Thursday, 17 December 2015

More plant twine. This is crocosmia, it is quite fine and greenish. 

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Friday, 20 November 2015

The next day was dryer, our plan was to trade shiatsu treatments but in the end time ran out and Pema gave me a treatment which included "the story of the buddha and the thief". In the afternoon we met up with a friend of hers who quilts and had made beautiful little quilted pieces out of pretty reproduction victorian cottons. 
I had taken my prayer pieces with me, with some shyness knowing that she was a skilled needlewoman. As we exchanged our work we both confessed to feeling inferior to each other's skills and instantly formed a rapport which took all three of us into conversation about textiles, yes, but also femininity, culture, politics, passion, prayer, poetry, and so much more, time flew by. 
The following day was my journey home but we managed to squeeze in a shiatsu treatment for Pema before heading to the station. 
The journey home was long but my heart and soul felt nourished by my brief visit. It is extraordinarily tonic to leave home for a little while and spend time in the company of new and good friends.

Finally we went to Pema's meditation group for soup and three rounds of meditation, two sitting and one silent contemplation in between. The group happened to be held in the home of an artist to which her studio was attached, seeing her work has helped me to re-access my creative being which has been feeling exhausted and lack-lustre recently. 
She had bundles and books and paintings and pottery, and more than that the whole place was an art work, and so was she. It was also really lovely to meditate in company.
Later in the day we went to a buddhist retreat centre and the sun broke through just as it was setting 

The following morning was wet, pouring rain and the mountain was shrouded in mist. My hosts assured me that there was a mountain. It was all very eery and magical, it felt very welsh, the soft damp, the air sweet, and the calls and whistles of the shepherd as he and his dog moved sheep from one field to the next.

The week before last I went to Wales to visit a friend. She lives deep in the country, and her home is nestled just beneath a small mountain. Our meeting was one of those lucky breaks that life sometimes hands a body. It was brief, just two days on a shiatsu mentoring workshop but we kept in touch and she felt close although we had had no face to face contact for the five years between our first meeting and this recent re-encounter. 
I really love light-touch friends, people with whom it is easy to reconnect no matter how long we have been apart, people who feel connected even when they faraway and long ago. Good friends make all the difference.
It was a brief stay with a day of train travel either side, which is alot a sitting for someone not fond of sitting. But arriving in to Wales I was able to watch the sun set over the sea as we tracked the north coast to Llandudno Junction. 
She and her husband met me at the station and we fell straight in to chat as if we had known each other forever, some people are just easy company. I was made welcome when we arrived to their home by their two of their beautiful children who made us all hot drinks and supper. In the evening we watched a film "Marvellous" in front of a roaring fire.  

Saturday, 31 October 2015

As a late birthday treat my friend of many years Sally took me to the beach. We walked from Eccles to Sea Palling and then back again. It was warm, the sun was shining and the sea was turquoise. We chit-chatted and gazed and dropped our heads to beach-comb, looking for sea-glass and witch stones (stones with holes) and small scraps of drift wood. Then we ate chips outside the cafe/chip-shop in Sea Palling, and dark chocolate truffles. It was a perfect day. We even saw a couple of butterflies, raggedy peacocks making the most of the last days of this year's sunshine, and a dragon-fly.  

