This week sees the passing of Nelson Mandela. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, close friends and the people of South Africa. Through his determination, courage and leadership, Mandela illustrated the ability to transfigure the burden and injustice of Apartheid South Africa into the hope and aspiration for all in a new democratic state. He was a champion for human dignity, self determination and freedom, leaving this world as arguably the most influential politician of the late 20th century.
South Africa remains far from being the state he envisaged; it remains a fractured country, full of inequalities. However we can only pray his legacy lives on and is implemented by all politicians who follow in his footsteps.
“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”
Back in the UK and just in time for one of November’s highlights- The London Jazz Festival. The EFG London Jazz Festival is the capital’s biggest pan-city music festival, presenting famous world-class artists well as emerging stars who perform at notable venues such as the Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, Ronnie Scotts and the Albert Hall. The festival has being going since 1992 and emerged from the long-standing Camden Jazz Week created in 1970 by Serious, the live international music producers.
This year’s show includes a photography exhibition by David Redfern and the talented Edu Hawkins, which I encourage you to see if you’re local. Redfern, the only non American to feature in the Jazz Times ‘ Special Collectors Edition’ has selected just a small but quality selection of limited prints for sale. His career began in the twilight jazz clubs of 1960’s London, photographing artists such as Kenny Ball and George Melly. Further to his work on TV shows, nights spent at 100 Club, Marquee or Ronnie Scotts and being an official tour photographer, he has amassed a portfolio of work featuring icons of jazz such as Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Art Blakey and Duke Ellington.
The show runs for the duration of the festival (10th -24th Nov) at LONDON Southbank Centre / Foyer Spaces Belvedere Road London SE1 8XX. For further details on concerts and talks visit http://www.londonjazzfestival.org.uk/
I love the New York art scene as it always inspires me to be creative and appreciative of the mass of talent. There are a number of exhibitions I intend to see this month. One I’ve already had the pleasure of seeing is Willie Cole’s exhibition entitled ‘ If Wishes Were Horses’ at the Alexander and Bonin gallery. The show comprises of paintings and sculptures from the New Jersey born artist. I’ve been an admirer of his career for some time so it was a great pleasure to see some of his recent work up close and personal. Cole uses everyday domestic objects and discarded materials to reference historical events and people. The design and aesthetics of the work continues to reflect his interest in the Yoruba religion, particularly the Orisa: deities which represent specific forces of nature and govern different parts of the universe. Central to the exhibition is his 6ft statue entitled ‘The Sole Sitter, 2013. He brilliantly uses giant sized high heeled shoes to construct a crouched figure in a position that reflects the wishful mindset alluded to in the title of the show. The show runs at Alexander and Bonin until November 16th. If you are in town, taking a walk in Chelsea this is one show I would recommend. For further details please visit alexanderandbonin.com
Some of you may already know I’ve worked for and supported a number of charities and charitable causes. This includes the World Stroke Organisation’s World Stroke Day.
In 2010, the WSO and its members worldwide launched the “1 in 6” campaign. The theme was identified to mirror the reality that one in six people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime. With the fight against stroke at a crossroads, WSO members and partners around the world joined in solidarity to put forth a simple life-saving message on this day, which is not to take chances. One in six people will have a stroke. It could be you or someone you know.
The World Stroke Campaign aims to disseminate essential life-saving information and share knowledge about actions and lifestyle behaviors that could avert the assault of stroke. The campaign will also identify opportunities to improve and educate the lay public on the fundamental need for appropriate and quality long-term care and support for stroke survivors, including the empowerment of stroke care-providers.
The facts remain:
- Stroke can be prevented.
- Stroke can be treated.
- Stroke can be managed in the long-term.
- 1 in 6 people will have a stroke in their lifetime.
- Every 6 seconds stroke kills someone.
- Every other second stroke attacks a person, regardless of age or gender.
- 15 million people experience a stroke each year, 6 million of them do not survive.
- About 30 million people have had a stroke – most have residual disabilities
For further information on the campaign please visit the WSO website. If you are in the UK you can also visit the Stroke Association for further information on help and support. Equally if you are in the US please visit the US Stroke Association.
The UK Stroke Association is one of my chosen charities you can support when purchasing art from my online shop. If you would like to donate a % of the purchase price to another charity supporting stroke survivors and their families please let me know on your order form.
I’d like to introduce you to artist Soyoung. Soyoung was introduced to me by a mutual friend and I’ve been following her career ever since. Born in Seoul, she spent most of my childhood in Nairobi. She received a MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently lives in Madison, WI. Soyoung briefly explains her latest project at Madison Central Public Library where she has literally merged her literature with art!
‘ When I was six years old, my family moved from Seoul, S. Korea, to Nairobi, Kenya. It was then that I first learned the value of creating images and connecting with people through art. When one loses the ability to communicate with words, images become so much more important/valuable. And while that time in my life where verbal communication was almost nonexistent was short, it left an impression on me. As with most artists, I have been drawing and painting and making things my whole life. My goal always is to tell stories, whether it be through writing or art.
