Friday 20 September 2019

I voted to Leave.

I voted to Leave.

And if I have to, will vote to Leave a second time.

There is so much anger, hysteria and plain nastiness floating around on this issue, that I have decided to limit  my engagement with it all. I don’t think my opinion is that important in the great scheme of things, and I certainly don’t think it is worth falling out with anyone because they hold a different opinion to my own.  I believe our views and political persuasion are generally shaped by our life experiences, which as we all know can be very different. I generally enjoy exchanging opinions. 

I decided to write all this down to make my position absolutely clear to anyone interested. I’m not expecting you to agree with it, neither I am looking for any sort of response. I’m putting it out there so that anyone interested will have an understanding of my position and hopefully this will avoid pigeon holing and general misunderstandings. I’m not interested in winning the argument and purging the internet of those who disagree with me. 

I am not interested in receiving “you are plain wrong” statements but might be interested in your sincere genuine and considered response. As this subject is large and complex I don’t claim to have the full picture.

I fall into that not well represented group these days who voted Leave in the absence of genuine EU reform. I have given up on the EU willingly reforming itself. 

I became concerned about the EU's general direction at the time we signed the Lisbon Treaty. I was not influenced in my leave vote by Aaron Banks, Nigel Farage or Vladmir Putin.  Some of their arguments I agree with some I don’t. I don't think one side of the political spectrum has a monopoly on truth.  

My general opinion is that Leave won because enough people like myself voted to Leave rather than continue to argue for serious reform. Far right nationalists were always going to vote Leave but people like myself came to this conclusion gradually.

Do you remember the two main arguments during the referendum campaign ?
1.   Remain and fight for reform within. 
2.       Leave because it is never going to happen.

Very few people argued during the referendum campaign to stay in an unreformed EU. I believe one poll at the time showed less than 5% of the UK population were happy with the EU as it was. 

It is very noticeable to someone like me how that first position has shifted since the referendum, and now seems to have become “Remain regardless of reform". 

Democracy is hard to define, no system is perfectly democratic but people generally know when a system is becoming more or less democratic.  I believe that the democratic process is vitally important and gives you and I some protection from those who would impose their beliefs on us against our will, these people exist in every country, in every political movement and in every government system and I believe we should always be on our guard against them. And insisting on the validity of the democratic process is one of the few safeguards we have. We weaken it at our peril. 

I believe I owe it to previous generations who struggled to achieve these democratic rights, that I should fight to maintain and protect them in order that they are handed on intact to the next generation.  

I do not believe that temporarily elected politicians have the right to give away the permanent powers we grant them via the ballot box.

I believe the people are sovereign not Parliament.  
The core of this belief is that a democratic decision made by the people must be implemented.

I might make the odd exception if a referendum advocated war or the unfair treatment of a particular group in society. Politicians cannot ask the people to decide on an issue and then claim it was only advisory. 
In my view the people are sovereign and if they are asked to make a decision that decision in almost every circumstance must be implemented.  If the decision is not implemented then this weakens all our hard won and imperfect democratic rights.

I would feel the same if Remain had won.  I would continue to argue it was a mistake but I would  accept that for a generation that decision had been made.  You can’t run any system if every decision is always being challenged. 

The Commission
The unelected Commission controls the EU’s legislative process, it creates the legislation and controls the process by which it becomes law. Elected MEP’s can only vote YES or NO to this legislation. A good example of this was the recent election of Ursula von der Leyen as Commission President, hers was the only name put forward by the Commission and MEPS could only vote for or against her appointment.  
I don’t consider that democratic. 

The elected MEP’s in the European Parliament do not have the power to create legislation. This is written into the Lisbon Treaty and can only be changed by changing the treaty. The irony is that when the combined Westminster opposition took control of the legislative process in the House of Commons recently (to push through in record time Brexit delaying legislation), that process simply could not have happened in the European Parliament. The freedom our political system affords MP’s is being utilised to bind to us to a less free EU system.

There is no elected government in the EU and there is no means that you and I can influence the EU's policy direction. I know that if I vote for Jeremy Corbyn I will get a very different set of policies to the present government, there is simply no way of doing that in Brussels. That is not acceptable to me, I won’t vote in support of such a system. 

