What an inspirational talk this was!
This is Gary Powell:
"If I see you with your phone out, I will stop talking and point you out. If I see you not listening I will stop and point you out. If I see you yawning I will stop my talk and point you out."
He went on to say that whilst we are doing something else in his talk we might miss out really important views. What a way to get out attention first thing in the morning. I was all ears...out of fear!
Gary studied graphic design and is an enthusiast of printmaking, lithographs and etching. He was told early on that he wouldn't get anywhere with what he was drawing. To this he stated "Don't please your tutors-they wont be around forever. Please yourself. Not all the advice given to you is relevant, learn to choose."
Learn your Morals. Powell has turned down lucrative work from a well known tobacco company as his Uncle died from smoking related illness.
Ideology-the science of ideas, their origin etc. Where do ideas come from? "Wake up and make that idea. Don't wait for others to give you inspirational words." The original meaning of inspiration was receiving the breath of infinity. We are all breathing. Gary said that we don't wait to breathe, we just do it, as a basic function, drawing air into the lungs. Make art in this way also.
On an MA we need to see different perspectives, we are all individuals. Gary asked the question....
What is important to you? Answer this, it will shape your ideology. What are you passionate about? Immerse yourself.
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt.
Gary went on to say that the things that may shape our attitudes and image making, don't always happen in the studio. Art is noticing things, art is observation. We are born into our legacy, our skin colour, our gender. Art can happen at any time in any place, keep your eyes open.
"Yawning" Gary lunged forward screaming at a girl in front of me. Yikes!
One of Gary's prints.
Powell stated the importance of research, and discovering facts. What are we curious about? One of the themes that interests Gary is Faith. He told us about his Grandmother who was afraid of flying in a plane, she would ask how they stay up in the sky. At the same time she had faith in the Bible and a belief in God. Gary asked us if all angels are white, challenging us on our own preconceived ideas. He asked us to imagine a deep sea diver, hooked up to something above, if your airway is blocked then you are in trouble.
What are you hooked up to?
He asked does God wear lambswool? God likes lambs.
I like Gary's sense of humour, he will make a funny observation then go on to say something quite profound, he said life events can put into focus or can cloud our beliefs, by making a visual response as an artist can be a cathartic experience. He said that we don't own our breath, we simply have to give it up.
A Powell print
Illustration is about ideas, it's about making choices, sometimes they work out and sometimes they don't. When does that observation become obsession? Have a content to your work, but also have an aesthetic.
Gary went on to explain how his interests shape his work. The notion of black, a skin colour, and the way black people are persecuted, he told us he is the son of slaves. He looked at slave logs from ships and responded with prints. His research informed the content of his practice.
"He who controls history controls the future." Gary explained if you teach a willingness to learn, you can create a future. This links in with his charity work with disadvantaged kids in London. As an activity he would ask them what they wanted to be. To enable them to see their personal aspirations, the child would stand in front of a projector as Gary searched for images of their dreams to project behind them. He would instruct them to work towards these dreams and to never underestimate their ability or potential.
Look out the window, the view is the same for all of us, but our eyes see the view from a different perspective. What is our personal view on the world and where do we stand, how do we get this across in our work? We need to find out what is important to your work, what concerns you.
We were almost at the end of the talk when Gary projected onto the screen...
"You will never be as good as me.....you will be so much better."
He told us that we need to feel stronger about issues so it will provoke us to make work. Gary said "I've been fortunate but I also made my own luck." He went on to say that sometimes, the loudest voice isn't the one to follow. Extrovert personas can be a diversion and a coping mechanism. The art business is about making a fool of yourself and taking a risk, be yourself, don't worry, keep making art and most importantly Gary said....
"Believe in yourself."