Monday, 24 April 2017

And our heroes have misplaced their map

"And our heroes have misplaced their map" is a quote cited on Dave1 from Chromeo's Instagram.
He is quoting @missinfo
14 December 2016

Lately I've been mildly obsessed with Chromeo. I couldn't figure out why.
I think it had something to do with Mum annoying me, and wanting to block out stress.

At the same time, I've been wondering how to merge Peace Painting with my own practice, I've been feeling as though I've been out in the wilderness for some time, finding my way back.

These thoughts are my process of working out the Arts Council grant application and trying to figure out what I want to do, how to do it, and why.

Jon (Dave from Chromeo)

And I've had time off to become mildly obsessed with Chromeo.
I met a guy called Jon that resembles Dave1. He even had a smart suit jacket on, and I spent a very amusing evening pretending I was out with Dave from Chromeo.

Proposal - the 80's girl in the suit

I learnt how to play the riff from Old 45s on the keytar, thinking this would stop it from insisting that I play it on a loop to the annoyance of everyone.
My brain wanted me to play the rest of it and spend ages in Garageband compiling the various parts to make a Youtube video, which seemed like a lot of work to do all on my own, so I said no.

(imagine that last part was being narrated by Micky Flanagan!)

So, I decided that I need to do some normal boring things, and I was innocently downloading some music, when I came across Nik Kershaw's Wouldn't It Be Good. Nik Kershaw is someone whose music would've been on the radio all the sodding time back in the 80s, but this was a track I haven't heard for ages.
And I must've seen the video for it, surely? But we never had MTV as kids, so perhaps I didn't?

In any case I wondered what that white suit thing was all about, but I vaguely remember Dave 1 posting something about maybe getting some shoulder pads, but I might've imagined that....

Anyway, the quote from @missinfo was posted along with a photo that has been widely shared online of a Syrian boy with a BMX walking through the bombed ruins of Aleppo. I've sourced it back to Emanuele D'Angelo. The pic Dave1 shared was sourced by @livincool

I'm contemplating a series of Peace Paintings that juxtapose Syrian children and the bombed ruins of Aleppo within a new context, but I didn't know what that context was.

The concept is Dave from Chromeo, wearing Nik Kershaw's white suit, with images from Instagram haunting him, and then the Instagram image thieves surrounding me to steal my concepts to use somewhere else, like all those 1980s baddies. Which is why I've posted a crap pixellated wip version on my desktop....

Dave 1 in his Nik Kershaw suit juxtaposed with my own photo of abandoned Cold War base RAF Stenigot in Lincolnshire.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Peace Painting - funding

I'm now seeking further funding for the Peace Painting project.

Against all instincts, I'm working on an ACE grant application for the Peace Painting project.
Since 2013 I rejected the arts world and its methods of bureaucratically enshrining funding within hallowed bank accounts inaccessible to such lowly artists such as myself.

After 4 years of refusing to engage in what I saw as a form of financial Stockholm Syndrome, I'm struggling to punish myself with this again.

The greater risk is that I won't finish it before Universal Credit is imposed, and I'll be made destitute.
I asked the Citizen's Advice Bureau for the following information:

When is the DWP imposing Universal Credit?
They do not know. 
During recent research, I read that the reason Syrian children seem so calm in beheading videos, is because terrorists rehearse them several times.
I am being kept in the dark about when the financial abuse will happen.
The reason I'm so stressed out is because since I left my financially abusive ex-husband, I've struggled enough to survive as a single parent, I thought a career in the arts would be better, and now this Universal Credit thing is more financial abuse.

I must clarify that the threat of destitution imposed by Universal Credit motivated me to quit the art world, not to produce any work under a system of welfare slavery, however, Article 27 of the Human Rights Act overrides the DWP, so this is what I imagine will happen if I fail:

Everyone who reads this blog will carry on reading it for free at my expense, so I will rarely post. 
I won't post at all if I'm destitute, as I will be unable to survive.
I will be busy in the CAB, or at the police station reporting the DWP and the Arts Council for human rights abuses.