Friday, 30 October 2015

In the spirit of simple, I've been turning long leaves into twine. It's creative but not challenging which allows my mind to soften and close down a little as I focus on an easy repetitive task. 
I had bunches of dried sisyrinchium and daffodil leaves kicking around my studio as clutter, now they feel a little more useful. The daffodil leaves made a fairly neat and rather lovely honey brown and green string. The sisyrinchium stained my fingers and the string which is black/dark brown is fat and thin with bits sticking out every which way. I like them both for different reasons and it's interesting to see how differently two fairly similar materials respond to the same process. I am rather regretting putting the crocosmia and flag iris leaves on the compost heap now but they will grow again and next year maybe I'll be more diligent in my gathering.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Autumn is here and it's gorgeous, the leaves are turning and whatever the weather the skies are full of moisture which makes them glisten. This is all good. The turning of the seasons, year on year, is a quiet rhythm, a beat that holds steady all the lives that live upon the earth. 
But art-wise I'm feeling a little out of sorts. It's not long since I graduated, two years is a fair while from student-hood but it's a long way from being an established artist. I am essentially one drop in an ocean of artists. 
Sometimes I look at other people's work and I wish that had as much presence and drive as they seem to have. I wish that my work was better. I wish that I felt more sure of myself. I wish I felt more sure that what I am doing is the right way forward.
I think to myself "this is autumn. I am pulling in the harvest". And if I think over the course of the year and evaluate what I have done I think I've done o.k. I have banked experience and created one piece of work of which I am fully proud and also made some successful experimental forays into other ways of working. 
But I am still so very far from finding out who I am, and I am still making horrible amateur ugly work. Maybe that never goes away. Maybe my mistakes, my malformed babies, are the dark matter from which the good stuff eventually appears but while I'm doing that how do I pay the bills, how do I keep motivated when I feel useless and weary.
In the age of the internet there is a flood of images of other people's work, it's inspiring, and wonderful, but also somewhat daunting. A part of me believes that all these other people who are striding forward, making brilliant work are doing this all the time. But is that for real ? Or maybe they too spend lots of time, plodding, keeping on, doubting, hoping, holding on by the skin of their teeth, just making ends meet. Maybe they are doing that and what I see is the "here I am", the "look at me" because I put that out too. In reality I'm just a hopeful nobody. My hope is that I will make work that feels honest. And that sometimes it will speak to someone else. Once in a while I do but perhaps those moments, those meetings are actually as rare as real friends.  
Maybe that is what is so dispiriting about the work that fails, like messed up conversations that took two, or more, people in the wrong direction. Maybe that is what is so hard when work I love gets passed by, disregarded or rubbished, it's like giving my heart to someone and being told it's not good enough. 
I'm thinking out loud, musing because I cannot see a clear way forward and I feel a great need to be still and do nothing. Living in an active, fast paced, performance culture just being is never quite enough. There is little patience for passivity, for waiting. Is it is o.k to be quiet ? Is it o.k to fall into emptiness and take comfort from the silence and beautiful darkness and rare light of winter ?    

Friday, 23 October 2015

This morning I looked out of my window and three stars were lined up. Well, I think it was venus, jupiter and mars, so planets really, rather than stars. My sweet friend Colin said it was probably lucky given that it was my birthday. And I have had a very gentle, lovely day so maybe he was right. I took a photo tho' the bottom star is not really visible unless you zoom in and it's not a good photo but just to remind myself I thought I'd post it. 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Sunday, 11 October 2015

On saturday I took a trip back to the Waveney River Sculpture Trail. The event is now over but the managers of the site have kindly agreed to me leaving my piece up over winter so that I can observe how it fades and deteriorates. 
Years ago when I used to walk this landscape more frequently I was able to really tune in to the season shift which I loved. Now my visits are more sporadic, so I arrived in a well begun autumn - leaves just turning, hedgerows thick with fruit, the ground and air damp and fungal. 
I was pleased to see that my patchwork gate - Bigods Way 2 - is standing up well to the elements. The colours still pretty, and the whole is generally intact tho' a little shaggy in places and some of the fabric is greening. The back-side is considerably brighter having been exposed to less light.  
The site felt very peaceful after all the hub-bub and to do of the trail. A few other pieces are still standing and there are traces of other peoples work which gave me a warm feeling, a sense of invisible companionship. 
The pair of swans were being swans and the stripy snails were being snails. And I was very lucky and saw two kingfishers, well first one and then two flying back a moment later. 
Later still on my walk back to Bungay a fox was running across a field. It felt slightly shocking to see a fox in the middle of the day, the countryside is a little wilder in winter, a little less comfortable, a little more naked.