I am always trying to figure out different ways to merge the two forms, writing and making art. I have found that the two often inspire each other. I have often painted something with a particular character from a story in mind. And that usually inspires new writing. I also incorporate writing into my work.
But my latest project involved the two forms in a slightly different way. One day, I was thinking about recycling my stacks of manuscripts that I’d accumulated over the years. I had just written a short piece about a memory from growing up in Kenya that involved the ritual of afternoon tea (you can find the piece on my blog: https://madebyslk.squarespace.com/blog/2013/3/2/100-cups-of-tea), and that inspired me to make one hundred papier-mache teacups using the pages of my manuscripts.
It was gratifying to be able to use the actual paper to make something new that was also inspired by my writing. I also made a conscious effort to install the teacups in public spaces where people do not normally expect to see art. My first installation of the teacups was in the storefront of a chocolate shop, Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier. From there, the teacups moved to a local mystery bookstore, Mystery To Me. They are now hanging on the wall at the Madison Central Public Library. I’m not sure how the merging of writing and art will continue to evolve, but it is definitely something I love to do. ‘
Soyoung- Oct 2013
I wish her continued success with her work. For further information on Soyoung please visit her website http://madebyslk.squarespace.com/
I’m looking forward to how this month unfolds. I’m fortunate to have a number of activities on the go, including participating in the next stage of the Peace Project’s US touring exhibition which is helping to raise awareness and needed funds for worthwhile initiatives in Sierra Leone. I’ve been fortunate to spend part of this month in Africa, experiencing a touch of artistic creativity and observing some of the wonderful architecture that exists in Marrakesh. In visiting this city, I’m reminded of how many cultures have influenced its present makeup besides the French and Arabs. History should be kinder in remembering the Amazigh and other African/non Arabic peoples who have resided over this great land.
The city’s architecture remains fascinating. The mudbrick walls seen on many of its buildings absorb heat to keep them cool in summer whilst warm in winter. This illustrates how environmentally friendly and sustainable some ancient structures can be. The typography is changing with new developments but the signs of poverty and homelessness remain visible throughout the city.The art scene has been growing over the last few years and this has been illustrated with the launch of Morroco’s biennale and international art fair. I was hoping to visit the Marrakesh Art fair as advertised in some of the art and tourist press but unfortunately someone somewhere got these dates completely wrong. The event takes place next year! Nevertheless I was happy to see the private art collection of Elizabeth Bauchet Bouhlal, co owner of the Es Saadi Palace hotel. When the owners of the hotel decided to enlarge the gardens and resort with the palace they realised the fantastic opportunity to celebrate Moroccan art and ask a number of artist to create special works for the rooms and public areas. The collection also includes work from artists who were pioneers and opened the door for contemporary ones.
The collection features work Elizabeth describes as ‘oneiric’ with the painting being based on dreams, on the reconstruction of a spontaneous and free imagination overloaded with images. Departing from what some have described as. ‘ mockingly naive painting’ oneiric art does not appear to have changed or transformed into a new genre. It was a pleasure to see the work of Mohamed Tabal along art by emerging north African artists.
I’m very happy to participate once again in The Peace Project’s Peace Travels touring exhibition as part of World Peace Day this September. The show includes stops in Culver City, San Francisco and New York over the next few months.
The Peace Project is an international social movement powered by the belief that, through creativity and community we can change the world. It remains a very worthwhile initiative working productively, particularly in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone’s 10-year civil war has resulted in over 75,000 dead, millions displaced and thousands of amputations including children by machete and bullets. Many believe that the progressive political climate in Sierra Leone, along with the country’s rich natural resources and relatively small population, make it a prime candidate for recovery. Moreover, there is hope that once this country is revitalized, it can be a model of how people working together can create peace.
The Peace Project was launched in July of 2010 by artist Lisa Schultz, founder of online creative community The Whole9. It is responsible for a number of extraordinary initiatives including Operation Rise, an ambitious objective to get over 10,000 of Sierra Leone’s amputees and war victims back on their feet by providing crutches and other mobility devices. One initiative I look forward to seeing develop is the Peace Centre, adjacent to the former Aberdeen Amputee Refugee Camp – an area where we’ve already done much good work.
In conjunction with its in-country partner Community Association for Psychosocial Services, The Peace Project will operate arts and cultural initiatives, training courses and administer a micro-loan program. Ultimately the aim is to establish a scalable development model that can be duplicated throughout Sierra Leone and beyond. For further information please visit the Peace Projects website.
The schedule for the touring exhibition is as follows:
Peace, Love and Understanding – Peace Travels Touring Exhibition 2013-
- Affair of the Arts, Culver City, CA September 21st & 22nd 2013
- Art Zone 461,October 5th — San Francisco, CA
- 29 Pieces October 12th, Dallas, TX
- Landmark Arts Building, November 7th Chelsea, New York
- The Whole 9 Gallery, November 23rd Culver City, CA