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An Interview With Gareth Balch

Topic posted Sun, March 4, 2007 - 7:56 AM by  Nina Pak

 

 

Back in 2006 in the world of Myspace and "other" spaces I became acquainted with an artist who expressed herself in many mediums.....primarily music, painting and photography.....but not limited to these. Her name was Nina Pak and we exchanged thoughts, cds and moments......  At that time she was "interviewing" various artists and asked for a contribution that she could add to her very comprehensive website.....these contributions now appear long gone but for the sake of my own posterity here is mine.  My answers might suggest that I am one contorted fucked up disorganised mess...... oh well......welcome to my world.

Hi Nina.......

 

I didn’t realize until after attempting to lay out something for this questionnaire that I had such a rambling, ramshackle of a mind for both mentor and protector....its amazing what you find sometimes when you lift up a stone or maybe just barely nudge the landscape to one side.

 

I’m not sure if the following is what you expected but reading your list of questions they almost became like some mind altering substance inasmuch that once I considered the question I was then taken up by a tremendous amount of activity and imagery....... some relevant, some distractive and some really quite probing ... in fact it was not until I thought about your questions did I start to appreciate and recognize just how much art enters, affects and consumes of our everyday life......this a fascinating questionnaire and I’m beginning to feel that it is much larger than maybe you really intended it to be as each answer provides the questions for dozens more...and probably because of this my response might appear rambling and not at all cohesive... but then that’s one of the greatest rewards of art in that it has this incredible capacity to take you far beyond that which is readily comprehensible.....and yet still able to return you to where you started from.

 

No matter what the design, core, purpose or presentation, art has a symmetry about it that balances and compliments the forces and elements of nature that might otherwise be perceived as chaos... if there is a chaos then it is probably a totally random digestion and regurgitation of persuasions, rumours and histories that we unwittingly refer to as intelligence. Intelligence appears to demand that it needs a substantive substance whereas art can often exist without any at all. Enquiring intelligence requires a question, answer or conclusion ...art does not as it has the independence to exist purely on its own terms....I’m sure I cannot be the only artist who has at times been totally baffled by the submissions of my sub conscience.

 

Art has sometimes become almost the only stable and constant part of me that bears either relevance or connectivity to anything that resembles a form of reliable breathing ....a strange kind of life and death that so often and desperately attempts to avoid each other.. ... like the daylight and the dark .......always pushing each other aside......so close but never together.....one inside the other but still alone.

 

Perhaps sadly I have concluded that without it even my anonymity would be anonymous... even to myself.

 

It is not as though without music I would have lost my soul ... more like a sense of being abandoned without even the comfort of a miserable question. This might sound negative and depressing but actually it is not...in fact for me I find it quite enlightening ...but then maybe that observation is one that is well supported and armoured by the music and imagery and creativity that is, in its entirety and collectively, in almost every agitated atom that brushes against and around my senses... in fact I cannot think of another human activity that compares or is capable of externalising the essences of what we are and what we are capable of...more or less everything else seems to relate to the somewhat baser edicts of reproduction, construction, destruction and the maintenance of being.

 

Art is both language and interpreter .....and it is not only what it brings you but also to where it takes you.....and what it takes from you too...... Art is undoubtedly the ultimate and most comprehensive language we possess... devoid of barriers in itself and quite capable of removing any existing ones. Another significant attribute of art is that it has the capacity to be supremely articulate when all other routes, modes and common identifying criteria fail.

 

I do sometimes wonder that in asking another person a question of how often is it that the person we are questioning is ourselves....at least in part.

 

It has also occurred to me that my reactions to and observations of how music has so entangled my life is to a certain extent tragic....that my existence is in some ways less than the purpose of it.

 

So...Nina ...to your questions...

"There are two people that influence and inspire me the most, and in fact almost exclusively really.......together they are firstly the person that I am and recognize that I know...although I use the word "know" with quite an amount of doubt..... and secondly, the person that I am and yet is unknown to me..."

