Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Ok, I'm going to have another crack at identity. I am still in whirl of thoughts, i feel like I'm caught in a spin of wind and leaves but here goes because sometimes putting words to page helps me to make sense of the clatter and rattle, the whisper and whirl. 
Identity has been a summer long point of contemplative focus and one of the things I've been thinking about is identity and social media and the internet. The internet is a bizarre phenomenon, being half way through a century my history spans back to a time when it was unimagined in everyday minds. My children and more so my grandchildren surely could not conceive of a life without it. 
And what has the internet become ? It arrived as a blank space in my life about fifteen/twenty years ago. And probably common to many middle-aged users I have left a heavy trail over those years. I didn't know when I chose my email address that I'd still be using it twenty years on, or any of the user names I have on various social media platforms. Now when I'm asked for my email address i apologise because it feels pretentious and silly but it's the name I gave myself then and I don't care enough to change it. 
Way back before facebook became a thing people used friends re-united and my space to link to their yesterdays and to display themselves to a fairly exclusive world. I don't even know if those two platforms/ethereal places exist anymore, I imagine my space might be quite interesting for fans of retro and vintage. I never used either, in fact I scorned them, like round robin emails they turned me off. Odd really because facebook is a bit like all those things rolled into one, perhaps that's the secret of it's success. 
Because facebook, beast that it is, is huge. Being half a hundred or perhaps too dreamy I can't keep pace with the whole thing. I think I got lost at drop-box and haven't found my way to Instagram, linked-in is awful and Tumblr conjures up images that maybe I don't want to see, Pinterest too but Pinterest is very browsable. I am active on facebook, am a bit hooked on facebook if I'm honest, which means that intermittentantly I have to withdraw just to come back to my self. Here is where I connect to identity and some of the thinking I've been doing of late, and over the years. 
I think I have touched on how our identities are often given to us by others from pre-birth onwards - lord, who knows, maybe it goes back even further, I may pick that up later - and is perpetuated by those who surround us and later who we surround ourselves by. 
But this brand new blank space that opened up way back at the end of the last century, offered each one of us a chance to recreate our being and our sense of self. I know, for me, writing my blog has given me a voice, has allowed me to expose elements of myself that in conversation might easily create a very uneasy atmosphere, conflict, disapproval, disavowel. But in a blog, which is my notebook, my journal, to hell with it, lets lay social niceties to one side be as open and bare as possible, lets lay by the fear of being socially ostracised and say this, this is me, this is my story, my story, refute it if you will, but I claim this as my country, my land. 
Is identity a country ? Is that where nationalism stems from ? When I speak of country I speak of country as spiritual matter more than physical terrain but maybe those states of being are one thing that each of us relates to according to our temperament. 
How does that connect to identity ? Hmm. 
On facebook my identity shifts, I am friends with some 300 people in theory, and whilst not denigrating any of those people or friendships the reality is that most of those people I don't know or barely know, or knew years ago. Facebook is a very, very peculiar place. It's a superstore, a Walmart, fluorescent lighting and musak, it has everything and nothing. I use it to scrapbook, often posting just to myself so it acts like a catalogue of ideas. But my face to the outside varies and has changed over time. Sometimes I am shout-y, fed up with politics, begging, or berating, the world to engage, please engage, use less plastic, vote Labour, sign this. Sometimes I post personal stuff, family pictures, or photos of places I've been to, or I might make public some of the things that have come to me from the internet, music, images, articles, and often I'll share my blogs to my page so that friends or those interested will know I've been scribbling or posted a picture of something. All those aspects of me are me and yet something about my facebook identity feels unwholesome. The unwhole-iness is perhaps the centre of the conundrum. How can I be whole in that sphere which is so very unphysical and in many ways unyielding and enclosed ? The air on facebook is often stale, breathed and filtered and breathed again and again and again.   
I think I mention this because it's hard to pick up nuance and intention on facebook, it's designed for pedestrian encounters, the surface self, when it goes deeper darker aspects of our selves can emerge unchallenged by the restraints of face to face, or day to day, contact. If I know you as a person rather than a string of mostly quite carefully edited images and ideas I will know you differently to if I spend time with you, drink tea, eat cake, hoot with laughter, maybe dance, maybe cry, walk, talk, practice yoga ...  Of my three hundred and whatever friends, some I know from other times and I love to see pictures of them happy and smiling, sharing the delights of their lives and I am sad when they post their sorrows, but lots I have never met, I have linked to them through a mutual interests, art or words or maybe politics, we share a world but our concrete realities are separate. But then there are my specials (I'm guessing we all have those) the people we really cherish, our best-best friends, our families, our comforters. 
Oh what does that have to do with identity ? Recently I went to a short workshop with Hayley Matthews who is currently working on a dance piece called Home-Solo to be performed at the end of November https://norwichartscentre.co.uk/events/home-solo/?spektrix_bounce=true. This is a point within a work in progress that she began four years ago. I have watching with interest the evolution of her ideas and was really happy to be able to learn more through participating in this workshop which took the form of a guided conversation, physical and spoken. Sharing ideas about home in a sensitive held environment with thoughtful, interesting and interested others was a real gift. I mention this workshop because, amongst other things thought, it got me thinking about how much identity is wrapped up in the place we call home. The discussion that happened in the workshop was open ended, there was no right thought or wrong thought, no definite because in each of us, perhaps, resides our home and that which makes us feel at home, and no other can really prescribe that home to another, it is a belonging that belongs to the belonger. 
Oh, belonging, that is whole new blog so I will rest here with that. But surely belonging is wrapped up in identity and comfort and integrity within one's being or identity. 
I have diverged in this blog from my initial intent it is often and commonly the way but maybe I will find my way back to an intersecting pathway and be able pick up threads I have put down but still care about as I continue my journey. My search is still active.  



Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Some string made from the silk threads from corn on the cob. Very light and quite stretchy. It casts a pretty shadow and smells sweet, like sweetcorn, surprise surprise. 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

It's Autumn. It's still warm and the sun still shines tho' night begins to close in earlier each day today it's 6.45, not dark but darkening, and in the morning there is damp in the air and at about 6.45 it is also half light. I know this because I've just re-started the morning yoga class that I love to go to and I leave my house at 6.20ish and it wasn't quite day when the class began at 6.45 this week. 
I feel like I am assimilating the summer and even the stuff that went on before summer tho' that feels like a long time ago. It's been busy and challenging, in good ways mainly. Lots of walking, lots of weather, and lots of thinking. 
I am still thinking about identity which I blogged about a month or so back, but the question that keeps popping into my mind at the moment is "if" .. is that a question ? Not really, but it comes to me like a question and I think it is suggesting new directions in my life. Possibilities.  But the nature of those possibilities is unclear there is only "if", it goes no further. 
Maybe this is a good thing. I am tired after the summer. I'm aware that I seem to have much lower stamina than most of my friends and family, I am quickly exhausted and have to pace myself. I burn out quickly. I wish I was stronger but I'm not so I have to go with what I've got. So although I was hoping to teach a few workshops over September, October, November, the reality is that whilst I have begun drawing them up I am nowhere close to being prepared and my home needs a little tic before I feel comfortable inviting strangers into it as a place to learn. 
My garden is a crazy mess too so I have begun the roughly bi-annual turn of my compost heaps which is a homely, grounding thing to do, a nice way to settle in to the end of the year. I have three bins, the green bin, the halfway bin, and the scrumptious last bin. The end product compost is sweet smelling and, after sifting, soft and crumbly. This is going on the beds in my front garden at the moment. Then there is the clinker, small bits of half-rotted wood mostly, this is going around the base of a small yew tree, and some ferns and hydrangeas. And lastly there are twigs that are still hard and unbreakable these I will use for kindling when they are dry. 
This sifting and sorting game connects me to the earth and the season is earth-y too, fruit is now ripe or over-ripe and mushrooms are popping up everywhere so the air smells of juice and fungus. I think letting myself pause and drop down, mentally, physically and emotionally may be just what I need to do before choosing an if, a way, to go with. 
My if definitely feels like a crossroads. I've come a long way from my past, have built up a length of past that supersedes that which went before and it is unclear to me which way I want to go. So pausing and holding still may be my best option at the moment. Mostly I tend to have too many ideas bouncing around, I do now, but I have a deep longing for rest and play at the moment. Or maybe what I mean is that my focus is rest, and that my hope is that in resting I will re-find my play, re-find my capacity to yield, to soften, to release, to allow, to trust. And that as I do that my choice of path will become clearer or else I will have built up enough strength physically, mentally, emotionally, to make a decision and choose one way and see what comes of making that choice. 
It is possible to double back on a wrong decision but the reality is that often one is so far down the road that it isn't worth doubling back and one way just leads to another and another, and even if you found your way back to the starting point you'd be a changed person anyway. And the starting point too might have shifted. 
So damn me I may have just written another blog about nothing much. Reader if you have come across me by accident or do not love or care for me, please excuse me.    

Thursday, 21 September 2017

And breathe. I did my final sit as a sculpture last friday. I totalled ten days in the end. Ten seems to be my accidental lucky number this year. 
Being a sculpture was truly eye-opening. I gather that I received some votes in public vote for their favourite piece in the exhibition which feels like acceptance and validation. That feels good. I had gone into the sculpture trail imagining I would be a vague presence, a solitary stitcher, an unseen being. But the situation became something else and it quickly became apparent that i needed to give the ride head, and that my task was to hold on to the reins and hope i didn't fall. 
I was one in over forty sculptures, or points of focus. There was a fantastic range of work, the trail was a treat, there was something for everyone. I guess in art terms what I was doing could be called a performance piece, a visitor and fellow artist described it as dialogical art, a term I'd not heard but which seemed to fit because from the first day it was clear to me that what was interesting about what I was doing was not me but who and how I was being seen, the conversations held and the passing of thoughts from one to another. 
Normally I will erect a piece of work and then leave it to be, to stand for itself, putting a piece of work up is a bit like sending a child to university, it's a survive or don't situation, and as an anxious parent I am with that child but not with them, attending, but not attending, because life goes on, the child will hopefully grow and succeed becoming independent as it does so, and the piece of work similarly must fend for itself, accept the onslaught of the elements, criticism and judgement of others.
What was amazing about putting myself into the position of person as sculpture, as object, was that I was privy to the audience response. It felt in many ways like being a mirror. In essence each person who saw me or spoke to me would have seen and spoken to the same person. But there were changing parts. My external presence was fairly constant but with each interchange I took on the gaze of the viewer whether we spoke or didn't. And their gaze interpreted what they saw and gave rise to their response.
Obviously the viewers who made the deepest impression on me were those who spoke to me directly; the ones who took the idea of what I was doing and ran with it, offered their view to me, gave their vision to me, of those who spoke only a very-very few were rude or unpleasant, rudeness is always shocking but it was well balanced with positive feedback and was interesting because as an object my worth as a person was detached from my worth as a sculpture. One woman repeatedly told me that what I was doing was a "cop-out" which felt odd and was hard feedback to receive. It was strange to be so surely dismissed but her viewpoint was viewpoint, and the situation gave license to her to voice her judgement. By contrast the man she was with spoke in softer tones and was one of two people who suggested that what I was doing was brave (not in the sense of climbing mountains brave but, as I understood, raising questions brave which was what I had hoped for).  
What I feel I learned through  the course of the ten days was that how people see may connect but belongs essentially to them, is their sight, their belonging, that we bear witness through our own eyes and bodies, are open or closed, accepting, acquiescent or rejecting, resistant according to our selves, that mostly we project onto any thing our sense of the world, I guess this is why babies and small children are such delightful company their sense of the world is generally clearer, more transparent, more honest, by the time we reach adulthood we are likely to have acquired a semi-fixed sentience born out of our childhoods and those and that which we came into contact with during that time.
I was very lucky to have been supported in this experience by the curator of the trail and the trail was a sheltered space for me to lay myself bare, to offer myself as an object in the hope that in that offering I would give something to those who chose to look. 
There were times, over the course of the ten days, when I experienced serious doubt, and continuing forced me to draw will from my reserves to keep going tho'. I was aware that what I was doing might draw scorn, that my medium being thought might be too ethereal to be called sculpture. I was aware of needing to hold quite a solid entity for the duration in order to ground the experience. I was fearful of being seen as vain or pompous or self-absorbed or full of bullshit. I hope I didn't. In the end I could only be me and I hope that I am not those things. 
It might seem like a very little thing, more natural performers would perhaps make less of it than me, but this month of "being" felt extraordinary, a gift, but also a monstrous challenge. I went in blind, thinking about prayer, and presence and intention. I have come out with my eyes and heart  more open, with new understanding, and a jungle of ideas to explore. 
Would I do this again ? It was amazing but it was also peculiar and exhausting. Would I do this again ?  I learned so much and I know that I am prone to follow my learning. Would I do this again ? I  would. 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

And then a little light relief. A Little Bo Peep made out of recycled packaging, made to amuse my daughter and grandchildren who were coming to play later in the day. 



