not exactly work in progress…

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#Author-story ~ Contemporary Writer #3

John Berger, born 5th November 1926, died 2nd January, 2017


There’s something in this page shown above that is very resonant of work seen during British Art Show7 in 2011, particularly those shown at Nottingham Castle. So maybe one day I’ll tie up some loose threads and get something down. For now, this post is a re-working of a draft from January that was almost lost to the ether in some kind of failing / crash.

Why ‘Ways of Seeing’?

[Originally, I drafted this writing for an ‘Authors who made history’ post for BW so this fact was pivotal:]

For many years now, John Berger’s book, ‘Ways of Seeing’, has been on the compulsory reading list of almost every British art and design course. I’d either somehow missed that fact back in my art student daze, or glanced it over and dismissed it out of hand. During a W.E.A. class a few years ago now (how time flies!) I spent a while browsing this book in the gallery reading room. I still couldn’t quite see WHY is it such an important text in relation to appreciating or creating art? Sadly, I remained completely oblivious to his other works as a poet, writer and artist until researching for this post following news of his death.

I appreciated it- ‘Ways of Seeing’ –  better, from a distance, via some limited preview chapters in an online PDF. The book was developed following the BBC’s four-part television series presented by John Berger and credited with changing the way the nation received, or thought about, art and art history.  I had never even heard mention of the television programme until I saw it was the basis of the book. Apparently the programme may be available to purchase as a video download, although even so these days UK viewers will still need a TV licence. I don’t know if that means such products are with-held from consumers elsewhere in the world.

It’s said to be based on and influenced by Walter Benjamin’s essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction[wikipedia link].

“The most uplifting thing about Ways of Seeing is Berger’s optimism about the age of the mass-circulating reproduced image, which, back in 1972, meant images in newspapers and magazines, on advertising hoardings and television. These days of course it also means on Facebook, Instagram and the internet at large. …”

[quoting Jonathon Jones in his article discussing Berger’s language of images at The Guardian, published 3rd January, 2017]

Here’s a small excerpt from page 150 of Ways of Seeing, where, in relation to publicity, Berger tells us:

“…The world smiles at us. It offers itself to us. And because everywhere is imagined as offering itself to us, everywhere is more or less the same.”

In the BBC Radio 4 programme, Front Row, broadcast 3rd January 2017, writer/broadcaster Lisa Appignanesi and art critic Richard Cork discuss Berger’s work (audio file still available to listen at time of writing opens, at approx. 21minutes with an audio clip of John Berger speaking. The second link skips to that segment, or to see programme info and listen to the whole 28min+ click the first link.


After serving two years with the army from 1944 to 1946, assumedly compulsory conscription, in the late 1940s Berger trained as an artist at the Chelsea School of Art and the London School of Art; he exhibited in London and taught drawing until 1955. His first novel, ‘A Painter of Our Time’ was published in 1958 and his first published collection of essays, ‘Permanent Red’, in 1960. Among other awards in his lifetime, he is probably best known for controversially donating half his Booker Prize fund to the Black Panther Party after his novel ‘G’ was selected for the prize in 1972.

“For me there were too many political urgencies to spend my life painting. Most urgent was the threat of nuclear war – the risk of course came from Washington, not Moscow.”

John Berger quoted in an article by Michael Glover published at the Independent on 3rd January, 2017.

There are lots of articles about John Berger to be found online and the British Library archive for John Berger and the wikipedia entry for his bio and list of works could keep me (or you) .out of mischief for an interesting while enough.

I haven’t yet bought a copy of ‘Ways of Seeing’, I’m still thinking about it, maybe until one shows up at a knock-down price I can’t refuse. I did however buy Berger’s 2016 book, ‘Confabulations'[ISBN:9780141984957], published in October by Penguin shortly before Berger turned 90 years of age, sadly not in time to help the old man out with some return. I might well journey in exploration of those delightful writings, and more, another time.

A final quote to close, from the first page of the text in John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, at page 7:

“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.” [John Berger, Ways of Seeing]




Not quite gardening this landscape

I need to take better control of my landscape, to borrow a phrase (and some motivating energy) from PamKirst.

I tried uploading my photo of my sketch previously and got my panties twisted round my neck making a right pig’s ear of a simple post, maybe only for wifi dropping and an impatient temper tantrum and sulk. I’ve not made any new drawings or poems since, so having nothing new to share, will just try throwing this one at the wall again. It had better bloomin’ work!


I really should make more effort. Routine needs some working on too. So, away to munch brunch, definitely drink more coffee, wash up and at least have a think about housekeeping. Actually, it never is far from mind – I wonder if it’s that Something in the way


Someday Sundays I swear! By gawd!

Enter a caption

My quick ballpoint pen on interior pizza-box card, not for want of old material type stuff, drawn yesterday morning, a whole 30mins! (c)myself! (Colette Bates, 2017)

Yes, where is MY photo of MY drawing of MY hand holding MY mum’s radio in MY back bedroom?  Why is the media library / dashboard nicking MY stuff and preventing me from publishing it?

I uploaded that photo this morning! My settings mucked up in error so that’s my human operative input again. I can’t get out to get a long enough cable yet and making the house more like Brazil with another trip hazard on the stairs is far from ideal!

It’s really annoying drafting a post, having the publish button grey out AFTER the system’s nicked my content and then failed to save my draft! [I’ve been saving them offline, whenever it’s not prevented by system crashing!] All these measures I’m having to take to back up my intellectual property is not inspiring confidence. BUT it might not be a provider fault, is it? I can’t work it out! Shoddy Nottingham robbers? Robbing the poor to benefit the wealthier AGAIN? Time to lose the sheriff and the nonsense of errol-flynn-ising the good Robert of Loxley AKA Robin Hood.

Why will my photos not upload now? And why does my media library say that I have NO media when, apart from Jacquie’s reblog pics of which I only used ONE at her invitation and retaining her watermark etc, and apart from unsplash/pixabay pics, all other images uploaded to my media library are MINE! Now, if WordPress were to choose to use them somehow, though i can’t see WHY they might, they canNOT prevent me from publishing MY own images MYSELF anyway and anywhere I might choose! But if it’s going to play silly sods then before I publish anything else of mine here, I’ll go downstairs, break my back and maybe my camera too while trying to transfer files to the dino to publish them on Facebook FIRST!

crikey. What IS going on?!  Maybe it’s because I’ve saved my photos from my SD card to a folder nested in my Downloads folder by mistake! I’ve saved a lot of stuff I’ve created in that folder by accident for using the quick access sidebar and trying to avoid OneDrive and all that cloud-type shit because I kept losing my files like that and never being able to find them again! I don’t have any need for cloud technology while stuck at home ill and likely to be in the longer term – moreso with all the stress impacts and distress of stupid internet changes since that awful moron got into power over in what looks now like the hellhole states!

So why, even a photo I’d just taken just gets eaten to the ether when uploading direct from my memory card straight from my camera? Is someone else trying to say MY stuff is theirs? Really? They should be looking forward to prosecution then!