I see the EU operating a less democratic system with voters further removed from and less able to influence legislation and I simply can’t support that. 

I know there are serious shortcomings with our UK political system, but we retain the ability (just) to remove one government and replace it with another, and with it change policy direction and we don’t have that ability with the EU.

I don’t really have a problem with the basic idea of European co-operation. I agree that “jaw jaw” is better than “war war.” I would support a genuine Common Market and did back in 1975 but will never support European political union. 

I believe many of things decided by Brussels should be decided by national governments and I want a return of these powers. Trade, industrial and fisheries policies being the most well known examples. 

I believe that the UK will ultimately gain from once again having an independent trade policy. I believe the EU will make it as hard as possible for us to succeed in this, but I believe in it and remain  committed to it.
I acknowledge that the UK with its ageing population relies on immigration to keep our economy  functioning. But I believe the UK migration policy should be operated by the UK parliament. 

I believe in free movement for those with jobs to go to or the means to provide for themselves.  
I agree the world is getting smaller and people are moving around the world and will continue to do so. 
I don’t agree with the general viewpoint that taking down national borders is sensible. I think ultimately it will lead to the destabilisation of society. Do you run your PC or laptop without a security and a firewall ? Borders are international firewalls.

Business and trade.
I believe that restoring a UK independent trade policy is the real benefit of Leaving. I don’t accept that the EU’s one size fits all trade policy works in our interest and can’t be improved on.
I don’t believe trade with the EU will decline significantly with the imposition of trade tariffs. The UK has a deficit on EU imports, we pay them more for their goods than they pay for ours. I would like a Free Trade Agreement with the EU and don’t see any genuine reason why this can’t happen. I don’t see the point in not having an FTA because the lack of one hurts both sides, why would anyone argue for that ?  The reason a free trade agreement has not been negotiated is purely political and not economic, the EU believes it is the government of Europe and fears a successful UK outside the EU will highlight its economic failings and weaknesses.

The comparison between the EU and the USA is a stark one. The US in the last 30 years has seen major global companies emerge and create new products that dominate world markets. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Ebay.. the list goes on and on ? More recently a company like SpaceX s has massively reduced the cost of getting to space, and is a fine example of a company using innovation to push society forward and succeed over less innovative competitors. 

Can you name any European company that has emerged in the last 30 years and produced a product that has changed or revolutionised a world market ? The answer should tell you something about EU business culture. 

The share of global GDP of both the US and the EU has declined over the last couple of decades as developing countries have generally caught up. But the US’s share of global GDP has declined from 30% to around 24%, the EU’s has declined from 25% of global GDP to 16%. The EU started at lower GDP than the US (even with a bigger population) and has seen its smaller share of global GDP decline further. In my opinion  this should set alarm bells ringing.

Yes we can criticise the US for many things but creating new and successful products and selling them to the world isn’t one of them.

Business creates the wealth that pays for public services, I generally do not see business as the enemy as many seem to do.  I regard any person who risks their own money creating a business as a hero. There is nothing wrong in getting a return on capital risked in creating a new product or service. I must make an important distinction here, I believe the impact of neo liberalism is largely negative.  Neo Liberalism seeks to create private monopolies for big businesses by manipulating politicians which allow them to hike prices rather than encouraging competition. These business are wealth extractors rather than wealth creators. A business that seeks to restrict competition is already moribund and regressive. It is not a co –incidence that Neo Liberals love the EU and want us to Remain.

I believe in business competition, plurality, risk taking and innovation. I believe the EU is doing exactly the opposite, with an army of corporate lobbyists influencing Commission policy making.   Business is not the enemy of a developed society, but certain monopoly businesses are the enemies of competition, plurality, risk taking and innovation. 

I believe that businesses should pay fair taxes.

I'll leave the final word on Brexit business and economcs to Paul Krugman the respected economist who is opposed to Brexit.

The Euro and Greece
I consider the Euro to be failed experiment. The most obvious victim of this failed currency are the Greek people but other countries are also caught in the Euros economic stranglehold.

I believe that those countries that want to be part of the United States of Europe should become one country and have one economic policy and one currency. I don't want Britain to be a part of that. You cannot have different countries with different economies but the same currency and expect that to work. 

