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Vocation and Courage

Picasso once said: “One must have the courage of one’s vocation and the courage to make a living from one’s vocation” [1]

While this sounds like great advice, how do we really know what our vocation is?

How can we be true to ourselves and really know what it is that we are meant to do?

As we try to find our purpose, the landscape is obscured by the set of rules handed down.

According to Parker J. Palmer, “There may be moments in life when we are so unformed that we need to use values like an exoskeleton to keep us from collapsing.” [2]

We need this exoskeleton,in the same way that our sculptures do when they are still in the wax.

Without it, they too would collapse on the way to the foundry.

Still, this foundation of standards with which we build our identity often means living someone else’s life and can cause us great damage.

Often we believe that listening to the words of wisdom from the outside world will lead us toward our true selves.

Those great forces of virtue will save us from our selves. But will they really?

“We listen for guidance everywhere except from within”. [3]

Wouldn’t it be better to listen to our inner voice?

Why must one’s vocation be a goal to be pursued?

That would be, in Palmer’s words: ‘violence in the name of vision’.

Following a checklist provided by society will never ring true and sincere.  We should not live by the standards that are imposed on us but by the standards that we cannot help but live by.

The calling from our inner world, the act of trusting and the courage to embrace, for better or for worse, who we really are, our identity.  Only this can lead us to our deepest and truest vocation.

After all, is it not our own life that we must live?

Are we that inadequate at living our own lives?

Where is the vortex between who we are and who we should be?

So we spend half our lives masking ourselves with the faces of others, building an acceptable exoskeleton, only to find that we were in there all along.

All we had to do was be confident in our strengths and in our weaknesses and be proud of it all, the whole package.

Authentic vocation is at the core of our inner self. It isn’t something to achieve but a gift that we always had. As Palmer puts it:

“Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to become something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be.” [4]

By Boky & Blake

  2. ibid
  3. ibid
  4. ibid

Art is a virus

According to Tolstoy, art was to be judged by its level of contagion; essentially art is a virus.

He said: “A real work of art destroys, in the consciousness of the receiver, the separation between himself and the artist.” [1]

The distance between our worlds is erased because that story; the one that is silently being told, is ‘our’ story.

This is the magic of art; when there is nothing between the heart of the viewer and the heart of the artist.

Tolstoy advocated that art was a human condition, a vehicle of empathy and communication, a “means of intercourse between man and man”. [2]

He said that art was based upon the idea that the observer can experience the same emotions as the artist (or even other viewers).

He termed this “infectiousness”.

If the artist could infect the viewer with the same emotions then it was to be defined as art.

He saw it as “a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.”[3]

Tolstoy argued that there were three conditions necessary; individuality, clearness and sincerity.

While uniqueness and clarity are important, it is the sincerity of the artist’s emotion that carries the most weight.

We recognize truthfulness.

Art is, furthermore, timeless, eternal.

Art is immortal.

Bridging together people, eras, cultures and lifetimes. [4]

Infectiousness creates these connections, allowing us to fall in love with a work of art created hundreds of years ago because we recognize the expressed emotion as if it had been our own to begin with!

This level of contagion is what we, as artists, strive for.

Reaching for your hearts with ours.

As Blake often says about his Spirit collection: “The tangible human form slowly disappears, making room for the ephemeral, the spiritual, and if I have succeeded as a sculptor, I will disappear as well, because it’s not about me, it is about you, the observer.”

By Boky & Blake

  2. ibid
  3. ibid
  4. ibid

Multi Dimensional Dreaming

I’ve just heard a wonderfully inspiring TedTalk by Dan Pallotta in which he discusses our dreams and how we should “dare to dream” in more than one dimension. [1]

Needless to say, just that idea in itself is enough to send a sculptor running back to the studio!

He talks about the different dimensions such as scientific and technological progress, and about how far we’ve come.

We dream, make plans, strive and build our dreams while completely ignoring the other areas in our lives.

While shinning the spotlight on one dimension, we obscure the suffering that can come about from ignoring others.

