June 2017

We are moving into late spring and early summer – my favourite time of year in this part of the world. Bluebells are out and carpet the woods if one knows where to look. Also, there are many young foals in the fields. It being the UK, however, lovely sunny days are often followed by a return to winter. Even so, long light evenings – bliss.

 

 

 

 

 

I travelled down to Cornwall on the turn of the months and visited several ‘open studios’. This is where various amateur and semi-professional artists open their studios for the week. Most areas now do this. It is a great time to see a wide range of work in a very short period of time; to speak with the various artists, craftspeople and potters about there work. Studio prices are also very tempting as the artists are able to subtract the 50/60% commission that is normally charged by galleries. I came a way with a selection of pieces!

 

 

 

 

 

Up nearer my home, it was a pleasure to see the Unthanks. This two-part sister group have made a name for themselves singing in Geordie dialect – that is from Newcastle. Their harmonies are beautiful and they have a very respectful backing band. This tour has them singing arrangements of songs written and recorded by Molly Drake, mother of the famous Nick Drake, who has become somewhat of a cult figure. His guitar playing and songs are beautiful but he committed suicide, somewhat as a result of lack of success, in 1974. Really, he sank into obscurity but was then rediscovered and praised in later years. Then, years after that, recordings were found of his mother’s songs, accompanied on piano. Also, some of her poems. The connection between mother and son was immediately evident in the similarity of mood, melody and subject matter. Now, the Unthanks have done recordings of her songs, accompanied by poems recited by Nick’s sister Gabrielle.

 

 

 

A lovely evening of music – the band came out in both the break and after the show to chat with the audience members, which made for a very personable event.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1hoNOTrOZk

 

 

 

Back to the venue next door to see The Woman in Black – a rather macabre ghost story. England has a tradition of ghost stories going back many years and Susan Hill, the author of this story, wrote it somewhat as a spoof, but it turned out to be genuinely spooky. Then, a play adaptation was made, which has run in London’s West End since the 1980s. Quite good to watch, and based around just two actors who played all the part, mimed others, and generally created the necessary sinister atmosphere. The actors also did a Q&A afterwards – these sorts of interactional events are becoming increasingly common and are a great way to deepen one’s enjoyment and understanding of the process behind art and performance.

 

 

 

 

Also a trip to Bath to see an exhibition of the work of Peter Breugel, the famous Dutch artist of the sixteenth century. They had a good range of his work, including one depicting Dutch proverbs. It seems his work was so popular, he did ‘templates’ of his most famous pieces which could be used by an associate artist to produce multiple ‘copies’ – as were of many of his famous works. There were also example of religious scenes, flowers and portraits. It really showed me that artists were ‘taking charge’ of aspects of their own work way before the rise of ‘arts for arts sake’ in the nineteenth century with Manet and the Impressionists (see Bourdieu: The Rules of Art or my own: http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/art/art-rules/……).

 

 

 

 

In the proverbs painting as well was the famous ‘cuckold man and dishonest woman’, which is a central motive to a PhD novel an associate student of mine is doing. We have spent a long time working on the various significant elements in this image.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second part of my extended essay on the band King Crimson was also posted.

 

 

 

The essay is in 3 parts and part 2 in parts 1 and 2 because of its length. Really, it deals with the first incarnation of King Crimson in 1969 and adopts a socio-cultural approach, together with explorations into creativity from the perspectives of philosophy, psychology and spirituality. It also gives an account of my own experience with listening to the group around this time. Part 3 will appear later this year and I am presently working on another essay, which takes the story up to 1975, which was probably the first cut-off period.

 

https://www.dgmlive.com/in-depth/DoctorMikeKC69-p2-I

 

 

Book of the month discusses the modern Islamic Enlightenment, showing what a rich set of progressive ideas have been developed in Islamic countries in modern times.

 

 

May 2017

The year is certainly hotting up, although not necessarily weather-wise – this is the UK after all. Well, meteorologically it is warmer and we are experiencing lovely light evenings – I can walk to way past nine now. Bird song and lush spring green. It is the period of the year when ‘winter can at last be banished’ and there are various pagan practices for doing so. Like ‘May Horns’ in Penzance where the blowing of horns is seen as one means of sending the last vestiges of winter away.

