First an obvious admittance, for anyone who may be interested or indeed looking.

This is the first posting for over a year.

Believe me, I have thought about and intended and even desired to start again but there has been something in me which has said “there’s so much stuff, a saturated world, a deep, drowning sea of words and images, there in the wide ether; just who is either interested in or is actually reading this?”. I have never bothered with Facebook (funny how that word isn’t recognised without the capital F; it makes me wonder when keyboards will come with a obligatory ‘TM’ key) and even though I have a Twitter account I have never used it. I just think to all that… “SO WHAT…?” Does it really matter if I am one of the first or indeed any of the ones who is able to comment on some insignificant thing happening, or are people really interested in what I made myself to eat this lunchtime? If everyone is doing this, i.e. making lunch, photographing it and posting it on Facebook who is actually reading what is sent? and who REALLY cares? It is pointless. When I think about the incredible achievements in science, art and humanity of our ancestors I am utterly dismayed by how we have become sheep to gadgetry, to the accumulations of computerised computing. I salute the few who still do not know how to even turn a computer on. Such irony; it is such a useful tool and yet such a curse.

I have long been thinking about creativity and restriction. I intend to say much more about this but this is something I consider a lot; the composer Shostakovich was on the verge of exploring modernism, possibly with a view to developing it further. We could say that unfortunately Stalin got in the way. Because he did, we have music which had to find its expression using a language which was already understood but underneath was coded with a subversive anger and energy. Even on the surface, the humanity of the music in all its expressions is there. Thank goodness for it. It is both tough and delicate, raw and melodic and as ‘modern’ as it could ever be. It is like poetry which rhymes, like Larkin’s, or like the POW drawings of Ronald Searle’s. It is not governed by dry intellectualism but recognises the limits of just what is audible. It recognises humanity and instead of being determinedly aloof, it communicates and welcomes people in. It refuses to pander to the fashion, it is produced within restrictions and because of these restrictions it flourishes.

As painters we have the boundary of the rectangle but to be great we have to push even further, all the time yet  still within that boundary, otherwise we are just servants, slaves to fashion, producers of bourgeois decoration to bloat an already saturated world. However, we still have to speak a recognisable language; we must communicate in a non-condescending, non-patronising form.

There is still much to be done, much within ourselves, to dig deeper to really, properly say what we mean. We must not be afraid to embrace tradition but we must strive to shun cliché.


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4 Responses to “Revival”

  1. A.M. Doherty Says:

    Working in IT, I agree that comms technology has led to an awful soup of content that many agencies (most notably Google) are at pains to organise and make available to those hoping to find it.

    Reader, viewer and listener habits may be at their most diverse, but no-one’s taking it all in – thankfully. Examined that way, adding content of quality, of note, of interest to a subset of the worldwide audience remains a worthy endeavour.

    Of course uploading a photograph of your lunch is a waste of the technology and the fuel that powers it.

    Adding your thoughts about the development of your work adds value for your readership. At the same time, the words you compose are syndicated through search engines, shared through social media, archived by institutions; each creating links and relationships between the subjects you discuss and your own work.

    Restriction takes some interesting forms. For many years my own painting practise was restricted by a reliance on photography as a source. I can now easily pick out those images that were sourced from the pixel or print from those that grew from direct observation. They’re invariably dull or awkwardly arranged.

    When I began to work on ‘one self-portrait a day’ (for a year, but lasted only around 80 days) I found both limited time and subject matter allowed me to examine something in far greater depth than I could have hoped for.

    • mgreenland Says:

      Hello Anthony
      Yes, I’ve managed to get round to being interested in my blog again and I do intend to really keep it up this time. I’ve been spurred on to doing it by deciding to post the full interview with Andrew Lambirth, of which part has been used as the text for the catalogue which accompanies my exhibition at Tullie House (staring tomorrow, Friday 14th March).

      What you did with deciding to paint a self portrait every day was amazingly ambitious and I’m pretty impressed that you managed to keep it going for 80 days. 80 self-portraits; that’s a lot! Such an activity is so important for stirring us up and moving what we do in new, possibly unexpected directions. It is good that you are seeing the difference between the directly observed mark and one ‘copied’ from a photograph.

      Best wishes


  2. Angela Jackson Says:

    Hi Martin,

    Angela from N&C here, I have just worked out how to follow blogs, so I am reading yours (and please don’t leave it a year before posting again!) It is true, the internet can drown you, but perhaps the sea of isolation is colder?

    I’m working up the energy to put my paintings on a website (so many details to consider!) and I hope this way they might find someone they resonate with. I finally have more time to paint, also am getting closer to saying what I mean to say with them, but, as you say so succinctly, this is a massive challenge for a painter.

    Trying to communicate an awareness of what I consider a multi-dimensional universe in only 2 dimensions…? Not to mention the fact that the painting has its own ideas about what it is, and inevitabley “wins”. And then every viewer sees your work through a prism of their own experience and expectations which can lead to some interesting reactions, but is completely out of your control!

    Is this what drives you to paint? To keep trying to get closer to your truth? Have your reasons for painting changed since you were a student? For me, I think it was “the road less travelled” that initially attracted me, and the perhaps the promise of maintaining some individuality (silly since I wasn’t “individuated”, and life has ways making you conform other than through work!)

    I would also like to say, I hope life is good, and that I have absolutely no expectations of you seeing this, at least for quite some time!!! “LOL”!

    • mgreenland Says:

      Hello Angela
      I’m actually getting down to working on this blog again (almost a year).
      I’ve just read your very thoughtful post and it contains a lot to think about, which I will think about. In the meantime you may be interested in looking at the new post, which admittedly was easy for me to do because it was written for me. It is Andrew Lambirth’s full interview with me of which part has been used as the text in the catalogue to my new show at Tullie House which starts on Friday. I don’t think I sent you an invitation which is very bad of me but the show goes on for three months so there is time to visit. When the invitations were sent out I was absolutely in the throes of painting and getting framing completed. When we send out invitations we have to go through our entire address book which includes family and friends and lots of others which we wouldn’t normally invite to a private view and some people get missed out. I’m very pleased you are still painting and giving it the thought it really needs, I hope you and your family are well.
      Lots of love

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