It seems we have forgotten to look after ourselves, after our own dreams and after the dreams of those we love.

Do we dream the same dreams?

Will I share yours and will you share mine?

Somehow we are so obsessed with our goals that we sacrifice the emotional and human dimensions of our lives.

A ten year plan is a brilliant idea, in the words of Leonard Berstein: “Two things are necessary for great achievement: a plan and not quite enough time”[2] but not at the expense of our lives.

Emotional distance from each other and from ourselves, predisposes us to an endless abyss of loneliness that can be avoided.

It seems that in our rush to reach the end of the rainbow that we have labeled ‘our dream’, we completely pass each other by, like ships in the night.

We seem to just look through each other at times and in our blind race to the finish line we miss out on what is really important.

And why?

Because our biggest fear is “…that we will be denied the opportunity to fulfill our true potential, that we are born to dream and we might die without ever having the chance.” [3]

Our inner world and its landscape is a dimension that deserves the same attention and the same fervor as the rest of our goals and our rainbow will never make us happy if we cannot consider the other dimensions.

We all deserve a chance to build the happy dreams we’ve dared to dream, because it isn’t reserved for just the few.

It’s for anyone who has ever had a broken dream.

It’s for anyone who has the courage to accept that fear is human and that loving without limits can be the catalyst to transcending into a state of multi dimensional dreaming.

Compassion and humanity, humility and the courage to cry together, to love each other with all our hearts and be each other’s shelter from that deep existential fear because AMOR VINCIT OMNIA  (love conquers all).

In the end, it boils down to those concepts that we hold so close to our hearts: awareness, mindfulness and inner beauty.

By Boky & Blake

Passion, love and life

The idea that we die every night; that the person we were yesterday is gone, dead, is unsettling.

This idea, should somehow make us feel better about our mortality and the inevitable end to our glory days, since we always wake up again; a new and vibrant person ready for new adventures in this amazingly beautiful world! (Most days, anyway!)

Rilke suggested we befriend our mortality.

“I am not saying that we should love death, but rather that we should love life so generously, without picking and choosing, that we automatically include it (life’s other half) in our love.” [1]

I’m not so sure it works though!

Why can we not live in a state of delusive immortality?

Why should it even matter and why should we care?

In the end, the world, with all its museums, its art and all our friends and family, won’t exist once we are gone.

At least for us it won’t.

So why must we require special treatment?

As if we, as artists, have some god given right to leave something behind?

Like a messiah of sorts, we believe it to be our place to not go in silence.

As a result, we obsessively spend our days dreaming up ways of creating things, testing and failing, then trying again, until finally we are pleased with the result.

We deem it worthy of our legacy (the one we hope to leave behind when we finally check out!) and go to bronze!

At this point we drive the van, like maniacs (tempting fate and our mortality!), either all the way to our foundry in Bologna, or through the little, twisted roads to the foundry at Bar sur Loup.

What would be if we instead befriended our finitude, as Rilke suggested?

Would we live happier lives?

Would this bring us an awareness that results in savouring every moment?

Could we redeem ourselves? And if so, to what avail?

Would it make it a difference?

Would it matter?

We cannot prove the simultaneity of anything in reality and the causality of things is always completely relative.

The fact is that the past lives there, in the past, and stays there, while tomorrow’s impending sentence, that irremediable enigma is waiting, just there.

If we took a walk in the gardens with Rilke, we might understand what Elizabeth Alexander did after the loss of her beloved husband: “Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss.” [2]

Without love there is no loss.

I suppose it is true that tragedy begins and ends with love.

Alexander’s meditation on love reflects our story and I hope that of many others: “Each of us made it possible for the other. We got something done. Each believed in the other unsurpassingly.” [3]

Passion and love are life.

By Boky & Blake

  2. ibid
  3. ibid

The Muses must be crazy

From time to time, I find myself thinking that the Muses must be crazy!

How do certain works of contemporary art make it into museum collections?

Am I missing something? Perhaps I am.

