inspirational TED talk – Simon Anholt – being good is more important than being best

Today I saw the TED talk by Simon Anholt for the first time, and now I’ve watched it 3 times. It’s brilliant thinking. What he talks about makes absolute sense to me and is  a coming together of other interesting speakers on globalisation, empathy and  collaboration.

John Lennon and ‘Imagine’; ‘Outrospection’ by Roman Krznaric; Flow by Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi and Brene Brown come to mind.

Anholt has devised a database that can measure how ‘good’ countries are. It’s important to understand how he defines the term ‘good’.  He believes countries that can be defined as ‘good’ are safer, richer and fairer. Being ‘good’ is about behaving and collaborating, it is the opposite of selfish. He measures the levels by how much a country gives to the world, how much it contributes to humanity. Brilliant.

According to the results, Ireland is the top country. (I am not sure what year he collated his data – I doubt all Irish residents would agree their country is ‘good’ to them at present, since the Celtic tiger scenario……….)

Good is about making a contribution to the rest of humanity, not economy – though those who do contrbute most are more likely to have a stable economy, they come hand-in-hand.

Good as the opposite of selfish.

He refers to ‘a culture of goodness’

This model could be developed to suit all scales, from the individual, to the company, the sector, the country, the world.

It could work.

I would love to promote a culture of goodness – without any religious or moralist judgement – just about humanity.

Anholt suggests that we are, without realising, on some level, cultural sociopaths.  And that is our biggest problem – we treat people from other cultures as cardboard cutouts – we dehumanize them.

One could have a policy of goodness
A goodness strategy
A department of goodness

I THINK IT COULD BE VERY GOOD!

review of Mycophilia by Louise Short at Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth

Please share this with others, it’s such a wonderful show.

Mycophilia is the first of two shows being presented in the Ceredigion Museum temporary gallery space by Short&Forward and runs from April 17 to May 31st 2014. Alice Forward’s exhibition Swarm Society will run from June 12th till 2nd August and her works resonate well with those of Louise. Both make work that explores our relationship with the natural world and expresses their passion for protecting and conserving it for future generations. They share a love of film, mushrooms, bees and life.

Louise Short’s exhibition, Mycophilia, exhibits exquisite casts of fungi and spore prints as filmic objects. In a temporary space next to the Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth, she has presented a constellation of 3D snapshots of moments in time and place, captured and recorded in plaster, bronze, paper, paint and spore-dust on paper. The title of the installation, Mycophilia, means the love of mushrooms, likewise filmophilia means a love of films. Spore-dust is an evocative phrase that whispers the story of their process in your ear. On entering the gallery to experience Mycophilia viewers are transported into another world. The prints on paper are trapped underneath glasses, lest they should escape like spiders or wasps, and the science-fiction presence of a constellation of plaster casts suspended in a deep blue universe spans the whole back wall. Ian Banks meets Richard Mabey meets Thoreaux. This installation is both 2D and 3D – filmic and sculptural. It hints at mass fields of growth and microscopic detail. Each trace of fungi reveals its own intricacy and uniqueness – together they are a cosmos.

A love of the process of film and a deep understanding of nature is present in all of Louise’s artworks, but not always in an obvious, cinematic way. Mothshadowmovie (1999, 2000) turned an everyday office overhead projector into a screening device in a woodland – attracting and amplifying the ghostly visits of fluttering moths and slimy snails. For Something Else, her one person show at Arnolfini, Bristol in 1997, Louise cast the tender insides of daffodil trumpets, fixing the voids in plaster. In 2001, in the basement of what is now the Exchange Gallery in Penzance, she filmed the walls of the redundant telephone exchange then re-projected the 8mm footage back onto their surface. The projectors shuddered and rattled, returning life to the abandoned architecture. Feeling Faint created a gentle echo on the walls, the images quivered softly like Narcissus’s reflection on water. In Louise’s work solid things are made ephemeral and transient moments solid. Casting is like a 3D camera, the imprint of the brief moment that the fungus manifests itself above ground as solid matter is caught and made tangible.

The spore-dust deposits fine footprints of the mushrooms reproductive potential, they multiply generously but few will survive the process. Their lives are brief, like stars they appear unexpectedly and disappear suddenly, as if by magic. They are indeed other-worldly without consumption – you don’t need to eat them to be enchanted and drawn in by their hallucinatory nature. In the scale of things humans are similarly short-lived. We make art, we write, we create, we procreate, and every moment is to be noted, considered and experienced in our short lifetime. This exhibition of fungi prompts us to be mindful of this and the artwork is the outcome of a very thoughtful and considered process of walking, meandering and being in the moment.

During Louise’s regular forays through the beautiful Welsh landscape, where she lives and works, she was able to immerse herself in her thoughts of the ephemeral, returning with a record of her journey, on that day, of that place. I must let my senses wander as my thought, my eyes see without looking…Be not preoccupied with looking. Go not to the object; let it come to you…What I need is not to look at all, but a true sauntering of the eye. (Thoreau Journal 4:351) Solitude, silence, no signage, wandering aimlessly, like the rhizome of mycelia that appear as fairy-circles below the surface of meadow grass, Louise reflected upon her roots and relationships, walking random routes through the landscape, meandering, thinking and casting her gaze as she foraged, capturing her fragile trophies to keep.

