abstract art, a systems view

Archive for November 2011

Does Analysing Stunt Creativity?

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Does Analysing Stunt Creativity?.

Rachael Pinks asks an important question and comments on the relationship between what in NLP and Self Relations we might refer to as ‘cognitive mind’ and ‘somatic mind’.

It could be argued that technology separates cognitive thinking and somatic doing, attempting to mediate them by inserting ‘controlling’. Capitalism arranges them hierarchically, with thinking at the top, doing at the bottom and controlling in the middle.  ‘thinkers’ have power and wealth, whilst ‘doers’ generally lack both.

I want to say that art integrates thinking and doing, though I am aware that it is not always the case, take conceptual art for example, are not thinking and doing often separated along exactly the same lines as in capitalist production?


Written by Andy Parkinson

November 17, 2011 at 8:00 am

Pattern 3

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Received wisdom says “twice is a habit three times is a pattern” (of course, it is nonsense). “Two’s company, three’s a crowd” is a similar saying. So this is the last of these sketches from a fragment.

Written by Andy Parkinson

November 16, 2011 at 8:00 am

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pattern 2 (sketch)

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From fragment to pattern 2 (sketch)

Written by Andy Parkinson

November 15, 2011 at 8:30 am

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Creativity at work?

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Is there really room for creativity in the workplace? I don’t mean art in the workplace…

…though I think that would make an interesting study.

I mean creative thinking. Whilst that term probably needs some definition I am going to leave that difficult task for another time and assume we share a general understanding of  it.

In large companies especially, creativity is needed (W.Edwards Deming said “it is necessary to innovate”) and often it is verbally encouraged. But then, at the same time, any behaviour that might approach the creative also tends to be stifled.

One way of stifling something is to claim to be managing it. I note that Talent Management is a euphemism for the squandering of talent and Performance Management guarantees that the performance of any organisation will be sub-optimised.

It is almost as if the more that an idea gets talked about the less  it is likely to be experienced. For example, we hear so much about “communities” (the HR community, the Learning & Development community, the artistic community, the gay community, the local community, etc) precisely at a time when our experience of community is virtually non-existent. It must be a virtual community!

Recently, a friend was telling me how in their workplace the job purpose of the Quality Manager seemed to be to prevent quality.

At the Midlands Open Exhibition 2011

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I submitted three paintings to the Midlands Open Exhibition 2011 at the Tarpey Gallery, Castle Donington:

They chose to show this one, (with the wrong title). It looks OK in the space above the stairs.

At the private view I met friends I haven’t seen for some time, including one whom I haven’t seen for thirty years. My brother-in-law visited too but I never actually saw him. Sorry Brian, and thank you all for your support.


Here’s my friend Richard looking at the wonderful painting ‘curled up’, by fellow art blogger Rachael Pinks, who was also at the private view.

Written by Andy Parkinson

November 13, 2011 at 8:59 am

From fragment to pattern

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I posted about this fragment that I had once cropped from a small painting (oil pastel on paper) and then years after it had been lost or sold I found the cropped edge

I have started to sketch out what a painting might look like based on a repetition of the fragment

Written by Andy Parkinson

November 12, 2011 at 8:00 am

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more than the sum of its parts

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“The whole is more than the sum of its parts”, from Gestalt theory, is perhaps better represented as “the whole is different than the sum of its parts”.

The whole is experienced differently than can be accounted for simply by understanding the component parts.

Combining previously existing wholes, they become parts of a new whole. New properties emerge.

Written by Andy Parkinson

November 11, 2011 at 8:00 am

Midlands Open Exhibition 2011

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I submitted some work to the Midlands Open at Tarpey Gallery, Castle Donington and was delighted to discover earlier today that (some or all of) it was accepted (not even sure which at the moment).

Opening night is Saturday 12 November 6 – 8 pm.

Fellow art blogger Rachael Pinks also has some lovely work in this show.


Written by Andy Parkinson

November 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm

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On sequence dancing and learning to learn

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At the Blackpool Sequence Dance Festival 2011, in the Empress Ballroom of the Winter Gardens, attempting to learn brand new sequence dances, with a large group of people, I found it very difficult. It was wonderful and I loved it, especially as others took pity on us and helped us out, yet I really struggled to pick up 16 bars of steps in half an hour.

I could see many people, 20 years my senior and more, finding it quite easy to do what seemed an almost impossible task to me. What was it that made us different?

Maybe we could put it down to learning styles: this is not my favoured way of learning, I would rather read instructions first or have them explained to me in an environment where I could ask lots of questions, and then slowly piece the whole together part by part. I also seemed to suffer from ‘performance pressure’ that may have been absent in a smaller group or on my own.

It was possibly David Kolb that introduced the notion of learning styles, along the lines of: learning has a cycle of four stages and though all stages are required we may have a preference for a certain stage more than others. I have the impression that Honey and Mumford‘s learning styles are more or less the same as Kolb’s, but with more accessible labels, so we have Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist styles. One implication of the theory is that we learn best when our own style is adequately catered for, Activists and Pragmatists preferring to learn by doing, Reflectors and Theorists favouring a more thinking approach etc. Learning professionals closer to NLP might use the distinctions Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic as learning styles.

But isn’t this somewhat limiting? “I don’t learn that way” “It’s not my learning style” could easily become an excuse to prevent further learning. Isn’t it rather that what is needed is learning at a higher level?

Gregory Bateson proposed that there are levels of learning, where Learning 0 is an habitual automatic response to a given stimulus, Learning 1 is a trial and error process of adaptation to the given environment, Learning 2 is a process of corrective change in the set of alternatives from which choices are made at level 1, and Learning 3 (which rarely, if ever occurs) is about our whole process of forming, exchanging and losing level 2 habits.

Learning how to learn in the situation I described above would be Learning 2, which would then mean that on future occasions I could participate more successfully in the trial and error process of learning the new dances in the large group in only half an hour. One way to do this would be to model the strategies of other dancers/learners, which would I suggest also be a more sophisticated use of NLP.

Written by Andy Parkinson

November 10, 2011 at 8:00 am

The magnificent Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens!

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If the social function of art is to imagine a world different to the present one, isn’t there something artistic about the other world imagined at Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens?
Clement Greenberg made the distinction between art and kitsch and I have no doubt that he would have classified these venues in the latter category. Surely, there is something escapist in any world imagined at a seaside resort. Once it would have been a very modern world. Today it is looking more like a world situated in a past time. And that nostalgia is probably a large part of its attraction.

It is well known that the tower, built between September 1891 and May 1894, was inspired by the (much larger) Eiffel Tower when the Mayor of Blackpool, John Bickerstaffe visited the Great Paris Exhibition in 1889.

It houses the Tower Circus and the Tower Ballroom. Dancing in the ballroom was the purpose of my recent visit.

Here, inside the ballroom, the tower is depicted on a tiled mural, as a prince among towers (all members of the World Federation of Great Towers).

The Winter Gardens is on more or less the same site. It is pictured here with the Tower behind it.

and here with the Tower behind me, as I took the snap

The Winter Gardens houses the Empress Ballroom, and it is even grander than the Tower Ballroom. It is magnificent, whether for competition dancing…                                    or for social dancing…


and the Blackpool Sequence Dance Festival 2011 was an amazing event that included both. Here I could easily imagine a world in which harmony prevails, even during those little arguments and stepping on toes, that all dancing couples must experience from time to time.