I will have six weeks of financial abuse akin to that of my ex husband, which is why I'm so stressed out.

The doctor has advised me to self refer for counselling. Talking to someone will be another waste of my time, and will not help to put money in my bank account.
It may lead to me being sent to hospital for malnutrition / survival. Which will place further burden on the NHS, and I shouldn't be there.

I will be unable to pay a month and a half's rent. This will cost £770. Every week I will be £300 short of income for food and bills etc. For six weeks.
The total loss will be £2,570. My overdraft has a £2000 limit.

You will all read this blog and not pay a penny.
Or you will stop reading it and look away, because it contains an inconvenient truth that you don't want to hear, or refuse to do anything about.

What I would prefer is that:

1) Someone finally buys Portrait Of Ian Duncan Smith With Bandaged Nose.

2) Someone commissions new work.

3) The Arts Council Grant application is successful.

4) Universal Credit is never imposed, and Universal Basic Income replaces it.

4) You all complain to the UN, or whoever may be able to help - Amnesty for example, that the British government is abusing Article 27 of the Human Rights Act, and that artists are suffering, instead of reading this blog and sitting there stroking your cats and laughing maniacally.

Copy and paste the blog link and send it to the police, tell them a crime has been committed; artists are having their livelihoods stolen.

I'm writing this now while I still can.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

What do we want? When do we want it?

I went to a lecture by Chris Packham, naturalist, television presenter and visiting lecturer at the University of Lincoln.
He said that when you graduate, you are at the pinnacle of your field, the trick is, to keep going with that afterwards.
He went at his chosen career at a slightly unusual angle.

And afterwards, I thought about this. 
If I was paid according to my Artists' Day Rate since I graduated from University - my University degree being enough to confer my status as an an artist worthy of an income, never mind the work I was at that time trying to continue with, then the total amount I should've been paid is approximately £124,800 over the past 8 years.

Not whatever it is that the DWP say "the law states you need to live on" plus the odd occasional extra payment and arts council grant rejections / cuts.
I hope that when the Tories go, I get all the money I'm owed back so I can buy a proper house.

And if I'm forced to rely on benefits - which I'd rather not - then "what the law states you need to live on" is an illegally low amount, and if the DWP try to take it away without notice, I'm calling the police.

Universal Basic Income.
The arts world seems to be a big supporter of this concept, and I agree with it. But I would still rather be paid at my Artists' Day Rate for my work, not the rate of benefits, or UBI.

UBI would be better than the current welfare system of failing to recognise graduate fine artists as working, and forcing us to take on other jobs that less qualified people or robots could be doing instead, or working minimum wage jobs to keep the DWP from our door, but it isn't as good as just paying artists to do what we do, at the rate we have worked out we should be earning for ourselves.

My zero hours contract job.

This week, I will have to take time out from Peace Painting or any art practice to go and do work in a zero hours contract job.
When I took it on, I was totally disillusioned by the art world and its failures.
I was looking for a part time job, for two days per week, that would pay me well enough not to have to rely on benefits.

This work was suggested as something I could do.
In reality, I'm lucky if I get 2 days work per month.
It isn't enough to stop me relying on benefits, and I'm still looking for that kind of work.
Ideally, if I were to do 2 days Peace Painting workshops per week, doing the work that I spent 3 years at University training to do, and all the experience I've gained since, paid at my Artists' Day Rate, then I would be able to do that and still have time for my own practice.

Carer's Allowance

I have absolutely no intention to give up my work as an artist and claim Carer's Allowance. 
It is too low an income to live on, and it wasn't my career choice.
I do not expect some Nurse Ratched type person to declare that I don't care for my son, or be persecuted or punished any more by the lack of social care, lack of respite, and general neglect of either myself or my son's needs.

Carer's Allowance should be covered by UBI or paid according to the wage of the profession a Carer has been forced to give up due to a family member becoming ill.
Or it should be paid in addition to an existing wage to cover the cost of taking time out for caring responsibilities. 
Either way, it should not be a replacement for other income that has been stolen or taken away because of the criteria for Carer's Allowance.
Carers should not be financially abused or neglected in that way.

