My useless concern
We all now it’s coming – deep down – (well, except those young enough to still be blissfully ignorant) all of us can hear the threats that mutter softly over the over side of the muck stack. Yet it is all too easy for the majority of us to put our mind into auto-pilot, allowing one to make plans for the little things we were told -from an early age – were the guarantees of human life, such as marriage, buying a house, telling tales to ones grandchildren.
It is as if we’ve become so accustomed to a World of Televisions and Computers, that switching off from the truth is as easy as switching off a screen, but there again that would be a poor scapegoat, for the natural complaisance’s of a tribal species. Ill always remember a Sports paper advertisement in the 1990’s of a Football fan reading a newspaper. Front page ‘End of the World tomorrow!’ – he was reading the sport on the back page!.
You know, It is so crushingly frustrating to feel that in order to say anything in a civilized society, that what i say has to be profound or backed up by barriers of knowledge. I’ve been constantly for the right words and ideas to say and debate thoroughly, not just scratching the surface – but most of the time i wish i could just shout “why on Earth are these things happening, to our planet?” – not clever or profound, but yet would a profound statement make any more difference?.
I would love to see a busy street, where everybody – all at once – had a moment of realization – about the planet we live on – and all let go one giant yell. It would be like a giant thunder storm on a land desperately in need of water.
I have always wanted to be part of a change, but my attempts to do something useful seem to constantly delayed, forever yearning to be released from my large scale drawings, but forever sealed in their misery. Maybe my dream of ‘the security of life for people’ is motivated by the same force that drives people in the search for prosperity – the futile and constant search for that plateau where everything becomes clear and rest is assured.
Nothing is ever properly right for me, there’s always some lingering specter – counting the hours – at the back of my mind. I – by trying to disband from the tide of the crowd – have self replicated and self inflicted the same symptoms upon my own life, that are typically found in the slaves to Modern Capitalism. It sometimes feels that the more i gear myself with ideas about tackling climate change, the more i become part of the problem. Every time i kick down a door, there is another one and one, like a 3d computer game with a virus.
But all this searching into the faults of my all too futile actions, will never encourage anyone reading this to go out a plant 1,000 tree’s etc, which in so many words is what i would love. Noting down the symptoms in this swamp of useless concerns – no matter how many times i write it – will never hand me the tools and instructions to seal my fears and fix our Earth. But at the moment its all i have – but my art work – and it is evidence of my mental pathways, that i would like to be shown on my blog.
A lot of people (who know me in person) would see me as a manic and irrational individual, but i would blame this on the people skills, rather than being a crazed lunatic who worries too much, so i want to try and explain my concerns and why i do not think i am irrational, and why now – at the slightly more mature age of 25 – there’s no time for me to let these concerns individually pick on me at the back of my mind.
I never do really go into detail on my concerns about climate change and humankind’s future in general, but where would i start?. Well i would have to start from where the concerns really started when i was an 18year watching the BBC news on summers morning. The story was not linked to man made global warming, this story was of a potential threat from an Asteroid in 2018 (2002 nt7).
It sent the shivers through me for months after, it shocked me more than any news story has done before, i just couldn’t get the thoughts – of an high impact meteor hitting planet Earth – from my head.
This was a changing point in my life, because as an 18 yr old perhaps it would have been more natural for my mind to be on other things – obvious things that don’t need to stated – but i could not erase these frightening images from my mind.
Image stolen from Internet, though the Garden looks quite similar to my own.
Thankfully a news story some weeks later said that new research found that the collision was extremely unlikely to make impact anymore, but the impact of such devastating catastrophes was now firmly wedged in my skull – making a brief appearance every time i had any reflective thought.
As i explained earlier this was not a threat that could be blamed on people (though in my opinion we should have a missile system to defend Earth from meteors rather than from each other) but it opened up a side to me that had never been allowed to bloom in the more comfy and sentimental mind of my youthful years.
From this moment on I grew up, not into a responsible adult as most people would have expected from me, but from someone with a child’s mind, to a man living on the edge. This is probably when i became more of a manic person.
The meteor threat opened up my eyes to see just how fragile human existence is – especially modern civilizations – and i started to pay a lot more attention to our destruction of natural habitats -all be it on a local scale, noticing the ever increasing sprawl of the suburbs around the M1 commuter belt.
In my inexperienced and youthfully naive mind, i could see the blatantly obvious – that the spread of man made habitats cannot carry on forever – and it was one the first times in my life I felt that I was the only one looking at the bigger picture.
Same old river, the City got bigger (2007) 70 x 100cm
As an 18 year old, I was so shy that I would avoid people in the street, so my early ideas and thoughts on saving the planet (more accurately, humans) were severely hampered. Not being a great writer either, all i could really do was obsessively recycle and plant trees. I mentioned the word obsessive, because this triggered (or re-earthed) an obsessive and destructive disorder to my own way of life, once that is still slightly with me today.