It is at times like this when I delve into the academic world seeking to understand that missing link.

In Ancient Greece, ‘Mouseions’ were temples built for the Muses, who were obviously the goddesses or divinities of the arts and sciences.

J.V. Maranto explains that: “Supplicants asked the muses to keep watch over academics and grant ingenuity to those they deemed worthy.

The temples were filled with offerings of sculptures, mosaics, complex scientific apparatuses, poetic and literary inscriptions, and any other tribute that would demonstrate a mortal’s worthiness for divine inspiration.” [1]

This is where the word museum comes from.

Are we worthy of divine inspiration?

Would Ennigaldi-Nanna, the Mesopotamian Princess who curated the first museum in 530 BC, have considered us worthy of her collection?

Human nature makes it so that we like that which we recognize or understand.

This is where the scholars come in and make all the difference.

Sometimes we just don’t get it.

As we stand in front of a 6 foot steel cube, for example, we might have a hard time regarding it as a significant work of art because well, it’s a cube!

We’ve seen one before and it really doesn’t display any virtuosity or hidden philosophical insight or message, or does it?

It isn’t remarkable, or is it?

It isn’t until we notice its title Die (Tony Smith, 1968) that we begin to make associations such as one of a pair of dice or even our own mortality. (Not that playing dice could kill anyone!)

Smith remarked, “Six feet has a suggestion of being cooked. Six foot box. Six foot under.” [2]

The point is that we can allow our minds to wander and reach for ideas.

There is that interplay between title and object, where nothing is absolute.

It becomes an experience as the monumental cube occupies the space before us and alludes to so more than the eye can see.

The Muses grant ingenuity to us mere mortals so that we might inspire deeper appreciation and understanding.

Without art and without scholars the world would be reduced to a whirling vortex of emptiness, museums would be vacant and lifeless and the Muses then, really would go crazy!

By Boky & Blake


Everybody Hurts

Is art an equalizer for human suffering? In the words of REM’s Michael Stipe “Everybody hurts” not only artists.

The difference is that we can use the hurt to connect to the outer world.

How many of you didn’t instantly love that song? And why?

Because at one point in our lives, we have been there, we can relate so much that it becomes our story.

Often inspiration comes from a dark place, a dark and beautiful place where the silence of a million voices tells a story to those who have been there before.

I suppose that is the unifying factor, the fact of having been there at some point in order to understand, in order to hear.

While the pessimist uses his negative outlook to remain motionless and do nothing because after all, things are the way they are; the optimist does the same because he believes that everything will be alright purely due to his belief that it will be.

The artist takes the tears and rather than whine endlessly in some melodramatic stupor, allows them to flow, in whatever the medium may be, like silence from the stone.

This silence is then translated by who sees and understands.

Works of art are like encrypted messages to the world outside our secret garden.

They tell many stories of laughter and of despair and despondency.

What is important is the attempt at communicating.

We create to communicate, to heal, to find comfort in your eyes.

Perhaps we seek other things, like acceptance, yet what matters, is the act of taking action, rather than hiding behind one dogma or another, and using this to remain paralyzed.

Our lives, our stories, triggered by life itself can leave something behind.

Like a philosopher’s written words, a painting, a sculpture, a photograph, a song or a poem; all these things can help us heal, not only in the moment, but for epochs to come.

Why else do we still get lost deciphering Rodin and Camille Claudel’s world and work?

Because it is real, because it is life and they had the courage to create despite the pain.

By Boky & Blake

Solitude and Stillness

Solitude is essential to creation, to exalting the genius; to digging deep within ourselves and finding the light that guides our work.

Being alone with our thoughts is essential, yet aloneness and loneliness are two completely different beasts.

Loneliness can kill, while aloneness leads to the opposite.

Often society has a difficult time with the idea that being alone is not always a bad thing.

The pre-conceived notion is that if one is alone, one must be sad and that simply isn’t true!

Meditation, for example, leads us to that place of peace, of stillness where ideas can proliferate, and result in an explosion of possibilities.