 

 

https://cornishculture.co.uk/portfolio/the-may-horns/

 

 

At the same time, there is always one eye on fertility. May 1st is Beltane after all and Green Man season. We are approaching the period of maximum pro-creativity, at least in the seasonal calendar – here, there are chicks and young horses in the forest. Central to all this is also ‘the Lord of Misrule’ who is a legendary character sent to stir things up in the belief that creativity happens best under not always ideal conditions – it needs something to kick against. Another Cornish custom is the ‘Obby Horse’ in Padstow that runs in and out of houses spreading mischief while folk dance and – well, get inebriated!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Socio-politically there is much to say since things seem to be falling apart – I have never known such division in my life-time. The UK seems to be at civil war: we have a general election in the offing but I fear this will not resolve anything and for sure things are going to get a lot worst before they get better.

 

 

 

Culturally it was a supper active month for me. I went to the Opera – one of the few arts that I am not that enamored with. However, this was ‘popular’ and ‘classical’ opera in the form of Madame Butterfly by Puccini.

 

 

 

 

Of course, it is so well known that it has become almost clichéd. However, as all great art, its effects live on. So, I have seen it many times but still sat in rapt attention as the sad story unfolded: the original twixt, the consequences, the heartbreak of the ‘humming chorus’ where Butterfly waits for her now married ‘husband’ to come and he does not, and the final tragic ending. Cio-Cio San was sung by a brilliant young singer from Seoul, Karah Son. She certainly looked the part. When she takes the ‘honorable’ way out at the end – her paths of escape having closed one by one – there are thunderous orchestral chords as the now distraught Pinkerton cries ‘Butterfly’ three times as the terrible consequences of his actions become all too apparent. This left me in tears.

 

A good contrast, therefore, when my outing the next night took me to a local amateur dramatic society’s production of Abigail’s Party – a now famous play based around a small dinner party including a divorcee whose daughter – Abigail – is having her own party.

 

 

 

 

It was first broadcast by the BBC in 1977 on the night we had a huge hurricane in Britain. We woke up to trees across the roads and no electricity. The play came from the now famous director Mike Leigh who approaches work by getting his actors to improvise around a given situation/ scenario. This was has the excruciating Beverly at its core: voluptuous, gin swilling, with a taste for Demi Voussos and kitsch semi-erotic painting. Her long suffering husband is at her beck and call, as are the rest of her guests as she directs the evening. Lots of laughs about a certain culture and a certain time, but with a more thought provoking underside with respect to how we have built on these since!!

 

Lots of art also happening. One around paintings from the years after the Soviet Revolution; of course, by then art was meant to reflect the utopia of the new communist state. And so it did – with lots of asides on the reality. It makes one realize, again, how romantic the vision of a Marxist state is/ was. There seems little evidence, however, that we can bulk the wheels of capitalism for however long it lasts, and this exhibition is an important reminder about a – very large – country that tried.

 

 

 

 

Speaking of capitalism , another art exhibition dealt with American art after the economic crisis in the 1930s.

 

 

 

 

A particularly interesting period for me, since it covers a time just before American expressionism that I have looked at in some detail. One of the most famous paintings from the period I had previously seen in Chicago – and here it is in London; apparently almost one of the first times it has been allowed out of its home gallery.

 

 

 

Created in 1930, it depicts a farmer standing beside a woman that has been interpreted to be either his wife or his daughter. The figures were modeled by Wood’s sister, Nan Wood Graham, and Wood and Graham’s dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby. The woman is dressed in a colonial print apron evoking 19th-century Americana, and the man is holding a pitchfork. The looks on their faces are meant to indicate the anxieties of the period and the hard work they undertook in order to survive. Edward Hopper’s ‘lonely’ city individuals are the other side of the coin: people lost in the urban crowds.

 

 

 

 

Howard Hodgkin – a famous English – has recently died and, as seems often to be the case, a major exhibition of his work was planned to open at around about the same time. This was is specifically ‘portraits’. I write portraits but most of these are not discernably so, and are overtly abstract.