Greece went bankrupt because its politicians made financial promises they couldn’t keep, they are certainly not alone in doing that. In normal circumstances on bankruptcy a countries currency would collapse and the process of rebuilding would begin from the bottom. The bankrupt country’s low value currency would make its products and services look much cheaper to buyers around the globe and they are attracted to take advantage of this countries competitive prices. A country going bankrupt is never painless but at least countries like Argentina have been able to recover. In Greece’s case its membership of the Euro has denied it this route out of its bankruptcy. The ECB has protected the Euro at the expense of the Greek people. Their economy has shrunk by an extraordinary 25%. Sacrificing an entire nation and its economy is unforgivable.

The European Central Bank bailed out Greece but the money went directly to the mainly German and French banks that hold most of the Greek debt. It has not been used to reinvigorate the Greek economy. The Greek Syriza government proposed expanding its economy and rescheduling its debt and was bluntly told by the European Central Bank that if they did not comply with austerity measures imposed on it, the ECB would starve its banks of funds and the banks would collapse. The Greeks are now having their economic policy dictated to them by the ECB/EU, they have been forced into extensive privatisations (selling off key national industries and services to global big business) as a price of bail outs they never received, and have no way of escaping the straight jacket. 

Italy is also in a deep financial mess and also faces no way out of its problems without leaving the Euro. Spain and Portugal aren’t far behind. 

I do not support the EU’s policy in supporting the Euro at the expense of the people of Greece for the failures of Greek politicians and am not prepared to risk the EU doing similar to this country if the opportunity arose. 

I see no genuine reason why those countries that wish to participate in a United States of Europe cannot do so, and those that don't want that can't have different legal and political arrangements focused primarily on free trade.Why does "one size have to fits all" ?. 

The last few paragraphs should set alarm bells ringing. 

So what is the core problem with the EU ?

The basic problem is its bureaucratic and unaccountable structure. In a conventional democracy if things don’t go well the population have the opportunity to change the economic policy by changing the government, we have no way of doing that in the EU. The Commission faces little in the way of a political challenge and continues to operate as it always has, even when it is not working.

I don’t have any strict party political affiliation. I do not believe any party or political philosophy has a monopoly on truth, they all have good and bad aspects. If a policy works I support it, if it doesn't I don't.  

I accept the basic Tory argument that business risk taking and innovation create the wealth (no that doesn't mean I am uncritical of business, wealth extractors v wealth creators) to pay for public services. I also agree with the lefts advocacy of things like universal healthcare and education (but not at any cost).

So where are we now ? (Sept 19)

Not in a good place.

The EU won't talk trade which is just about what every Brexiter wants until a political agreement is signed and sealed. In my opinion the EU is fearful that if the UK is successful after Brexit that this will encourage other countries to question its purpose. This is already happening right across Europe, the media labels it "populism" but fails to identify what is causing this widespread disaffection. Populism and anti EU sentiments are a symptom of a problem with the EU. 

To someone like myself this refusal by the EU to conduct and agree a trade deal  even without political plain crazy. The EU is treating Britain as an adversary. If no trade deal is struck it risks thousands of jobs on both sides of the Channel. A study by a University in Belgium put the potential job losses at over a million.

The refusal to agree a trade deal is more evidence that the EU puts preserving its own power and authority ahead of the welfare of its own people. I'm afraid I don't want to be a part of such an organisation.

I believe with goodwill the possible negatives of Leaving could be reduced to near zero. Sadly there seems to be little goodwill about. Britain does not deserve to be treated like some pariah state.

You'll notice that I haven't mentioned UK politics much here, the reason for that is simple. Brexit is less about simplistic RIGHT BAD LEFT GOOD of UK politics and is more about the direction and operation of the European Union.

 I don't expect you to agree. But thanks for reading all the same.

I'll put a video that outlines a very similar position to my own.
I don't so much agree with his politics but his analysis of the EU and its faults are very close to my own.

Andy Mercer's website

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Andy Mercer - Older works II

"Three Old Ladies in the Park". a painting from way back. It was a finalist in a televised art competition.  

It was also reserved for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. 

A few months after leaving college I was walking through the park and spotted these three old dears sitting amongst spring blossoms. 

