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Creative Rebellion 

Updated: Jun 13

The worst decision ever made on my behalf was to make me study for ‘A” levels rather than going to art school at 16.

There has always been an urge to rebel within me. I was never one for following the crowd, conforming or identifying myself with others.

What others did was their ‘thing’, what I did was my ‘thing’. I didn’t like boys who ran with the crowd, I have never trusted men who own sports cars or who wear suits with white shirts and plain ties. I cringe at signs of snobbery, bigotry and complainers.  The day I finally entered the art college, in my home town, at the age of 18 I felt I had found my place. Conformists and some family members mocked me at every opportunity, art school lecturers mocked my grammar school ways but I was comfortable in my own skin, having the most varied creative experience of my life and I had the support of clever parents and friends.

I don’t think I realised that I was rebellious. I thought I was just in the wrong environment. I loved school but I paid a price. Maybe everyone feels the same way to different degrees. After all, not many of us fit ‘the mould’.

In her Manifesto of 2011, Vivien Westwood describes her rebellion as an ‘Active Resistance to Propaganda’.

One of her proud claims is that she never watched television apart from Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Michael Jackson and, later,  the destruction  of the twin towers in Manhattan. Vivien believed that television programmes, magazines and movies are all forms of propaganda and that, to be cultured, we should read books, go to the theatre and visit art galleries and museums as acts of resistance!  I am sure she is right but I  use different language. My view is that because I am a creative, I have no time for the mind numbing content of TV, the predictable propaganda of movies and air-headed content of magazines. Vivien started to make those choices when she was in her twenties, I didn’t wake up until my late 30s when I reacted to my divorce by running away to Philadelphia with a much, much younger man. Living abroad for the first time gave me a new perspective on myself. I was holding up the mirror for the first time.

In my 40s, I went back to university,  I gave up my car, gave away my television and bought a boat to live on and got a job in the local art college. 

In my 50s, I quit the art college and moved to Vietnam to become the artist I had always wanted to be. It is said that we learn about ourselves when we travel, when we step out of our known world and into someone else's. Vietnam taught me everything I needed to know about myself and how others perceive me. The truth will set you free.

Now, I am 69 and I am taking on a new challenge by returning to my roots to present myself as an artist that is different from the creative who left thirteen years ago.  Now, I know that unless I am rebelling, unless I am bringing a new perspective, if I am not holding up a mirror to other humans, then I cannot call myself an artist. 

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