Thursday, 27 December 2012

A Time of Celebration and Reflection

Understanding a true meaning of love and peace is the beginning of wisdom and unity with the great spirit of the Universe.

The closing of each year is a time of celebration and reflection. We count our blessings, remember our losses, and look forward to the wondrous mysteries of what is to come. For me, 2012 was a remarkable time. I have seen and taken part in so much for which I am thankful beyond words. The past 12 months have led to my sculptural experience, Love & Peace, taking root and blooming internationally. I feel connected to the world in ways I had only imagined possible before and I know that 2013 will bring even greater surprises to us all.

When I think back upon 2012, I am awed by our progress. When injustice was found and the oppressed were silenced, so many hands and voices reached out in support of righteousness.

I believe there have been precious few times like these when so many opportunities for empowerment have been within the grasp of women and the young. Those courageous individuals who made a stand and pursed those opportunities have provided me with unending inspiration.

Figures such as Malala Yousafzai, whose brave fight for the rights of girls to an education in Pakistan lead to her also fighting for her own life after being struck down by an assassin's bullet. Malala's miraculous and blessed recovery and the way the world rallied to her support forced us all to pay attention to her cause; to discuss the issues she had raised and begin to think about a better, fairer and more just future.

Somaly Mam, grew up in poverty in Cambodia. Her journey from lost innocence became an inspiration to millions. Somaly and her Foundation are tireless in their struggle to highlight the plight of innocent women and children sold in to sex slavery.

Aung San Suu Kyi has stood up against the dictators in Myanmar from the confines of house arrest for most of her political life. In 2010 the rulers of her country finally caved in under the weight of global pressure and she was freed. This year she became part of the new democratic process and took her seat in Myanmar's Parliament. This long and hard fought for change is greatly due to Aung San Suu Kyi's status as a symbol of freedom and her ever presence in global conversations.

The tireless determination of these women and so many others burns brightly in our eyes, bringing us closer to the reality of global peace.

The year also brought with it immense tragedy. From escalating violence in the Middle East to the horrors committed against the truly innocent in Chengping, China and Sandy Hook, Connecticut, our will to persevere was tested again and again. Moments of despair like these leave us wondering how we will be able to recover, how will we ever piece life back together from the shards and scraps. I truly believe that the surest route to healing is through conversation. When we share our hurt, it begins to be released from us--the open ear of a friend is another shoulder to carry even the heaviest burden. Love & Peace has been created to open lines of communication between all people, offering places of solace and community across the globe. I hope so strongly that comfort may be found through my sculptures, and that they are received as tributes to resilience.

As we retire old calendars and prepare for a fresh start, I wish for so much: May our spirits be cleansed and our hearts open to a universe of positive change. May we treat every being with compassion and respect, as all creation possesses within it a spark of the Divine; may our souls link to strengthen us in the face of struggle. Let us make each new day a celebration of our miraculous lives--and let us make 2013 the Year of Love & Peace!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Finding Harmony Between Two Worlds

I have created Love & Peace with a special destiny. I am placing large and beautiful flower sculptures across the world in places where millions of people will see them. The first three have already appeared overnight in London, Shezhen, and New York. To me, these blooms are all part of one whole - one sculpture which spreads its stems and petals across the world. I see my flowerings as listening posts - beacons to encourage people to communicate. This is where social media comes in.

In the new year a special app will make my sculptures visible to anyone with an iPad, Android device, or smart phone. A video camera, placed beside each of the flowers, will make a global gathering of those visiting the sculpture. The thought of bringing so many people together in a shared place of love through the power of art fills me with excitement, and it would not exist without the innovation of social media.

Art has always been the centerpiece of culture. The watchful eye. Art expands imagination and imagination expands knowledge.

Each day brings fantastic new creations born of ingenuity and passion. Our entire history and all of its triumphs is always within our reach. Technology has made human existence a book with infinite pages, a museum whose doors never close. It opens both the generation of artists and those to come to unimaginable opportunity, and I know that they will use it well.

In order to thrive, I believe that art requires collaboration, conversation, and connection. This is how the artist's work transcends to become something far greater- a living force capable of leaving its fingerprints on the world and making it more beautiful. Modern technology provides artists with a direct channel to each of these needs, making creator and viewer equal participants in the experience. The horizon is bright, and I am delighted to see where art will be taken next.