It feels like a picture from a different age.. 

Andy Mercer's website

Sunday 20 September 2015

It's a digital world and artists need to get use to it..

Fine artists and Fine Art experts (so called) have been getting their knickers in a twist about "digital art" for a few years now. This culminated recently in my work being pulled without explanation by an art site.

Many "fine" artists will tell you digital art isn't real art or is inferior in some way. In order for it to be real art the artist must have produced it by hand preferably with a brush. Now this really is nonsense.

It's a digital world and some Luddites in the art world need to get used to it.

But first lets talk about rocket engines.

Elon Musk CEO OF SpaceX is a very clever guy and as far as I can see he creates rocket engines by waving his hands around in front of a monitor.

He makes rocket engines using his computer digitally and then guess what he prints them using a 3D printer and titanium. Nobody dare say to Elon.. "these aren't real rocket engines because you didn't personally hammer them into shape". I suspect if they did Elon would laugh in their face and show them out.

Are his rocket engines worse because he designs them and alters them digitally with his computer ? Nope they are likely to be better.

Ok I hear you say.. "there's a difference between rocket engines and art." True.. so lets talk about music.

Does anyone say to musicians they should stop going into studios to produce music.. because the end result is digital and therefore not real music. Real music has to be played live. I like live music.. but it is nonsense to say only live music is real music.

Even live musicians are recording their music, which is a digital process.
So if a musician decides that the crowd was noisier in Pittsburgh than in Delaware but the performance in Delaware was better.. and decides that he will take the crowd noise from Pittsburgh and add it to the performance in Delaware. Is that bad or good ? If you buy a download.. that's a digital download should I complain about it ? Of course not.. nobody cares.

Does anyone even refer to it as "digital music".. no ! Nobody is hung up about it, Which makes the often heated debate amongst fine artists even weirder.

Have you looked at art online ? All of that art is digital to an extent.. even the paintings.
I hear you say.. "Why" ?
Because it has been photographed and that creates a digital image that can be uploaded and viewed online. So when someone labels an artwork as a painting.. this isn't 100% true. I've yet to see painting dripping from inside my monitor. What you are looking at is "a DIGITAL photograph of a painting".  Heaven forbid the artist decides he will alter a color or line in the photograph because with each tweak it is less of a photograph of a painting and more a new digital work. This is the way this new digital world works.. it allows you to carry on being creative when you've finished a painting or drawing or photographing or designing a rocket engine.. whatever.

Supposing a I have two paintings one of the right side of my garden and the other is a painting of the left.. and I decide I will join the two photographs of these painting together digitally to make one picture of the whole garden. Of course if I tell you this work is a painting.. then that is a lie.  But it isn't really digital art either.

Does this somehow mean it isn't valid anymore ? Does it fig,
That's like saying recorded music isn't music ? Of course if you paid for a live concert and all they  played was recorded music that would also be a lie.

In my case I take images.. quite often loads of images and blend them digitally into one new image. Does this make it inferior in some way ?

I like you reader so I'm going to give you an image.. if you like it print it, hang it your wall, have it as my little present to you for putting up with my ramblings on all things digital.

It's a bit wide for this blog but I hope you like it. It's a panorama of Limasoll Bay in Cyprus. I was a bit sad really because Rita Ora jogged past and I missed taking a photo of her because I was too busy asking my wife who that woman was.. because she looked familiar. I thought it was Rihanna.  But I digress.

"It's a photograph".. I hear you mutter.  Well sort of.. its about ten different photographs.
In the days before you could easily do a panorama on your Iphone I created this image by merging these images together digitally (not that well, to be honest). So it is more a digital work than an actual photograph of the place. On the left hand side you can see the same couple both in the water and out of it. I'm not in the habit of painting my toe nails either so I admit my wife took a couple of the shots.. so the work becomes a digital photographic montage collaboration between myself and my wife. I'm also in the photograph doing an Alfred Hitchcock I'm the guy with the straw hat.. so I am included in a work I created digitally. "What a fraud" I hear you say "how can that be art if you didn't take the picture yourself ?" Why not ? It was my idea

When Ansel Adams (the famous photographer) was asked which equipment he used to make his photographs he replied "his eye".  I'm quite sure Ansel wouldn't be worrying about whether digital works are art.