Creating that uncontrollable urge to get to the studio and down to work, and here again, words are not required, as we know, in our silence, what to do.

As with love, creating is like a dance filled with mystery and wonder.

This is our world.

Of course there are other personality types who require more contact, and thrive on social networks, in order to replenish their energy.

While it is hard for us to understand this fully, we don’t condemn it.

To each their own.

People are often hostile or afraid of anything that is out of their comfort zone.

It’s the old paradigm of confusion leading to fear leading to contempt.

There is so much insecurity in our society today. We are fragile beings.

Often we simply cannot bear to spend a moment alone with ourselves, with our thoughts, in our world.

Could it be that we suffer from low self-esteem and therefore cannot face to be alone?

Why must we let our ghosts win?

Perhaps if we befriended them we might overcome some of our suffering.

Is it that our society fears solitude and projects those fears onto others?

Solitude is not a mere eccentricity to be criticised and chastised; it is an art form.

The introvert in his struggle to create is better versed in stillness.

Sometimes I wonder though, if he isn’t simply more jaded, knowing full well that the extrovert’s obsessive accumulation of social networking isn’t really a viable insurance policy at all.

Is this ‘fear’ speaking?

Ultimately, we could not be the artists that we are if we limited our existence to the voices that carry and nurture fear, because solitude, silence and stillness carry much deeper meaning and for this we are eternally grateful.

By Boky & Blake

Make the Unconscious Conscious

We had an interesting conversation yesterday regarding our blogs and writing and I couldn’t help but think of Virginia Woolf and her ideas on journaling as being “a way to ‘loosen one’s ligaments’ for formal writing.”

In her view journaling “grants us unfiltered access to the rough gems of our own minds, ordinarily dismissed by the self-censorship of ‘formal’ writing. “ [1]

Maria Popova says journaling teaches us “how to be present with our own selves, bear witness to our experience, and fully inhabit our inner selves.”

In her piece on the creative benefits of keeping a diary she mentions Anaïs Nin, who was a fervent diarist.

Nin believed that the practice of writing a journal was a doorway to writing that comes alive; fervent, spontaneous and natural writing.

This comes about through the freedom of writing about those things that genuinely interest us in that moment.

Thanks to the fact that the self-editor, who is normally there during any formal writing sessions, has been temporarily put on mute, countless images can grab us and find place on that page.

The possibility of following one’s mood, the use of free association or simply impulsively following an idea into the rabbit hole can give rise to an altogether unique and original style of writing that jumps off the page and into our lives.

Journaling was Nin’s “way of learning to translate the inner into the outer, the subjective into the universal” [2]

I suppose what prompted this blog was the idea that our work is exactly about that.

Through the sculpture we seek to ‘translate the inner into the outer’, because as it turns out, the subjective isn’t the enemy.

We are the subjective and it matters a great deal, especially these days where self-esteem seems to be under siege by society.

The Spirit collection is about understanding our inner worlds better.

The structure of each of the bronzes is different, as we are, and those differences should be celebrated.

Our blogs and our sculpture serve to document our subjective, to shed light on our mental, spiritual and creative worlds and in doing so, hopefully invite the viewer to look inside.

These sculptures are about inner beauty and inner strength.

“…sometimes in a man or a woman awareness takes place — not very often and always inexplainable. There are no words for it because there is no one ever to tell. This is a secret not kept a secret, but locked in wordlessness. The craft or art of writing is the clumsy attempt to find symbols for the wordlessness. In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable. And sometimes if he is very fortunate and if the time is right, a very little of what he is trying to do trickles through — not ever much.” [3] Steinbeck

In the end, whether it’s by using bronze, clay, film or words, it’s about an attempt at making the unconscious conscious, as Jung said, lest we call it fate.

By Boky & Blake

  1. ·
  2. ·
  3. ·


Augmented Reality

Will augmented reality take hold?

As digital technology develops, our ability to interact as normal human beings seems to be decreasing.