Who is your muse, what inspires you?

There are two people that influence and inspire me the most, and in fact almost exclusively really.......together they are firstly the person that I am and recognize that I know...although I use the word "know" with quite an amount of doubt..... and secondly the person that I am and yet is unknown to me... Within these two persona exists all other persons dead, alive or yet still to be born. All they can ever be is whatever I perceive them to be. The remainder of their existence to me is unknown and always will be. This is not unique to me and is, in fact, common to every single person on this planet. Nothing and no-one has any proof of existence outside of these perceptive facilities of themselves. This might appear to isolate me or indicate that I must be alone...but it does not because the capacity of imagery can create quite independently all the other 7plus billion persons here... and of course many that could never be found by anyone else..... I find it somewhat ironic that one of the other translations for “muse” is “to be absent in mind”

 

Or there again perhaps my muses are the abstractive and anonymous dwellers that have harboured within my soul simply to confuse desire with purpose..... and to labour both of these with intent....that maybe these are something benignly parasitic searching for dimension, structure and identity.... and as you can well observe I do appear to be struggling somewhat with my own....

 

.........Oh dear...I have just remembered the other muses and now feel like I am a prevaricating and in great danger of yet again becoming a rambling "inconclusion".

 

My other muses, and in their time the most influential in many ways, are those that hold sway with the destiny of my emotional being....fortunately, or maybe not, these have been very few and far between in my life....but with the passing of time they still stand like erect majestic seductive beacons in an otherwise flattened landscape...in some respects it almost feels masochistic to continue to entertain their insistence of being remembered, loved and feared....almost as though I exist in the tragedy of their memory rather than the frighteningly deserted senseless oblivion of emotional neutrality.......My direction and instinct bids surrender onto the blade rather than numbness ...I bow to the protection of pain....but not in any masochistic or sadistic way....

Are you a visual artist, writer, dancer, musician, or film maker?

Wordsmith, musician and sometime painter....and an even less than sometime sculptor of 3 dimensional objects...plus of course in this enormous worldwide Waltz a willing but rather clumsy rambling dancer. Tactile sensuality is another beautifully expressive artistic medium that has far too many detractors by way of lazy and selfish disregard.

 

I love nothing better than to strum and hum and just see what the imagery brings forth. Some of my best lines have simply tumbled out of my mouth without any attempt to allow themselves an attachment to a thought.

do you work in other creative venues

Unfortunately not...but I would love to be a multi-instrumentalist , a potter, a sculptor a dancer, a writer of books, a wood carver, a lover and a father....

What artists have influenced your work?

First and foremost ...and as corny as it might sound... it has to be nature...no greater design.. there exists nothing with more graceful of line... no colour more vibrant... no smell more sweet.... and no tragedy more sad.

 

Those that have influenced me have never been of my choice because they always brought to me something previously unknown to me...and this must include the artists who’s work initially I maybe did not admire or enjoy or relate to... I have to also allow and include that the influence of my own existence might not be there to consider were it not of my fear of my own death.

 

Anyway......trying to “list” who such influential artists might have been becomes very frustrating... each time I think of one I turn around to see another dozen or so rightfully seeking a mention too.....one thing I have noticed is that nearly all of those that had a significant influence came about in the early years....mostly between around 12 to early 20's.... after then it became more about an individual song than the artist....... and so they are..... and not in any specific order of merit or anything else....its about the level of influence and not necessarily the quality of it.....so....  Chopin, Elvis, Bobby Hatfield, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Cream, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Free, Puccini, Freddie Mercury, and me.... and as those first extremely important introductions to music can be so very influential then I must also add Perry Como and Johhny Duncan......Funny how sometimes when asked a question like this you look back later and realize you’ve left out some of the most important. And of course, there are bound to be others to follow these.