That photograph (see how easy it is to still refer to it as a photograph) may be a good example of how "digital" is everywhere in art but it isn't really typical of what i do. In my case my creative process continues when I scan in drawings, paintings, photographs etc. Instead of finishing there I continue to work on them (digitally) until you can hardly recognise the original images.

At one end of the spectrum you have genuine 100% digital art where none of the image exists outside the computer and these images can even be generated using mathematic formulae. (Fractals), and at the other you have very slight alterations to say a photograph. All of the images produced from one end of the spectrum to the other are "digital" to an extent.  But some retain almost all of their original non digital imagery and at the other end of the spectrum you have 100% digital imagery.. should all these images be classed as digital ?

I think this is where the whole debate about digital v traditional art becomes a nonsense. Because we can safely say that almost all the people viewing "art" are seeing it as a digital image most of the time, via monitors etc nobody worries one iota about it.  Even the paintings of the most traditionalist painters who spend their time attacking digital art are most likely seen by most as a digital image (photograph). The distinction between traditional and digital art exists only in the minds of a few artists.. its ALL just art. The ART is the creative part not the way it is produced.

In my case I tend to start with real drawings and scan them. I might also add in bits of photographs some digital some not, I then get to work on these bit using image manipulation software. The software can't make a bad image good.. that it is still down to the skill of the artist.

Here's an example of my art. You may or may not like it.. that's your choice. But in what way does the digital process of its creation make it not art ? You can see quite a lot of the image is drawn.. they are scanned drawings. But other parts are taken from photographs.. and other bits are scanned bits of text. The red sun is a red sticker taken from a jar of jam. When folks order this work I look for a sticker in the kitchen I can stick on the print I send them. What I like abut working this way is the ability it gives me to produce a different kind of imagery and to be flexible.  I can alter almost every print I produce.

Here's an another..

Now is this a drawing or a digital work because it isn't the same as the original drawing it is based on ?  I moved the sausages so does that mean it is now digital art ? The whole debate is very silly when you think about. It doesn't really matter to me what it is called but for the record I would label this a "print taken from a drawing" for a customer. 

In no other area of human endeavour does the use of digital technology cause a similar debate.. its a digital world and visual artists need to get used to it.

Right thanks.. I got that off my chest and can go to sleep now.

Andy Mercer's website

Monday 6 July 2015

Andy Mercer - Older works

I decided it would be a good idea to let folks see some of my older works. 

Triple Kings II 

Triple Kings II 

I created this work for a competition to design a Christmas card back in the 1990's. It was selected as a finalist and exhibited at Bonhams auction house in London. 

It's a combination of a pastel and pen drawing with extra drawn elements laid over the top. So its a sort of collage. 

It's quite interesting because it pre dates my digital works but has quite a few similarities. 

It has sold regularly since as a Christmas card

As an image I think I prefer the one below but it is maybe a bit dark for a Christmas card. 
Triple Kings III

Andy Mercer's website

Sunday 17 August 2014

City Lines

Latest version of my CITY LINES animation

Had a lot of fun and hit a lot of snags along the way with this. It sort of seemed logical as I like line drawings to string them together. Personally I like images that are rough at the edges so I'm happy with it, I know it will probably drive serious animators round the twist.

I'm indebted to the very talented Dorothea Baker of Melbourne Australia for allowing me to use her music.

 Andy Mercer's website

Saturday 29 March 2014

A busy week..


There have been a number of interesting developments over the last week. 

Zatista is a US based website selling original art and limited edition prints. I've not heard of it myself but OneKingsLane is a premier US home decor site. 

"We are thrilled to announce that Zatista will be doing a curated event with One King's Lane, the premier e-commerce site for home decor, fashion and accessories.

A special collection from Zatista has been selected to be offered for sale on One King's Lane from 30th March to Aprilt 15th For the duration of the event we will be placing the selected works on hold on Zatista so that they are exclusively offered to the One King's Lane audience.

The even better news is that your work has been chosen by the board of curators to be part of the collection! This opportunity provides incredible exposure to millions of potential buyers." 

So I have got to be pleased that three of my works have been selected from among many thousands on the Zatista website. 