 

 

 

 

There were some early paintings and sketches to show how he could recall someone’s face almost perfectly from memory – good visual memory, then. But, most of the others were straight abstract. I have reacted against his work in the past, so I was curious to see what I would make of them this time. I found it was best when I just enjoyed the paintings for what they were – their colours and dynamism were truly engaging. However, when some sort of date and/ or name was given to them, I found it rather pretentious.
Then a real treat, and an invite to the ‘family and friends’ rehearsal of King Crimson in preparation for their forthcoming American tours. What can I say? Won’t give the game away but can certainly promise would-be concert goers that they are in for a real treat. Many pieces reworked and developed, other new additions – some real surprises. In fact, I was so knocked out by it, that I sort of wandered off post concert and missed the opportunity to speak to various ones. Well….

 

 

 

 

Two books of the month this month: One, on a man’s enquiry into that most famous of paintings – Las Meninas by Velázquez. The main author is Michael Jacobs but he died mid-project, so it was completed by his friend Ed Vulliamy. Of course, it is all about ‘gaze’ and perspective. Famously, it was discussed by Foucault at the beginning of his book The Order of Things. Lacan then critiques his account.

 

 

 

 

http://tombrockelman.com/2014/02/16/the-other-side-of-the-canvas-1/

 

 

The other book is about Saturn.

 

 

April 2017

Well, I am not sure whether we had March winds, but I am sure that the last month signaled the real move from Winter to Spring.  The Spring Equinox on the 20th suitably marked the balance of half day and half night – and marching. The clocks then when forward which translated as longer light in the evening.

 

 

 

I began to study astrology in more depth – not the stuff you get in the newspapers, but the real planetary alignments at the time of one’s birth and how the planets affect one. Rather surprisingly, I found the information quite accurate!  More work on this in the future.

 

 

 

I went to see the ‘comedian’ Stewart Lee. I say the ‘comedian’ because, despite the fact that he refers to himself as a clown, he does not really tell jokes as such. More sort of chats.  Pretty clever though with some in-depth observation – and from several perspectives. At any one time, he might have 4-5 levels of reflexivity happening. Very clever. The crowd loved it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd4FfNpYxF0&list=PLmCbG9JbC7_nw7mYk1sjz4SrFK-v3kXqG

 

 

 

For only the second time in my life, I went on a demonstration/ march. This was against Brexit – that is the UK leaving the European Union. Of course, Europe has featured in most of my adult life – both personal and professional: lots of travel, European ideals, joint projects. It seems inconceivable to walk away from this – there is still a sense that it might not happen. Well, amongst the ‘remainders’. Of course, we are derided as the ‘liberal elite’. Whatever way it goes, it is clear that with one thing and another, we really are entering a new era.

 

 

 

Art wise, I went to see the Australian Impressionists – yes, there are some! These are the painters Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder and John Russell. They took the ‘impressionist’ style that developed in France from the middle of the eighteenth century and applied it to Australian subjects – mostly landscapes. So, they painted from the last part of the C18th into the C20th. Very good!

 

 

 

 Book of the month:

 

 

 

 

This is a discussion of The Four Zoas – or Vala – by the poet William Blake, who I have studies and had a very close attachment to most of my life. Interestingly, the Zoas somewhat anticipate the archetypes that the psychologist Carl Jung came up with. Blake struggled with this poem\/ prophesy for some years, even re-writing various whole sections. He then abandoned it and gave it away – never had it engraved/ printed. There are some fine passage in it – well known ones: 

‘What is the price of Experience? Do men buy it for a song?
Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price
Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children
Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy
And in the wither’d field where the farmer ploughs for bread in vain

It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer’s sun
And in the vintage and to sing on the waggon loaded with corn
It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted
To speak the laws of prudence to the homeless wanderer
To listen to the hungry raven’s cry in wintry season
When the red blood is fill’d with wine and with the marrow of lambs

It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements
To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughterhouse moan;
To see a god on every wind and a blessing on every blast
To hear sounds of love in the thunderstorm that destroys our enemies’ house;
To rejoice in the blight that covers his field and the sickness that cuts off his children
While our olive and vine sing and laugh round our door and our children bring fruits and flowers

Then the groan and the dolour are quite forgotten and the slave grinding at the mill
And the captive in chains and the poor in the prison and the soldier in the field
When the shatter’d bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead
It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity: Thus could I sing and thus rejoice: but it is not so with me.”

