Life can be terrifying. In life we get pushed to and fro and sometimes we’re brave enough to push back. It is often said that a person is made up from their surroundings and that in itself can be difficult as we don’t have control over what our brains circle round and round, repeat to itself and put in our dreams. It can be difficult to understand who you are meant to be, when there is so much precedent, expectations, lessons to be learnt and ideas to take on board.
It is often only in hindsight that we can comment on our making, how we were brought up, what we were taught, and what mistakes we have made. It is how I can see my education and see that much of it was based around getting a job to earn a wage at the end of it. I can see now how much it effected me that the Arts didn’t get the same focus as Humanities, Science or Mathematics. I can see how despite my dislike of sales-talk, dislike of everything having a price on it, dislike of houses full of stuff and the consumer attitude of success; despite all this I felt the need to set up a business, to focus on what I could sell, to give my time to producing stuff.
Half of me is wanting to call it a failure. That half would possibly suggest that everyone fails, everyone makes mistakes, and there are plenty of examples of people who have learnt from those to go on better things. It might also say I’ve just not tried hard enough, I haven’t pushed hard enough, I haven’t waited long enough to see results, I haven’t given it a chance. It could be a bigger failure to give up on it now.
The other half of me is seeing this as a point in my life where I learnt a little bit more about myself, became a little braver, and moved towards something I am passionate about rather than trying-to-be-passionate about.
I am talking about Ceilidh & Cwtch.
I tried hard to give myself a brand, I created logos, and pictures that had related to my market research, and attempted to be creative within boundaries. I tried a variety of products to test the waters and nothing floated. I worked on this whilst simultaneously working part-time, and then I gave that up to try harder. I put everything on the line to make the business side work. Understandably it didn’t work.
I say understandably because people can tell, no matter how beautiful your work is, how cheap your prices, or how much you post via Facebook/Twitter/whatever, that something isn’t quite right. I’m not trying to complain here or cry “woe is me”. But the business world isn’t me. I have an amazing business-minded mother-in-law who looked at shop windows, and cafe’s and thought of amazing ideas about how I could sell my work. But inside I was cringing and wanting to hide. I probably could make a little cash if I took a picture of a beach and printed it on canvas. I probably could set up a stall and talk people into buying something little and cute for Great Aunt Mildred when they can’t think of what to get her. But honestly I cry at the thought of making things that become “stuff”.
I want art to mean something, I want it to be beautiful and truthful and inspiring and challenging and something not everybody likes. I want to create the goodness that is around me, and help change the world through a strangers eyes. I want to explore and discover and study and teach through my work in a way you can’t get anywhere else. Unfortunately Ceilidh & Cwtch wasn’t enough to do that.
So I’m starting again, and there will be people rolling their eyes, there will be those that tell me that I need to get a job in order to do what I love, there will be people simply saying it’s just a dream. I understand all of this and yet I think I understand myself a little better through this process. So this is what I will be doing.
All my energy will be focused on the Theology and the Art that I love. I will be making a mess and discussing books and films and people and morality and I will probably not make much money. I will still take commissions if people ask them of me, and I will hopefully still complete the stories that I would love my children to read someday. But I am stepping into life as an artist, probably a bit of a recluse, hopefully a learner, certainly more scared than ever, but starting right back at the beginning to try to be who and what I am.
I am a theologian, God inspires me everyday to ask the tough questions of EVERYBODY: the atheist, the church, the family man, the politician, whoever. I am an artist, and I will be attempting to put what I know and what I question down on paper or canvas or anything else I can get my hands on.
I’m also going to try very hard to connect with people, and I’m going to try to be real rather than pretentious as I realise a lot of this might sound that way. I’m honestly terrified but I will be working on my Pre-Fall Eve with everything I’ve got.
After that maybe I’ll look at the potential of every human life and how God might see our futures. Or maybe I’ll look at the post-Heaven world view that N T Wright speaks about in his books. Or maybe I’ll study the view of death as portrayed by Neil Gaiman and so many others. Or maybe I’ll look at whether C S Lewis‘s heaven is started with purgatory or whether it was just a dream. Or maybe I’ll look at the imagery of Isaiah 61 specifically oak trees and the poor. Or maybe I’ll create models conceiving of future churches. Or maybe I’ll look at the concept of trust and how we can be challenged by it. Or maybe I will honor those Christian Peacemakers who stand in front of bullets rather than shooting them.
There is so much potential and I have never felt so free. I will be praying every single day for God to allow Bear and I to survive throughout this because I know I am lucky to even try, but I have to try, and I have to stop hiding behind the artist I thought I was supposed to sensibly be, and become the artist I always was.
I hope you can support me, and I hope that I can support you. I have no expectation of it and I understand if you walk away, but if you stay on this journey I will share all I have.