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The Art Of Searching For Freedom

April 6, 2013

1STMy first horse & rider 1984

I have to start this piece by saying that life is an incredible gift that should never be taken for granted, the moments you have in quiet contemplation enrich your state of being and provide a window into the great depths of  your consciousness.

she attracted butterflies

For the last two years I have been exploring connectivity in different ways but primarily through my art and interactions, where through a more open mind I have been able to be more receptive in a holistic way and I have been amazed at how the seemingly random is often a profound marker or pointer that steers your thinking. I don’t know if this is a fortuitous life event or an evolution in my consciousness as a result of a life of contemplation through sculpture. But whatever has happened has been life changing in a profound way and influenced my thinking and understanding of life and as I continue to explore there is greater clarity of thought and my life is starting to make sense.

expression1

I recently came across the writings of Jiddu Krishnamurti quite by accident and it’s been quite a revelation for me because of his approach to thinking, reading it has helped make greater sense of my own life and reflections and given me the courage to take that next step towards expressing my thoughts through writing. If I feel things so strongly why should I deny them for the convenience of  societal compliance when what I have always searched for is a sense of freedom and the ability to express myself without compromise. I feel defined through my thoughts and thinking it’s the only way I can ever understand myself to the depths that I feel compelled to. I think it’s very much the next step of my journey and what I have been searching for over the last few years.

mod

From a young age I always felt a profound sensitivity to my environment and the world, I was captivated by the beauty of the world and couldn’t bear the suffering and destruction of beautiful things often at the hands of people driven by greed  or misguided through religion. Though I was a very ordinary boy and on a spiritual level my sole belief was in nature, I couldn’t get beyond the amazing cycles of nature, how a seed grew, why the moon caused tides etc there was so much wonder that I could never contemplate what was beyond. And indeed it is only recently that I have started to question the life force within us all. I was also a very small child which set me apart from my peers and possibly led to a withdrawal from the mainstream where I had the space to think. When I say locked in to my own world I’m really only describing  a more cerebral part of my existence because on the whole I had a very normal rough and tumble ladish childhood. I remained very much locked into my own world till I was about twenty when I suddenly awoke to the possibility of sculpture and found a way of expressing myself that I enjoyed because of the balance of physicality and intellect, I remember from the outset being overwhelmed by the sense of connectivity through history to the earliest prehistoric sculptures of human endeavour and that feeling is something that never left me. I always looked for a timeless way of expressing myself because this felt more appropriate to what life on earth meant to me and again this started to set me apart from the mainstream where art has become almost a fashion statement. What I’m trying to describe is the struggle to be ones self in the pressure cooker of reality, how to find your voice, discover who you are and follow your heart against the weight and confusion of life’s pressures. I have never found a place where I can exist protected from these pressures and possibly it is these very pressures that stimulate my reaction and life long search, they certainly help you to develop strong character and survival techniques. As I awoke through my sculpture my perceptions started to change and I became aware of my indoctrination through the small black and white portable television I grew up with, again this happened in a bizarre way whilst locked into and watching the tv intensely , there was a sudden shift in my position when I suddenly became aware of the room and the television shrank to being all that it was, just a little box in the corner of the room. It was life changing and after considerable reflection I became aware that I had been consumed and was drowning in the outpouring of  the American cultural output and this is something that still bothers me to this day, there is more to it than innocent entertainment. It was life changing and I was hardly ever able to watch a film again without a degree of cynicism, this all relates to the truth dilemma and whether a film is formulaic for commercial reasons, whether it’s about cultural and political indoctrination, but words like escapism, indoctrination and control etc all come to mind. So when it comes to being that free thinking individual we are all stained by our cultural experience (oppression)  with commercial influence’s dominating the world through fads and fashions eating up the worlds resources, just how do you step back from it all?.

1990ish

When I left college with a degree in fine art I eventually got a well paid job making commercial sculpture for the leisure and tourism industry but after eight months became so despondent because it had taken my passion for sculpture and turned it into a tedious chore that led to a growing depression. I remember one fateful day as I was working on another hideous figure, looking at my hands and wondering if I really knew what they were making and I felt a shocking level of dissociation that shook me to the core, the oneness of mind and body that I had always taken for granted had been shattered as an illusion. I will never forget this but the lesson has served me well and I know not to take things for granted and that when you go about your life you need to consider your actions and intent in a conscious way acting in a way that you feel is truthful to yourself. Having said that I still live a life full of mistakes but life is real and reactive and you wouldn’t be living if you adhered rigidly to a theoretical doctrine or practice. So I walked out of the job and entered a dark wilderness unable to sculpt and quite lost for a short time, it was at this stage that I read quite a bit of French literature and started to rebuild my life through making sculpture though I was unable to concentrate but eventually with the support of my family I was helped back and my work started to flow once again. This was a harsh lesson in my life but as usual it taught me a lot, primarily about being true to yourself and the vulnerability of  our humanity and what it feels like to be broken and riddled with despair. It served to make me stronger and never to return to the dark world of depression because whatever happens in life you have choices and no matter how hard they are you simply have to make them as you plot your way through life.

