by John Siddique
Recently I met with a group of students from an art college to give them a masterclass in what it means to be a working artist. My goal with them was to get them to verbalize their artistic dreams, after all they call themselves young artists, and they go to an art college. Yet I was quite shocked to find that not one of the students had ever had such a discussion, they study techniques of their artforms, look at the business side of the arts, but it seems developing and realizing one's dreams was not something they knew how to engage with.
We met up in a very appropriate setting of an easy going bohemian café in Canterbury to discuss the dream-heart that lies within each of them. I really do enjoy meeting younger artists - they were all approachable and lovely, wearing their youthful zeitgeist proudly, and they were very happy to talk business, but not used to articulating the source of artist practice. For me breaking out the confines of my writing office and seeing what is going on always fills me with renewed energy for my own artform. We each introduced ourselves and talked this and that, then I simply asked each one of them to tell the rest of us about their work, and as if by magic the dreams cut through all the right stuff they were supposed to say. Here was the storytelling, the belief in art, painting, film, photographs, poetry, literature and music as the most meaningful part of the human experience. When each of them spoke a clarity came into them, the essential illuminating them, and in the boho light they seemed even more vibrant and beautiful. It seems to me that the way forward for the arts and for artists is to ask the simplest questions, As Einstein said ‘we’re always trying to build bigger structures and technical solutions, it takes courage to go the other way’.
I'd love to meet up with these young people again, maybe in a year or so, and keep on meeting like that, always with the basic intention of looking at the simplest questions on the table. I really would love to see each one of them shine and become brilliant and live their art, but being the old grizzly writer that I can be, I know that some or maybe most of them may get waylaid by the traps which beset the path of the artist. But I can dream and send a hope out into the universe that they all make it through. Each one of those young artists put forth a spark that evening, now they need to build a fire.
Picture: Steve Jurvetson