What does this space know?

Some thoughts from Rupert Meese

Archive for June, 2009

Chillies and Grapes

Posted by Rupert Meese on June 29, 2009

Chillies and Grapes

I’ve just completed the second in the series of online books about the transformations that take place in symbolic modelling.  In this one there’s no need to enter your e-mail address half way through as there was in the first.  I was never too keen on that coercion.  The idea was OK, to have people sign up to the newsletter in order to read to the end of the book.   Mostly those people who did are the ones who got to hear about the second book, so that was good.  One has to have someone to tell these things to, so I’m grateful to everyone who did sign up for the newsletter.  The problem was it just felt a bit… well, mean somehow.  So this time no coercion, but if you find yourself curious to know more then signing up for the newsletter could be the answer (click here –> http://www.zenlistening.com)

In Chillies and Grapes I was working with a client who got deflated very easily.  There are all sorts of fascinating observations to be made about the nature of his symbolism and the source and course of the transformation that he created.  It’s certainly on my list of things to do to write a commentary on the book and how the symbolic modelling progressed.  As it is, please enjoy the story ‘in the raw’, an uplifting account of how one man, one tender human being, found new vitality.

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Anyone know how to shave?

Posted by Rupert Meese on June 23, 2009

I’m not too worried about what to wear (perhaps I should be more), what  to take up to the plinth or what to do when I’m up there, but I could do with learning how to shave.  What is everyone else doing when they get a nice smooth even shave on neck and under the chin.  For a good 30 years I must have been doing something wrong because I always end up with a bunch of whiskers in unkempt patches on either side of my neck that lie flat and simply will not be shaved away.  It reminds me of Eddy Izzard’s sketch about the Ho-du-du lawn mower – the old fashioned kind you push along while it goes ‘Ho-du-du, Ho-du-du” and the grass just says “Oh for god’s sake” and lies flat for a bit. It even sounds like that when I shave.

I fear if I go up on the plinth like that I’m going to look like a hobo.  Mind you, that implies I look like a hobo the rest of my days. Must be time to do something about it.  So if anyone out there knows how to shave, please leave a comment and let me know!

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What will you do?

Posted by Rupert Meese on June 16, 2009

My e-mail arrived and I’m down, due to stand on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square from 4 ’till 5pm on Monday July 6th.  I discover later that this is the first day of Antony Gormley’s piece.

One and Other

What will you do on the Plinth?

This is a question which worries me.  “What will you do?”!  Perhaps I’ve missed the point.

Antony Gormley first came into my awareness through the British comedy ‘Purely Belter’.  The Angel of the North figured prominently and I got that ‘Wow’ feeling I’m sure many people got when first seeing that sculpture.  Particularly when the boys in the film sat right up close to the angel’s feet:  ‘You can’t really do that, though, can you?”,  “I mean it’s just a film thing right?”.  “No, you can go right up to it” (My mum).  “Really, then I want to see that”.

It took a few years before I made it.  I had spent the weekend walking in the hills in the lake district.  Really connecting with my physical nature and that of the world:  Long, steep climb.  Another step, can I do another step? “yes”.  Painful, tired.  What kind of pain?  What exactly hurts?  Ah, actually I quite like that feeling – the feeling of a body doing what it’s designed to do.  Can I survive here? “Yes, all day, easily”, good.  On the top now, cold, bitter wind, rain.  Can I survive here?  “Only for a few of hours”, that’ll be fine.  I’ll walk quicker.  Back down into the valley now, shelter, warmth.  Stand still, arms out, feeling the air move around me, sun warming, wind cool as it drys.

Later I head for the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.  I wanted to see this country, I’d got to forty something without having seen a great deal and I wanted to fill in the gaps.  I knew Lindisfarne would be a magical place.  I also knew I would pass the Angel of the North traveling up the A1.

I looked out for it on the way and, of course, simply would not drive past without stopping.  When the sculpture came into view it took a good degree of will power to keep enough attention on the road to be safe.  I followed the slip road around, parked close and walked up, filled with awe and wonder.  There I stood at the feet of the Angel of the North and wept.