 

With regards to songwriting itself a few other majorly important influences concerning the magic of words were Dylan Thomas, Dostoyevsky and a long forgotten teacher called Mr Brunnell.

when did you realise you wanted to be an artist

Probably a lot later than my instinctive reaction wants to suggest.... Most of the things I did or became involved in, in those initial formative and informing years were reaction to impulse rather than a knowing or considered decision..... it's more like when did I actually recognise and realise I had artistic ambition .....and by then there was no "would be".....by then it was already in place and just simply how a particular bent evolved....

 

As far as my memory will take me back I can recall a very strong interest in music and painting and drawing.... the interest just seemed to be an instinctive cohesive part of thought recognition and an attempt to be part of the world I found myself in.

 

Art was a very comforting glue that allowed me to unload from the chaos of childhood and commute with the chaos of the rest of the world.....I didn't know then and largely still have no idea who or what censors what I absorb...or of that massive majority that appears excluded....

"Any mental process is basically retrospective and simply attempting to catch up with the intuitive imagery that has been so often barely tenuously grasped... And within this process invariably is to be seen attempting to remove the answer from the question... and yet somehow still allowing the question to be both intact and complete."

Do you plan out your work before you do it, or does it evolve organically?

Yes and no.......Mostly it has been loitering there in the ether to be harnessed and shaped.... although it often feels that in constraining it or trying to shape it into more recognisable and available and approachable structures that I invariably strip away much of the purity and unbiased composition that it is offering.... It took me many years to begin to understand why abstract art ....of whatever medium.... is exceptionally liberating.....although I’m not particularly sure this often translates that much from the giver to the receiver... I dont think I have ever really seen the artists liberation in their work....only my own sense of release or contact that somehow their work gave up an avenue to. Art can be a very strange mirror indeed.

 

In many ways these applications remind me of flowing rivers where the energies are totally independent of their surroundings...and in scooping up a glassful of these flowing waters sadly and frustratingly all that I am left with is a vessel of still waters..... and none of the spirit of the river....What I really seek to harness, but unrestrained, is the flow itself......that I would actually be able to see within the glass is the energies in motion....

Is there a mental process? do you have a question to ask or answer?

Any mental process is basically retrospective and simply attempting to catch up with the intuitive imagery that has been so often barely tenuously grasped... And within this process invariably is to be seen attempting to remove the answer from the question... and yet somehow still allowing the question to be both intact and complete. My belief is that humanity is in error for its inexhaustible quest for answers...for surely the truth is already in place and simply requires the correct question to reflect its source and set it free. I am much more driven to find the emotional process rather than the mental one.....before I write about elation confusion despair or orgasm I firstly need to feel it...!!!...otherwise its just a very poor and doubtless misinformed second hand interpretation.

 

Although I guess additionally there is the retrospective recognition in the completed pieces that proffer the consideration that somewhere quite subliminally there has been some extensive mental processes beavering away...there are always processes .........but I do sometimes wonder who's they really are....what exactly is a "me" ???......especially when it elicits that particular question.

If you have had formal training, do you feel your educational process hindered your artistic expression in anyway?

Very little and very basic training..... I am most grateful for this as it has helped to discover whatever the uniqueness of me actually might be...I do concede that formal training could unquestionably have improved many of the technical and practical limitations that often frustrate me.... but ultimately I am much more content to settle for my own limitations and weaknesses as I feel they more accurately represent the very imperfect person that I am ...and this allows a clarity that could otherwise have been obscured by the influence of tutorial directives.

"Art makes itself for me rather than the other way around...I don't create something that is not already there.... all I do is to simply give it dimension to allow my limited facilities to recognize and approach it . If within this process of recreating myself it also speaks for others too then this for me is a very very significant reward....touching the untouchable in someone else has this kind of tingling effect...quite magical."

Do you use the creative process to express your internal conflicts or to purge yourself of emotions?

This is such a huge question really....... but simply......yes...and also to discover and explore those that I either do not recognize or avoid.

 

I dont feel like I purge them as much as integrate them in as balanced a format as is possible for one to achieve...never perfect but then perfection is an abstract representation of subjective imagination.

