John Smith

John Smith
The Artist

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Good Manners Save Lives

The Festive Season is upon us once more, and this means that open warfare will break out on our roads with as many lives lost as in a war zone. It is proabably safer in Iraq.

Somehow the authorities and the experts just do not seem to be able to get a handle on it. Why?

It is true that alcohol kills, as does speed and cell-phones - although our yuppie ladies and men do not want to hear this. Stats are rare but I'm convinced that the use of cell phones while driving kills as many people as the other two.
I honestly believe that the biggest killer of all is our national lack of good old fashioned manners and tolerance.
We become Kamikaze pilots when behind the wheel and believe when buying a car that we also buy sole right to the roads. Everyone must get out of our way or else. We give way to no-one and traffic signs and signals are only there for others.

I travelled in England last year from the midlands to Lands End  and back and saw only one accident and that was not a fatal one. We travelled across Switzerland, parts of Germany and Austria and didn't see any accidents at all. Maybe a coincidance, but what we did find was that in the UK and in the European countries just mentioned, the road manners were superb. It didn't matter if the driver was behind the wheel of a Bentley, a Maserati or a Smart car, their manners were impeccable, and particularly where pedestrians were concerned. Even the bus drivers were courteous and gave way. How unlike here, where it seems their only purpose in life is to run you off the road or run you down.The public are little different.
Are we a nation of boorish pigs?

I am now convinced that we will never stem the death toll on our roads till our people come to embrace good manners and tolerance. With good manners all the rest will fall into place; but then Good manners aren't COOL!  Is being dead?

What will the death toll be by the beggining of January in spite of the police no-tolerance edict?
I dread to guess.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Am I strange or peculiar?

I sometimes  wonder if we have progressed at all since the days of the Roman gladiators, and feeding Christians to the lions? Why is it when I see people cheering at bullfights  I get this huge feeling of elation when the bull turns the tables on the Matador and does to him what he is trying to do to the hapless bull?
Why do I not see the Matador as a brave gladiator but a cruel heartless sadistical fool and bully?

If we have to eat meat then dispatch the animal in the most humane way possible. Why do humans with supposedly more than the minimum of required brain capacity have to torture the beasts? I feel nothing for the hunter when the tables are turned and they are eaten or maimed.

I was at a farm once when my well meaning host felt he was doing me a huge favour by setting up a hunting party, and was quite astounded when I declined his offer. He then declared that I should prove that I am a man by shooting a buck. I wasn't impressed by his rather skewed reasoning and said I did not feel it necessary to prove my manhood by blowing-away a defenceless beast with a high-powered rifle with telescopic sights. If he or his friends felt it necessary  to prove 'their manhood' in some such way, then they should go hunt a lion armed with a knife or spear. That would even the odds and raise the claim for their braveness and manhood?
As an artist I explained,  "I am a creator and not a destroyer!" I would leave the destroying  to them if they considered that important and was the only way they could manage their blood-lust.
I was considered quite odd and possibly not really a man by them. Few that know me would agree with that sentiment, and I do understand that at times it is necessary to kill when there is danger, and sadly when it is necessary to cull animals for one reason or another, but I cannot see any manliness in killing animals unnecessarily, or worse still torturing them such as in bullfighting and then calling it 'sport'.   I shouldn't imagine the animals consider it sport at all.
                                                                                                                                                               We do live in a strange world where science is forging ahead leaps and bounds and where we are getting ever closer to the discovering the very essence of  our being, and the very fabric of life, while other areas of our society remain firmly in the dark ages.
Am I alone in seeing things this way?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Crystal Ball!

Many Artists I have spoken to just lately seem to be a little concerned and depressed at the state of the market. Perhaps this would be a good subject for my November 'Thoughts from my Studio' article? That is   " What does 2011 have in store for us?" Any of you want to guess?
I believe that things are going to be better next year than has been the case these last two years. Why? Well I believe that artists have been waiting for others to take the lead and make things better. Bad idea!. Now the wiser ones realise that no-one is going to make things better, only they. Some I have spoken to are now seriously looking at alternative ways of marketing, promoting, advertising etc. The Social Media is the one that beckons. Are galleries also looking at the possibilities that technology offers? I hope so! I'm sure they are.
This is what makes me hopeful and to believe that things will be better - people have come to realise that the only way is to 'grasp the nettle' and make things better for themselves rather than entrusting their future to fate.
I would like to hear how others feel about the future of the Arts Industry, starting from January next year?
Can we make things happen? Are we going to stick our heads in the sand as so many prefer to do? I'd like to know what others in the Arts Community believe.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Our Very Narrow and Immature TV and Radio Stations

I find it very strange that on our DSTV service we have approximately 200 stations and not one deals with the visual arts other than a very occasional reference. SABC services are no better.
An Arts talk-show on one of our many radio stations would be warmly and enthusiastically received by a large and programme-starved Arts community, but it is like listening to SETI. Silence with the odd crackle.
I have written to these stations on this matter a number of times and not even static in response.
Almost as strange is Music content our stations. One has to wonder if the powers that be believe that all they need to cater for is those with a mental age of below 15?
Do they ever wonder about how many 15 year old's pay the rather bloated TV license fees and horrific DSTV monthly payments?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Spring Morning

This is a champagne Sunday morning. Perfect in every way, and one of those rare days that sends any thoughts of moving away from Durban temporarily to the back of one's mind.

Some time back I wrote an article in my "Thoughts from my Studio" series asking if South Africans at large took their artists seriously? After a recent questionnaire and some questions, as well as some information was passed to me I am now wondering if we as a nation take our heritage, treasures and art seriously. Works of art it appears, are no longer, (or at least very seldom) being bequeathed to the country, and collections are being moved off-shore as a whole, or being broken up and moved overseas to be auctioned there. No wonder auction houses in London are doing so well dealing in SA Art, especially our most treasured works. Why would this be? Is it avarice by those who would have previously bequeathed, and that people now want cash and are no longer compelled to leave valued treasures to this country and its peoples for posterity. Or is it political, or that those that have collected these wonderful and prized collections no longer have any faith in a stable future here? Even though nature blesses us so in every way, we must so often these days 'cry the beloved country'
Till later....