The CatThe cat was the sculpture I made during my time of recovery in 1987

Having rebuilt my life as an artist I got my first major commission in Edinburgh and life was going well until my sister was murdered by her partner during the final stages of the work, I’ve  never really  recovered from this, I was eaten up with a bitter hate and desperately wanted to avenge her death but was not able to do so because of my humanity, I could have but I didn’t and because of that I feel I betrayed her and that is something I have to live with (the killer died about four years ago which finally released my anger). I don’t know what I learned from this awful experience other than life itself is the most precious and valuable gift that you should never take for granted and that vanity and ego count for nothing. For every day of your life you should be grateful for the existence of your being and in that lies an answer to being of a positive nature and considering the values that truly matter and though I hate myself for thinking this, love, compassion,wisdom and nurturing rank highly on my list, all qualities that my mother gifted to me. You also have to be able to stand up and protect yourself and values in the face of adversity by any means which is why I could never be a pacifist.  Having lived with such hate was unpleasant but again it highlights the reality of being human and laced with emotions that override a rational and theoretical approach, which is where my thinking keeps leading me to. Being mindful of an approach to life but exploring reactional dynamics through the spontaneous  and intuitive nature of self.

rutland court

I could have gone on from here into a different circle of associations but didn’t, I once again removed myself from the fray and travelled a bit did a bit more commercial sculpture and continued to develop my own concepts and ideas. You see the vain ambition had left me now and I think I wanted to live a meaningful life based on simple honest values, I was part lost and more vulnerable with my lack of ambition and drive, I became more susceptible to suggestion and was slowly assimilated into the world of the private galleries that eventually became my prison. Through all of this I always felt that I was aware of my situation but it is only of late that I realised much of me had been shut down by the events of my life. The next few years saw another major commission followed by the deaths of my other sister and mother which took me to the lowest point of my existence where I desperately clung on to my last vestige of inner strength and in a way that brings me to where I am now apart from my greatest ever gift. Three beautiful and talented children for whom I have tried desperately to be a good father, I’ve spent so much time with them  whilst I struggled with my grief in silence. But I’ve  now managed to tell them the story of my family which is why I can talk about it openly again releasing me from my silence. For the last ten years I have been slowly reemerging from an unimaginable depth where I was in part lost and slowly bit by bit my life is coming together and I’m once again becoming whole and finding the ability to assert myself through my creativity.

HRE4

Now I’m moving into a new phase of life triggered by a gradual awakening this time over a period of two or three years where every conversation had meaning and ordinary circumstance took on extraordinary relevance as I started to observe what was probably always there, just I’d never really noticed. Then out of the blue I started working on my most ambitious sculpture ever that I called soul~fields, it was without a doubt the most incredible experience of my life. It was like I had become possessed with an incredible energy that took me to another level of consciousness I tingled from head to foot, my heart would ache for days as I truly felt the sculpture from deep within. (The only experience I could compare it to is on the night my sister was killed I was driving my car late at night when I felt an overwhelming tingling in my body that felt like she was joining me in a soulful way.)  It has totally changed my whole outlook on life and I feel made me access a deeper level of my humanity, totally opening up my world and broadening my perspective. It’s at times like this you have to make choices about exploring your potential which involve a spiritual journey based on the core values of who and what you feel you are, the timeless qualities you are born with your very humanity that lies deep within. And It’s here that I find my greatest challenge, the challenge to link a life’s work, circumstance and contemplations into a meaningful context that will lead to a deeper exploration and discovery. In soul~fields I was able to address so many issues concerning the human condition with both a contemporary and timeless quality, It crossed all the divides in my thinking and made sense by stripping away the often meaningless detail of an obsessive society. In doing this it was the catalyst that set me free and tore down the pretentious myths of the arts establishment I proved to myself that I was capable of constructing my own significant sculptural language and the fact that I was totally ignored by the art world served only to remind that my work was not about recognition but an ideological search for my truth.

The Four Fields

At the moment I am still struggling to express myself through words as I’ve never really written untill recently and what has drawn me to writing is a complete mystery too. I do feel like a slightly loose cannon these days which is essential to my whole process and something that may be afforded by the feeling of emotional security that maturity offers. If you want to think freely you must first feel a sense of freedom in order to approach the issues without prejudice, something you can’t be trained to do and has to be arrived at from within. When I read the writings of other people it demonstrates the importance of communication and the sharing of ideas and makes me feel that I’m in a good place where my rocky roaded life is starting to make sense. If  I’m to continue exploring through my creativity I will have to maintain this flexible approach in order not to become channelled into a linear direction that will restrict my search.

