The relationship between the essence of who we are and our artworks is a reciprocal relationship. Art itself cannot exist alone, is no separate entity. Artworks in themselves therefore can never be greater, or rather surpass the full essence of who we are as human beings. Perhaps, this is something we can be grateful about, for we are the living creation, uniquely already a biological work of art (that we can also work further on too). Forever expanding in our essence, we just need to keep reminding ourselves daily.
This way of seeing, is why the context of your artwork is important to get right before you begin the process of being creative. Especially, in the moment before you put brush to canvas, or pencil to paper. You must critically have some idea, vision of the image you want and are about to create. Art and artworks therefore must have a future. In this future, I am not talking about today’s usual way of measuring the success of both artist and their artwork(s) through hefty price tags, or even artworks that are reasonably priced when sold, no this would be an injustice. Or, even where the success of the artwork is not measured by price, but instead quantity, this would just be another illusion and injustice for the artist and their artworks. Why? Because by this point most artworks would need to become ‘reproductions’ to keep up with the demand (however meaningless the artwork, or even if the artwork itself can seriously be considered as a work of art). I am simply trying to take your artworks beyond the economic reality of yet another market commodity. This includes you, because again let us not forget: ‘the essence of who we are and our artworksis a reciprocal relationship.’
This is why our first mistake as artists (or ‘creatives’) in our beginnings is to think and treat all of our artworks as though they were pure commodities. Or, worse we try and make our artworks “fit” into this or that market, sometimes for the consumers sake (sadly moving away from our ‘deepest needs and wishes’ as artists). Or, if that doesn’t work, we find a famous artist and copy their artworks and, in the process, delude ourselves into thinking that because I have successfully imitated this artists’ works of art, I must therefore be successful in some way. Or, I can finally say “I am an artist.” This is no way to measure the success of you or your artwork. In the process of this endless and stressful drama for so many of us, what have you and we lost as a humanity? We have lost the intrinsic value, the imprint (rather than trademark) of what your artwork not only could have been but remains forever now still unseen.
We have lost the ontological quality of how your work of art could have contributed to your own life and therefore of others. This is why I think and, in a sense, believe that the artist, must be given plenty of time before she or he must prove their immediate success as artists (graduated or not). They must be given the time to know who they are and what their artwork would essentially be about, once released into society. If we are essentially therefore going to have, or at least the opportunity of creating a new culture for society today (or civilisation) through art, or the act of creativity, one that will finally go beyond our endless consumer-based society and simultaneously in addition to our new culture, include a culture of acceptance, in example that human culture is continuously changing (in motion) and a society that would be willing to adapt and allow for new cultures to emerge freely, then you and your artwork would flourish and have a greater depth in ways, I think, still unimagined. Because for too long the artist and their artworks have not been allowed, again to fully go beyond artwork as commodity. Many of us, know deep down and still wish for all of our artworks to be a form of transcendence – to transcend the moment, politics, people, society, life, family and friends. How can we give more freedom to such a reality, possibility in our everyday?
I think for too long, especially in our Western part of the world, culture or rather the full meaning of what culture is, means and can be has become lost. Human culture of course, has many ontological shapes and sizes (if not disguises). But where for example has our universal culture that we all once shared in, gone? Take for example, how our relationships with the natural landscape, could and still can create or recreate new and old human cultures, why has such an intrinsic reality for us become obsolete? In Scotland today for example (one of the world’s oldest natural landscapes), which has a subtle blend between arable and non-arable land, still has agricultural land that is barely hand-cultivated (if at all nowadays) and therefore considered as a genuine form of human culture. Culture becomes what is most needed in the here and now and can only grow in essence, if that culture has significantly contributed to a person’s life and their community. Of course, I am overall talking about the essence of nature as a way of creating and redefining our present culture, that if we can put nature first through all of our culture making, like our art-making then we have a real chance of creating something that is sustainable, works of art that is eternal – real.
This is also why we should all include some elementof our local natural landscapes, especially living in Stirling, where there is so much beauty and embed this within our artworks, because the intrinsic value of nature, or again imprint, has as much to do with our natural identities (native or not) as the true essence of our connection with nature today. This connection, your connection is and therefore has the power to redefine our present culture in society, something fundamentally new. But if we exclude nature, I don’t think we can ever truly create a culture that would satisfy us, be content with, however transient our lives become.
Finally, therefore if we can find new ways of measuring our success and failures rather than through our usual economic way today, then the progress of our artworks has a greater chance of developing – becoming a work of art with a solid future. This is why I think, in the end, the best future we can give art, as well as our artworks in preservation is to finally end their fate of becoming the endless market commodity. Instead, give our artworks away for free enhancing the human experience of art and self-realisation. But equally more so now – in our fast dash for progress (another striking culture living in our world today) we seemed to have set a time limit on how fast our unity with ourselves, nature and planet which we live must be. But yet in reality no time is needed, required. It actually doesn’t matter how long we take to become who we are, or to realise our full potential, instead what matters is the quality of our artworks.
Featured Image Credit: Patrick Phillips
Eternal revolutionary, writer and artist Patrick Phillips was born in Truro in 1984. He lives and works in a mountain village in Scotland. He has written articles for The Stage, Elsewhere Journal, CommonSpace, Scottish Left Review, Freedom Press, Scottish Farmer and The National. In summer 2021, he published his first book of essays, Eternal Mountain: Essays from Afar. This is his third non-fiction book. He is now working on his latest project, The Modern Giant: How to Be A Giant In An Age of Neo Ontology. It will be published in 2023.
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