Dalla mano alla mente … (From the hand to the mind).
The trade-guild artists.
Having come to the conclusion that middle-class politics cannot, through it’s servile impotency in honouring capital gain over social necessity, or will not, through its abandonment of the poor, the vulnerable and the under-educated in first preference for its own priorities, improve the ambitions of many people seeking a fairer and more equal distribution of social equality and comforts of mind in our nation … I have decided to try to use my interest in artistic expression to bring social change so desperately needed to the people and the streets of our nation … I am going to inaugurate a collective of retired tradespeople who have in their retirement applied themselves to interpret their physical working lives with their artistic endeavours … I call this collective: “The Trade-Guild Artists” … its motto (in Italian … [I am Italian]: “Dalla mano alla mente”.
Our direction is one from lived experience in working in our respective trade professions for a living and from such a background moving to interpret those lived moments when more than a simple shout or expletive could explain our frustrations or bewilderment of a given incident or drama … We, of the trades, have been on the “front-line” of construction, caring, delivery of services and needs for millennia. Time we take our rightful place to give better interpretation of those seen things that need a skilled hand to deliver to a keen mind the intricacies of movement and colour of life to a blank page or canvas.
Having myself been a long-time admirer of the “social realism” style of painted/sculptured/written art, in a Diego Rivera or Albert Camus style … and others, I envisage a movement intent on delivering strong, determined and resolute impressions and characters to the eyes, ears and minds of those absorbing our intentions … whether those characters be imperfect of body, impure of thought or unchaste of character, they will be honest of attitude and intention … there will be little mistake in that.
Dare one speak words of Anguish,
Under such a tempered sky,
Rather heed to those that break,
Tho’ speak not … but sigh.
A Work of Art … or … The Art of Work?
The motivation for this piece came from four flat-box displays of ladies embraided cotton/lace handkerchiefs. I had purchased them some years before at a garage sale for the pitiful sum of fifty cents each box … one from Nth. Ireland, two from Switzerland and the other from China. Looking at them in their tissued, flat boxes, with the delicate lace-edges folded into diamonds or squares, the brilliant white contrasted with the small embraided flowers and sundry delicate patterns, I thought them too, too beautiful to be used other than as a display … So I made four frames and placed those “works of art” behind glass to be admired rather than soiled. I could imagine the girls or women hard-at-work, worrying over those pieces of cloth … Pieces of work became pieces of art … hence the title of this article!
I am an artisan (carpenter) … my father was an artisan (stone-mason) … the people who made those hankies were artisans, a multitude of people producing, constructing, moulding, knitting and on and on are artisans … coming from the French; “without art”.
Getting back to my father; the stone-mason … in his employment around Adelaide he built many stone walls and such. He built that curving weather wall along the Glenelg foreshore … by the sideshows … (it is gone now ). He told me years later that if I was to go to one particular place along that wall, I could see, shaped within the stone work, a map of Italy, with all the provinces in varying shades of stone, built cunningly into the wall! … indeed; a cunning stunt! … Artisan becomes artist!
So perhaps it could be proposed: Who stationed “artists” and “artisans” in their prospective environs? What are the boundaries of these environs, i.e. when does artisan become artist and vice-versa? Can art be interpreted as the “one-off” piece of deliberate intent? If an artisan uses his craft skills to produce a “one-off” article for decoration or beauty, does that one piece become a work of art? Likewise, if the artist takes a “one-off” work and by reproductive prints, mass-produces many images, does that work then become craft?
Are there then any boundaries to “art”? … does art exist in itself? Or is it an adjunct to physical existence … and not a separate construction of the imagination? … And if it was, then surely every wicked creation, every insidious act could also be construed as a “work of art” alongside sublime desire! … for wasn’t it Alexander the Great who volunteered that “war, is the greatest art”?
Perhaps the boundary between art and the artisan can be judged as; artisan being a measure of one’s craft skills, whereas art ; the measured, skillfull baring of one’s soul! … while there is chance of ridicule in the former, there is every chance of absolute condemnation in the latter … How deeply we choose to express one or the other is perhaps a judgement on one’s personal strength of character.
Can everybody be an artist … or is there art for everybody? I’m certain the answer is; yes, to both … although there may not be a market for everybody’s “art”! There is a risk of mockery in too much display and, I’m sure many of us are aware that the road between flattery and mockery is very short and very straight! But here again, the depth of soul-baring would, I’m sure, lift that sublime piece towering above the dross, such is the power of sincerity and in the end, there being so many avenues of material, visual or musical expression these days, the Andy Warhol claim of 15 minutes of fame may just be around the corner for all of us … The big question is: Would you want it?
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