 

 

 

 

March 2017

February was suitably dark and sunless in this corner of the globe – the sun hardly looked in. It really is a ‘wicked’ month as the end of winter has a final punch before the spring breaks through.

A few ‘spring’ days, though now

 

I literally began the month in Berlin, German in very Wintry conditions – the paradox being with snow, everything looks so much brighter.

 

 

 

 

A very nice centre about 30 kilometres from Berlin, and a weeks work with the Berlin Guitar Ensemble with a view to three performances at the end of the project. A good team and very honourable performances. Very much smaller than recent projects so really focused work.

 

 

 

 

 

Then, back and thrown into some academic work – proofs of my next book to read. A tedious activity and I am always dissatisfied with what I wrote – the temptation to amend is constant. It just looks different in a different typeface, and then some surprise that I had written what is before me.

 

I went up to Sheffield to give a lecture: an eighteen hour around trip that began very early and ended late. I certainly saw a lot of the inside of the train. An audience of 40 plus people turned out to listen to me and also some goods follow-up questions.

 

 

https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/education/research/csnl

 

 

Shrove Tuesday marked the beginning of Lent: I always give up meat and alcohol for Lent. Like, I am not a great imbiber of either, but I instantly feel better for it. A message there.

I cooked pancakes my family way – with lemon, currants and sugar.

 

Then, a trip down to Cornwall, and continued work on my quest to find out about Ithell Colquhoun. I am not sure I learn that much. However, I do get to speak to a lot of interesting people with their take on her, including a full Wiccan Witch, complete with regalia. And, very kind they were too.

 

 

Cornwall is a land of mystery and history: menhirs, stone circle and holy wells. For my week, also shrouded in fog – and so, very atmospheric.

 

With my interviews, it is often a case of putting fragments together. People say they do not know much, but there is usually a single piece that can be added to another that builds up a larger picture. I do now have a lot of material and hope to begin writing about it later this year once a few other pieces are out of the way.

 

The third session of the Cosmic Ecology course. Lots of fun and lots of ideas. It is really a modern extension of Bennett’s work in the Dramatic Universe:

 

 

Of course, everything has moved on since his day, so it is really bringing it all up to date and seeing the implications of it for today.

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/esoteric/reading-the-dramatic-universe-words-of-advice-and-support/

 

Art exhibitions included Paul Nash at the Tate Britain: a mixture of the surreal and the pastoral. Very good.

 

 

Also, an interesting book on music and how one can ‘measure’ one’s life by it.

 

February 2017

Into the New Year in January – never entered one with so much trepidation. It feels like the end of what my generation worked for: community, multiculturalism, tolerance, a fairer society. Now, the gloves seem to be off. Anything could happen.

One of the things that I noticed in 2016 was how social media came into its own. For the Brexit and US elections it was the only place to me. Conventional newspapers struggled to keep up – even their on-line versions. Of course, Face book means that no only is everyone publishable, they are published. The attitude seems to be any opinion is as good as any other. In this way, everything is levelled down.
It was also the year when I first felt the reality of ‘post-truth’ and ‘post-fact’. I would say that we have spoken about ‘postmodernism’ for years and now it has arrived, but postmodernism seems quite benign to what we have now.

 
Early on in January, I went to Paris for a social event. Also, took in the new art centre at the Jardin d’Acclimatation near La Defense. Loved the audacious architecture: France always manages to introduce modern buildings amongst traditional ones in a way that works – unlike in Britain.

 

 

I thought the Impressionist painting would be a bit boring but far from the case – real crème de la crème stuff based on a single collector’s collection.

 

 

The grey wintry weather followed me there though. As it did to Trondheim in Norway.

