There are two types of people in the world, encouragers and discouragers. Associate yourself with the latter and you become a mirrored reflection, allowing yourself to be slowly drained of enthusiasm and letting self doubt consume your existence, give it enough time and you will become a shell of what was once a positive, upbeat personality. Not one individual can be blamed for discouragement, it’s a mass movement that’s popularity has grown in trend and my only advice to release such monstrosities is to find yourself a great group of encouragers. Allow them to overjoy you with motivation, to reconstruct your self esteem and to alleviate the possibilities of living a worthier life.

That’s what I did and bloody hell what a difference.

You know it’s going to be a good night when you catch your mum shooting coffee patron with her hands tied behind her back, using only her mouth and whipping her head back like a possessed Justin Hawkins just as the Rattray’s arrive bringing with them a ‘borrowed’ buffet from an earlier art exhibition. Male and female models promenading around with anti war slogans slapped across their bare naked chests, women carrying around feminist posters like a group of suffragettes, amongst ‘Dont Shoot’ paintings and beautiful illustrations of children effected by war, drawn by local art students.

Welcome to ‘Without War’ A protest against the man.

A collaboration of creatives and the love child of artist/performer Titi Finlay and singer/songwriter Daniel Paris brought together through an aggravated force of frustration against the man. The pair decided to work together to build a night of liberation, acceptance and peace, delivering favourable talents of Dundee through the mediums of Art, Poetry and Music. Daniel took the opportunity to introduce his forthcoming debut single ‘Within a suit’ and enthusiastically allowed Titi to paint live on the evening his record cover, an event like no other, an event which united a huge group of encouragers, an event I was overwhelmed and proud to be a part of.

The night kicked off with a short and punchy introduction by Art Professor Mr Mike Press and proceeded with Daniel performing his album tracks, taking breaks in between to allow other acts to do their turn. This prolific evening seen moving performances by established entertainers including Elliot Nettleship, Dubiety Brown of The Onion Club, Gav McGinty and Dave Webster of AMWF, Sean McGouldrick, spoken word by Holly Scanlan of Gigi Bobs her Hair and a cabaret performance by Pipi Ginlay which kept the warm crowd amused. Other contributors to the protest involved original artwork by Craig Wright and Dougie Harley, propaganda posters by Ruadhan Scanlan, body painting by Shauna McGregor, a DJ set by Nathan Bell of North East and Sister Swedge and photography by Kathryn Rattray.

The underground venue was filled with an array of characters who eagerly gathered around the stage, whooping, cheering and buoyantly dancing in the upbeat atmosphere. I’m still in awe and amazement of Titi’s effort throughout the evening, amongst frantically raving with myself and Dandy Pike, networking with special guests and a fair few trips to the bar, she still managed to complete the task in hand and produced a jaw dropping 4ft x 4ft painting, filled with exquisite detailing and engaging colour. My friend’s talent goes beyond reason.

Titi is a graduate from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (University of Dundee) where she completed an honours degree in Fine Art. Her contemporary paintings reveal a deep and meaningful approach, highlighting social issues including gender equality and racism, contrasting vibrancy and vitality make her paintings atmospherically pop and take the viewer onto a journey. Exploring political themes such as the American civil rights movement and black history Titi intertwines her love of music through her work which establishes the recent partnership with Daniel Paris.

Daniel is a current Law student at the University here in Dundee, the up and coming musician manages to captivate his audience with his soothing voice, melodic progression and heart hitting lyrics. Also influenced and inspired by world issues he reminds me of a young Bob Dylan, scruffy in appearance, harmonica holder firmly in place and adorning his signature hat It’s difficult not to be drawn in by his raw talent and magnetic stage presence. His album is intelligently crafted and something I would be keen to listen to again and again.

A sterling partnership and a praiseworthy evening which highlighted current affairs and global issues in a peaceful and positive manner, allowing the contributors and observers to glimpse into problems that still govern our surroundings, bringing together thoughts and views of the people who live closest to us, leaving us not discouraged but encouraged.

Long live the VEF and Daniel Paris, he’s better than Queen.

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All images by Kathryn Rattray of Twisted Flax

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