At this point I notice the tall Norwegian approaching from behind me to the left. Just before he reaches me, the tower starts to tilt and collapse and then just disappear in an evaporation of dust.

This provokes an overwhelming sense of relief. I am surprised and utterly grateful as I turn and face the tall Norwegian who has become Aragorn from “Lord of the Rings”. He looks at me knowingly and I feel the sense of release that I have always associated with realising that something doesn’t matter. Very close to forgiveness.

I wake up.