 


Don’t think I have ever been that far north before. I am told it is bright with the snow but it had all disappeared when I was there. Issues of light here: it struggles to get light by about 10.00 in the morning and is closing in again by early afternoon. A very ‘quiet’ country – outside at least. I took in a trip to a friend’s farm on a fiord: rather beautiful vistas and ait that is so clear. The world certainly looks different when you are on top of Europe. Rather lovely wooden houses – the keep them lit during the day with candles, etc. Very atmospheric.

 

 

 

Working on a book chapter on reflexivity. Apparently, my Bourdieu Key Concepts book is being translated into Portuguese – cool. Also preparing for the second edition of the Parallel Lives book, as well as the Satsang and Guitar Craft books.

More material on the surrealist painter Ithell Colquhoun, who I am continuing to research. Read the new editions of her books on Cornwall and Ireland from the 1950s – with intros. By comedian/ writer Stewart Lee. Good that these have been reprinted since with renewed interest they are both selling at high three figure prices. Preferred the Cornish to the Irish one, but as it seems lighter – but then, I know each of the places she writes of.

 

 

Nice little film about her here:

 

https://vimeo.com/203373612

January 2017

December went as a bit of a blur. No sooner back from Australia than plunged into the Yuletide season. Very nice lights and decorations everywhere – we needed them to cheer us up. However, at the same time, my body went into catatonic shock with a drop of some 26 degrees in temperature. Also, what is usually a gradual descent into the turning of the year became a sharp fall. Reduction at high speed!

Then tumbled into birthday – me being a Sagittarius!

Saturn is crossing my Sun – the first time for 30 years, so severe pruning afoot.

Still, the Winter Solstice was soon upon us – at 10.44 precisely on December the 21st to be exact.

From now on, in the Northern Hemisphere at least, the Sun is moving back towards us. Or, at least, that is how we sense it; actually, it is the other way around, of course – we are moving towards it. Either way, the sunlight is strengthening all the time now.

Christmas decorations: I obtained a tree. Much controversy about whether to have a real one or not these days. But, the ones I buy are cultivated precisely for Christmas and from sustainable resources. There is something about having the Tanenbaum within the house for the period of the festival: whether it be the birth of Christ, the birth of the Oak King, Yule, St. Nicholas, Wassailing, or Saturnalia.

When you are unmarried and without children it is a strange time of year because everyone seems to be gravitating towards parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren. Best a time of quiet reflection is called for at the changing of the year. I certainly enjoy the food and cooked myself a Christmas cake:

Before that, there was time for some cultural activities. I attended the American Expressionism exhibition at the Royal Academy in London:

Good range of artists from the 1940s and 50s, including a fine selection of Rothko painting which always somewhat take my breath away. Pollock also represented well with a wider range of his work than is the norm.

The Beyond Caragaggio exhibition at the National Gallery, London was also excellent and was able to show the influence he had on a number of painters around his at the time he lived: 1571-1610. Realism and light seem to be the defining features of his art, and were appropriated by others – for a period at least. It really is about subject-object – something that Shakespeare was working on at the same time.

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/beyond-caravaggio

I also went up to London to pick up my lovely Gibson J45 guitar:

This is circa 1959, and I bought it from Robert Fripp some years back. It has been in for a service by Tom Mates who is actually a fine guitar maker and technician. He does the guitars for Ralph McTell, so know what to do and – more importantly – what not to do with old Gibsons. I spent a lovely morning chatting with his and trying his various guitars – all excellent, but I particularly liked a small parlor guitar. He also has a fine collection of National steel guitars from the 1920 and 30s – these are the ones with a metallic resonator. Each one an absolute beaut. with all the markings of their past lives. Lovely muted sounds.

Part 1 of my piece on King Crimson 1 1969 was posted on the DGM webpage.

https://www.dgmlive.com/in-depth/DoctorMikeKC69

This is an extension of my writings on musical biography. Parts 2 and 3 are to appear in the future and I am also working on further pieces taking the essays up to 1975, which is the first natural cut-off point for King Crimson.