PERCEPTIONS

So now here I am my head is full of thoughts that I need to explore but I am bound to this society that makes me a slave to a meagre income: utterly compromised, but I will calmly carry on caught in this web and continue to explore hoping that I can take lessons from it all and not crumble under the pressure.

10a

5 Comments
  1. Nancy Newberg permalink

    Looking at your art work to me is a living wonder captured in time forever really. One could wonder what thoughts did the artist have while forming and mastering his/her work as they quietly sat there. Seems like after many years of silence they may let the thoughts pour out in another way.
    The whole world is nothing but art, when you go to buy something look at your paper money,coins, check book. Get in your car, what creation are you driving this year? For me when I watch a film, it is not the movie I care about really but the clothes, hair styles all art. Everyone is a artist they just do not know it ! My children are my real work of art after all isn’t mixing genes creating a work of art ?
    I think about greed and people, there comes a point in life as you become totally aware of your inner self and who you really are as a person you then see greed differently . Greed we are born with it is our survival gene, it multiplies and grows wild in humans it is nothing more than that. There comes a time in life when you look at your things and you realize it is just stuff, things you collected along your path.Then if you have half a brain you down size or become a horder and can’t stop your illness. the very best things in life are what you truley,truley have in your heart .

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  2. Hi Nancy, I love reading your comments because you write openly from your experience and it helps by making me think about what I write. I agree that children are the greatest works of art and that the world is just a visual feast of art (everywhere you look) and also that what you really have is in your heart.
    When you make art you have to be a touch opinionated and contrary at times because you have to make really strong decisions in order to make statements. I always try to be as open and honest as possible but like anyone else I am flawed but my beliefs are strong and heart felt. I have truly stuck to my own path which has made my life difficult at times and now I need to push on much further but I have to do it without any bitterness and allow my true personality to come through my work and I believe that is all about a celebration of life through compassionate eyes.
    Kind Regards as ever Eoghan

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    • Nancy Newberg permalink

      I had a very demanding project myself and I with drew and trudged through my work,then it came time to take my work to the world. Myself I loved /love my project and did not think anyone even cared about what I had done / or am doing even today . About 2 months ago I decided to share some of my venture with the world, they were so pleased to just have some of what I have, and now they look forward to seeing me. What I do it is so special very few do what I do….So there is a demand for my project I am very shy and can barley bare to even market what I have but I must for it is building up and I must share . I too can move forward and it is a good feeling when people appreciate what I do, gives me that boost of confidence that everyone needs in life really. Sometime back I had a wonderful little antique specialty shop, I loved everything in it and did not really care if I sold any item really!! People kept wanting what I cherished, so I started looking for items like mine so they would QUIT buying MY FAVORITE ITEM!!! My shop was off the beaten path so they would practically need a map to find it .When the people would leave I would say to them ” Be sure to tell your friends about my shop!” About 99% of my clientele would say ” I’am NOT telling a single soul about this shop, this is MY SECRET !!! Inside my shop I built it like a piece of art, people would come and look even if they didn’t have money, they loved my shop. I would have nice music ( country music ) always playing and incense burning. Hand polished hardwood floors, sparkling glass cases plum full of my treasures. Every weird thing you could imagine hanging from the walls and ceiling. I can honestly say , IT WAS A TRIP back in time and modern enough to move forward.Some people really liked me and some were resentful of me for having only what I built myself. There are 2 kinds of people, I learned the differences . Even the nasty resentful people I did not even like their money, I rather keep my treasure than listen to their remarks……So I learned and I learned and I learned. I am much wiser now, I have been down the road and in the trenches life has nothing on me, and neither do people 🙂 Everyday GOD gives us a clean canvas, REMEMBER THAT 🙂 Nancy

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  3. Nancy Newberg permalink

    Quickly Eoghan you make me think in your thoughts that you so generously share along with your life’s work or some of it .For example I never thought about the whole world being made up of Art of some form . When we get to a point in our lives that we start to look inward, it does become a journey that surprises ourselves both good and bad on life’s spectrum. Unless you document it like you have done, as I have done through my writings one would not know where they were ??? I know for myself and I know who I am! Some never know.. some do not care. Poor them !!! I find also with you, that you have the perfect name BRIDGE, For you carry your Bridge with you…where can you NOT GO ??? You can go any place, and you will this I know…….Sun shine for you 🙂 Nancy

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  4. Thanks Nancy 🙂 I like the idea of the Bridge. I think recently I allowed too much pressure to build up inside me and felt burdened and wounded by life but through writing I have released the pressure and now my wounds are healing with a fresh perspective through my interactions with the wider world. One of my burdens was my inability to communicate openly but I have changed that through writing openly and living in that transparent way. It’s partly growing up and standing behind your beliefs which I always did but of late my confidence had got quite low. But Nancy my belief is back in our beautiful world and I can move forward, I have a lot of good things in my life like my beautiful children and my artistic ability more than enough for any man really. I just need to keep on communicating openly and enjoying my life. Eoghan

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