Ahoy! It's a small world

Question: “Where were you in the Solar System a month ago?”
Answer: “80 million kilometres, or 49 million miles from where you are right now.”
The elections here in Canada are history. Not all eligible citizens voted. Multitudes stayed away, not exercising their democratic rights. Maybe they had reasons for doing so?
All I can say is, as an artist, the results don’t bode well, considering what our government ‘thinks’ about the Arts. Already we’re placed into a begging status; funding has been cut and cut over the past few decades. (And even before the cuts, it wasn’t in good shape before the surgery). Enough said about this.
Recently the very last cruise ship of the Alaska season came and went. Many passengers take pre-packaged ‘shore excursions’, while others end up strolling around our neighbourhood of James Bay.
On my daily excursions, shopping for fresh groceries, I often meet a few passengers. That’s no surprise since the ships dock nearby at Ogden Point, 500 metres from where we live. What made a recent encounter very different was the fact that a woman came up to me while I was pushing the grocery cart along in the supermarket. She was with her husband.
“Mr. van Bentum, what a surprise! How good to see you. Remember us? My name’s Jennifer Trenholme and this is my husband, Paul. I was a student in your Small is Beautiful art class aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 a few years’ ago, on the Xmas/New Year’s sailing.”

I didn’t recognized them since they were decked out in anoraks, quite different from attire aboard QE2. “Hello. Good to see you again. Natasha and I live here in James Bay”, I replied.
Jennifer went on, “Ah yes, now I recall your speaking in art class about Victoria. Well, what a small world. We’re sailing with the Celebrity ship which docked this morning. We’ve just come from Alaska and soon head back to England.
Paul and I also wanted to see for ourselves the impact global warming is having on the glaciers. By chance we came across this store, we’d like to get some genuine Canadian maple syrup. It’s a real treat in England to put on “pancakes”, as you call them.
This is a beautiful region; we’re going on a tour after lunch to visit the “Centre of the Universe” at the Observatory.
"Mr. van Bentum, I wanted to let you know how much I learned from you in the art classes; am still using those professional quality Watercolour Pencils you introduced in your ‘art afloat’ workshops.
Are you going to continue teaching o/b other ships now the venerable QE2 will soon be out of service?” I replied. “Yes, the new “Queen Victoria” is on our horizon.” “Oh good!”, she exclaimed. We’ll have to book whichever voyage you’re taking, that would be great.”
I told them Natasha and I don’t have a car, otherwise “we’d take you on a tour ourselves. But in the meantime, since your ship is docked close to our apartment, when you depart later this afternoon, look out for us. We’ll be waving a bright golden-yellow towel (“Deep Cadmium”!) from our balcony. You should be able to spot us from aft or port side of your ship. In the meantime, enjoy beautiful Victoria, and we may see you aboard “Queen Victoria”. Bon voyage! And safe journey home.”
Yes, it’s a small world after all. Our planet is getting smaller by the day, it seems, while we’re orbiting around the Sun at 29.85 kilometres per second (that’s 18.55 miles per second), zoooooooooming through space.


Light! Give us Light!

We had a blackout last night, a massive power failure over all of southern Vancouver Island."It was mayhem," said Victoria firefighter Patricia Core. "Every line was lit up and it was impossible to keep up. It was craziness. I've never seen it like that in here."
I say, “Be prepared for outside influences, then it won’t be a surprise”. Authorities still don’t know what caused it (not a squirrel this time); there were no serious injuries, but lots of people stuck in elevators.
And turkeys stuck in ovens; it happened exactly at dinner time, when most homes were cooking “Thanksgiving” dinners. Power was back on our neighbourhood after an hour, so we give Thanks to B.C. Hydro (ho-ho!) for fixing it so swiftly.
Within seconds, we were ready with flashlights, matches and emergency candles. Goes to show you how we can switch from Space Age to the Middle Ages.
All this reminded me of ancient wisdom from India:
By what light do we see after the Sun has set?
By what light do we see when the Moon wanes?
By what light do we see when Stars are covered by clouds?
By what light do we see when the Fire is out?
By what light can we still do our work, function and live?
By our Inner Light.”

How fragile we are when fully dependent on progress and technical gadgets. Only when a sudden blackout occurs, does it ‘come home’.“Intelligent electricity” continues, only most of us are unaware of this.
A while back I talked about our dependency on electric power, at the kinetic art show in Paris, where I brought the exhibition to a standstill by simply pulling the plug.
You can only wonder how long it would take before we revert to pre-Industrial Revolution times, should a power outage be ‘permanent’. But of course - - - solar and wind energy, amongst other things, are the way to go.
Tomorrow is election day here in Canada. Our southern neighbours in the States will also have one soon, and see the ‘end of an error’, oops, I meant “era”. Speaking of which, Will Rogers, the ‘Roping Jester” said: "With Congress, every time they make a joke it's a law, and every time they make a law it's a joke". Happy Thanksgiving. Henri


What a Creative Person is Like

“What would you say a creative person is like?”“Is the cultivation of creativity lacking in our education system?” These are some of the questions that come my way. In answer to the first question about what a creative person is like, see my version below.
Education should give students an opportunity to make their own discoveries, and form their own expression. Art has the means to cultivate uniqueness in the child. The way has to be left open within the curriculum, to require knowledge beyond “Reading, Writing and Arithmetic”, with other means of expression, such as tackling one of the “Nine Muses”. Art = Serious Play and Playful Seriousness.
What is a Creative Person Like? by Henri van Bentum

Are observant of the world about them
Are aware of the feel and touch of things
Listen to the sound of life around them
Are sensitive to smell
Are aware of the taste of things
Like to construct things in material
Prefer to rearrange old ideas into new relationships
Like to experiment with various approaches and media
Like to try out new methods and techniques
Prefer to manipulate their ideas in various ways
Have to solve problems set by themselves
Seek to push beyond the boundaries of their thinking
Are original in their thoughts about things
Like to invent new ways of saying and telling
Like to dream up new possibilities
Like to imagine and pretend
Flexible in approaches to situations
Like to be independent and on their own
Are outwardly expressive of what they have to say
Are not afraid of emotional feelings and show them
Like to search for the meaning of things
Question available data and information
Like to inquire into unknown quantities
Discover new relationships
Desire to uncover new meanings
Are sensitive to the beauty of nature
Appreciate beauty man has made and
Which nature abundantly provides
Have feeling for harmony and rhythm
Love to sing, write, explore, cook,
act, sculpt, draw, paint or dance.