Tuesday, 10 December 2013

from the “Reason or Revelation” exhibition visitors book…

“Great concepts, beautifully expressed”

“I am impressed and amazed…”

“Your sentiments are relevant today and for every day”

“Beautiful, thoughtful, genuine work”

“Stunning work from a very talented guy. You have really inspired me…"

"A true inspiration for peace”


Saturday, 2 November 2013

A Personal View

by Melanie Sims, writer and photographer

How did you and Stuart meet?

I met Stuart around thirty three years ago through a music festival in Dundee. It was a get together in a Dundee curry house that comes to mind. When he moved back to Glasgow from Aberdeen a couple of years later we got to know each other better though our mutual enthusiasm for music, art and inevitably curries.

What were your first impressions of his art?

I'd not known a 'real' artist until I met Stuart! As I got to know his work I was immediately struck by the depth and consistency of focus in his etchings which impressed me greatly. His art moved me. It was like discovering another world that I had not been aware of. It also opened my eyes to art in general and his work became a way by which I engaged with, and reviewed other work.

What are the elements in Stuart's work that resonate particularly with you?

Stuart's work connects with me in quite a powerful way. I think there is an honesty and directness that is rare. There is also a powerful depth of meaning in the art he produces. Stuart's strong beliefs and his stance on world issues are communicated in many subtle ways. They are revealed and developed further as you spend time with his art.  His technical strength also brings another dimension to the themes he explores – 

some of the minute details in his works are truly mind boggling! 

When did you begin to collaborate? What form did that collaboration take?

We collaborated musically in the late 1980’s when, along with Carol Moore, we formed 'The Moors'. Stuart was a fantastic bass player and writing and performing with him was a privilege and inspiration. In the years since we have continued to collaborate. An example is the collection of sounds that Stuart brought back from Jerusalem that I used to inspire and incorporate into a piece of music called Dreaming of Jerusalem. This in turn inspired a video piece using his photography from Israel. Stuart has presented this multimedia work as part of his artist’s talks in a number of places, including Jerusalem when he returned for a residency last year. 

So his work has influenced your music?

His approach to the creative process is inspirational. He tackles sometimes difficult issues, but always with grace and style, and the results are often breath taking. It has encouraged me not to shy away from challenging myself and to push boundaries.

What resonance does his work continue to have in your life and music?

Stuart has a great quality as a collaborator and his approach is to continue asking questions, seeking and exploring options long after most of us would have given up. His work and approach demonstrates a real zest for art, and life, and I've found that pushes me to strive just a little bit harder to achieve the best I can across my music and the collaborations I engage in.

Interview from the Reason or Revelation solo exhibition catalogue. 
Download the catalogue free.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Inheritance - a time bomb or a gift to share?

At which point in history does the conflict in the Middle East have its beginnings?    

We can go back centuries, millennia even as each successive civilization puts down its roots in the land, laying the foundations for claim and counterclaim for generations to come. As soon as we untangle one part there is another layer of tangle underneath. So how far do we go back?    

In the past I have always looked back to the dawn of recorded history in the Middle East but in fact I actually believe this question to be both unhelpful and inappropriate. Backwards is no way forwards. Over the centuries there has simply accumulated too much wrong and too much right on all sides to make any clear cut moral case for, or against any party being in the right or not. Too many "peoples" now have a cultural or ancestral claim on the land. If making a Divine claim on the land, lack of consideration for others can easily lead us into a "my god is bigger than your god" scenario, which then makes God into an agent of human endeavor.

So what is the way forward? There are two key words that govern my attitudes to, and actions within the Middle East whether at home in Scotland or in Jerusalem. Two words, "compassion" and "coexistence".    

To have compassion for someone is to show concern for putting someone else's well-being on a par with our own. It is a recognition that everyone has the right to basic human dignity and it challenges our willingness to offer it regardless of whether we perceive it as deserved or not.

Although we may have "rights" regarding certain issues, and we may be perfectly within our "rights" to exercise them, the compassionate response is to consider the well-being of others in the light of our "rights". Their well-being and our rights may actually be in conflict with each other. I have seen this in Glasgow and in Belfast where parading/marching through a particularly sensitive area of the city is "our right". But is it actually the right thing to do, if it’s provocative and antagonistic? Is it a compassionate response? Is it not one of arrogance that says “this is my right and you are going to have to live with its consequences”?

Which brings me to the second of my two key words. Coexistence. Recently, on a gable end wall in west Jerusalem I saw a work of graffiti art that said "just forgive". It’s easy to say but in reality much more difficult to do. Fundamentalists, whichever side they are on will have difficulty with this and they will see only the rightness of their own world-view, and in more extreme cases the wrongness of everyone else's. In reality the alternative to forgiveness does not even bear thinking about. It can only lead to bitterness, reprisal (tit for tat which adds yet more layers), suspicion, fear and inevitably to an escalation of conflict.

Although it may not be easy or even desirable to forget (lest we repeat our past mistakes), it is possible to forgive. Within a conflict, this can begin to happen when at least one of the sides realises it can, and must, let go of exclusive claims on mistreatment, persecution and suffering. Having the courage to recognise that others have suffered too, is the start of putting the well-being of such others on a level with our own. I have recently been encouraged whilst talking with people on both sides of this conflict and hearing an increasing number of ordinary Israelis and Palestinian/Israeli Arabs speak of one land for all people. Some even say they don’t care what it’s called, just so long as they can live here, at home, in peace and with dignity.           

Stuart Duffin, Jerusalem/Glasgow 2013


Saturday, 2 March 2013

Mada Mekudash (Heb.) = Sacred Science

Essentially, these new oils were made in a single three week explosion of creativity over Christmas. It was a prolonged moment of inspiration, the catalyst of which was a single condensed moment of sheer panic when I realised that I had absolutely no oil paintings left to show prospective clients in the New Year!

The etchings are a different matter altogether, two of which came about after I was encouraged to look again at older plates from the late 90’s that had never really be satisfactorily completed (now called Dreaming of Jerusalem and Babylon Recall). Most of the rather minimal images were erased from the plates with a heavy duty power grinder and then re-polished leaving traces of things to re work (the palimpsest idea again…see the post on November 2011 below)

The third etching, the one titled Mada Mekudash is one that I started while in Jerusalem last summer and although I have been working on them all consistently since then, they have taken a long time to finish. I think it was worth it. I hope you do too.

And I’ll be back in Jerusalem working on new mezzotints at Jerusalem Print Workshop in June.