Saturday, 2 September 2017

It seems like the right moment to blog what I am up to at the moment. It fits with the previous posts about clothes, identity and performance, and stories, and being. Being. What is being ? I am at present "being a sculpture" "being a living installation" as my friend David described what I am as number 41 on the Waveney Sculpture Trail map this year. 
Having spent the first part of the summer protesting that I am not performer how do I square that with what I have chosen, what I chose to do way back in Spring when I committed to being a living body at work on site. I had not at that point done anything remotely like what I am doing now but the call to do it was strong and when I mooted the idea with Sarah Cannell, the curator of this years trail, and she came back with a yes it felt like a chance that could not be missed. 
And it is proving to be an extraordinary experience, a fascinating and challenging journey. A weird and wonderful, disturbing but beautiful trip. A peculiar kind of learning that I had not even half guessed at. 
To say I am a sculpture perhaps conjures up an image, suggests that I am holding a pose, painted to look like bronze or stone. I do not think I would be strong enough to do that. What I am is "a being" and in that being I am whatever the viewer sees in me. And as a being I offer myself up as an object. 
But the situation creates uncertainty. Is a person, a living thing, a sculpture ? What nonsense is this ? On the first day I had nothing to mark me as an exhibit tho' the invigilators gave me a sign on the entrance desk saying "Rebecca Clifford is working on site today". Now I have a post with my name and number which lessens the ambiguity and makes things easier in some ways and harder in others. Being defined changes the situation for both myself and the visitor but that in turn creates new quandaries. 
What am I working at ? It is a work day. But it looks like play. It begins when I turn the key in the lock of my front door and set out to get to Raveningham. My journey to site takes the best part of 2 hours and includes about an hours walk to and from my bus stops. And I am never quite sure how I am going to get home tho' through that I have met with unexpected kindness. The walking is important because it allows me to feel the area, I will surely be returning to explore the thereabouts after the trail is done when my feet are free to wander where they will. But at this moment I am coming to know the paths I must take - my commute - what grows where, the  buildings, the animals, the trees, the sounds, the light. This knowledge chimes with the work I made for this exhibition when it was on the old site at Earsham, formerly The Waveney Study Centre, and  before that The Otter Trust, and now Earsham Wetlands Centre. Walking allows me to connect with place, with time, with wonder. The information I gather informs the work I make about a site if I am making something site specific or else the walking helps me to transform my thoughts into something different, by preference lighter and clearer tho' this not always the case.
But as a sculpture I am just me. I am dressed "just so" in a hat, sitting on a white and blue blanket, sewing. I would say that as a sculptural form I only have a small niche market, but as an idea, an odd thought, my being, my posing as a sculpture has sparked some really interesting conversations. Well interesting to me, and hopefully interesting to the visitors with whom I have spoken.
One of the fantastic surprises I have had is that what I am doing seems to create space for people to tell me their stories, not deep confidences but things about themselves that have come up from the situation they find themselves in as we talk, about how we see art, what we see in art, about spirituality, and sewing, and families, and threads, and prayer, and god or no-god, and narrative, and looking, and art again and what is art, and being, and presence, and absence, and more and more and more. 
Over my mother's old kitchen table tablecloth, which I am mending and prettifying after it has sat two generations of children down to tea and has got stained and worn, conversation seems to flow as it would over a meal table. Talk is sparked by my children's and grandchildren's handprints and the fact that the tablecloth has already been witness to my family story. But what is so perfect, so gorgeous, is that each person brings their  own perspective, their being, to the situation. The situation, of a sculpture not being a sculpture, not fitting the accepted terms of reference, sculpture is a fixed entity, sculpture may or may not look like a thing, but sculpture is definitely not living, it may move but it cannot be a human, not a human nobody, allows extraordinary things to be said because the situation is not normal.
Now not everybody wants to look at a human being. I do not know how I would feel about a human exhibit if I went to a sculpture trail. Some keep their distance and look past, one or two have shown obvious contempt but that is the viewer's prerogative, if I was not alive I would not see their response I am challenging the order of things, albeit quietly, and so must accept that my challenge will not necessarily be met with approval. 
It is an odd position to have put myself in. makes me think about zoo animals, and how I see people who stand out in the street, often the people who stand out are society's misfits, the drunks, the addicts, the homeless, the beggars, and the weird, very occasionally the beautiful. It's a strange place to have put myself in, a situation that takes away any semblance of sensible, suburban, safe-thinking, no comfortably sane person would put themselves up as an exhibit, it's a fool's task. 
I will save thinking too much more about the fool for now but there is a part of me that wonders if perhaps that is the space from which I am coming from. The fool as the innocent, as the trusting child. Most of us outgrow this part of ourselves, we have to outgrow this part, or else we cannot thrive, we meet obstacles and as we overcome these obstacles our naivety is somewhat lost. But deep inside of us this elemental character still resides, the need to wonder, to feel delight, to be unwise, to trust is as key to life as more obviously adult facets of our being that help us to navigate our way in the world.
I am back to being. Being is in essence what I am calling visitors who are prepared to see me to consider, my being, their being, our being, the being of this, that and the other, living or unliving. When we talk, if we talk, after a while we seem to meet at a place where we are kind. One visitor said "if only we were all kind then the world would be a better place". 
So what does any of that have to do with identity and clothes, as I am sure I promised I would write about, well it doesn't really so I am sorry for that. The clothes are a thing, because clothes have come up in conversation with one of the other exhibiting artists who wears quite a wild outfit to make his performance art, and I have as result of doing this thought about costumes in film and theatre and so on. My dress for the trail is actually super ordinary in order to be visually unchallenging, I wear a battered hat (this is my concession to costume I think) and jeans and a top that makes no great statement, the picture I want to present is "woman sewing in pastoral setting" a scene that is common and as ageless as a vase of flowers or a child with a ball or a fruit tree or a herd of cows. 
Why have I chosen this as my skin for the exhibition duration ? It's because it's a very real part of who I am. I sew. And sewing is unthreatening. 
My original proposal was to stitch prayers, prayers being of no religious denomination, but more simply the place from which prayer emanates which seems to be common ground. Prayer in this sense is also a deep stream in me and combining stitch with prayer has been part of my creative and personal practice for the past four years and so drawing attention to these elements of my being by being a sculpture feels quite natural and honest and unperformance-y. Which I think is at the crux of finding one's true identity, the man/woman behind the mask, behind the layers that have accrued over years to protect or seduce (more of that at a later date as I feel I am drifting into the comedia dell'arte with all this talk of mask). Earlier I referred to a visitor wishing for kindness to be more prevalent, the word kind stems from old english gecynde meaning natural or native, at other times when prayer is spoken of we all refer to place inside of us which seems to be a manifestation of this natural or native aspect of our being, simple, generous, unblemished and peaceful and unifying. I will follow up on this blog as I hope at least five more days where I will be "working on site" and if the first six days are anything to go by I am in for a lot more thought provoking interaction before those days are up. And maybe that is just how life is, it keeps moving, we can't hold it still, even a seemingly still or fixed thing may find itself covered by that which moves faster and so it's stillness or fixedness cannot resist inevitable change. So Hum. And so hum. Maybe that is why the activities that draw us into our interior selves are so important. Therein we find our eternally newborn selves, our naked selves, free of judgement and censorship, in our vulnerability there we meet, maybe just for a moment, the spirit of prayer, the softness of trust, trust that all shall be well and all shall be well and all shall be well.  