Alice James Books
A couple of days ago I was approached by Alice James Books, a nonprofit poetry press based in the US, to inquire about using one of your pieces on the cover of one of their forthcoming books. The piece they are interested in is:

"UrbanizaciĆ³n 3"

They want to use it as a color picture for the cover of a book of poems, entitled Refuge/es by Michael Broek with a publication dates of May 2015. I hope to post pics of the final cover when I get a copy. 

New Mills Art Festival 2014
"Congratulations! We are delighted to inform you that your work has been selected for New Mills ArtsFEST 2014 Town Trail." 

I'm always pleased to find new and different locations to show my art, and the New Mills Art Festival appealed to me. From 17th May – 1st June more than 30 artists, from across the UK, display their work in unusual places and spaces, windows and pop-up venues across New Mills, as part of the annual festival. Turning the town into a gallery, the trail can be viewed at any time, and creates opportunities for residents and visitors going about their daily business to encounter a wide range of contemporary art

New Mills Arts, founded in 2012, is an artist-led initiative passionate about the promotion of contemporary art and raising the profile of New Mills.


Dean Gibson School, Kendal

I'm also pleased to announce the installation of the artwork below which was produced as a collaboration with Yr 5 at Dean Gibson Primary School Kendal. The work has been installed in their learning lab. (Site pictures to follow) 

The kids created the majority individual elements and I brought them all together into one digital work. I love the way kids don't have any boundaries.. they just do it ! The work is printed onto acrylic and the colours really zing. Well done kids ! 

And last but not least this week my work has been featured in the Artfinder "City Life" newsletter.

Many thanks to all the above for supporting for my work. I can't wait for next week ;)

Sunday 25 August 2013

Miro at the train station

On holiday (vacation) in Puerto Pollensa on the island of Majorca, we decided after a few days relaxing in the sun to take a trip through the mountains to the north coast of this beautiful island. We stopped at the wonderful Lluc Monastery the spiritual heart of the island. It always amazes that people without any faith who never step foot in a church will happily pile into churches and religious sites while on holiday, but thats another story.

After a couple of short stops we reached Port Soller, a delightful coastal town on the north coast of the island. The town is known for its charming position surrounded by high mountains, orange groves and its delightful harbour. Majorca has been a favorite destination for Brits since the 1960's and flights to the sun first became affordable to the masses. This is the less developed part of Majorca with none of the large hotels and apartment blocks.

Harbour side Restaurant in Port Soller 

Port Soller is linked by an old tram with the town of the same name a mile or two inland. The plan was to transfer from the tram onto the scenic railway that would take us back through the mountains towards the city of Palma. The tram clattered and wobbled it's way through the orange and lemon groves into the town of Soller and the journey ended at the railway station, where we were informed we would have to wait an hour for the train to depart. So finding we had an hour to kill in the Soller we started to walk back down into the centre of town in the 30C heat. It was then I spotted a poster showing unmistakable Miro work outside the station.

The town of Soller surrounded by high mountains

I thought "surely not".. an exhibition of Miro works in the train station ? But there they were inside the train station in what was probably once a waiting room. And not only that there was a separate exhibition of Picasso ceramics in another room. (I have to admit I'm not a massive fan of Picasso) Either of these collections would warrant a major show in London with security, massive queues and big big publicity but here they were almost unnoticed by the majority of folks waiting for the train in this small sleepy town in northern Majorca.

Miro's work is almost synonymous with modern Spain and he is unique in being an artist whose work has somehow taken on a life of its own. It doesn't appear dated. Miro and Gaudi are the two artists who we have come to be identifiedwith modern Spain, and especially the great city of Barcelona.

He created the "Espana" logo widely copied adapted for Spanish tourist brochures around  the world.  

Could you imagine an important exhibition of art works at some small town rail station in Britain or the States ? I love exhibitions in random non art locations, I tried to arrange an exhibition this year at Preston Bus Station but the powers that be seem intent on knocking it down.. the fools. (But that is also another story) So these show's ticked boxes for me. 

So if you are in Majorca and want to get away from the holiday crowds its definitely worth a visit to Soller station.

The trip back via the mountain railway is also spectacular.