I am posting these thoughts because the current government have not asked me whatI think, or what I want, they just keep imposing austerity upon me and others against our wishes, and I wanted to make it very clear what we want. And we want it backdating to the time that all of this was stolen from us. Our rights, our livelihoods - we want it all back now.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Peace Painting - #O

The second Peace Painting is inspired by thoughts that emerged from the Peace Painting workshops at Priory Witham Academy.
Concepts of trees, wish trees combine with images of doves - most people when they think of peace, just paint a dove, but I witnessed an entire murmuration of starlings recently, so the idea of the tree as a dovecote became the basic concept for this work.

The composition takes the form of a snow globe, with the tree as the land and the sea of the world populated by the flock of white peace doves.
On top of the earth sits Bana Alabed, feeding the doves with stardust, as every girl's wish for peace and world peace.

detail - Bana Alabed sits atop the world feeding stardust to peace doves
It's still a work in progress. 

copyright Helen Dearnley Fine Art 2017

Monday, 20 February 2017

Peace Painting - #SaveAleppo

During the workshops at Priory Witham Academy back in December, I became interested in Bana Alabed, and her tweets from besieged Aleppo, and at that time, she was tweeting that Aleppo was being bombed, her house had been bombed, and they were seeking refuge.
So I wanted to paint Bana; here, I have looked at images from her twitter feed, I particularly liked the image of her making a heart with her hands, and looking happy after she was escorted to safety, and is safe in Turkey with her mother. 

Behind her happy self, is the tweet from the time of the bombings, where she's covered in dust, looks tired and weary, and tweets that she has seen death.
I included a printout of another tweet with an image of her house bombed to rubble, where she'd recently received a copy of Harry Potter to read from J.K. Rowling.
The tweet is linked from a website that seems to think Bana's twitter is a fake account and is child exploitation.
I have another image of a faked injured child that is a very interesting image to consider working with.

The image cropped out her feet, so although I imagine she is probably wearing trainers and socks, I have painted her with bare feet. 
Her shoes will be at the bottom, along with some susuwatari, later on.

The images of Aleppo in ruins from which Bana appears to rise out of, like a child from an M83 video, or a character from Stranger Things, are a composite image. The upturned tank has been painted into another scene, and the rubble will become populated by susuwatari, which can only be seen by children, and the dome from a mosque or other building will become a dovecote.

With Instagram filter
In my research, I've been thinking a lot about the painting that Archie conceived of - with words of peace in a tree, and I thought he could make the words into leaves, but I've since realised that he wanted them to go on the trunk, like when lovers carve names into tree trunks.
I went to the park, and couldn't find a single tree with a carving in the trunk, but I did have some old birch bark in my studio that I'd collected, so I made a peace heart.

Concepts are forming about how I can equate Peace Painting with my own practice and my own research. 
I've been sketching flocks of doves, so these will become another work.

On Valentines Day, this murmuration of starlings flew over my house, so a flock of white doves is a concept for another peace painting.

In the courtyard gallery, I spoke to Christopher Wiles about a similar project he's doing.

Art & Design Conference 2017

It's a new year, so I hope everyone has been celebrating the emerging peace in Aleppo, and hoping for a resolution of conflict in Syria, which isn't helped by terrorist attacks in Turkey.

Details of my trip to Norway are on the Peace Painting website here.

This month, I was invited to the Art & Design Conference, which I initially thought would be a paid talk about Peace Painting at The Collection Museum and Art Gallery.

The week of the event, this became a workshop - for teachers attending. I'm used to running workshops for children, so this was going to be a new challenge.

This was good for teachers to learn what children experience and gain from Peace Painting workshops, and it's interesting to see how they all responded differently to the theme, but with only an hour, there wasn't much time to really explore ideas about peace in any greater detail.

It was a fun event, with an informative talk by Lesley Butterworth of NSEAD, and lunch of course provided :-)