     

Monday, 21 August 2017

Before I go any further with my meandering conversation with myself about identity I want to write up a little bit about the boots and also the Walk a Mile project. 
Quite a while back at the beginning of the summer my facebook-feed threw up a flyer for Zannie Fraser's intergenerational Walk a Mile project, a series of ten free workshops leading up to and culminating in a performance session. Now I don't really see myself as a performer (more about this later) but the project looked really exciting. Zannie is a professional puppeteer working all over Britain using shadow puppets and the project was based around the clothes we wear and the stories that are linked to them. I love clothes, stories, puppets and shadows. And I had crossed paths with Zannie a few years previously when she was researching a work based on Rumplestiltskin so I knew she would be interesting to work with. 
The brief for the first session was to bring an item of clothing with a story. I took my boots, boots that had seen me through the past ten years, four just about identical pairs. Why buy four pairs of the same boot, oh because they fitted like a dream and I don't love shopping but I do love walking. 
The story of these boots really goes back to before I had them. Way back when my children were small and I really was struggling to keep my head above water, I used to read books about the Holocaust. Grim reading you might think, a bit dramatic, maybe. But in bed hungry and cold and feeling wretched and alone they somehow gave me the strength to keep going. I used to think that if people could survive that then i could surely get through what I was going through which was nothing in comparison. 
As a result of reading around this period of history I came across Primo Levi and various books by him including 'If this is Man' and 'The Truce'. One of the things that hit home was how footwear made the difference between survival and demise in the lager at Auschwitz and later on the journey back to Germany. I think good boots may also have came up in 'All Quiet on the Western Front' by Erich Von Remarque which I also read at this time. Anyway the message hit home, especially as I had just spent a winter walking around in boots with holes in the soles because I couldn't afford new ones, that keeping my feet well shod would likely make a difference to my life and ever since then I have had at least one good pair of walking boots. 
The boots that relate to the workshop had only been around for ten years but all of them were/are reaching the end of their days. One pair is no longer useable even in the garden and only two pairs are good for walking, and even they couldn't do the long walks they did back in the day. 
Oh boots. They are only boots, but they are marvellous boots. Boots that hold the memories of that decade. 
One of the things that was very exciting about the workshops was that it was mixed age groups, this is uncommon. The mixing of teenagers with pensioners and myself and Zannie and a couple of assistants in between made for a challenging but very inspiring atmosphere. Sometimes it felt quite chaotic but somehow Zannie would pull us all together and I would always leave with my head full of thoughts brought on by the sessions. Now a month on there are still things that spring back to mind that I'd like to follow through.
But, there was a pitfall, I had seen that the workshops led up to a performance on the flyer, but for a good six or seven weeks I was in denial, I think I was hoping that everyone else would be desperate to be centre stage and that I could hang back in the wings pouring squash or sweeping up or something else kind of menial. However as the performance date drew closer it became clear this was not an option. And I felt unprepared which as someone nervy and unused to performance made the whole shenanigans a tad too much. I bottled it. Or really nearly bottled it.  
But Zannie and her partner Bob came to the rescue, gave up a couple of hours on a sunday mid morning to lunchtime, by the end of which there was something showable. And hats off and gratitude to them for doing that because, as they said at the time, if I'd bottled it I would have been disappointed. 
The night came and each participant and/or piece of clothing got given a moment in the spotlight. And Zannie and Bob showed us the multiple pieces they had been working on which was fascinating and worth the gulping down of stage fright just to see. How they pulled off the show they did in ten weeks is beyond me, I am always astounded at other people's capability and cleverness. Huge hand clap for all the work they put in. 
And oh boots, what a wonderful hero's send off. Those boots have been a part of me and my life. They have been to Cornwall, Devon, Scotland, Wales, Yorkshire, the Lake District, the Dordogne, Italy, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol, and all over Norfolk and Suffolk and even a little bit of Kent and London. They have seen me through university, various jobs, rapturous love and desperate deadbeat love and heartbreak and coming back to myself after heartbreak, and illness, and from full-on mothering to my children leaving home and on to becoming granny. Those boots represent a seminal chapter in my life, a period in my history when the changes came so fast they were falling over each other, an exhilarating, exhausting and enormous period of time in my life. And so it seems a bit appropriate that I should have had to face up to one more fear to celebrate their being before they take their final bow. 
Thank you Zannie. 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

But actually, just because this is part of why I wanted to think about clothes I will post these pictures of the boots that have been my companions over the past ten years and took me walking and most recently were the subject of a short performance piece that Zannie Fraser managed to wring out of me over the course of her intergenerational  project - Walk a Mile - that she was working on this summer in which I was a participant. I will write more about this in another blog post because it was a deep learning experience and I want to make notes about it before it fades into yesterday. But for now ... the boots 





