“nothing to gain and nothing to lose”

Studio news/blog

The play-pretend queen found a story about a ‘flute player”, and she would like to share it with you….


“A new flute was invented in China.  A Japanese master musician discovered the subtle beauties of its tone and brought it back home, where he gave concerts all around the country.  One evening he played with a community of musicians and music lovers who lived in a certain town.  At the end of the concert, his name was called.  He took out the new flute and played one piece.  When he was finished, there was silence in the room for a long moment.  There the voice of the oldest man was heard from the back of the room:  “Like a god!” 

Sketchbook page. Mixed media

The next day, as this master was packing to leave, the musicians approached him and asked how long it would take a skilled player to learn the new flute.  “Years,” he said.  They asked if he would take a pupil, and he agreed.  After he left, they decided among themselves to send a young man, a brilliantly talented flutist, sensitive to beauty, diligent and trustworthy.  They gave him money for the living expenses and for the master’s tuition, and sent him on his way to the capital, where the master lived.

The student arrived and was accepted by his teacher, who assigned him a single, simple tune.  At first he received systematic instruction, but he easily mastered all the technical problems.  Now he arrived for his daily lesson, sat down, and played his tune – and all the master could say was, “Something lacking.” The student exerted himself in every possible way,  he practiced for endless hours, yet day after day, week after week, all the master said was, “something lacking.” He begged the master to change the tune, but the master said no.  The daily playing , the daily “something lacking” continued for months on end.  The student’s hope of success and fear of failure became ever magnified, and he swung from agitation to despondency.

Finally the frustration became too much for him.  One night he packed his bag and slinked out.  He continued to live in the capital city for some time, longer, until his money ran dry.  He began drinking.  Finally, impoverished, he drifted back to his own part of the country.  Ashamed to show his face to his former colleagues, he found a bat far out in the countryside.  He still possessed his flutes, still played, but found no new inspiration in music.  Passing farmers heard him play and send their children to him for beginners’s lessons.  He lived this way for years.

One morning there was a knock at  his door.  It was the oldest past-master from his town, along with the youngest student.  They told him that tonight they were going to have a concert, and they had all decided it would not take place without him.  With some effort they overcame his feelings of fear and shame, and almost in a trance he picked up a flute and went with them. The concert began.  As he waited behind the stage, no one intruded on his inner silence.  Finally, at the end of the concert, his name was called.  He stepped out the stage in his rags.  He looked down at his hands, and realised that he had chosen the new flute.

Now he realized that he had nothing to gain and nothing to lose.  He sat down and played the same tune he had played so many times for his teacher in the past.  When he finished, there was silence for a long moment.  Then the voice of the oldest man was heard speaking softly from the back of the room:  ” Like a god!” 

quoted from a book I received as a gift recently called: “Free Play” by Stephen Nachmanovitch

Sketchbook page. Mixed media

Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful Easter-weekend! Take care…xxx

Rabbit! where did you hide those eggs, girl? (detail of a work which I will tell you more about later)

‘Bricolage’

Art portfolio- my work

My dear friend, Gavin, recently posted me a letter (via snail mail- oh I love snail mail!)  This “bricolage” of a letter contained a Photostat of a book he recently read:  The power of Limits”  I love the following bits and pieces from this Photostat and would like to share it with you…..

“There is a French word, ‘bricolage’, which means making do with material at hand:  a “bricoleur” is a kind of jack-of-all-trades or handyman who can fix anything.  In popular movies, the power of “bricolage” is symbolized by the resourceful hero who saves the world with a Swiss army knife (sounds like McGyver) and a couple of clever tricks.  The “bricoleur” is an artist of limits.

We see “bricolage” in small children, who will incorporate anything into their play – whatever piece of stuff is lying on the ground, whatever piece of information they picked up at breakfast.  Dreams and myths work in the same way; in dream-time we take whatever happened that day, bits and pieces of material and events, and transform them into the deep symbolism of our own personal mythology.

These magical acts of creation are analogous to pulling a large amount of rabbit from a small amount of hat.   As the greatest known form of magic, organic growth and evolution, the output is greater than the input.  There is a net gain of information, complexity, and richness.  “Bricolage” implies what mathematicians like to call ‘elegance,’ that is, such economy of statement that a single line of thought has a great many implications and outcomes.  In the same vein, Beethoven, writing of his favorite composer, Handel, felt that the measure of music is ‘producing great results from scant means.’  Beethoven crafted his own music, to an amazing extent, of nothing but scales……Antonio Stradivari made some of his most beautiful violins from a pile of broken, waterlogged oars he found on the docks of Venice one day.

In the same way, to a child’s imagination a twig is a man, a bridge, a telescope.  This transmutation through creative vision is the actual, day-to-day realization of alchemy.  In “bricolage”, we take the ordinary materials in our hands ant turn them into new living matter – the ‘green gold’ of the alchemists.  The fulcrum of the transformation is mind at play, having nothing to gain and nothing to lose, working and playing around the limits and resistances of the tools we hold in our hands……

The artistic attitude, which always involves a healthy dose of “bricolage” frees us to see the possibilities before us’ then we can take an ordinary instrument and make it extraordinary.”

The power of limits, Free play pg 86

So lately the ‘muse’ called Bricolage came for a visit, and here is an attempt, still in progress….

contestant nr 1 (in progress)