It is important that i focus on the roots and causes of my desperate plea for the Saviour of humankind, as it puts up better foundations in my defense of my irrational approach to tackling issues. However, if i want to encourage people to try and take a look at the bigger picture, the less time spent on my one individual, the better.
I would describe my next 4 years of making art work (lots of which express deep concerns over the planet) as me ‘fighting with my eyes closed. I say this not because i stopped seeing the large picture, and didn’t take deep notice of the environment i saw, but because i never read anywhere near enough, and i could never put up an argument. Though i am very proud of a lot of my art ideas from this period – and in my mind they still stand firmly today – i needed more knowledge if i was going to be able to untie my hands once and for all.
I would say that this desire to read was ignited by the financial crisis, that really kicked off in about summer 2008. As -to me – it seemed like a dress rehearsal for a larger crisis – one where climate change is actually starting to effect millions of people, and natural resources are starting to run out, like oil supplies etc.
My way of reading may seem mechanical and rigid to some, but they are books that i really thought would help me to build a better picture of both the human and natural World. Some of books included. No Logo by Naomi Klein, The road to Wigan Pier & 1984 by George Orwell, Brave new World by Aldous Huxley, The way of the peaceful warrior by Dam Millman, About Looking and Ways of Seeing by John Berger, The Symbiotic planet by Lynn Margulis, Gaia – a new look at life, The revenge of Gaia and Gaia – medicine for an ailing planet by James Lovelock, and Playing Safe, Science and the environment by Jonathan Porritt.
As you can see it is almost a robotic entry into the world of reading, and thought it almost reads like an Slice of information taken from a competitive Myspace profile, these books were read because they seemed to be the best ones offered to me -at the time – to have more understanding about the things that concerned me. In truth what this as done, as probably put more disturbing images into my brain, but i must proceed, ignorance was never bliss for me, it was suffocating.
One image that i have now, especially encouraged by the Symbiotic planet, Brave new World and The Gaia theory. Is one were the human race now seems to look ever so more like an army of ants on the floor or a flock of sheep, or (in the case on a city) a bacterial growth upon the land.
Images taken from ‘The Sprawl’ (2008),
This drawing could have easily been called ‘The Spawn’
Seeing the human as one big organism made of smaller ones, inside an even bigger organism Earth (though Gaia is only an hypothesis these thoughts have remained – unchallenged – in my mind) i started to see our existence as even more fragile and unimportant than ever before. By unimportant i mean from a possible viewpoint of the Universe, we have potential to be important and cherished, but we aren’t earning it as yet. It is easy forget just how fragile the crust of civilisation is, in a World pampered with Hollywood and Disney dreams.
When i am solely existing upon ‘Planet Yorkshire’ if i was walking around Leeds city centre – a city centre experience that reminds me very much of the book ‘Brave new World’ it would be easier to forget my dark thoughts about global warming etc (though my thoughts on a plastic existence are equally as sceptical) because the city centre is smothered in a Brand name heaven, and is occupied by ‘glamorous young hopefuls’. Places such as Leeds city centre paint a bright picture, in which it would be hard to believe that humans aren’t some chosen and protected species here on Earth (this doesn’t mean i dislike Leeds, and i quite happily visit the place to feel the contrast between it and my home town ‘Barnsley’ which i will come onto now).
However in my home town Barnsley, the picture on humanity is quite different. Here – a town center that has been badly neglected over the years it is quite obvious that a lot of people have not been living in the Bubble of Western dreams, and it can seem 1,000 years from the picturesque utopia experience on Briggate in Leeds. Barnsley is a town in a relatively very wealthy country, and its people – financially – are obviously a lot more fortunate than people n 3rd World countries. However this doesn’t stop me sometimes imagining that the Apocalypse has already been and gone when I’m walking around this town.
A lot of people look like they have lost all hope and the appearance and expressions aren’t that of a chosen and protected species, but one that is struggling to survive. It is when I’m in my home town, that my fears that we (humans) aren’t as safe from harm on this planet as we believe truly take over.
I must be grateful for having a relatively good upbringing in a town that is so neglected in parts, and i also must be grateful for living on the ‘greener side’ of town (closer to the Yorkshire Sculpture park). As from here i have instant access by foot to both town and country, and i believe this as been the bread and butter of my ideas from an early age. There is a lush and green beauty to the landscape that lies just west of Barnsley, i hope it stays, i also hope the generations after me can see it too. As after all – having no faith in religion – my faith lies in the progression of humanity, no matter what happens. As long as there is someone there, to write, draw and reflect. That is all i ask.