There after, plans for 2017 – Paris, Norway, Germany, India, Argentina, Brazil, Australia. Well, some of those…we’ll see which crystalise…

December 2016

I feel rather amiss for writing the last month’s report so late. However, my excuse is jetlag! Only back in the country for two weeks and still aclimatising – well, I did suffer a 26 degrees drop in temperature coming back from my Australia sojourn. It was a lot of fun and took most of November and into December. I did not keep a log as such and just let the experience wash over me but I did return with 467 photos!

My plan is always to fly to Perth, which is the nearest point to stop. Very nice it is as well to be in the Esplanade hotel – a stones throw from the seafront and its fish restaurants and Freemantle town behind.

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I chilled out there for the week beside the pool and took the odd excursion into the city for galleries and a change of scene.

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Freo itself is lively with restaurants and cinemas, markets, etc. Just went into this lovely little ‘alternative’ shop the Blue Buddha – which was full of crystals, clothes, ornaments, books, records, and other goodies.

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No sooner was I there than the shop assistant diagnosed a stiff back – the flight! – and set about to burn a suitable herb around me. She also recommended South Beach, which I immediately took in. Lovely.

Also, went into Murdoch University and caught up with some people I know there as well as doing a public lecture and seminar.

Next was Melbourne. Arrived there in rain – what!!?? and indeed clouds for the first half of the week. Too far south. However, a lively place and very cultural. My hotel was odd – I had to lie on the floor to look up out of the window to see the sky in order to know what the weather was as there was a high grey concrete wall about six feet from my room. This was a bit weird. Especially, as the room was decorated in black and silver – very designer. So, the overall effect was a bit ‘grey’. Quiet though which is my main issue, and then out into lively downtown Melbourne. Took in the rather good Victoria National Art Gallery which had a good selection of Australian and European art, if not much indigenous pieces. A fun designer exhibition on Kyle Minogue as well – what a wonder! Quite busy at the university with three sessions and also individual post-graduate tutorials. This was probably the most ‘cultural’ of the departments I visited, and I did talks/ seminars on Music and journalism.

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Sydney next and treated very grandly. A lovely hotel just to the edge of the University, which made my daily travels into it easy.

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Hot here though and this is something to be managed; that is, do not go out into it or, if you do, make it for only short passages between shade hops. Really good facilities and it shows that this university is the tops in the country. Excellent lecture theatre and good breakout rooms.

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Again, I did individual supervision meetings with an amazing range of topics – from literature to sado-masochism! Also recorded, in film and audio, some ‘dialogues’ with a colleague there focusing on Bourdieu and Legitimation Code Theory.

And, finally, Canberra. This is an odd place, but I love it. Odd because it was set up to be the capital of Australia to stop Sydney and Melbourne fighting over the title. Ozzies tend to be regionally quite competitive. It was also set out as one by an architectural couple who were associates of Frank Lloyd Wright (in turn an associate of Gurdjieff). It is all very modern and well organized but so quiet. In fact, you think you should keep your voice down as someone might hear what you are saying. Never any traffic jams. Here, I talked on Biography and gave a one-day workshop on Creativity. It being the capital city, there was the best of the galleries there. Some amazing indigenous art also. I took hundreds of photos. Actually, got into the whole situation with respect to the Aboriginals much more on this trip. As someone said, to me, their position is so bad it is almost invisible. Certainly, there are so few and they seem marginal, in a very sorry state. I saw one walk through a crowd one day and everyone just ignored him as if it was a cat. Like they pretended he was not there. Also took some photos of Aboriginals protesting in front of the old government buildings. Much as I really like Australia, it is very difficult not to have this huge Aboriginal shadow standing over one all the time.

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The quality of life there does seem higher than in the UK, and there is a great sense of dynamism. The Ozzies were always open with me, which I like and prefer compared to the reserved English. A little brash, occasionally, but never to take offense.

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Then back to Perth for a few days before flying back to good old UK. I already want to go again!!

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November 2016

Past month has been even super busier than normal, and indeed these notes are written somewhat in hast as I prepare for take-off to Australia on the 4th.

