University of Sussex Media Release.

9 March 2000
For immediate release

It began as a rumbling dissatisfaction with the state of contemporary art, grew into a local Sussex protest and is now an international movement supported by Prince Charles, the celebrated Estonian composer Arvo Pärt and Indian dramatist Rustom Barucha.

This year the fourth annual conference of New Metaphysical Art at the University of Sussex has attracted speakers from North America, India and Peru.

The one-day event, which is scheduled for 8 April, in the Chichester Lecture Theatre, will once again be addressing the issue of what can be done to counteract the trivialisation of art.

Ninian Smart, Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of California, will look at 'Art as the Exploration of Spiritual Experience'. Indian filmmaker Rajan Khosa will introduce and show his film Dance of the Wind, Peruvian poet Raul Peschiera will launch the sixth edition of international literary magazine The Literary Review and contemporary composer James MacMillan will talk about 'Inspiration and Music'.

From closer to home, Gabriel Josipovici, author and Visiting Fellow at Sussex, will explore the argument "Why Art Matters" and Norbert Lynton, Emeritus Professor of History of Art at Sussex, will introduce and discuss the work of Sussex painter Harold Mockford, who will also be available for questions.

Sussex's Professor of Arts Education Peter Abbs, who is a founder of NMA (along with composer Jonathan Harvey and choreographer Anna Carlisle), will read from his poetic work Love After Sappho.

Professor Abbs said the group's campaign against the "uncritical and endless use of parody and pastiche in art" continues: "We need art which is defiant, passionate, metaphysical and utterly inexorable."

He said the way forward is to encourage a global dialogue between philosophies and to look beyond the Western world to understand the role that art still plays in primitive and indigenous cultures.

"Modern art, even the Turner Prize, has become institutionalised," he said. "There could be something better than this. If we don't begin to confront the future, it looks very bleak. We are the true avant garde."

The NMA conference in on Saturday 8 April, in the Chichester Lecture Theatre, from 9.30am until 8pm. For tickets contact the NMA Administrator, Lorna Pidgeon, on 01273 678348.

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