Here is an excerpt from my book Blank Canvas which helps to define the concepts held within, the idea of starting from a blank slate, which is something I feel most intensely at the start of a new year.
Blank canvas as a concept, a freeze frame within which new creation can occur, also connects with other art forms that time may change. Author David Keenan in an epitaph for beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti described his command of ‘beginners mind’, writing from a place that is pure and fresh, as though viewed for the ‘first time, every time, which really, you know, is the truth. Everything is new and risen up and blushing in its perfect moment’.
Swirling extreme movements can be utilized to support arriving within a trance-like state through dance, as shown by the Sufi whirling dervishes, or through Stanislavski’s physical action acting. Ashtanga or Vinyasa Flow Yoga centres on physicality, realigning the body for transcendental meditation, lifting into the air. Searching for a trance-like condition has also been associated with narcotic drugs, reducing the daily noise which covers a blank mind. Carl Jung’s psychological concept of serendipity relating to chance, breaking away from formalized structures as the randomness of early life creation is apparent within blankness, reflecting conscious and unconscious process decisions. Another element is Buddhism’s Śūnyatā state of no mind, relating to an emptiness or a void arrived at within meditative practice, so it is the stripping away which is important.
As former art student and socio-economist Inez Aponte suggests, ‘the notion of enlightenment is when all that drops away. That construct that we lived with drops away so we can actually see. We can really see. Most of us aren’t really seeing, we are walking around with filters’ . As the young Bill Drummond was told on his first day at Northampton College of Art by life room tutor Mike Little: ‘Everybody can look – only Artists can see. No life drawing no Art’ .
Order Blank Canvas: art school creativity to punk, post punk and new wave here:
A great review of my book from the wonderful Louder than War team
Order your copy of Blank Canvas now in time for xmas
Review: Simon Strange handles all this material highly skilfully and it’s a testament to both his writing and his meticulous research that he manages to cover such a far reaching subject with hardly a false step.
The wait is over. Blank Canvas is out in the wide world today. Order your copy.
Check out the art school/ punk/ post punk/ new wave playlist that accompanies my book tour. Lots of classics: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1twIdEQnpa7gUr3ZlPMIdc
Inochi ‘The Cat’ is one of the tracks on this upcoming compilation, dedicated to the art of the 12″ remix.
Book tour coming up.
Bristol Friendly Records 10.11.22 https://hdfst.uk/E79937
PSN Middlesex University 2.12.22
The Ritzy Cinema, Brixton 3.12.22 (3pm – 5pm)
Southampton October Books 8.12.22
All talks, discussions, Q and A start at 7pm unless mentioned
Pre-orders available: Release December 2022
Anthony Gormley stating how his art school experienced encouraged more than just technique, or the pencil running across paper. It was about philosophical and political change, exploring concepts rather than how to draw a still life of an apple.
It is an argument which I extol in Blank Canvas https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/B/bo186918426.html