The picture of the modern family depicts everyone on their own device “connecting” or creating with the help of our favourite little rectangular box.

Are we not simply living vicariously through the images of ‘the perfect life’ that our friends are posting?

Even writing a symphony is now possible without the actual piano.

Building a sculpture using 3D technology is also done while sitting across from a screen.

For us it’s the polygon adventure, pushing the dreams of an artist into the 21st century.

Where will it land us?

Nobody knows, still the expedition moves forward in the search of expression and greater meaning.

There must be a better way, away from the rectangular box, a healthier way for technology to move us forward as a civilization, as a culture.

Digital technology should act as an extension of our bodies, not as a wall that blocks all real communication between us.

If our eyes don’t meet, are we really connecting?

Am I listening to you? Am I here for you?

Will we remember the meaning of the word ‘empathy’?

How can we use technology in a more natural way?

How can we reach out to each other?

How can neuroscience cooperate in this endeavour?

Neuroscientist, Meron Gribetz, introduces us to his Media 2, a set of glasses that project holograms of whatever we want.

He calls it augmented reality and has been working towards extending our bodies, our senses even, through the use of digital technology. [1]

This means bringing real life into the machine and essentially extending our human experience through the use of this technology.

Gribetz uses neuroscience to guide the designs. “…the principle we all revolve around is what’s called the ‘Neural Path of Least Resistance.’”

The pillars of their design guidelines are:

1) the operating system is our brain, therefore a zero learning curve;

2) the ‘touch to see’ interface, which uses our proprioception (sense of our body parts in space), and finally;

3) activating our mirror-neuron subsystem which “suggests that we can connect with each other and with our work much better if we can see each other’s faces and hands in 3D.” [2]

This allows for the sharing, the experiencing things together within the projected hologram.

Interaction is possible, such as touching and moving things in real time, and eye contact exists allowing for the possibility of being connected, in the moment.

Think of the possibilities!

Phones would become a thing of the past.

As technology advances and pushes us forward, let’s reach further but let’s not forget the value of our reality, the one that augmented reality would like to emulate.

A book is still a book, and a hug is still a hug and nothing will ever feel better than that.

By Boky & Blake





The Moving Finger Writes

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit, Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.” Omar Khayyam.

As we move forward the world’s cultures are melting together, advancing into this century more quickly than one could ever have imagined.

Yet the distance that we have to travel, in order to blend, seems unachievable, as we can, at best, hope for the respect of our differences.

The growing pains of such a merger will only be tempered with a tolerance shaped through education.

While we do not intend to oblige others to think as we do, our many worlds stand centuries apart.

The position of women remains as an example of this vast distance between cultures.

Last week, “a panel of Saudi scientists (has) concluded that women are actually mammals, granting them the same rights as other mammal species such as camels, dromedaries and even goats.” [1]

Jillian Birch, spokeswoman at Amnesty International, considers this to be a great step forward.

The Women’s Liberation Action Network representative Jane Austin remarked that; “From now on, women will be considered as members of the mammal class, whereas before women shared the legal status of an object, similar to that of a home appliance,” [2]

This is the type of advancement the world requires.

Yet before the law in Saudi Arabia, women still remain no more than property.

While change is constant, think of the speed at which many parts of our world will be required to run in order to keep up with globalization today.

Freedom is the victim behind which such philosophies like that of Daesh hide, using oppression to dominate a people and abducting a beautiful religion to engender terror across the world.

This is not the Islam that many love.

Sadly, religions provide a place within which oppressors, throughout history, have hidden.

Perhaps the underlying differences between our cultures, is what Winston Churchill was referring to in a speech in 1899:

“Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome …” [3]

Our cultures will only come together with tolerance and mutual respect and this we must teach ourselves quickly.

By Blake & Boky

  2. ibid.
  3. Sir Winston Churchill; The River War, first edition, Vol II, pages 248-250 London
© Copyright 2017 Blake Ward. | Atelier Blake, 5 rue des Violettes, Monte-Carlo, Monaco 98000
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