Certainly the waning year, and autumn is in full throes in my part of the world in the New Forest, England. Of course, the socio-political climate – both home and abroad – is super hot, so it is important to keep focus on immediate surroundings and what they offer – something that I can affect.

autumn1

Several highpoints this month – individual events and longer-term involvements.

I went to Cordoba in Argentina for a concluding project of Guitar Circle work – The Symphony of Crafty Guitarists – this an extension of Guitar Craft/ Guitar Circle work I have been involved with since 1997. It was great to meet up again with so many past chums of courses over the years, and we were in a splendid compound for much of the time. Apart from coming down with a South American cold which someone generously passed on to me, there was a lot of good work and at separate levels including Kitchen work and personal meetings. And, of course, the culmination of the project – a performance in the local – rather large – church. This was very well received – in fact, better than most orchestra projects I have been involved with. Great energy and spirit at the end, and the search for ‘what’s next?’.

cand5-2fullsizerender-19

Back home, I began and ended the month with a concert by my friend Ralph McTell – first in Bristol and then in Poole. Both great shows in lots of different ways, but the Poole one in particular being excellent – really well played and the audience response was very warm. Amazing to see how a set list evolves over the course of a tour. Inevitably, there is an after concert drink and time to catch up. I have now pretty much sold all 100 copies of my Ralph McTell Biography – ‘Parallel Lives’. I am planning a 2nd edition for 2017, which will allow me to revise, edit and extend.

ralph2016-2

Also, a great concert by Petula Clark. I have a real penchant for French chanson, and she mixes this style with English traditional popular song. In fine voice with some lovely new and old songs, many given a new twist. Rare treat to have someone of her stature out on the road and presenting this style.

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Most of my writing has been connected with the Australia trip – basically preparing my presentations. However, setting up future work for my return: the final King Crimson piece, the second edition of ‘Parallel Lives’, the publication of my ‘Introduction to Guitar Craft’ and my ‘Dialogues with Satyananda’ – and then make some progress with my next academic book. Not to mention ‘Tango Spies’!

So, Australia, here I come:

Australia Tour 2016

 

 

 

Nov 5th – 13th :   Perth/ Murdoch University

Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle

46-54 Marine Terrace, Fremantle, Western Australia, 6160

Tel: 00 61 8 9432 4000

 

Nov 13th – 19th : Melbourne/ Monash University

Punthill Hotel, Flinders lane, 267, Melbourne

Tel: 00 61 1300 731 299

 

Nov 19th – 26th : Sydney/ University of Sydney

Adina Appart Hotel, Chippendale, Sydney

74-80 Ivy Street, 2008 Sydney, Australia

00 61 2 9311 8800

 

Nov 26th – Dec 3rd :     Canberra/ University of Canberra

University Accommodation

University address – University of Canberra, Cooinda Hut, Bruce ACT 2617

 

 

 

 

October 2016

Saw my first Christmas cards on sale in August, so now that time of year is certainly getting a grip.

We have pretty much had Harvest, Lammas and the Autumnal Equinox. So, the year is folding in….Samhain in a few weeks.

Likewise, for me, it is a period of retiring, retreat – from the garden to the house, from t-shirts to pullovers, crocks to shoes. This year I am taking a step further and am ‘retreating’ to Argentina and Australia for most of October and November. Not my favourite time of year. And, turbulent this year – with unknown consequences of political events in the US, UK, not to mention the middle east. I find all this has occupied a lot of my thinking space these past weeks.

Otherwise, I did complete and post – on this site – my Brief Introduction to the Practice of Guitar Craft – a completion of sorts will be the upcoming course in Cordoba. I have also been preparing about 12 presentations for lectures in Australia – including one on Creativity, which will be a first for me.

