As Mr Cummins and Mr Piper were awarded MBE’s in the New Year’s honours for their ceramic field of poppies around the Tower of London, I pondered as to whether it is an honour or not an honour to receive an honour and what the nature of reward is. In a conversation today, I found myself once again discussing the nature of reward for one’s artistic output. What truly drives me to create art, compose music, and write poetry and prose? For me it can certainly not be the financial reward (however a little would certainly be taken with due humility), as if this was the case I would have never created anything after leaving college. Unfortunately, in the capitalist society in which we live, most people seem to unwittingly relate reward to financial gain. The story I always retell, like the famously stuck record, is my father’s total misunderstanding of why I personally wanted to create. I am quite a talented water-colourist and he could never understand why I didn’t spend every week churning out nice landscapes to sell and earn an honest buck. I always replied that I couldn’t see any difference between doing that and stacking shelves in Tesco’s. I would fully admit that this is bit harsh on my father and all those artists who enjoy paining landscapes for a living, but for me that would turn my artist output into a ‘regular job’ not an’ outsider occupation’. (Ironically, can I also add that some of my favourite works are the 19th cent watercolours by Turner and Cotman.)
So for me the reward is the creative process, the journey to an uncertain conclusion that may or may not end in something that is worth looking at, reading or listening to. I once wrote a musical play for some children who found our ‘normal world’ a little difficult to operate in. The head teacher suggested that I should consider trying to get it published. I replied that I didn’t need to; the work was complete by the ecstatic smiles on the children’s faces when the hall filled with applause. No financial reward could ever replace that.
Finally, here is a link to a new single I have composed, played, recorded, produced and just released though an on-line distribution service. Am I going to become a famous recording artist? Very unlikely, but making the music, as always, was great so COME REJOICE!