Continuing to think about identity. Here's the big question .. who are you ? as the caterpillar said to Alice. Who are you ? Who am I ? 
Stripped back, no family, no friends, no home, no job, who would you be then ? Are you comfortable with that person ? Most of us attach our identity to things outside of ourselves in order to establish our identity. Maybe that is what is so terrifying about Alzheimers and dementia. Perhaps, not just for the sufferer but also those who care. 
Oh woah, that is not where I had planned to go. I had figured to coast around talking about identity being how we dress, who we hang out, yes families but families as a good thing or at least families as a constant. 
But, here is the rub, families are not constant, they shift and change, in the natural order of things children grow up and make lives that do not depend on their parents, parents grow old and die (my parents are both still here, the way we relate may not be perfect but it is still ongoing), siblings part ways and so on. 
Families come in myriad shapes and forms, what suits one may not suit another, the manners of each family vary, some families yield to accommodate newcomers, others not so much. Some newcomers are unbearable, others a welcome addition. 
As a single parent I had to quickly get used to my older two children's father introducing new mothers into the space. Thankfully only two, and both women who my children have benefitted from knowing. I'll admit it hurt, and that there were times i was jealous, struggling on my own it was hard to see him happy. I know that's wrong. But while digging through my catalogue of ugly feelings I may as well get that one out. 
But lets pull back to a more general notion of family. Our first identity is very much visited upon us by the family we are born into, we are good, we are bad, grizzly, easy, pretty, ugly, large, small. It's a natural response to categorise but what if we tie down a person too tightly, squeeze them in to a box that is all wrong, force them to wear a skin that doesn't suit them. 
Adolescence is the first real opportunity children get to take off that skin and try out others. Their friends become their family as they out grow their family of origin. It figures that if your family of origin was a comfortable fit that later when you are gone away you will return but having left it is never quite the same for you cannot return to the innocence of before. 
Lets say that in our quest for identity, we have grown up and left home, and made a family of our own. A self picked family made up of people you really like. They say that we take on the characters of the five people we spend most time with. For many that will be their partner and a mix of workmates and friends. Five is a handful, talk to almost anyone and they will say that they have, at most, a handful of good friends, really good friends, who know them well. So it figures they'd be the ones you keep company with but it's not always the way. 
So looking at identity, we have blood family, the family behind us and sometimes a family in front of us and to the side, and friends and acquaintances who make up our new chosen family. And chances are we may be a slightly, or very, different person according to who we are with. 
I'm going to reference my friend Sally now, who in conversation some weeks back said it's not so much about the other person being right or wrong but do you like who you are when you are with them, are you who you want to be when you are with them. That feels like an interesting spin. 
Am I blithering on ? Yes. How does this connect to identity ? I guess, as I'm really just thinking on to the "page" I'm thinking that this notion of skin, the skin our companions give us when we are with them as part of a collective is all part of the "who am I" conundrum. Those who we find ourselves close to lend their being to our being and borrow, take or steal, a little of ours in exchange. So what you value becomes obvious through the company you keep.  
Where am I going with this ? I'm being long winded and not really getting anywhere maybe. this is not the blog I'd meant to write about how the clothes we wear represent a facet of our identity and so on, but they do. The clothes we wear, the places we go to, the people we hang out with, the things we do, the way we speak, the language we use, our voices. And, well now, maybe that is a path to follow. Who are you when you are stripped back to just a voice ? I'll leave that one hanging and come back to it tomorrow. 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

What is a blog for ? It's hard to judge how much personal life it is appropriate to show in a space where anyone, should they so wish, can see it. And very, very few people are so socially isolated that their lives do not affect others. 
Fore-warned this may be a long ramble, I am thinking about identity. Show me the artist that doesn't come to this at some point in their career. So I'm thinking about how we are perceived and how we perceive ourselves. And the space, if there is one, between those two points of perception. And how difficult it is to control the way we are perceived by others. And how we are shaped as children, and from there through out life by our experiences.
A lot of my work stems from feeling. I think it was Maya Angelou who said something along the lines of you never forget how somebody made you feel, you might forget the words and deeds, but not the feeling. I'm inclined to agree. And here-in maybe lies the essence of a being. 
I'm going to skip about here because that's the way my mind works. Those who are not in touch with their feelings or who would rather be unfeeling in order to block out unpleasant feelings are given to suppressing feeling in others. They are quite often people who will talk in a derogatory way about those they deem over-sensitive. But then those who are very sensitive can be so sensitive that their call for sensitivity also suppresses feeling in others. 
It's a fine line and there is a balance that needs to be struck, but that balance is not a command and control balance, that kind of stability is about domination rather than dialogue, the balance is when both parties are able to meet as equals, when no one voice, no one's needs over-rides another's. But how do we measure, how do we gauge, equity.
One of the ways that we find a small space balance in our everyday lives is to mix with people who are of similar mind, body, being, to us. They mirror, and present no deep challenge. It's about finding birds whose feathers and calls are like enough to your own that they feel like kin. 
Ideally you'll grow up in a family that feels like kin. Ideally that family will develop your sense of self worth so that you have no need to belittle either yourself or others. I don't know how common that is. I grew up in a family where I felt like a misfit, it was hard to get things right and is likely the root cause of my self-doubt and misfit complex. I'll get back to that as doubt and that feeling of not fitting is one facet of my identity.  In times gone by it was very uncomfortable, now it is less so, in some ways mis-fitting now is a license not to conform. I am more likely to say "f*** it, they hate me anyway, what does it matter" whereas previously I might have been cowed or my fights would flare, but then die back, weakened by a desperation to be liked and anxiety and fear of abandonment.
But to get back to feelings. I'm currently working on a body of pieces that is drawn from the sludge. The piece titled "Shirley Boyle" in a previous blog was the first to be born from this mire. It's not pretty feelings I'm dealing with. It's, as I say, the sludge, the dark matter; envy, vengeance, jealousy, social isolation, grudge, shame, cowardice, pride the list goes on and probably the prettiest emotions in there are sadness and anger so it's not comfortable space to be occupying. 
But these horrible feelings are shadows that lurk in all of us to a greater or lesser extent, in different measures. There are some sunny personalities who may be less subject to nastiness but those sunshine souls are not common. Oddly when  that which is nasty is  not acknowledged it gains more hold, more leverage, becomes more obvious and requires more effort to cover. And in covering we reduce our ability to experience the counter side, that which is light and free, and also our ability to break away from our demons. It may be possible to maintain superficial appearances but the need to stay superficial becomes a demon itself for it binds us to shallow gratification and a rotten-ness of soul becomes normal, an acceptance of imbalance that is selfishly shifted towards ourselves.
And I think it's easy to find oneself either in a soup of complacent self satisfaction (see David Cameron) or trapped in loveless relationships that only function on a superficial level.
Actually those shallow relationships have a place in all our lives, the capacity to get on relies on us accepting each other on a superficial level, being genuinely decent and polite. But it doesn't seem like quite enough to sustain a marriage for instance, the need to maintain an appearance of shine at the expense of the inner light drives me crazy, makes me feel like a caged thing. That's another part of my identity perhaps, a need not to be confined. 
So I don't fit and I hate cages. And yet, on lots of levels, I do play the game. Because there are people I deeply care for, and for whom I will subjugate my needs because their needs over-ride my needs. Now the trick with this is to make sure that fair play is being done. It cannot be right for only one party to be doing the giving. And whilst this can be seen close to in relationships, it is also the case that some nations, or groups within nations are taking, or giving, too much 
This giving and taking balance and the need for honesty and integrity beg us to ask am I really getting this right ? Am I really getting this right ? I ask that twice because it's easy to say yes when asked only once, easy to push away doubt, or easy-ish to push away doubt Am I really getting this right ?
This is, in a way, where that which challenges us is often a great opportunity. That which, and those who. Those who challenge us, who are not our flock, whatever our comfort zone is, offer us opportunity to witness another way of life. You can travel a long way to do this, I haven't, but maybe I'd like to some time. Or you can do it with those close by. It could be in-laws, ex's, ex's ex's, workmates, bosses, neighbours, someone who rubs you up a little wrong, or someone who rubs you up a lot wrong. 
Generally the challenge stems from a mis-meeting of manners, mannerisms, and communication style, the superficialities, the delicate structures we have built around ourselves that help us to feel strong and stable. It is politics whether it's negotiating between children, adults, communities or nations, and the ability to recognise another's right to be, to exist, is the starting point. Weirdly that right is often overlooked and so the seed of goodwill is disregarded before negotiations begin.  
I think I may have slipped into brain waffle now, and that which challenges us and how we meet those challenges is a story with a different set of keys to identity so I'll save that for another day. Also this blog has stretched out much longer than I anticipated so I'll close for now and continue further down the line when my thoughts are more clear.