 

As mentioned a little earlier I do sometimes feel that one of the things I am hoping to discover in songwriting is the recognition of some kind of "me" identity.....or maybe more than one as I'm sure we all have a number and variety of them.....maybe this desire for discovery of the "me" is one of the major driving forces that propel artists into and from their creations......and I do seriously question how successful we ever are in reaching the centres of who we are...... and maybe there isn't one ...maybe there are no borders divisions or even dimensions......it often feels difficult to organise and control and discipline these drives and impulses in order to shape them..... but again maybe such endevours are just more boxes, traps and fantasy!!!!

If so, do you feel that art can be a kind of therapy?

Very much so and in so many kinds of extreme and tragic cases of trauma involving both children and those caught within any kind of emotional net ..... . it has given them an almost independent and externalised place of safety where their experiences can be re-enacted and hopefully then more readily approached. Of course the actual act of involvement with more or less all forms of artistic expression is one of the most common therapies that there are for all of us ...and very likely the most effective.... and rarely with negative consequences. We might be surprised at how often in our daily lives we are being ""tharapised"" !!

 

As with many other “alternative” therapies I am sure this has much much more to offer than is realized.... The route to simplicity is often obscured by the veils of what we might consider to be intelligent consideration ...quite unaware of how throughout our lives we have all in some way been targeted and conditioned......it is really just the nature of the beast and its surroundings

What is your opinion about the current art movements which focus on dark imagery?

I’m not that much in touch with the general flow of movements but would just opinion that “dark imagery” has been prevalent in one form or another for more or less as long as art has existed...If there is currently a growth in this then I would conclude that it is very much a reflection of the overall state of humanity....dark and in trouble.... Historians doubtless can provide examples of similar times at any given period...the difference now is that the world is relatively very very much smaller with changes and movement vastly accelerated and reacted to... If we observe the radical actions that nature is having to implement in order to counter balance the demands made upon it then it would be suicidal for humanity to consider that it can achieve what nature cannot.... I realise we are all a part of the natural resources and demands but nature suffers neither ego nor sentimentality ...therein lies our warnings from both sides . Similarly to other questions involved here I feel the dark movements are an attempt to access more fully the threats that we perceive...our artistic shield is our armour and possibly allows us to approach something threatening with a degree of confidence that we otherwise would not.

 

Personally I both need and prefer art that adds something to my life...thats my selfish requirement ......... I really do not need replication of the mundane or in the cases of elephant dung , unmade beds or a thousand squinting light bulbs and/or the rather shittier things in life......I do however absolutely respect the artists need to produce them but am also saddened at what I sometimes consider is the  narrowness of their vision.... and particularly those that elevate them simply for the low common denominator of attention gathering....... but then I most willingly concede that I'm absolutely sure the narrowest of visions is actually my own...... nearly all reaction is just opinion anyway....you cant help but smile knowing some great philosopher once mused....one thing all and every single human has.....an opinion and an arse.....some seemingly a lot more directly connected as a source of expression than others..... I do find that I am much more critical of my critisism than I am of the object I am criticising.....almost as though I am chastising myself for not at times having a positive reaction to someone elses work. I continue to feel it quite tragic and insulting to the many thousands of amazing artists out there that the thing that attracts by far the most attention and the plaudits is the signature.....more so than the work itself....... just how fucked up is that

 

 Art is also a place to exist within accompanied only by that which it chooses or stumbles over to represent and share...as far as I am aware there is no other medium upon or within this planet that can offer the same isolation in which to share and accompany that which shares us too.

Do you make art for yourself, or do you have a market in mind?

Art makes itself for me rather than the other way around...I don't create something that is not already there.... all I do is to simply give it dimension to allow my limited facilities to recognize and approach it . If within this process of recreating myself it also speaks for others too then this for me is a very very significant reward....touching the untouchable in someone else has this kind of tingling effect...quite magical.

