One day in late 2006, I unintentionally created an image which I would later call ‘Oppressed’. This dark and sinister work seemed to sum up my depressing and unfulfilled life. The image which was created from some photos I had taken while on holiday in Scotland seemed to be depicting a desperate and disfigured creature being pushed down into a pit by two cage doors. This picture which echoed the work of artists like Giger did very little to cheer my mood. In fact some days later I was just about to delete it, when I was inspired for some reason to look at the work from a positive perspective, such a mind set was alien to me but I thought I may as well give it a go.
This time, as I looked upon the work I chose to see a creature breaking free from a pit of despair. Was this lizard skinned being at a transitional stage of it’s life? Soon to break free from this cocoon and then turn into something beautiful like a butterfly. It all sounded highly unlikely to me and very airy fairy and then I had one of those ‘aha’ moments that would shatter the way I viewed life forever. My first negative reaction to the work was no more right or wrong than this new positive theory. It dawned on me that I had no clue what the image was really saying because I couldn’t view it without all the filters and programming my life’s experiences had piled on me.
For me this was big, I mean really big, it meant that for the past 40 years I had been simply seeing the world from my perception through a set of distorted lenses and not as it really was, I wondered did anyone really know what life was like? I couldn’t see how they could, I realized that we are all unknowingly programmed from birth not in some dark and sinister way but mostly by well meaning family members and friends who are simply passing on to us their own distorted view of the world.
Slowly as we grow up our fanciful ideas and highest aspirations are hammered out until we become beings that are far less than we should be. Ultimately we metaphorically plugged ourselves into one of the many different but ultimately limiting thought process and usually stay with them until we die. I realised simply by my perceptions I had shut myself off from thousands of opportunities in life and disconnected myself from reality (whatever that was).
I decided that maybe while viewing the world from a positive out look was simply replacing one perception with another I should give it a go as playing role of the dark sarcastic and negative artist had not really achieved anything, other than bringing me more things to be sarcastic and negative about.
A positive outlook could indeed improve my life experience but I still had to keep my mind open to all probabilities. Some days later I tried to create another thought provoking image but the more I tried the less I achieved …It wasn’t until about a month later that I created my next image. What I didn’t know then that I do now is that these images can’t be created on demand, I have to be disconnected from a intention to create anything in particular. I have been asked in the past do I take any kind of mind altering drugs the answer to that is no, I think my mind is altered enough as it is. My next two images where both still rather dark but none the less helpful.Torment forced me to challenge my closed views on religion and god and find out why people believed what they did and why it was so important for them.
The third work I embraced the fact I had bipolar I saw that while others may see it as a disadvantage it enable me to see the world through a whole gamut of emotions sometime all in the same day or even the same hour. I decided that whether or not bipolar was a gift or a curse it was just another of life’s filters I would have clear away as best as I could in order to really see.
In the following months and years I learnt to peer above the wall of conventional thinking more and more. I lay my belief that science had everything figured out to one side and dived into as may different views and theories of life and beyond, as possible. I decided to take the stance that all was possible until proven otherwise, and once I truly embraced that view my love for life increased as did my sense of wonder. I engaged people and read books which had views of the world that I never even heard of, some appeared to help and enhance my mental and spiritual growth others didn’t and some I have to admit I couldn’t even comprehend.
Two years down the road I have discovered this… only you can find your truth and it only seems to happen when you are prepared to question everything in your life and I mean everything. I believe you limit your growth as long as you say transfixed by any single storyline. You can only grow and start writing your own a script, so to speak once you break free from conventional lines of thought.
At this point I feel compelled to point out my views of my art and life are only that, mine. They are based on what I feel and think and what makes sense to me after much personal contemplation. I do not declare them right for everyone or anyone other than me …. This is not me trying sound like some egoless teacher, it’s simply that as I look around me it is the need to be right that seems to have brought so much dis-ease to the planet.
I’m very happy to be wrong but in saying that I reject the concept that anyone on earth is perfect that anyone has all the answers. I feel the world can only really be improved or even saved once we all discuss what we believe, but united in our ultimate unknowingness, Just think of the wonderful dialogues we could have if we didn’t need to be right all the time.
Many thousands of people have viewed my work over the past two years and nearly all of them have had come to different conclusions about it, some have hated it and even been scared by what they have seen, while others have been moved to tears of joy and placed my works at the very centre of their lives
My art like life is what you make it, It welds the power all modern art does, the power to force you to make up your own mind and use your own judgment, something many people go months and years without doing, Society its seems does not really embrace the concept of people who think for themselves.
I have found that contemplation of anything be it art, a rose or even the night sky is a very powerful process, for it pulls you back into this moment in time and away from the problems of the past and the fears of the future. It is an ancient concept but one that should be repeated again and again that when you are focused on the now you are in alignment with the universe which only ever knows the Now.
Once you begin to reduce mind chatter you are able to discover what truly matters to you. Also you may find that any negativity you have fades as it can’t live without the reference points of past and future. During these times of focused thought I have seen wonder in the most overlooked things and seen that all the past wisdoms are right to point to the fact that the answers for life are within as all, happiness, peace and a love for life can never truly be found in the exterior world. You can travel across the globe in search of truth or enlightenment but unless you open your mind and limit your judgements you will know and feel no more than if you had just stayed in bed.
I have reach a wonderful point in my life, where I realize life is not some problem that must be solved or a test that must be passed, life ‘just is’ and all the judgements and knee-jerk reactions are purely the work of mans over active mind. The power that drives and connects everyone and everything call it what you wish does not find imperfection in anything. I believe this powers is non dualistic and free from the limits of the human mind. Unlike others in the spiritual community I do not have any interest in ghosts or contacting the dead. I have never had any experience of anything paranormal and have no interest in knowing the future or reliving past lives. Yet I do believe the universe is driven by this unseen energy and that this energy connects us all as one. I do consider we are all on a spiritual path whether we like that description or not. I believe we are born into a dualistic world and our challenge is to overcome that limited view of life and see that despite our best efforts we will never see the full picture from this tiny spot in space.
It seems to me the world is on information overload, I sense that more and more people are being crushed by a continual fear based media. Hence the real reason the use of drink and drugs is so high in the western world. We need to understand that all this bad news is simply one perception of the world. I think it is vital we look within for peace and reconnect with our true spirit. We truly gain nothing if we allow ourselves to become slaves to this destructive monolog of despair, watching the news constantly to see how bad it all is, much like moths to the flame.
Reconnecting with the stillness of the natural world is one answer, but it is not easy for many city dwellers nature may as well be an alien world. I believe unless people can rediscover the simplistic wonders of life they will continually overlook the miracles of the world on a never ending and totally fruitless search for a point to life. The question is can Mankind ever let go of it’s need solve its own existence and in so doing extended its existence indefinitely.