Angel of the North

It wasn’t just the expanse of the wings, the maleness of the construction or the enormous sense of protective care that flows from the massive structure that moved me, it was the poise.  The way in which the leaning forward was held balanced in those calf muscles. The angle of the foot to the leg at the ankle is perfect in a way that defies expression.  The whole thing is simply beautiful and I am in awe.

When I heard about Antony Gormley’s plans for the 4th plinth: to take ordinary folk and put them there, on the plinth in Trafalgar Square, 2,400 people, an hour each, it made perfect sense.  A beautiful celebration of the perfection and beauty in what is ordinary and all around us.  In my profession as a symbolic modeller, it is what I see over and over again.  Amazing people dealing in amazing ways with life as they’ve found it.  Sometimes you have to look carefully to see it clearly, but it is there in everyone.

And how hard, to be there on the plinth!  To stand there in the public gaze for an hour and simply be, no perfection or ideal, but simply as a flawed human being.  Tough, sure, but I couldn’t think of anything better.  Like my daughter said “who wouldn’t want to.  Can you sign me up?”

So, now I’m a little unnerved. I’d considered myself to be a foot soldier in the service of making art of the ordinary.  Part of a very British Wabi-Sabi.  However, it seems that the idea that on the plinth  we could “do whatever we wanted so long as it is legal” has taken hold and transformed into the idea that we, “the plinthers”, should do something.  Frankly I think it’s a little bit crass, the fourth plinth as a stage.  Sculpture as a performance.  For one thing a performance is a way of keeping separate, keeping a distance, where as, to me, sculpture is about intimacy, about being able to take the time to notice nuance.  The force of a performance radiating outwards runs counter to the more organic ebb and flow of the presence of a sculpture and the attention of it’s observers.

I don’t have much choice in any case, I have no talent worthy of performing, and am tremendously admiring of those that do.

So, what do I intend to do?  Well I’m not sure how to say this other than to be there in the moment, open to the experience.  Perhaps it will be like being an animal in a zoo, perhaps something much more wondrous.  I imagine myself silent.  This seems fitting for a sculpture and it reminds me of the sense of connectedness and energy in Biodanza – the Brazilian dance therapy in which silence acts as a conduit for a different kind of connection with people.

And what will this actually mean?  I can’t really know the answer to that until it’s done.  Will people jeer?  Demand that I do something?  I hope not, but quite possibly?  How will I react?  I don’t know, by being frightened perhaps, uncomfortable almost certainly.  I’m generally discomforted by attention and I’m quite likely to look like a Susan Boyle with no voice.  I know attention doesn’t always bring out the best in me, so perhaps there’s danger there.

One time I was standing in the cockpit of my tiny and ancient West Wight Potter, tiller in hand, feeling boat interplay with the current through the rudder, motor strumming steadily.  I’d been like this, on the river, for three days and was starting to feel connected.  Along the bank a girl came running and skipping, she must have been five or six years old.  She saw me in my little boat coming up the river and stopped dead in her tracks, staring open mouthed.  I waved.  “I love you” she yelled back at the top of her voice.  It touched my heart.  How incredibly sweet.  Then as I motored on she ran along the bank.  “I love you”,”I love you” she yelled after me.  I waved again and then, to my shame, out of embarrassment, I pretended not to hear her as she ran on and on still calling out to me, getting further and further behind.  “The noise of the engine you know”.  If I was a better man I know I would have found a response that added to the beauty of the world for that girl in that situation.

So, for being there on the plinth, open to the moment and as authentic as I’m able. Will it be a success?  Will anyone know or care? Will it make good art?  Good entertainment?  I have no idea, but I guess the chance to smile and wave at an open mouthed toddler from a twelve foot plinth is enough for me.

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A new blog

Posted by Rupert Meese on June 16, 2009

MacbookThe time has come for a new blog that draws together thoughts on symbolic modelling, clean space and clean language along with NLP, travelling, graphic design, the science of subjective experience, computers, graphic design and the internet.  That and I’ve been chosen for a place on the 4th plinth.

Some rather important links to get things going:

Zenlistening is all about Symbolic Modelling.

The Butterflytent is a great way for individual service providers and small groups to create and maintain a website.

Lightmind is a showcase for my graphic and web design.

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