Mmm, post script - as regards how much feeling I put into my blog, how much of my personal life I expose, I think I came to the conclusion a few years ago that as much of my work stems from feeling, or feelings, if I am explaining the thought behind what I am doing I am pretty much bound to lay bare those feelings. Those for whom it is too much I assume will look away. 

Sunday, 6 August 2017

And here is a picture of the beautiful Ella who I met along with Andy when I made Bigod's Way 2


And in detail ..







I thought maybe it would be interesting to see the Jon Triptych together .. 




Today has been the final day of the Cley 17 exhibition. My line of sticks drawing out the path I  was forced to take after the man I loved left me for warmer lands and new loves will be up until tomorrow, tonight is it's last sunset and moonrise.  
I do not dare to hope that any viewer, even my close friends, would see or feel what I see and feel in the work, why would they, but for me it has been perhaps the most painful of the three parts of the triptych which I can only call "Jon". 
It describes for me all the time we spent together, good and bad, and all the time after, it is every memory, every interaction, every person, place, happening, it is those known and not known. It is the people we were with before. Those people who brought us to the point where we met. And it is the people we have spent time with since. Tomorrow I will be taking it down. And I will admit that this last week has been a bit of a tearful one because it is an end and it still hurts that I was not enough. But I have to accept that. 
The right to choose how, where and with whom we spend our life is an animal prerogative, I myself am not very well domesticated and Jon was the first man I ever gave my destiny to. But he wanted to be somewhere else, with someone else, someone other than me. That's life. You only get to choose your own path. That choice might bend towards another but still it is your choice to bend or not. 
No body is tied to another beyond pregnancy. After pregnancy I think most parents try to be in their offspring's life and to hold a course that allows them to grow into themselves and reach out into the world as joyfully as possible. 
I'm thinking about this parenting thing as my daughter is currently trekking across Europe with her two little ones, my grandchildren, Luca and Elidi. I'm a bit off social media, feeling unsociable and burned out, but still checking in with the photos she is posting of their journeying. All my children are grown and fledged now, watching them fly is wonderful. I wish that I was as brave and unbound as they are, I am glad that they are braver and better able than me to reach out for what they need to be happy. 
So I guess this is a closing "Love is a Long Road" blog. Love is a long road. It is a pick yourself up and dust yourself down when you stumble road. It is a whoop-whoop, happy-happy, things are going great road. It is a trudging through mud and mire for miles and miles with the sky dark and wet, and every cell in your body is begging for warmth and light, road. It is a sunshine and grasslands, meadows and butterflies, skylarks and gentle breezes road. It is a stop a while and tend the garden, make tea, make love road. It is really the way you choose to live your life. The who's, the how's, the where's, the dot-dot-dots, the compromises you make or don't make. After tomorrow sometime I will post photos of the sticks as they have weathered, assuming they are still there, just to document. Tomorrow, they too will be in my past, the mileage I racked up yesterday. And I will pass on to the next chapter, the next verse, or maybe on to a patch of oblivion, of not minding, not caring, just being, not trying.     

Saturday, 15 July 2017

A little bit of diddle-y doing with Pierrot, Columbine and Harlequin .. people who came to my open studios will know that this is a bit of an ongoing project .. a quietly simmering pot on the back burner that I'm hoping to give more attention to after summer is done .. at the moment I am trying to feel my way into their characters; what drives them, what breaks them down, how they move, talk, live ...  so you can see that my scribbles are just scribbles but by the same token I like them and they feel like important scribbles, scribbles that are marks along the right path.



 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

And fixed up the dollhouse pram that I had when I was a child and that somewhere along the way lost a wheel and never got re-wheeled 

And then I made a tiny paintbrush out of some found cat hair and a twig and thread .. and it makes this mark 


Monday, 10 July 2017

And then yesterday my daughter and grandchildren came over to hang out and amongst other things we did my little grandaughter and I got creative and starting making some little people to inhabit the Polly Pocket clock - all the original inhabitants have moved on and who knows where they are living now. 
We made some heads for nails out some air-drying clay I had hanging about waiting to be useful and drew faces on them and Elidi made one dress but the head went missing. Anyways it was good play so I thought I'd blog the ones I finished this morning just because they made me smile. The best days are days spent with people you love. 





Now, having set up the Cley piece, I have a little respite from focused work and can drop back into my work play-space. This space is essential .. everything I do stems from having this freedom, without it I become locked down on every level. To an outsider it might look like nothing, like time-wasting, or dilly-dallying, in a goal orientated society that most values concrete achievement and speed, it would be marked F for fail. But it is in this delicate space that ideas spark in to life and start to find form .. and sometimes old ideas that have lain fallow surface and break through to become manifest, so it was a week or so back when I made a small thing that is the beginning of a larger body of work. It has an odd name, but the name is important. So too does the body of work but I shall have to see what else comes out of that body, I can feel things coming to the fore but nothing has made itself imperative yet. Anyways here is the little piece of work, it is photographed on my upstairs worktable and is not quite finished but almost .. 
The name is: Shirley Boyle, Strumpshaw Fen, Winter 2010.


