Monday, 30 December 2013

This writing challenge came up on facebook and I figured it would be a lovely way to start 2014. The idea is quite simple, everyday for the month of January, and beyond if you like, pay attention to one thing and write it down, this is a small stone. I have set up a blog to note mine down and written a couple of practice lines. I think the self imposed, but supported, discipline of writing once a day, everyday, could be quite cathartic.

Friday, 27 December 2013

As christmas celebrations are drawing to a close I am beginning to think about my hopes and aspirations for the coming year but I am unsure which way to face. 
Today I have been mulling over the possibilities. My application for Cley 14 failed, which, oddly, felt right. Funny that rejection can be a relief sometimes. I am still interested in making a body of work that relates to that stretch of coast but I am glad to be able to do it in my own time without the constraints of a brief. I think that after five years in intensive education it will be quite heavenly to soften and release into making. To offer my creativity space and freedom to grow, where and how it will, for a little while, unhindered by external moderation. 
Taking time to pause, take breath, be quiet is not really a very great part of everyday english culture. We are taught from quite young to be competitive and ambitious, or else be worthless, well least ways it seems that way. It makes me uncomfortable. I don't know why it is important to be the best, to have more, be more commended, it doesn't seem to foster contentment, rather the opposite in fact.
I find myself longing for a hideaway where I can watch the small things happening, where I can gather berries and leaves for dyeing, and stitch and fiddle, and read and write. Perhaps this is my next great dream upon which I need to embark. Perhaps my next step is to let go, to relinquish the "I should"s and start out the new year with the gentle aim of following my true course, using starlight and joy, my heart and spirit, to guide me. 
I will admit to being frightened by this pathway. Where will it take me ? It feels like drifting, sometimes, and I am seized by a desire to take hold, to take control, to create a more obvious point of focus than peace, a more easily achievable, quantifiable outcome. 
I haven't posted much in my blog of late because I have been contemplating these ideas and not really sure what to say, but today I felt that if I put my thoughts into words on "paper" it might help me to envision my future with more courage and faith.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

And another one. "Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light ...". Very nice.

Christmas is coming. Time for a tune. An old classic, sweet and sad. A song from my youth, and one that calls up all sorts of christmas memories.

Friday, 22 November 2013

I have been cutting pieces of eucalyptus bark into strips for basket weaving. I did a weekend workshop with a wonderful basket maker Mary Butcher a few years ago, but I've not had a chance to do any basketry since. So today has been about reminding myself through trial and error, and, through that trial and error, how to play. Play is so important, for me it is almost always from that free space that the work I love the best comes about. I'm not saying the pieces I made today are works of art by any stretch of the imagination, but, after a few weeks of feeling stuck I can begin to feel a little movement. It is a testament to Mary's teaching that the methods she taught us were still in my head, and close enough to the surface for me to remember. 

Friday, 15 November 2013

My last trip to Cley before I submit my proposal for the NNEP annual summer exhibition. I went with Colin Johnson again, and we spent the main body of our visit taking photographs of the church and exploring the village. Pathways are always interesting to me, where we as animals run. Our bodies over time forming tracks like water in the creeks of the marshes. We picked a small quantity of sloes for my dyeing experiments, and admired the clematis and the spindle berries. 
The beach drew us at the end, and we walked a little way along the tideline, picking up scrap and, in Colin's case seaweed for inspiration. 
For me, whether my application is successful or not, I feel as if I have taken steps along a journey that I am enjoying too much to give up, so expect to see more of Cley over the next few months whatever the outcome of my submission.


Friday, 8 November 2013

So this is my work for the American Craft Council Vintage Photo Project.

I feel very honoured to have been given this opportunity but also quite shy. It's strange, quite exposing, to see my work on someone else's website. "Is it good enough ?" "Did I do enough ?". Some of the other projects are really good I loved Rebecca Seimering's Star Light Cape and Matthew Courtway's prints.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

This is the website address of a fascinating documentary film-maker that I met on my return journey from Cley last week. I wanted to share because I have been so inspired by our meeting. I hope that in passing it on anyone who reads my blog will have a chance to be inspired similarly. There is something about internet exposure that has a chinese whisper quality which is fine but I want to direct anyone who reads my blog directly to the source because I think she tells her stories well.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

And the other thing I've been doing is getting my loom set up. I bought it secondhand some time ago but while I was at uni I used the studio ones and I got a little scared of mine as it was a different make and design. But, my friend Aviva, came and had a look at it, and with her help I now have a short lambswool warp ready to go. I am letting myself play while I get accustomed to the quirks and foibles of the loom. And actually, although it is a little bit wobbly on it's stand, in all other ways it is lovely to use, soft and quiet. And, it is a joy to be weaving again.

