A garret, where the artist sits. Having spent their last few dollars on red wine and ink and cigarettes and a fair-weather friend. Alone. Abandoned. Without money or friends. Misunderstood. Unloved. Dark and brooding, furrowed and introspective. Wearing a beret…

It’s a familiar image and I’m not really sure where it comes from – Van Gogh and his rejected ear? Dylan Thomas’ untimely death? Jimi Hendrix choking on his vomit? Who needs it? Sounds utterly horrible. Tortured and suffering and then dead. Who wants to be celebrated for their contribution posthumously?
Why is poverty romanticized? Is it the fact that the ideals are kept in tact at all cost – at the cost of comfort and community? The writer who can never allow himself to fall completely in love with someone who nourishes and delights him because it may soften his edge?

I think all those cliches are completely unhelpful. Great art seeks to elevate and inspire action in the public it is in conversation with – transcendent and invigorating. Great art contributes to a long standing, international conversation about human existence -it is a philosophical pursuit and a practical one too. Art can reflect in order to instruct and/or to move us to action. And this is a noble and important part of our personal landscape. it informs who we are and therefore how we regard and interact with the world and it’s people and living things. And I believe art to be enduring because it is everywhere – it is surreptitious and sometimes obvious in our architecture, clothing, haircuts. It leaks into the gaps of our controlled environments. When actors or writers or whomever flippantly remark how they are going to “take a break” from their art – I think about how powerfully untrue it is. Because none of us can escape it. It’s an occupation/preoccupation until death – subliminally absorbing, refining perspective, turning things and ideas over in our heads as though they were coloured squares on a rubiks cube.

And this is not a state of suffering, not at all. This relentless hunger is self fueling as one thing leads to another – one idea gives way to another – something catches hold and then something is made or written or said that contributes to this long chain of ideas. We are communicating with each other – and the conversation stretches across our immediate sphere of friends (and sometimes) family, and sometimes through the internet and across the world – and sometimes into the future and joins a conversation embedded in the past. The conversation continues. Always and forever. And this is deeply comforting – and is why I am an unashamed optimist – as unfashionable as that may be.

I think that if artists were truly pessimistic creatures, nothing would ever be made or said or presented. It takes bravery and hope to make something, write something and add it to a grand scale conversation. Optimism in art also says that somewhere, someone will understand what I am saying, like how or what I am saying, and it will trigger a response or a new art work or a conversation will start as a result.

I believe that art which inspires and engages and challenges and invigorates attracts people to the conversation and a community is born. And out of community incredible things, incredible conversations are created and we become linked through an idea or an experience. For me live performance is one of the most intense examples of community making – as it is transient and exists in a finite space. When I feel saggy, soggy apathy invade my thinking I look to my community of great minds and passionate things to lift me up, lift my chin up so I may continue.