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Some pictures .. tomorrow is the day of the private view .. everyone is welcome .. and after that the exhibition runs for a month. I do not know if my standing sticks will last the whole duration .. so it is with love, so many chances for it to fail, luck is involved but also courage, determination, forgiveness, forbearance, kindness, respect and a willingness to be vulnerable, not an easy road but if you give yourself up to it it is the sweetest. 
Have I suggested that in the work I have put out ? I don't know .. I don't know if anyone but me will see that .. to many it will just be a line of sticks, it may even be an irritant to some .. but that's love for you .. you can't control the responses of others, it's a gamble ... love is a leap of faith, an act of hope, it is light breaking though darkness, joy taking the hand of grief and making good that which was bad. Love is a risk, but a risk that's a wonderful gift ... 




  
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Sunday, 2 July 2017

Day 3 .. there is something poetic about taking three days though I had not intended to, and in all truth, if the weather had been more clement or if I'd been a car driver with a vehicle I'd have probably done it in two at the most. But there, that's not how it was, and so it took three days. 
This day did not start well, I'd gone to bed feeling unwell and woken three times from bad dreams, death and drowning and more death and chaotic travel, my glands were up and the inside of my face felt like it was full of infection, sinuses or lymphatic system maybe, it was not good. And the spot on my lip had reached teenage nightmare proportions. 
David came round and we loaded up the last of my bundles, there were twelve in all, 90 individual uprights made of sticks tied with strands from found beach rope and thick silk yarn. There is a fairy tale in there .. have I written it out already in a previous blog I will check before I tell it again. 
The weather was once again perfect. David came to look at what I'd put up already and made all the right noises, then he went off for a walk while I got on with finishing my line. 
As before the larks were singing, butterflies were fluttering, the same biggish brown ones and a few smallish coppery orange ones that I think might have been small skippers. I watched one of the skippers fly slalom through the length of my sticks which was a pretty lovely moment. 
After I'd done, I took more photos and then walked along the sea edge to meet David who, as it happened, was walking along the top of the beach towards me so we missed each other. But after a couple of texts we eventually met up, had a last look, popped in to the church where the main exhibition is mounted and then left Cley to get chips in Wells.
The chips in Wells felt quite celebratory and, although I was still feeling a bit rough and not at all with it, it had been another beautiful day. Sharing our chips with the seagulls and starlings was particularly special. 
Maybe I am boring on about setting up but it's all part of placing something, my physical presence and the physical presence of those I have spent time in a place with, are all very definite, concrete actualities even once they are passed time, passed moments, they belong like beads on a thread, this person, that person, that stream of thought that was going on then,  are layered over each other, my memories overlapping another's memories if a moment has been passed together and is also important, of worth, to them too. 
This stretch of coast is important to me ..  and all the more so since making this most recent piece of work .. I love it because it sets me free .. asks nothing of me but lets me be .. and I ask nothing of it except that it exists. This to me is a wonderful kind of love. 
Day 2 .. this day was a head out on the train and bus with a bundle of sticks day. I said to Amis before he left the day before that I would look quite mad, and he very sweetly said "no", I persisted and he said "well, if anyone can look quite mad and pull it off, it's you mum" words I have taken to treasure forever. I do love my children. 
Anyways, in the morning I set up with my bundle feeling a bit of a fool but thinking that really that's all part of loving oneself or another. The good, the bad, the foolish. And thinking about the fool in the Tarot pack which is a theme running through my mind at the moment and the fool's map that I am working on, and the map of my footsteps for Zannie's project and oh so many other things. and also thinking about the big ugly spot that had come up on my lip and was very painful and thinking about being a teenager or even now and expecting rejection whenever I got a spot or was less than attractive, or got something wrong. 
I think an important part of learning to love yourself is being able to accept your flaws, not in a blind to one's flaws way, but in an "oh, that is how it is but it is ok". And if we can give that to ourselves then we are more likely to be able to give others more wholehearted acceptance. 
And as it goes, as I was walking across town to the station people smiled at me for my sticks. It was ok to be different, to not conform. 
So, train journey, lots of note-taking, buddlieas flowering and evening primrose, brambles, rosebay willow herb, a few foxgloves, some privet. And the field were turning yellow though some had been hard beaten by the rain, and I wondered what farmers do when that happens, does the crop go to cattle feed maybe. 
Arriving in Sheringham there was a long wait for the bus and people were less amused by my sticks but that was ok I was on a mission. 
The journey to Cley is quick. And stepping off the bus and walking down the beach road it was odd and nice to think of having been there with Amis the day before. And all the other people I've visited with too who are all wrapped up in the work I've done, the time and space they have given me in being fellows on my road through life.
There is a point in the road where you look out and see Mike Dodd's sculpture on the beach .. it is pretty cool .. and it draws you towards it. He was setting up with a friend when I arrived and we had a quick chat before I headed along the beach wondering if my sticks from the day before had survived.
They had survived and they looked fine though the line I had planted was definitely not a straight line. There was a part of me thought to alter that curve but it felt like it was meant, was symbolic of how love cannot be controlled, planned and ordered in to place, or leastways not love as I know it. If the sun had shone the day before i probably would have made it straighter but it hadn't and so the line wobbles, a wobble is part and parcel of acceptance, part and parcel of "what the hey".
I set to digging the next batch of sticks into the ground. The larks were singing, and oyster catchers calling, every time I stepped back to look brown butterflies, I think maybe meadow brown's, fluttered up from the grass and the weather was purr-fect, warm but not hot, sunny then cloudy and little breeze, the sea was gently shushing just out of sight. This is the heaven that setting up on site is all about. Being in communion with nature. I don't have a god but if I did I think it might be this. Or maybe it is this I just don't care to call it god. 
Half way through Marion Johns the curator of the exhibition came to look with her bouncy black labrador who was loving the grasses and was a good dog test, I've left gaps in the line so that people and animals can get through easily. Marion seemed happy with the work which is important and that made two of us. There is always a nervous moment mounting a site specific thing for me as it's hard to know how it will look until it is up and then, of course, it's too late to turn back, it is what it is. 
Setting the sticks up didn't really take long. Afterwards i took quite a lot of photos and wandered along the beach, beach combing and being. Ate my packed lunch. And then headed back to the bus stop past Mike's now just about done piece. His friend offered me a lift home which I accepted and that was day 2. 
That was day 2, except when I got home I was beginning to feel quite ill.


      
For my records, Cley '17 Connectivity set up ..

