Tuesday, 30 June 2015

I've picked myself up a camera so once I've got used to it my blog will become colourful again. In the meantime I've been enjoying colour in my kitchen studio. I've been playing with the brick that my burglar used to smash the glass in my back door and some of the work coming out of that play is very beautiful. And the piece I am making for the sculpture trail is beginning to take shape. Yesterday I was dyeing with dandelion petals and alum. 
Making thought and feeling physical is a weird process. Giving my being a shape that can be seen is hopeful but also a form of dare because in exposing myself I risk success or failure, accolade or rejection, or maybe, just limp nothing, any of which can fell my confidence and freeze me in my tracks. Still, this is what I do and the pleasure in creating something I love seems to outweigh the torment of doubt about how it will be received. 
So today, more dyeing. And, possibly, an undoing of many bound tacks and bottle tops on a little silk camisole that I've been revamping.   

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Today I feel a little defeated by life. Last week I was burgled. I've noticed that my energy levels have been a bit low since and I think this is probably a shock response so I am being quite gentle with myself. 
It's been odd watching myself respond to having my house broken into but perhaps therein lies the issue. My bystander experience protects me from feelings that are uncomfortable but also separates me from my self. Reconnecting to that self is troublesome because it seems to involve me re-experiencing the things that caused the detachment in the first place. I think this is a fairly common pattern because it protects us from our selves to some extent. The self that might lash out or tear itself apart trying to escape something that it is struggling to resist or contain. 
I suppose that for some years I have been pushing myself out into the world, trying to build up a portfolio and cv that allows me to work in the arts. But it's hard. I'm always broke. Being robbed was difficult but I have insurance and I thought it would cover me but it doesn't really. The value of the things taken and broken may not not be enough to merit losing my no claims bonus given the double excess which I will have to pay. It feels like my insurance company have robbed me a second time tho' I am assured that it is all in the policy booklet and of course it is. 
But it's all left me feeling like the path of straight and narrow, of conforming, being sensible and doing the right thing is perhaps a path that just leads to more straight paths with no trees, no flowers, just road signs telling me what I can and cannot do. 
I suppose that perhaps this connects to the new government in Britain too. It's all painfully tight and mean. And so my personal feelings about britain as it is ruled are similar to the rules I am trying to follow in my everyday life. The nice-ness, the manners, those things are lovely if they are true, and we all know and feel when someone is being good to us, when we are living an honest life, and we all know when it is a lie. Ibsen's play "A Doll House" springs to my mind tho' it is not a play I know well. 
And I don't know quite what I am trying to say. Today my blog is musings I think, and probably only interesting and useful to me, but maybe the musings are like the bits of work that are not really much but which have to be done to get to the work which is a little better. 
By the by I have also been playing with my indigo vat. And I found a beautiful carder bee nest, a sphere of soft moss, when I was cutting back the tall grasses and buttercups in my garden yesterday.   

Sunday, 21 June 2015

My blog will just be words for a while as my camera has been stolen. It's made me realise how much I rely on it to document those perfect moments. It's quite interesting how such a small change offers new perspective. Years ago, or in cultures less soaked in modern technology, writing or drawing or perhaps just witnessing and spoken word would have been the way that things were shared. I feel both disabled and also enabled by my small loss. I did love that camera so I'm sad at losing it because, at the risk of sounding stupid my camera was a good "friend" and very much a part of the past four and a half years of my life journey. 
Anyways, fore-warned is fore-armed, I may write poetry to compensate, I may even put it on here thinking that I am sharing, and it may well be awful. Apologies in advance.  

Saturday, 13 June 2015

I had hoped to get out to the Waveney valley during the week to pick more buttercups and some alexander seedheads but it wasn't to be. So this morning I cadged a lift with one of the other artists Mike Dodd. The sun has been shining all week, buttercups love sunshine, but last night the weather broke and it's been pouring ever since. My garden has needed a bit of water but it made for a slightly damp trip. The rain stopped me taking many photos but the valley was as shining beautiful as ever. And it was really good to find out a bit more about Mike's work and meet up with Sarah Cannell and a  couple of the other artists, Jacqui Jones and Meg Amsden, who are also exhibiting. They are some way ahead of me in the game so it's nice, as someone not long graduated, to be privy and part of their conversation.  


Friday, 12 June 2015

And here is my crone, my witch, my old woman. I see her in a rather more sympathetic light than the classic fairy tale. Old age bears with it a vulnerability that has kinship to childhood, I think, except that children generally grow stronger and firmer in body and more independent as time passes and the old grow more frail and less able to care for themselves. So there, my witch is not a hate figure she has just lived a long time and is what she is because of the life she has lived.

