Sunday, 31 May 2015

I had a touch of the blues on sunday. It was a wet day and revisiting old spaces the day before had unearthed feelings that many people might think are better buried. But I can only be me and I am wont to look beneath the surface. It's part of my being and part of my work both as an artist and as a shiatsu practitioner. Allowing myself to be vulnerable to feelings of all sorts may challenge me at times but it gives me a greater range of shades and colours to play with. 
However, to cheer myself up and stop me from un-necessary wallowing, I went to look at some of the local open studios Last year I took part in this event and it was a good experience, it stretched me out of my comfort zone and created opportunities and it was hard to resist the call for artists back in December but I'd like to be a little more embedded in my practice, a few more steps along the way before I do it again. 
So it was with real interest that I went to explore Anderson's Yard, home to Studio Do, Ray Striker and Jan Crombie amongst others. And also the homes of Annie Hall, and Jennie Durrant. It was deeply inspiring to talk to other people who are giving their practice as artists the same amount of time and space in their hearts as I am, to see what they are doing, and to listen to the thought process behind their work. Every one is so different and celebrating those differences made me feel more whole, more connected and easy with the world. 
There is still one more weekend to go of the event so I will have a browse through the brochure during the week and maybe pop in on a few more next sunday. It is such a gift to be allowed to witness and share another person's creative process.  
And meadows .. full of flowers

 And clear water reflecting trees and clouds and perfect blue 

A little boy cow ..

And bugs ..

And flowers ..

Saturday was another day of walking. Another familiar route close to site of the River Waveney sculpture trail in which I'll be exhibiting in august through to september. 
I'm re-tracing old footprints and sometimes, quite often, it hurts, because the memories I have of this area are very close to my heart. 
In a way it feels like a long overdue goodbye. It's not possible to hold on to the past, it is what it is/was and whilst I may not want to let go, it's like holding water in cupped palms after a while there's nothing left no matter how much I might will it.
I spoke in one of my previous posts of the marvellous silence, nothing but birdsong, and once again not many people. My aim was to pick buttercups to dye with, and alexander seedheads. I failed with the alexanders which are abundant by the roadsides but did not grow there. However the buttercups were abundant. And also the thistles, which I intend to use with a copper mordant to make a dark greenish-brown. 
Although by returning to old haunts I may be harking back to yesteryear, it feels I am fixing a hole. It feels like I am fixing a part of me by facing up to things I don't want to face. If that sounds a little weird or out there well maybe it is. These walks I took with a man I wanted to know and love forever, it didn't happen but as the saying goes "it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all".
Hmm, maybe I should talk about simpler, softer things. The clouds of blue damsel flies, the water violet (I have looking for one of these for 8 years), the house martins, the families of geese with goslings, the green and the gorgeousness. But maybe I'll let my photos do the talking. I'm not a photographer but hopefully some of my pictures convey the beauty of the place. Today ladies and gentlemen I offer you Outney Common.

Monday, 25 May 2015

And on saturday, as the sun was shining, I thought I'd light up my fire pit and use it to cook my supper. It was the first time this summer and maybe a smokey meal for one sounds lonely. But I'm a solitary animal by nature and it was peaceful sitting in my garden listening to the world. A small family of long tailed tits were flitting from tree to bush to bush to tree, and a couple of great tits, and a robin dropped into song every so often so my solitude was not without companionship. Oh, and, the music from the bands who were playing in the park was rocking the whole of my side of the city. 
Afterwards my hair smelt of being outdoors which always makes me feel happy. 

This summer for the first time in years I thought I'd have a go at growing some vegetables. I've not had much luck at this before, a few potatoes in pots, quite exciting but not exactly food production but after cutting back some rather rangy red-currant bushes I've some spaces in between that asked to be used for something and I had seeds so it seemed worth a try. 
Some time back I saw carrots being grown in terracotta drainpipes in John Ruskin's garden in the Lake district, it seemed like a brilliant idea. So I am doing a pauper's version with some plastic drainpipe that I've had kicking about for a while. I bought two little tomato plants for 50p each and they are now planted in compost sacks. I'll just nod to the radishes and spring onions I have put in pots because the blackbirds keep pulling out all the compost and so they may come to nothing but I'm enjoying the anticipation if nothing else. I have a feeling that if they have survived the blackbirds, the slugs and snails may do for them. But hope tastes sweet and so at the moment I am letting myself hope that my petit trianon will give me a small crop. 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Well, obviously the river and surrounding countryside were pretty fab too. Walking from Bungay to Earsham is a fair walk, not long but not short either. On this trip I gathered nettle tops, young sorrel leaves and dandelions. The sky was blue, the sun was shining. 

This is an out of sequence set of photos and bit of blurb because it is from a trip I took to the site of the Waveney River Sculpture Trail a few weeks ago at the late end of April. Special mention really goes to Ella, the friendliest of the semi-tame deer that live at the trust. She accompanied me for most of the walk and really made it alot of fun because she is quite a character. We were briefly joined by one of her friends but she was the star of the show. 