Day 1 .. in my head this day was going to be it. The sun was going to shine. My wonderful son, Amis, who has just passed his driving test, had agreed to drive me out there with all that I needed and I figured that if I didn't get it all done, at leat I'd break the back of it and just have a few twigs to plant on the Thursday. 
Hmmm, life, like love, does not always go to plan. It began to rain the day before, heavy rain, but holding on to plan Amis turned up in the evening, and it was sweet to hang out and catch up as we hadn't seen each other for a little while. And the BBC forecast implied that wednesday would be not so bad, a light rain and dry in the afternoon. Ha. 
In the morning it was pouring. Thankfully I'd asked my friend David if I could borrow his waterproof trousers which he delivered to me before he went to work. He'd lent them to me before when we were out at Cley in the winter for an artist's meeting that didn't happen because the weather was too terrible and we just missed the message telling us it wasn't happening. That's an aside, but it's also all part of the journey of the piece of work and kind of met this set up day quite nicely. It's a creative link if you will.  
Anyways, car loaded with sticks, and masses of stuff I never used in the end, and leaving a little later than I had supposed we would in my head. And rain still raining, still raining hard. And Amis, said "right, I've not driven in the rain before, better work out how to turn on the wipers etc" .. we considered bailing, but he bravely went for it .. my son has the heart of a lion .. new driver, new roads, new weather conditions, and mum as passenger. I'm just going to take a moment to gush here, I hadn't really taken in to consideration how much of a thing it would be for him taking me, selfish emotional laziness on my part, but he did what he does, and got on with it, with his usual good humour and courage, that makes my heart swell with love and brings a little tear to my eye. 
Anyways, we drove, he drove, and as a mum it is/was reassuring to know that he is a good driver, to the beach. But. But, we were nearly stumped by an enormous puddle blocking our way. Still he did a quick 3point turn and parked up and I got booted and suited to walk out alone with just a couple of bundles of  my sticks while he parked up at the NWT building and waited for me to be done. 
I walked out in the rain, thinking how interesting it is the way life, love and weather, will do what they will and how we fare depends a lot on how well we are able to adapt to the vagaries that are thrown at us. 
I got to the beach, the waves were crashing, the wind was blowing, the rain was still pouring .. I had a moment of fear stepping on to the beach hoping that the waves were not going to pour over the shingle bank but decided to hope for the best and go for it. 
Once I was in my patch I set to work and put up the first fifteen uprights. It didn't take long and was actually quite exhilarating and fun once I'd bitten back my fear of the sea. It was nice to do it alone and in rough conditions, allowed me to feel very at one with the elements and sparkly inside. 
Once done I took a few photos through a rain spattered lens and quickly headed back to the carpark soaked through and very happy. And there was more joy because Amis had run down the little coast road to meet me because he is kind like that and had felt bad about making me walk all the way to him. 
And then we went back to my house and had a cup of tea before he headed back home to where he is living at the moment. It might not seem like the biggest adventure but I think we both felt like adventurers when we got in. 
So I dedicate day 1 set up to Amis, king of road, my son and friend. Thank you Amis.








Monday, 26 June 2017

So I thought for interests sake I would put up the proposal I made that initiated the process I've been going through over the past six months, the focused meditation on love. I woke this morning thinking that maybe love resides not just in my heart but also my backbone, it is not only my desire, my pulse, but also my will and intention, my stem. I'm preparing for set up like a warrior going in to battle. I know set ups are a make or break moment. I'm excited and longing for it to be done. Here is my proposal.

Love is a Long Road

My proposal for the Cley 2017 exhibition stems from a train of thought I have been mulling over for a while. I’ve been waiting for the right site, the right moment to give my thoughts a body. This exhibition would seem to be the perfect time and place if I am selected.

My proposal is to place a line of white painted uprights (wood or bamboo) bound around with red inked-paper to repeatedly spell out love in braille. The line to continue for some  metres length. 

My preferred site would be on the beach, some way above the shore line, preferably not too far from the entrance to the beach on the side that leads to Blakeney. 

My hope is that the viewer will see in the work that love is tested, that there are breaks and hardship within any love story, that love is not only romantic, but is a universal link, a connection that keeps going and going and going, no matter what. That it marks time like a heart beat, is as essential as breath, is shown in words or gestures, is one foot in front of another.  

The use of red is related to blood, the stream that flows through all our bodies and the bodies of all other animate creatures, links limb to limb, feeds and nourishes from inside to out. Also the red thread - a popular notion in Japan that binds two people, or spirits across time immemorial so that if they find themselves parted they can be sure that one day they will find each other again. Red is about the heart and the fire that burns within the heart when love is present.

The white is for grief and innocence and spirit. Grief is the emotion associated with the metal element in chinese medicine.  The metal element holds the breath, that which maintains life within us. There is no love without grief for love will end in parting. But is parting the end of love or does true love continue still pulsing, still beating it’s gentle rhythm for ever. And who, knowing that would ever dare to love but the innocent ? I want my piece to recall that innocence, the simpleness of a hand in a hand, the courage it takes to reach out from ourselves to meet something that is other than us. 

I have produced a couple of outdoor site specific pieces for exhibition before and the challenge and joy for me is making them stable and visually interesting  and sympathetic to the environment in which they are set. This asks for ability to adapt, to yield and to push through adversity which in many ways echoes the demands of love whatever the love subject may be. And although I may have a message I want to convey to a my viewer I want my work to be spacious enough for my viewer to put themselves into the work and become a part of it. 
December 2016   

Sunday, 25 June 2017

And then, just playing. I can't resist the washed up asbestos on the beach. I know it shouldn't be handled and obviously stuff I make with it is unsaleable but it's so beautiful, maybe all the more so for being unsafe.  


Friday, 23 June 2017

As a bit of an aside I've been lucky enough over the past few weeks to have been a participant in local puppet maker, Zannie Fraser's "walk a mile" sessions. On the first session she asked us to bring in a favourite piece of clothing, I chose my boots, boots that have been with me for over ten years, and walked all over the place, - 100's of miles, more likely 1000's if I tot up regular walking to and from here and there as well as more exotic roaming. Actually I have four pairs of the same boot which is a bit of a cheat, but in a sense each boot is all the other boots, in a way they are every boot, every footstep I have taken. More, maybe, on that another day.
We have now reached a stage where Zannie and her assistant are helping us to put together sketched out puppet shows, sort of puppet shows in progress which I think are to be shown in late July. We've been working together in small flexible groups which has been very nice as it takes the pressure off and means there is a richer pool of thoughts about how to illustrate the stories behind the articles of clothing. 
Anyways the last session got me thinking and so I made a small pair of boots last night just for fun. They may not be used but that doesn't really matter, for me creativity is a lot about exploring different pathways and thought streams tho many come to  dead end. 
And, as a bonus they got me thinking about Tom Thumb and his seven league boots so even if they prove un-useful for the puppet show they are a beginning point to connecting to that fairy tale. 
Here are the boots ...