I'm all behind times with my blog because I was writing up my trip to the Dordogne. But just for the record I've taken couple of trips out to Cley-next-the-sea, Norfolk researching for a submission. A submission is not the same as getting the gig so I am going with hope, and a resolve to enjoy the process of applying because it may not come to anything. Anyway, Cley was beautiful on both days. The first visit was on Oct 22nd, I went with my friend Colin and we happily spent a couple of hours beach-combing the tide line towards Blakeney. It was sometimes grey, and sometimes rainy, and sometimes the sun broke through. We saw a seal and ate our lunches, looking inland, next to the Watch House, a victorian cottage built on the edge of the Blakeney marshes.
On Nov 1st, my second trip, I caught the train to Sheringham, and then the coasthopper bus to Cley. I'd thought to look at the church, and the lanes around it, but my instincts drew me back to the beach. I walked in the opposite direction towards Salthouse, along the seashore and then back on the path between the beach and the marshes. 
One of the highlights of the walk was seeing a small flock of snow buntings grazing and low-fluttering on the grass by the side of the path. I had not seen them before and one of the birdwatchers said they were probably migrants from scandinavia. The light is quite low now that it is autumn and I got a couple of quite nice shots of the marshes I think, given that I am an amateur. Also one of a sock on a post which I just liked.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Oct 12th - the last full day in France began with rain. Heavy rain. Beating down on our tents and dripping through seams and small, found weak spots. The prospect of taking down our camp and re-pitching it sometime close on dusk in a new campsite further up towards Calais was not filling any of us with joy I think but needs must. 
So first off we began the day dismantling and packing up tents and praying for the weather to break. The plan was to break the journey back up to Calais in to two parts, taking in a trip to Rouffignac on the way and re-pitching somewhere closer to port so as not to miss our ferry home. The prospect of wet tents and damp bedding was not great.
Rouffingnac was incredible. The cave was vast. It had been inhabited and used from way back. By cave bears, who left un-countable claw marks in the walls and worn out hollows where their beds had been. By cro-magnon man, the reason for trip. And by modern man, who had left candle smoke names dating back to the 18th century. The beautiful paintings made by early man had been near covered by this graffiti over the years and had had to be painstakingly cleaned with cotton buds. It's hard to imagine the care that would have had to have gone into that and it could be thought of as yet another layer of history belonging to the cave. After the wow of Rouffignac we set off towards calais with no sure place to sleep that night.
But, we had Anna, and Anna managed to find us a gite to stay in. So, for the last night of our holiday, we had central heating, and a hot, hot shower and beds and a real kitchen with a table, and lights and a fire and an electric kettle. Glorious decadence, glorious luxury and comfort.
And setting off home, it seemed we were mostly well rested and happy.
Oct 13th - we gathered to thank our stars and vans packed, our drivers steeled themselves for the final marathon drive and set off for home arriving home in Norwich in the small hours of Oct 14th. It was nice to be home. My son had done a good job of cat sitting. Going away had filled me with new faces, new places, new ideas and notions, all good, and had also reminded me how much I love my home, my family, and what I love about my life as it is at the moment. Home sweet home.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Oct 11th - Font des Gaume and les Combarelles and another trip to the little museum in les Eyzies where I took photographs of leaf prints on the concrete walkway. Of all the caves we visited I think that les Combarelles was the one I really loved. The visit was intimate just six of us and a guide. The cave was only slightly lit and we were close enough to touch the engravings though obviously we didn't. The pictures were exquisite reminding me of Elizabeth Frink's wonderful animal prints. 

Oct 10th - felt very fragile when I got up and out of my tent in the morning. The previous night I'd been suddenly very sick with a dizziness that allowed me to walk no more than a few steps without dropping to the floor. The view from my tent was idyllic, but camping didn't feel wonderful while I was being ill. The group leader and one of the women minded me while I wobbled through the day. I managed to walk around les Eyzies and look at the small free museum. And later walked a little bit around Abri de Cap Blanc and the Chateau Commarque, following, perhaps, a boar path through a bed of reeds. 
By the evening I was beginning to feel better, the sky was clear and full of stars and wood was gathered and sawn and a small fire pit lit and chestnuts were roasted and stories told. I went to bed feeling better. 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Oct 8th/9th - at St Leon-sur-Vezere we were camping at a municipal campsite which was a different camping experience. It was situated by the river which was lovely, but their was a through-path which made it feel less safe and also less free. Our tents were pitched close to each other and the experience was much less peaceful than the previous site. 

