Wednesday, November 23, 2011


This series of photos are self-explanatory... I am close to finishing the big and difficult collage that I've been working on for a while now. It has been physically very demanding. I hope we will have some money soon so that I can submit it to the big group exhibition at the Oriel Gallery in Newtown... it's £ 20 for one piece. We lost £ 60 a few weeks ago when none of us got accepted to an National Art Exhibition in Chichester (my piece had to be sent there by courier for a second viewing).

Monday, November 21, 2011


Tracey Emin: "I Do Not Expect", 2002 (patchwork)

It's clear that some artists are at the forefront regarding new and exciting ideas and other people feel inspired. It's however quite difficult to avoid becoming a copy cat if you admire someone's ideas a lot. Some time ago Martin and I went to the MOMA tabernacle gallery in Machyntlleth and had a look at what was on show. They were quilts and or patchwork, done with rich and colours and patterns. Some of them had text. One looked a lot like a Tracey Emin blanket but without the spontaneity, witty and whimsical effect. The text was written like a text in a book, explainig why the artist wanted to create and express herself. To me, it was quite impersonal and matter of fact, and left me cold. 

I think we both felt that the quilts were aesthetically pleasing, but was it art? To me there were two problems; one that it was more craft than art, and the other that the idea of applying text to the quilt was derivative. If you do take up someone else's idea, you have to be bloody good in order to distort it so that it comes across as original.  When people who were more crafty than arty started to stamp words onto their collages, I gave up the idea of using text in any extensive way in mine. Whatever text I have used has not been done as little phrases about the nice things in life. If you use text, please use something that has depth and meaning, as this will come across as your individual choice rather than acting as a parrot.

In one of my collages the lines of text are like snippets out of my diary, and in another, it's actually the phrases from the Desiderata, and I am mocking it in my picture (I apologize to any fans of the Desiderata). To me the Desiderata is the prototype of moral concepts without any individuality about them - it's someone's rather stereotype sermon to those who cannot think for themselves. Anyway, the point is not to remove text from your art, because it's a part of modern art, but to think deeply about what you mean to say or express indirectly by using it.

Not everyone can be a creative genius. But if you want to be taken seriously as an artist, you have to be aware of the dangers of becoming yet another follower of a fad. I agree that it's not always easy, and I certainly have my share of work that I almost rather throw in the fire. Oh shit, Tracey Emin did that too, didn't she... :-0

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Contemplating the Nature of Triumph
Artwork: "Contemplating the Nature of Triumph", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2011 -
I sometimes like to express strength and positive emotion in my artwork but usually there is an underlying paradox of sorts. 

I hope however that the pieces that are more overtly positive are never trite.
There is an incredible lot of "noise" in the world today and especially on the internet. People are being even more inundated with information and it asks from everyone to start making more conscious choices as to what they let into their lives. But the downside is that people are very fatigued and unable to focus on anything but themselves. I mean come on, how can anyone take Facebook and Twitter seriously? Yet a lot of people keep posting trite updates about their day and don't necessarily interact very much with others. Various new addictions such as hoarding faceless "friends" over the internet probably lull people into a sense of false security of sorts.

Those who get tired of all this mindlessness will have to re-evaulate their attitudes on a regular basis. Everyone has access to means of vindicting themselves through social media, and while this is truly democratic the downside is that those who have something valuable to say are drowning in all the noise. I am personally starting to feel there is no point in trying to make myself heard anymore. I used to think I had valuable insights to share with other people. Well, I don't know if this is anylonger true and it makes me feel somewhat lost. I have to find meaning in my life in some other way. Perhaps realizing how unimportant you are is a spiritual lesson. At least you can make it into one, I suppose...

Me and my partner went through some collections of spiritual artwork the other day. I wanted to see what is out there, and although the person who had made this collection didn't give any credentials, it was still interesting to see. What struck us was how the same ideas are being rotated over and over... It gets incredibly boring to see all these images of  a potentially enlightened person with all the chakras all lit up like a Christmas tree, intersecting triangles that express energy, and mandalas with the tree of life, the sun and the moon, the seasons... angels and fairies and sickly sweet children holding butterflies in their hands. Images of heaven that look like cold and barren cityscapes in pink. Yes, all of it is sickly sweet or just downright childish. But the main question is, can this nonetheless be representative of anything real and meaningful? Why do some people allegedly find this imagery inspiring? My feeling is that it's only representative of people's very limited and uncreative idea of true happiness and joy. It has nothing to do with the real world either here on this planet or anywhere else in any other dimension. I used to think, hm well maybe reality does look like that somewhere in the universe, in some dimension that is not as heavily dualist as this one. But when I saw this vast collection of images, all I saw were rosy daydreams, and I cannot for the life of me believe that such visions of reality are based in a real experience. 