Fungi is corporeal in nature, soft like flesh, but cold to the touch. Love, tenderness, fragility, vulnerability, the human condition are all here in this exhibition.

 

20140427-195422.jpg 20140427-195403.jpg 20140427-195345.jpg 20140427-195332.jpg © Carolyn Black 2014

Sisters on Saturday: Symposium at SVA, Stroud. Sue Thomas; Semiconductor: Squidsoup; Simon Ryder The New Natural

new nature

This Saturday 25th May is going to be a very interesting day. As part of the SITE Festival, artist Simon Ryder is hosting a symposium to consider the future of nature – what do we mean by ‘new nature’? Is nature only what we already know of, and some feel, have damaged irrepairably, or might it be something unimagined and unforeseen?

My sister, Professor Sue Thomas, and I, find nothing unusual in such conversations. When I look back at some of the weird discussions and debates we’ve had over the table in the past, I have rarely stopped to wonder whether this is usual family fare. It’s our normal – which is what matters to us.

Intense dialogues about when we are online, do we ‘feel’ we ‘reside’ online? Is virtuality another geography? Where does fact and fiction begin and end? Does it end? We mostly agree. But what do you think?

I’m taking a back seat on Saturday while others enter similar discussions, chaired by Rob la Frenais, of The Arts Catalyst. It will be an intriguing conversation as it unravels the different ways we might consider New Nature.

The New Natural Symposium
Semiconductor, Prof. Sue Thomas and Squidsoup
Saturday 25th May 10.30am-5pm
SVA, 4 John St, Stroud GL5 2HA
Installation Friday 24th-Sunday 26th May

11am-4pm Goods Shed, Stroud GL5 3AP

Book now:

The New Natural is presented by Heart of Wonder in collaboration with SVA, and supported by Alias.

Tickets £12 including lunch and refreshments £20 for weekend inclusive of evening events. See SVA website for more details, or give them a call.

Booking is essential as places are limited 01453 751440 or email office@sva.org.uk

Flow Contemporary Arts’ first-ever project, in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire with Simon Ryder

Are Community Libraries really more than books?

Absolutely!!

Artist in Residence Simon Ryder explores the art of blogging and teaches others to do it too. Join us to learn more at the following dates and times:

Mitcheldean Community Library

10.00-12.OOam

Monday 13th May, 3rd June and 17th June

Newnham Community Library

2.00-4.00pm

Monday 13th May, 3rd June and 17th June

PLEASE NOTE THIS IS LOCAL FUNDING AND IS FOR FOREST OF DEAN RESIDENTS AND LIBRARY USERS, BUT WE AIM TO PRODUCE CABINETS FURTHER AFIELD IN THE FUTURE!

Flow Contemporary Arts is delighted to have been awarded funding from Forest of Dean Local Action, part of the RDPE programme for England, to initiate the ‘Cabinet of Local Change’ project at two community libraries, during May and June this summer.

At the meetings we’ll tell you a bit more about what we’re doing, but more importantly, Simon would like to discover how changes in the nature world of the forest affect you. How did changes in the past affect your life? What current changes in the nature of the forest might affect you in the future? Your answers will help Simon understand more about the forest – the people that live here and what makes it unique.

What you tell Simon will inform the stories he tells about change – not in a book form, but online – as a blog.

And if you fancy having a go at blogging yourself, we’re here to help. We’ll go through the basics and explore how computers can add to the wonderful world of words that Libraries provide!

If you are in the Forest, please download and share poster:  Are Community Libraries really more than books

blog image for flyers

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Supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas

‘Intercourse’ event (love that title!) – “I’m not sitting at the front” last weekend. It was in the Elbow Room in Cardiff.

I really enjoyed the ‘Intercourse’ event (love that title!) – “I’m not sitting at the front” last weekend. It made me think – a lot.

The focus was participatory visual arts practice and involved great talks by Gill Nicol and Sophie Hope, interspersed with actions created by artists, which, as a member of the audience, I participated in.

I sat at the front.

There was quite a lot of writing going on, writing stories, writing lists, writing postits. And stickers. Stickers were distributed to categorize us, as a means of creating roles that, if one wished, could be subverted. But few did so. We listened quite a lot too. Sometimes I felt I was being instructed and directed, I complied rather than participated. On reflection, I find myself wondering about where the participatory element was.

By my very presence, was it assumed that I would passively do as I was told?

Was the purpose to antagonize?

Or stimulate a response?

Were we expected to intervene?

There were instructions, but in many ways we were all passive and politely conformed to the traditions we are familiar with – that of speaker and listener. The rules were unstated, because we already knew them, the context provided them.

Emma read lists

Paul made lists

I made lists

My lists were in response to their lists

This is a list

When I contemplated writing this, I was going to share my lists with you. But I decided not to. The Flow Contemporary arts logo implies bi-directional movement – exchange, reciprocity, true partnership working. That is important to me. I make no call to action. I seek dialogue, resolution and harmony, not antagonism. Might this be an age thing?

photo of Emma Gee, by me……during our silent walk through Cardiff

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