My flowers of Love & Peace will bloom around the world, traveling as bearers of light and harmony. I want to share this gift of my heart and hope that others will be moved to share it, too! And through the wonders of our technology, this dream will soon become real.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Oscar Niemeyer – Ahead of the Curve

I believe Art is where the Divine and The Human meet. It is the embodiment of the human spirit.

Oscar Niemeyer – the wonderful Brazilian architect who has died at the age of 104 – knew this and practiced what he preached with something as near to perfection as any human being can get.

I have been a fan of Niemeyer’s work for half a century. He was not a man known for straight lines and rigid rules. His creations, which adorn cities around the globe are full of life – literally and metaphorically. He believed in the curve. From the harsh materials of concrete and metal he crafted beautiful flowing lines. His buildings lift the spirit whilst still being functional and efficient; they are full of narrative.

In a famous interview Oscar said: "I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire universe, the curved universe of Einstein."

What a wonderful way to look at life and art. Similar thinking lies behind my latest and most ambitious artistic exploration: Love& Peace.  I owe Oscar a debt of gratitude… as do many more artists who have been moved by his work.

Oscar Niemeyer’s passing has focused my thoughts on my own work; my own need to create paintings and sculptures.

Throughout the ages, so many of us have looked to art to express our beliefs and explore the ‘big questions’ in the hope of finding answers.

Art has always told the stories of the human spirit. Beyond all differences, it is a universal truth that art reveals the invisible soul of the artist and makes our purest voice physical – it becomes the manifestation of our true self. We learn more and more about ourselves as we continue to create, which is why art is so much more than a pastime—it is a faithful companion for life! Without art and spirituality, I would not know myself. As I mould and shape my work, it shapes me.

To create is to give praise for all our blessings and try our best to make great use of them. It is an act of giving from the deepest part of one’s being. In my life, creation and spirituality are inseparable sisters. I cannot see one without the other! My soul is in my art, and my art is in my soul. Even the practice of art mirrors that of faith and reflection. It demands attention, endurance, and a particular meditation, leaving the spirit cleansed.

Every day I paint. Every day I pray. These are things that continually ground and center me. They are my joy, my grace, my gratefulness and my heart. I wish to share this joy with all, and from this desire, “Love and Peace” was born. It is a sculpture I give to the world with the hope that it will bring jubilation and serenity to every soul it touches. I feel Oscar would have approved.

Monday, 3 December 2012

The World Is My Home

Art connects us wordlessly to the whole world, and I feel blessed though the gift of my art. This gift has given me the ability to see the world through the eyes of strangers.

It is this understanding I have reached down through the years and miles of travel which has inspired my latest and I believe most important artistic exploration: Love & Peace.

I have watched and taken part in traditions across the globe, from those found in the bustle of bright cities to ancient rituals in quiet villages at the edges of maps. Each experience leaves me so grateful, filling me with inspiration and breathing the magic of life into my paintings and sculptures.

By striving to capture these feelings, scenes, and traditions in my work, I am praising the fantastic diversity of cultures that colour our planet.

Through years and miles of travel, I have discovered that the most important aspects of civilisation--the things that define our human existence--transcend borders. The traditional values we hold in places of honor, like 'family', 'home', 'community', 'peace', and 'love', can be found thriving among all people, from the mountains of Japan to the savannahs of Africa.

I am lucky to have so many unique homes in my history, so many people from varied walks of life to call my family and friends. I live my life with open eyes and an open heart because I wish to celebrate what I have seen and share it with others through my art.

But without each of its strings, we cannot know the beautiful potential for harmony contained within a violin; without all of its notes, a melody will not rise and move our hearts. In my own work, I know that each daub or stroke of paint is a necessary piece of the whole. This, too, is how I see the world: life is a vibrant, shining thing woven out of so many colored threads, dyed by the differences and details that make each culture so captivating.

It is the inherent nature of people--being both so unique and so familiar--that helped bring Love & Peace to life across the globe.

In it, I seek to speak to the precious worth of all in the language of wonder, beyond words. If we are to see a future in which our dreams of love and peace prevail, we must embrace all of the world's shades and hues, for their splendor can only be truly appreciated together, as miraculous parts of the big picture.