There is a problem in judging other people's experiences if we consider that people bring their inner imagery along with them wherever they go, even into the hereafter. The New Age has tried to use the idea that each and everyone creates their own reality as an argument for the necessity of taking responsibility for what you think and feel. Yet there is clearly also a collective reality, which everyone agrees upon. My conclusion has been that both viewpoints are true. I go by the idea that paradox is always at the base of any statement about reality. I feel that if this is valid on Earth, it's probably also valid in other dimensions. People may take along their imagery when they move away from their daily reality but I'm sure they will also be subjected to some form of objective reality that exists as a collective agreement of sorts. At least if they own some openness that allows them to see it...

So are all these sickly sweet images also part of some collective agreement on what reality "should" be in order for people to be happier? Well, I would say it's a collective agreement about the illusion of happiness. The image of a happy child holding a butterfly is maybe cute, but it can only exist as a flickering moment in time. The problem with images is that they make people believe that something can exist for a long period of time. It's almost as if people were trying to exhort a better reality by creating all this sweet imagery. To me it smacks of magical thinking. In other words, the more we enduce loveliness in pictures, the more it will enter into our lives. Whereas this may not be entirely false, I don't feel that such simplistic views of reality truly serve anyone in the long run. It should be clear by now, after so many years of the presence of New Age thought, that you cannot push negativity aside by focusing only on the positive. This leads to problems with the suppression of "the other side" of reality, i.e. that which is negative (and this will of course be individual to everyone). 

But lastly, I want to bring in a word about bad art. Yes, all this so-called spiritual imagery is derivative and uncreative. It lacks in the personality and is therefore artistically speaking pretty much dead art. People who indulge in this kind of thinking are repeating spiritual symbols like parrots. It is the opposite of the true ascension of spirit. How can such art be stimulating to our spirit and soul? I would implore people to wake up from such extreme escapism... it's not doing anyone any good.

"Halt", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 1999

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I used to think that I was meant to give of myself through my art and writing - my art existed for the people... either times are changing or I am growing up... the end result is nonetheless that I am no longer doing society a service by creating art. In fact I increasingly feel that artists are being taken advantage of and that whenever some service is provdided for artists, they should be bloody greatful for receiving it rather than the other way around. No doubt there are so many artists begging for some attention that we have a kind of inflation that makes one artist replaceable with another. 

On the internet, there are a zillion websites that take money off of artists with the promise that they can offer you unprecedented visibility and presence online. They tell you your chances of selling artwork or prints is going to increase. But how often do they give you any evidence that they ever sell anything at all? You need to carefully consider where you're investing your precious money. Of course, allegedly you are very rich already if you are an artist to speak of, so you shouldn't really have to worry about such small amounts of money. This is what a lot of people think, anyway, especially the authorities who won't give you grants unless you can show that you have already received many grants before and sold art for at least 5000 pounds a year (this is the case with the prestigious Pollock foundation, for instance). 

I think I will finally let Flickr go, as I am not gaining much from showing my stuff there and I suspect that it's just another site where people go and pick copyrighted material for their own personal use. People have little concept of copyright, I find.

Those who admit that the climate for selling art is not great and is possibly only getting worse, ask why you price your art so high that no one can afford it. To be honest, I actually value my artwork, not just the efforts I put into it technically speaking, but also the ideas. When I sell a piece, I also give away an original idea that can never be used again in the same form, There is also no evidence that a few hundred pounds more or less actually matters to the serious art buyer. Besides, if anyone is buying directly from me, they can always discuss their own situation with me and so there is always the possibility of arriving at an agreement that satisfies both parties. If they buy through a gallery, they have to know that the commissions are exorbitant and that I am pricing my artwork in accordance.

There's a gallery in a neighbouring town whose owner is desperate to be put on the map. Her main objective is to represent her late husband's work, but according to her latest leaflet she represents most important artists in the county. We had some artwork for sale in one of her exhibitions a year ago, to be honest it was all a bit ex tempore from our part. Our work didn't sell and we have not been asked to participate in any more exhibitions. The owner had no problems asking Martin to help her out in terms of advertisement and PR, as well as just watching the gallery for her, but will not give anything in return. It was soon clear to me that it was yet another one way street. We are active local artists but for reasons unknown to us she is not interested in representing us. I see a similar attitude with many people who are being paid to represent culture. For some reason, their time is valuable, but apparently ours is not. They play their little power games... it's all so very petty. We should be coming begging for their help. Of course, when I sense a lack of generosity and fairness, I just back away.

Still I have to concede that those who deal in art have plenty to choose from and you're lucky to get picked. This creates an atmosphere of even greater dependence on some random authority figure than what I am used to, and it makes me extremely uncomfortable. Martin claims that he's not sure artists have ever been kept in high esteem in the UK. He's speaking of some sort of national attitude which is obviously not a great thing for me to deal with this late in life when whatever energy I might have had to get my art out there is greatly diminished.