Monday, 18 May 2015

Eight years ago I bought a peony and planted it in my garden. Year after year it threw up leaves but no flowers, then for two years it made a bud but always that bud dropped off well before it came to bloom. This year it has four buds, I do not know if they will come to anything but this bud is looking hopeful. 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

I hope that anyone reading my blog will forgive me sometimes posting about politics. The results of the recent elections in Britain still feel shocking, and that shock is amplified by the behaviour of the conservative government in the days after. 
A rich country like britain can afford to be gentle. And if it is not it is to the shame of the government and those who are sovereign. I may, or may not, be on the list of people to knock down but that there is a list is enough to strike fear in me. That sounds very dramatic but as I have mentioned in a previous post I was a part of british society that Margaret Thatcher marked as scum or waste and this government, backed by a dishonest media, uses the same scapegoating agenda for what good purpose I am still not sure. 
Margaret Thatcher did this but maybe her poverty of soul was connected to her desperate need to climb a social hierarchy that condemns her always to being a wannabe. But the men in power now were mostly educated in expensive schools and universities, their inability to relate to people other than themselves looks like ignorance at best and cruelty at worst. 
Since May 8th I no longer feel peaceful. I feel like my country is being taken to pieces. I feel like the grasp of the rich has overwhelmed any sense of decency and that the "plebs" as our government calls us will suffer as a result. 
I write, not because I think anyone cares what I think but because I want to document my response to what is going on.          

Friday, 15 May 2015

Wednesday was a walking and wondering and gathering materials day. I took old paths that carried many memories and it was interesting experiencing them in the skin I inhabit now. Time passes, who can say how long or short a moment is but a moment is easily lost if it is held too fast. So, it was a walk peppered with reminders of a bygone time but, somehow, new too. 
There was barely a soul; a couple of women walking together, and a man and two dogs who were as surprised to see me as I was them. And the only sounds were birdsong and insects and breeze. Sweet country smells, cow parsley, hawthorn, grass along the way. And, quite fantastic, a green hairstreak butterfly. I have longed to see one for years, I never have before, and I maybe never will again. Bungay magic quickly drew me back into it's spell. 
The waymarker I photographed in 2010 is changed. A clump of the sack is still fixed to the branch and a few threads hang from another branch close by. The black dog that guards the farm still guards the farm tho' he looks a little stiffer now. 
The fields of rape are all in flower, the yellow vivid against the green hedges and blue sky. The blades of wheat are just grown to half height. The larks sing, and the swifts swoop and dive over the fields. And the lone oak on a familiar hedge-line still stands tall in it's solitude. 
I noticed that the bluebells are english bluebells, it seemed odd that I had not clocked this before, it's so easy to be blind. And my heart lurched out of my body at the sight and then smell of a dead fawn by the side of the path up the hill to the field. Life is fragile.  


But life goes on whoever is in power. And I've a job to do. So today I have begun dyeing cloth for the River Waveney Sculpture Trail. My trip to the valley on wednesday yielded a fair quantity of nettles, some alexander seed-heads (still green and barely past flowering) and some thistles pre-flowering. 
Dedicating cloth to a project is always a bit nerve wracking as fabric is expensive and easy to ruin but it has to be done and my sampling process makes the risk slighter. 
The nettles on wool gauze make a brilliant yellow-green with an alum mordant. Here is a glimpse of one piece, with a hoverfly.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

What a week. I'm still in a strange space. I was a young single parent when Thatcher was in power. I had no choice but to go on benefits. It wasn't what I had hoped for when I had children. I thought I was in my happy ever after. 
I felt ashamed. I am still ashamed of that time. It was ugly and dark, frightening and lonely. And I was hungry. And cold. I wouldn't eat so my kids could eat. I couldn't even afford clothes from charity shops. In winter I lit a fire in one room of my house. My local shop was generous and let me have coal on tick on the weeks when I had no money. My shoes were full of holes. For the record, I didn't smoke, I didn't drink. 
Why do I feel so angry, so sad, so shocked by the election results ? I feel like this because I am fearful. For myself ? Maybe. But more, for people who are further down the pile than me. People who may find themselves in a similar position to the one that I found myself in. 
I hope that things will work out well. But that hope is very fragile.

Friday, 8 May 2015

May 7th felt hopeful, electrifying. May 8th felt terrible. I am dismayed that so many of my countrymen have chosen their fat wallets and lifeless security over kindness and decency. Amongst my good friends there is bewilderment, anger, fear, grief, shock. We look at our neighbours and wonder who voted conservative ? Who made that choice ?

For the record I want to say I am against my government, they do not represent me and I will do what I can to peacefully resist them. 

Lux lucet in tenebris