And I am continuing to play with my Hansel and Gretal characters. This is such a pet project, years ago when I was studying on my access course our teacher gave us the theme - collections. She asked us to choose one of our own collections as the starting point. I have collected fairy tales for as long as I can remember and was excited to begin to work with something that belonged to me. It was then a shock, though maybe it should not have come as a surprise when she put down my proposed subject. "What will you do ? Make a gingerbread house?" she mocked. I was so taken aback that I let go of that theme and chose maps in which ironically I got completely lost. 
Now there are a few lessons I learned from this. For instance, if I have decided on a creative direction it is better to continue along that line until I hit my own stop points because however good a teacher is they are not me and they do not know me more than I know myself. Another one is that teachers are human, they may think I am a pain (this one even told me as we set up our final show that she never liked me) and nothing I do is going to please someone who has firmly decided they don't like me. Given that I am not obliged to like or respect people who don't like or respect me. - that information is very releasing. Oh and if I should find myself on the wrong path for whatever reason I can stop and go back or go sideways or up, catch my drift, it's all learning. And, often a mistake can be the beginning of something I love. And whatever I do the world is pretty surely not turning on my success or failure. But it can be very hard to remember this when work is being judged and found wanting especially if you have, as I do, a fairly heavy inner critic as an unloved but faithful companion.
Anyway, grumbling aside. A couple more doodles of H and G

My back garden is looking more and more louche and whilst I like it wild I am quite looking forward to giving a little tidy up here and there. However the front garden is still fairly good and I am pleased to note that I have four different kinds of grass growing. 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

This year has been the first year in many that I have really been able to revel in my garden. It is a good natured garden that pretty much does for itself with here and there a bit of rout when the more rampant plants take over or when something lovely has gone over and has to be cut back as is the case in the back garden with the forget-me-nots and the cow parsley. 
The front garden however is looking pretty good. It's funny how different front and back gardens are, or maybe not, although they bear resemblance the front garden is a tad more formal, still relaxed but being a place that acts as a passage and is commonly seen by anyone it is the face of my home. It is public as opposed to private. Ah hey, maybe I am thinking too much, whatever it is, I am enjoying the flowers and thought I'd make a note of them.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

More sunshine, more art and more friendship today. First up I went to the Cathedral to see the exhibition of work shortlisted for the Bishop's prize. The Bishop's prize is given to a NUA student coming to the end of their course - BA or MA. It is open across the whole those final years and the briefs are usually pretty lovely, stemming from a biblical theme but very open, applicants are given free reign to interpret the brief as they see fit. 
I met with my good friend Colin Johnson, who I hadn't seen for a long time. We enjoyed the show and were particularly intrigued by Sarah Smith's photographs and also Kazz Morohashi's windmills within the zen garden. 
Later I popped in to the Art Fair East which is in it's first year. I'd arranged to meet an artist, Jo Howe, who I had encountered at the 2015 Turn The Page Book Fair a month or so back. We'd had a bit of an instant click sharing an interest in communication and shadows and script but had not chatted for long, so when she suggested we get together again it was an opportunity too good to miss. 
Generally I'm a bit of a recluse, known for my need for solitude by close friends and family, so these past couple of days have been a bit out of the ordinary sociable. I have a feeling that in a month or so I will be holed up in my studio, so I am making the most of this phase of being companionable before I return to my normal mode of behaviour.
After hooking up with first Colin, then Jo, I went in search of the Space studios which are a part of the NNOS '15 event. I found them, but not before I accidentally happened upon the Fairhurst Gallery and the beautiful exhibition by Alex Egan which quite honestly took my breath away. If anyone who is reading this blog lives in Norfolk I would really recommend getting along to this exhibition it is something very special.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Oh, and my peony is now flowering. So many petals. She's called the Duchesse du Nemours and she is lovely.

My beautiful friend Susan Dye, from Hitchin, came to visit. We met last year when she came to my open studio and we made a very easy creative connection, talking about bees and hedgerow dyeing and indigo amongst other things. Since then we have met up a few times and she always leaves me inspired. I feel she is a bit brighter than I am but our interests meet here and there, so today we had an exciting day of chat and "show and tell". We talked politics and psychology and art, of course, and flowers and life and she showed me the work that she is doing for her city and guilds course and I showed her the work I am doing with the Recovery Through Art group that I help with and also the proposal I made for the Waveney River Sculpture Trail.
One of the wonderful things about with talking to other artists is that we share a language, an understanding. It's hard to describe, but art, like any skill, is a trade that has to be learnt. And in learning our trade we become able to pick up subtle nuances in another's work, to identify where it is weak and where strong and how to move it forward. In education when trained professionals do this to our innocent work it can feel painful, and sometimes cruel, but stepping out of that environment I have found that it is something I quite miss. Sometimes the comments are not so much the meat as the what gets noticed in a portfolio of work and how the potency of unfinished work is seen. 
Art also involves a fair whack of determination and wilful pride. These carry you through the times when it feels like you are going backwards or the lack of money makes you wonder how long you can live off fresh air and daisies, especially in winter when daisies are scarce. It's nice when someone understands why I have chosen to be poor and passionate over safe and sensible. The understanding is like honey in the cupboard set aside for those rainy days when artist's blues threaten to get the better of me.  
So all in, it was a day of light and plenty. Good company, warm sunshine, birdsong and, once again, bees.  

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Yesterday I made some very rough little Hansel and Gretal pipe cleaner figures. These are first doodles. A chance for me to get to know the characters, to connect to who Hansel and Gretal are to me.    
And today I have started making a gingerbread house. Knowing when to stop is always a bit of a quandary, tissue paper no tissue paper, paint no paint. Often there's a moment when it becomes clear that something is finished tho' it's easy to overstep, and I can be a bit over-cautious which means lots of projects spend some time waiting to find their end. 

Monday was a day of dyeing with thistles