During the open studio, I was interested to talk to people, but to be honest I also felt that some people were somewhat lacking in respect for our house and for the art we were showing. I think that it no longer occurs to people that by showing your art, let alone your house, you're showing your soul. Too many people are exhibitionsts, which can give the public the wrong impression about artists. I was left with the feeling that I was talking about my art and showing people around without getting much in return. Our private views over the past year left us pretty much with the same feeling. It's very sad to feel that one no longer feels like doing these kind of things for free. Really, the morale is you should not give anything that is not appreciated. It's hard to know this in advance though... instead it's easy to just give up and assume that everyone is selfish and ungrateful. Yet even just giving people the benefit of doubt can be taxing, and when you have to look out for your health you start feeling less and less inclined to do this.

I have no doubt that there is too much "noise" on the internet and in the world at large. There are too many artists competing for attention, too many blogs and books being published. To be honest it's all very disheartening and uninspiring. I used to feel very excited at the prospect of publishing a book. When the possiblity of publishing yourself without the aid of a real publisher became more accessible, I thought hooray! But it didn't take long for me to realize that everyone else felt the same and that I stood only a very small chance of being heard at all. 

I used to think I had lots to say, and that it was important for others to hear about the conclusions I had arrived at. Bah! You could call it hubris. I call it a vocation. But that sense of purpose in life is gone, and it's very hard for me to overcome the sense that it's all so very useless. People keep posting updates on the social media but how many actually reciprocate? If they do, it's mostly because of a silent agreement to pat other people's backs so they will pat yours. Why people can be bothered I really don't understand.

I am learning to wind down, to push aside some of the greater worries in life so that I can get some peace. I am really going against the grain by doing so, as I have always been an intense person and the world is rotating faster and faster. In the end I have to do what many people are probably doing, and that is look out for myself and my family and leave the rest of the world alone. I have to cease believing that anyone needs anything from me, because it stresses me when no one shows any interest, and if anyone does show some interest it winds me up and easily makes me exceed my own limits. I don't have the luxury of unconditional giving at this point in life - sadly, too much giving just leaves me depleted. My condition very quickly reminds me of its presence. Perhaps there is another way, but I have yet to discover it. First, however, I have to admit defeat.

Friday, November 4, 2011


The idea behind this piece is an alchemical eye test for the third eye!
Please buy it! Martin has been setting up an Etsy shop so
his (and some of my) artwork, prints and postcards will be easier to purchase.

Martin is drawing all sorts of things at the moment, whatever comes into his head. He´s finally getting on with it! Normally he works on the oil paintings that take several months to finish. I have personally always liked doing artwork quite fast, as I quickly get to see whether my ideas are any good, and also get the added benefit of getting more ideas quicker. Martin was saying that he finds it quite strange how his mind is getting more and more crowded with all sorts of ideas. I told him I used to have this happen to me whenever I did artwork every day but each piece only took me a couple of days to finish. When I was half way I already had new ideas for new work. This is one of the best ways of getting the creative juices going and getting ideas for your art work!

My own collage is not really advancing at the moment, it's taking me a long time to finish and this is something I am not used to. It's a bit disconcerting but also interesting because I am pondering the work in a very different way. I hope it will turn out alright. I would like to enter it to an important exhibition in one of the non-commercial galleries in our vicinity.

I have completed my first sale of original collages through the internet, hooray! I am glad to see that this is indeed possible, even without going through one of the agents. Though obviously it requires mutual trust as the buyer needs to feel secure that they will receive the goods and the seller needs to be sure they are not dealing with an internet scammer (many will try and buy art and then reverse the payment or conduct some other fallony so beware!). I wish this would happen more often, of course, as selling from home or from one of the galleries in the area is not terribly fruitful at the moment. I just spoke to the curator of the museum in Llandrindod Wells who said that there were around 1000 visitors during Powys Arts Month but no sales. They are continuing to sell my postcards though, which is nice. Needless to say we need every penny we can get...

One of my collages has just left for Chichester where it will go through a second assessment for a big national open art exhibition.

Our house has now been featured in a Finnish-Swedish blog about interior decoration, run by a journalist at a big newspaper in the East of Finland, it's cool! The first part (of two) can be seen here. It's all in Swedish but there are plenty of photos, all of which I took myself and sent to Anna-Lena... My camera is not really up to wide angle photography of interiors, and this is one of my big complaints, but I make do...

Poor Marius has been sentenced to another four weeks in the cage, as his leg still needs time to recover. He is now without the cast, and had a bit of a bad time for a while because he'd licked the skin really raw. He really loves his cuddles but he is probably quite bored with them. I expect he will come out of this ordeal alright in the end nonetheless....