I needed to take time to be quiet so on both days I skipped group activities and went for short walks on my own. On the 8th I explored the village and went a little way out by the river past the small chateau, through a walnut orchard and out to the fields. Not adventurous but nice. 

On the 9th, I woke missing the quiet and comfort of home, and familiar faces. I walked to Sergeac along the other side of the river. It was good to be alone to ponder life while walking, taking in sights and sounds at my own pace. At Sergeac I sat in the churchyard and all I could hear was birdsong, and trees rustling in the breeze. Very lovely. When I walked back my lift to the next campsite had texted to say he'd be late so I was able to wander in a different direction out of St Leon on a small road. And also to take time to photograph some of the meadow flowers and watch the clouded yellow butterflies.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Oct 7th - from the campsite at Thonac we walked to St Leon-sur-Vezere, again beautiful sunshine. The air was still and fresh and the many, many spider's webs sparkling wet from the morning mist. 

After Montignac, most of the travelling group walked to Lascaux 2 to see the cave paintings. The paintings were impressive and beautiful. However, being reproductions, they were trumped for atmosphere later in the holiday by the original paintings and engravings at Font de Gaume and les Combarelles sited further down the river valley.
The visit to Lascaux was followed by a 7 or 8 mile walk through beautiful sun-soaked countryside, small villages and sweet chestnut woodland, following small roads and well marked paths through Brenac and Valojoulx to Thonac, which was close to our first campsite, just as the day was drawing to a close. 

Oct 6th - visited Montignac, the sun was shining, the little streets were quaint and the graffiti gorgeous. I particularly enjoyed the cats who were very busy defending their small territories, observing each other with obvious suspicion.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

I've just been away in the Vezere valley, Dordogne, for a week. I want to write poetically but my words keep coming out wrong so I'm going to start at the beginning and write it like a diary a bit at a time. 
Oct 4th & 5th - after a fairly epic journey from England, the group arrived at the first campsite and set up the tents and a yurt. We were camping at the top of a grass hill surrounded by trees. Later the sky was bright with stars, static and shooting. I fell asleep listening to owls calling. And woke with doleful church bells, cocks crowing and birdsong, to a drench of autumn dew.


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

I have blue mushrooms in my garden, I get them every year. I don't know if they are edible or not but they always seem amazing and remind me of Alice in Wonderland. " Who are you ?" said the caterpillar.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Friday, 20 September 2013

There are not so many flowers in my garden now. Some jasmine, some balsam, some persicara, some fuschia, all now fading. But the cyclamen and ivy are just putting on their autumn show. And there are still butterflies. Summer is drawing to a close, but not quite yet.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

I spent a very lovely afternoon yesterday with Colin Johnson,, looking at his studio space and discussing his work and mine, and other stuff besides; connections, walking, found objects, fabric, deterioration, light, stitch, dye, exhibiting and other artists whose work we admire, the list goes on. 
I met Colin last December when he kindly agreed to let me interview him for my dissertation essay. He is a beachcomber, artist and printmaker, amongst other things, and his work has a quiet brilliance that I really love. We share many interests, and I really appreciate his friendship as an artist some-many steps ahead of me. Our work and work process meet and mirror in many places, but we are also different enough to be bringing new ideas to the table that suggest and provoke new creative directions. I think, I hope, this feeling is mutual.

Monday, 16 September 2013

I've been working on a project for the American Crafts Council and I've been anxious about it because my preliminary work didn't feel quite good enough. However, over the weekend I had a breakthrough, I really should learn to trust my process, and it is falling in to place now. 
I was sent some archive photographs to make into a set of playing cards. The photographs were very cool, rockets, and presidents wives, and mad inventions, and craftwork, and I think, initially, I was a bit in awe of them, afraid to cut them up and play. But now that I have bitten the bullet I am really enjoying using them, and as always happens learning from my making. I will put up a project gallery on my website when I am finished but for now here are a few pictures of the work so far.