Today I was called into the DWP on suspicion of fraud. Somebody had told the Jokeshop that I am working. I function, yes. The mis-use of the word 'working' applying it as 'working for profit' is something I have to dispute with the people who do not use the English language properly.
I am 'working' flat-out but it is voluntary, non-profit. I do this so that I can achieve a better paid job in the industry I am already a part of. Because i need to pay my bills, buy food and clothes for my son and myself, and eventually work up to affording to own and run a car so that I can expand my potential. These are normal aspirations in the real-world community I subsist in.
While I was in the Jokeshop the 2 security guards stood ten feet away from me;
"Who's he then?" asked one.
"Here to see [name witheld]" explained the other.
"A loser." said the first.
"YES!" emphatically asserted the second.
At this stage I decided to put in a formal complaint.
I explained to the fraud officer that I am not working for money and requested to know how many hours I can work and what is the maximum amount I can earn before my benefits are capped. I was given a phone number.
After this I had another meeting with the Hwb which is funded by the EU to get people into appropriate paid employment. Their ethos is entirely different to the DWP. They even gave me a coffee. On their computers we checked out the DWP website which states that a person in my situation can earn up to uk£115 per week 'permitted income' without it affecting their benefits. Were I to get a job earning that much it would double my income, it is equivalent to doing two eight-hour shifts per week at national minimum wage.
Why the DWP could not give me this information when I spoke with them face to face is illustrative of their refusal to help people and the prejudice inherent in their system. Following this I went to the Works which is a chainstore providing cheap stuff, books and artistic materials. I was looking for something to entertain my 5 year old with which does not involve computer games.
I discovered a paperback 144 pages long (masonic numbers) written by Anita Taylor and Paul Thomas who were two of my teachers when I got my Fine Arts (honours) degree in Cheltenham Art School of Gloucester University; a qualification which has proved useless in securing me regular work because 'everybody expects artists to work for free'.
The Hwb are arranging for me to do litter picking as a voluntary activity so that I can build up some respect regarding my 'work ethos'. I was up last night between the hours of 3am and 5am doing voluntary work within cyberspace helping somebody to make a short animated film about Life Aspirations with half a dozen other members of our internationally based crew. This is non-profit but involvement with it looks good on our CV's within the VR and animation industries.
While in the Hwb I also picked up a flyer from a company who can for uk£500 per month provide you with a website (which I can build for free in a few hours), a domain name (which I can get you for uk£3 per year), and some flyers and business cards (which I can get you for less than uk£30). I know this for a fact because this is what I have paid for these things myself after researching beyond 'picking up flyers and getting other people to do everything for me'. When I point out that the offline economy relies on scams to establish positions of employment, the technical name of which is ‘false economy’ - and that I can undercut all my rivals in that marketplace, the people working in the employment industries think I am talking shit. This is the problem with the cultural difference between the cyber-pro's and the non-internet people. People think I am lying and regard this as a sign of me being mentally unstable and therefore unfit for regular paid work, hence me being on benefits. Who am I to judge relative values ?
The following is a copy-block-quote from Drawing a foundation course by Anita Taylor and Paul Thomas, my teachers at uni. It relates to the title of this piece; Judging Relative Values.
"When we draw from imagination, we gather together the strands of our visual experiences, link them with associative memories that can incorporate all of our senses and try to reform the world in one coherent image. Having identified a subject, we try and find the right form in which to express our thoughts and feelings in relation to the subject."
"Is there such a thing as subjective drawing? The idea that an image can be completely subjective is not possible, or even very interesting. It is the way in which our experience of the world around us, and its fantastic variety of shapes and forms, can be transformed into compelling images capable of ever more inventive associations. It is through these carefully mediated associations that poetry comes into being. The world around us waits for us to recognise its potential in poetic observation."
NB the word recognise spelled with an 's' not a 'z' in this book.
Well, I had a difference of opinion with my lecturers regarding their working assumption. To summarize:
"Is there such a thing as subjective drawing? The idea that an image can be completely subjective is not possible, or even very interesting."
Despite what they say, that is what my own art is all about - the distinction between the projected concept and the observation of the actual object. This thing is crucial into developing a better artist, a better observer, a more acute mind. To see only what we project onto the world - that is hell, that is inability to adapt to change.