Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Often I have an idea in my head for many months, even years, before I give it concrete form, and  generally the first scribblings are just that, scribble and notes. It's important for me to allow things to grow naturally rather than force them into fruition. but there are times when I question this process as it can look, and feel, as if not much is happening, but then a moment presents itself. The seed of an idea pushes itself into the light. Sometimes, it's a response to a deadline that I have taken on  but I have little formal work this year as I want to be free to follow impulses that have no goal, no obvious end, thereby allowing me to stretch out without tethers.
In previous blog posts, and in private conversation, I have talked a little about my fear that I am drifting but I am beginning to re-find what defines me after some weeks/months of play, a state which is ongoing. And I am beginning to get to that point where I am producing work that feels like it is leading somewhere. 
This is a sample print from a series I made yesterday and today, all which make me smile. 

Saturday, 23 April 2016

This morning my friend Karen and I met up at the station to catch a train out to Brundall, a small station not so far along the line that goes to Reedham, at which point it splits in two, the left or north track going to Yarmouth, and the right or south track to Lowestoft. We'd planned our expedition about a week or so back but been meaning to take a day trip together for much longer but life gets filled up, and before you know it weeks, months, years have passed.
From Brundall we walked to Strumpshaw Fen, which I have visited a fair few times before but do not know so well as to say it is home territory. The birdsong was liquid bliss and there were geese honking and flying about and marsh harriers, male and female. We also heard a bittern booming, a strangely sinister call - I have never felt the same about them since I was told they eat marsh tits in their sleep, that seems pretty awful and ogre-ish. Karen could recognise some bird calls which was great, it's a skill I am still picking up and not good at at all. 
The weather was a mix of cold wind and rain with hail in it, and beautiful bright spring sunshine. We were glad to be wrapped up but it was definitely hat on-hat off, zip up-zip down weather, which was quite refreshing. 
We wandered all round just enjoying each other's company and the sights and sounds, Karen had her binoculars and I had my camera so every so often one or other of us would drift off into looking-looking-looking space for a little while. 
I always feel like I need to apologise for my photos, I know so many good photographers that I feel like my pictures are not really all that, but hopefully they convey some sense of the feel of the day.  

Thursday, 21 April 2016

And then homeward bound. In one of the photos you can just pick out my friend Andy looking for. and listening to, the warblers in the willows.

I am personally interested in how last years colours have faded but I think I have put a lot of those photos up already so I won't put more but I found this. I do not know if it is alive or dead but I thought I'd leave it in place 'til the next time I go out so I tucked it back up after I'd taken the photo.

I had begun to focus on this piece at the same time as I took the diamond sutra as my lent meditation (and yes, I know that's a mix up of religions but as I like them all to a greater or lesser extent I feel o.k about mixing and matching). I was a bit happy to discover this single dewdrop at the foot my gate when I arrived. My kind of diamond.

I never know what will catch my eye on that walk, I fall into reverie and sometimes something will break that dream for a moment. Here are a few bits and pieces, flowers and the like.

So this is my bear hunt territory and it couldn't really be more lovely. My walking commute from Popsom Street to the Study Centre is a little slice of heaven. And almost always I am greeted by my lovely friend Andy's sweet smile.

I was back in Earsham on tuesday to continue taking out the rags from the gate I used last year. I'm a fair weather visitor as a rule as I am limited by public transport. This means that I see the place when it is easy to love, sunshine, bird singing ... It's not much trouble to love a place, a person, a life that is full of joy, the hard bit is staying with something that is difficult. It sorts the wheat from the chaff, the good friend from the casual acquaintance. 
One of the threads within the piece I am creating for this years trail is the bleak depression that I hit a few years back. There were reasons I was depressed, good reasons, but knowing why I was low was no help. The darkness and feeling of being submerged beneath miles of sea were insurmountable blocks, for two or three years I woke up crying and I fell asleep crying, briefly I flirted with taking my life, knew where, knew how, I would do it, but thankfully the thought of my children and grandson (my granddaughter was not then born) held me back. 
At that time there was little that helped, I knew what I would recommend as a shiatsu practitioner but nothing seemed to help and I thought the nightmare I was living would never end. Although my thoughts of suicide had passed I wished for death constantly. I was worn out with my sadness. 
Few things lifted my sprits at that time but the weather was one of the them. One of the things with my depression was that it shrunk me back in to myself, this forced me up against parts of my being I did not want to encounter, it pushed me to know my needs, but beginning to recognise those needs brought me hard up against ugly feelings, anger, jealousy, self-importance. At this time being touched by the rain when walking, or feeling cold air penetrate my lungs, allowed me to remember why life is worth living as I struggled with the seemingly impenetrable black that had taken me prisoner. 
The worst of my depression lasted about two years from 2009 to 2011. As I began to recover, the weather gave me moments of bliss, moments in which I was able to contact my visceral nature. The sunshine slanting through the branches of a tree, the wind knocking the world about, pushing dust into corners and out again, hard packed snow freezing to black ice, and drenching down-pours of fat rain, and rainbows - all these things took me out of my lonely being and reminded me that I am part of a bigger picture, part of a world in constant flux. It reminded me that I am just one being and one time, not more or less important than any other. It distracted me from my petty human struggles, not always, but often. 
And now I turn to the weather as a source of sustenance. It is never the same, and yet it is a constant companion. It is hard to talk about depression, I don't want to own that time in my life, but it is a part of me. I thank the friends and family who held true for me. No words will ever be great enough to express my gratitude. One day I may be thankful for knowing that darkness but I still fear it's open mouth.
Because the piece I am making has it's roots in this period of my life I am having to look it square in the face. It's not easy. I am struggling. But, "I am going on a bear hunt, I'm going to catch a big one, it's a beautiful day .."

Monday, 18 April 2016

Today I've been playing with an idea that has been simmering away in my head since the beginning of  2015. It's a bit about personal space, and these pieces are just notes, thoughts made concrete, but they are pretty notes so I thought I'd share. They are a continuation on from the doodles I put up last week . I will tag them all as "Thoughts on Personal Space" as that is the line of thought they are currently occupying in head. I have made quite a few flat notes, folding and scrolling them has changed the way they feel to me, it gives them a little movement, a little more reach, some secrecy perhaps, and an ambiguity that stems from there being more than one way to look at them, I think.