 

I try not to think of it in marketing terms because it then confronts and stumbles clumsily with my ego and all the interminable “what ifs” of “success”...god I hate that word for the amount of lives it continues to torment, torture and destroy....and yet....like a moth to the flame I flavour my weaknesses .....we all have a need for communication and approval of some kind.

Do you believe that art has a higher purpose, other than to decorate a room? If so, please explain?

I have probably already touched on this .......It helps to externalize that which we find difficult sometimes to express...in fact it also produces a model to enable us interpret that which we might otherwise struggle with... and it provides clues for that which we at times neither recognize nor acknowledge.

 

I also believe that art as an activity , whether participated in actively or passively is both fundamental and essential in helping humanity avoiding a head on crash with its extremely fragile insecurities and instability. Art is by far the greatest distractor of human confrontation....the latter with its feeble and distinctly dangerous capacity for self destruction..... art is without doubt the most useful antidote we have to an otherwise certain insanity. The proof is that it allows our brains to create a reality out of any given set of circumstances and material and then places it at a safe distance from the edge of our incredible stupidity. Art has all of the places .....no matter where or why situated.

 

Although it is not necessarily the purpose of the artist to do so sometimes you can say more for another person than they could ever find ways to express. 

 

As time goes by more and more I find myself concluding that music is not a part of this planet....evolution or not virtually everything here is from "here"....More and more music feels like it is a visitor ...something from somewhere else with a language that we can interpret but not really know or recognise its source. I have no idea if there was ever any intention of giving art a higher purpose or accolade.

"I was going to add truth but truth is a concept that I find difficult to substantiate with any degree of being absolute....In fact I tend to believe that the word is simply a misnomer for opinion and that humans are incapable of recognizing or creating truth in some kind of absolute form....and one independent of condition or expedience."

If you could meet any artist from the past who would it be?

For so many different reasons this could be an endless list... but if limited to 5 then I would choose Da Vinci, Chopin, Dostoyevsky, Rachmaninoff and Reginald Mitchell.

In what way do you want to be remembered?

That from and within my darkness that someone else might find part of their own light... even a single solitary candle would be sufficient reward.... and paradoxically especially for those I never knew nor met . And maybe in some respects ego satisfied by the possibility of defying the paucity of immortality. In many ways this is a difficult question to answer because ultimately I would simply wish to be remembered as a contributing

sound and symbol in the word and reciprocation of unconditional love...... my history has since precluded that so I’m looking at what I feel is the next best representation of the generosity of the human spirit.... and more honestly I cannot discount a buffer against my fear of oblivion either. Ultimately I guess I’d be grateful enough to accept I placed a raggedy blistered footprint next to somebody elses..

 

Ok Nina.......It might sound as though I have both deviated from and exceeded the remit and precepts of your interview... but my belief is that absolutely every human condition physically, emotionally and mentally has a corresponding and equivalent representation in art....one that has always been in place and which is why we often recognize in these creations our ultimate identities. I was going to add truth but truth is a concept that I find difficult to substantiate with any degree of being absolute....In fact I tend to believe that the word is simply a misnomer for opinion and that humans are incapable of recognizing or creating truth in some kind of absolute form....and one independent of condition or expedience.

 

I have this belief that the art of any given individual is always much larger than the person it comes from...this might be because the “artist” is nothing more than another brush or chisel or violin string that gives expression and dimension in a format otherwise too large for the recipient to either comprehend or encompass. Art has given me the most accurate and logical interpretation of dimensional awareness and has me convinced that I have barely entered the possibilities and extensions that are there to explore

 

Art is a place to exist and live within accompanied by much more than we share with any other activity or possibility of our existence....in fact art is very much more than some metaphorical representation of our lives...it is not independent of that which we are as humans but it definitely has something unique that does not require either our co-operation, our intervention nor our contribution in order to exist....herein I think lies a partial explanation as to why it so often surprises and shocks with the interpretations it brings forward..... Nature and Art....what an amazing potential combination of imperfect perfection....we are so lucky

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