Guitar Craft: A Brief Introductory Guide to Practice

I have enjoyed various exhibitions – and from one extreme to another. The work of the rather enigmatic artist Christopher Wood, who painted alongside Ben Nicholson in the 1930s as the pre-cursors of so-called English modernism. His style is an odd mix of the figurative, abstract/ surreal and naïve. Both Nicholson and Wood apparently discovered the enfantine artist Alfred Wallis who, as an ex-sailor, painted to ‘keep himself company’ – flat and on any odd shaped bit of wood or board. Wood’s family lived in Reddish Hose in Broadchalke, in the graveyard of which he was buried after, apparently suffering from drug-induced paranoia, he threw himself under a train at Salisbury train station. I recommend The Fatal Englishman by Sebastian Faulks:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fatal-Englishman-Three-Short-Lives/dp/0099518015/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475841198&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=the+fatal+englisman

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I also went to a graduate Art exhibition at the University of Chichester. Just four of them. I love their lively, fizzy work, and wonder if any of them will become a name. If they do, I will have wished I had bought their work. One never knows…..

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Also an amazing book on Time, which really follows up on my latest enthusiasm, Space and Physics. Something that I find more spiritual than ‘the’ spiritual. Just by being what it is!!

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Slightly more down to earth, I went to see The Plough and the Stars by Sean O’Casey – a play about the Easter Rising in Ireland in 1916. It is now a bit dated but still gives a good account of the mixture of seriousness and farce that characterized the uprising. It was its 100th anniversary this year, and many tales and commemorations were held in its honour. Most seem to agree that it went off well, with a correct balance of circumspection and respect for those who in effect were the first to found an Irish Republic – indeed, the foundations of what we have there today. I find myself drawn increasingly into Irish history – more so now not living there.

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Lots of new listening, including this:

Elan Sicroff’s 6 CD recordings of the non-Gurdjieff compositions of Thomas de Hartmann. Pretty comprehensive and a good representation, at last, of the scope of his work.

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So, preparations continue……

September 2016

Summer waned over August whilst apparently coming into full bloom at the same time. Now moving into September and a distinct feel of autumn in the air.

August was a good month for getting out and about though.

A trip to Denmark and one of the oddest hotels – architecturally – I think I have ever stayed at in Copenhagen, and then a further trip up north for a conference seminar

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Another trip to Cornwall as well and more spectacular sunsets on the Penwith coast.

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This was mainly to take part in the second – and final ! – Folk Cottage reunion day held down near Mitchell. This was the place in which Ralph McTell pretty much began his rise to popularity in 1966 – in fact, he lived in a caravan there in a field. At the time, the building was no more than a barn but is now incorporated into the splendid home of the owners of the farm. Everyone agreed that facilities – marquee, loos, and sound – were markedly improved on 50 years ago!! The weather was lovely and, not surprisingly, there was a lot of re-acquainting going on. A bit more before my time, and a generation ahead. I did not know everyone, but I kind of knew who they were. A great event!

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Current projects in Cornwall include: Sven Berlin, Ithell Colquhoun, and St Hilary.

In between, a couple more Prom concerts: the San Paulo orchestra from Rio, Brazil: two separate concerts in fact – the first with a young pianist, Gabriela Montero, who played Grieg’s great piano concerto. She then came on and demonstrated the remarkable ability to improvise – classically! – on any melody an audience member would whistle at her. Later, she and the orchestra were joined by a samba band and gave us some Brazilian jazz. Good but I am never convinced by classical orchestras playing popular music. It all seems a bit staged and lacking in spontaneity!

Another trip took in Bach’s mighty B Minor Mass. It goes on for some 100 minutes. I had the odd sensation when the whole thing came to a halt after around 45 minutes – or so it seemed to me! So, I don’t know where it took me!!?

Interesting exhibition of the Finnish performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson at the Barbican. One piece had two girls in a 3-hour kiss in a boat in front of the main building there. There were then seven guitarists playing the same dirge in another room, whilst a video of his actress mother played a scene with his actor father in which she says ‘take me now by the washing machine’ played out on the wall. The film repeats before any action begins. In another, different musicians in different rooms in a large house in New York sing and play – all very unhappy. Of course, completely mad but different and certainly, there is still a sense that the work would have a lot in common with popular fine art pieces. I would love to know what a student artist would make of it.

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Published, on this site, my translation of Bourdieu speaking with a group of student artists.

About to post my Introduction to Guitar Craft.

Half of the 100 copies of the limited edition of the Ralph McTell book now sold.

Now working on presentations for Australia.