Sunday, 30 April 2017

I keep thinking about this question "what is love ?" .. and the more I ask this of myself the more I come back to the answer that for me love is light. The absence of love is dark. But light can breach darkness and so it is with love too. 
It is easy to be loving on sunny days when the roses are blooming. But call me love when I am in tears, when I can see no further ahead than my next breath, call me love when I am storming and incensed, call me love when I am dull and despondent, call me love when I am failing, when I am fallen. Then I may know that you love me. And if I do the same for you then you too can know that I love you too. 
I am writing about love, and I feel a little schmaltzy, what do I know ? I only know what I know and what I know is incomplete. I am making a piece of work that I have been thinking about for three to four years since my last lover left me. I am nothing to him now, and he is just a long ago love that I no longer know. It is not only about him. But it is also about him.
His leaving forced me out of a life I had hoped I would live. I'd hoped we would travel together, explore, roam, wander, and make love all over the planet, make memories to share, memory jam for the store cupboard, I'd hoped we would make a garden or two together, learn to read the stars, I'd hoped to wake with him, not every morning but most mornings, until the day one of us died. I'd created a fairytale I guess, a wonderland, a castle of dreams but my dreams weren't his. One love has no right to bind another. He took his leave, I was not wanted, it hurt, it hurt a lot. But life goes on. 
Recently I came across a japanese proverb which goes "I fall down seven times, I get up eight". I like the simplicity of that and I think it is in essence is how I feel about love. It is a long path, a stream of light that stretches from before birth to after death, there will be rocks and obstacles, stumbles and falls, muddy ground and barren tracks, and it all depends on keeping going and getting back up when you fall. 
I think my thinking is still unfinished .. to be continued 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Waking up this morning and wondering what the hell I am doing writing blog posts about a lover long gone. Is it ok ? Is it pathetic to still care ? It feels like pulling hair from a plug hole. So what now ? A pause. A break. Time to soften and release .. to be continued

Thursday, 27 April 2017

So what is love ? Here in my sticky space thinking about where my "road" will take me, I have to say that whilst the first two parts of the triptych relate to a concrete lover, this third is a solitary journey.
I guess it's not surprising really, a man who is calling his lover a mad useless whore is probably not that enamoured any more, if ever he was. Love chooses so often to be blind, refuses to see, hear, feel the truth so when he left, and left for good, it was still a shock. I guess that relationships that are a bit hot and cold, on off, can be almost mesmeric, the ends never feel like the end because there is always a beginning not long after, a day, a week, a month, passes and the elastic pings back, and you are waking up in bed together again, making tea, making love, as if nothing has happened. Until the next row, the next end. 
So this love affair that had taken me on a roller coaster tour of both heaven and hell was finally over. He left. And I was devastated. I was devastated but I was also free. I didn't want to be free at first. For a while I hopped about at the bottom of the cage, moping, pecking at the few seeds that were left, wishing and hoping he'd change his mind and realise he'd made a terrible mistake and loved me passionately. That didn't happen. We emailed, his emails dry and terse and deliberately dull, mine raging and desperate, I behaved badly I had no reason not to, I didn't feel bad about behaving badly I'd tied myself in knots trying to conform to him and his fridge-cold family. 
In traditional chinese medicine the flavour associated with the heart is bitter. We think of love, and hearts and flowers and all the gorgeous tender elements spring to mind, we think it should be sweet. It can be sweet. But love comes in myriad shapes and forms. I was reading a while back about a man who was climbing Everest and stopped close by to the place where another climber had perished and is now a landmark on the trek to the top. Many climbers had passed him thinking he was the landmark body and it was only when someone heard a faint groan that they realised he was not dead but dying. He had taken a rest and become frozen to the spot, aid was called but it was too late. So there that man was climbing a mountain, I'm thinking you have to be pretty passionate about climbing to climb Everest but in the end dying in that climb, I wonder how that is, would not-climbing Everest have been a different kind of death, a dreadful abandonment of lived life. I am thinking out loud. I am wondering if passion is love ?
Is passion love ? A passion for horses, for reading, for writing, for painting, for dancing, for sailing, for a lover, for a friend, for your children or grandchildren. I am sure I would fight to my last claw if someone hurt my children or grandchildren, what parent/grandparent wouldn't. Well not every parent is like that, some leave, some let go. 
Is it the holding on that makes love love ? The tenacious attachment to whatever the loved thing is, animal, vegetable or mineral. The home, the place that feels like home, the memories, the dream, the notion, the fairy tale we have told ourselves since forever that will surely one day come true. Does the holding on perpetuate or destroy love, force it to heel, make stuffy the air. Or does the holding mean that what might otherwise be a casual throwaway thing becomes a sustained note, a constant to return to in flesh or spirit or both.
Just thinking on to the page. When my love, the man I wanted to wake with forever despite the darkness of his moods, left when he said he had someone new, when the someone new no longer wanted him and he returned to drink, did I stop loving him, I didn't, I couldn't, I was mad at him, I hated him, but a flame in my heart just wouldn't die, I'd douse it with tears of fury and frustration and there a few days later it would spark up again, unwanted and yet so wanted. I was thankful for my other loves to focus on, my work, my children and grandchildren, but always it came back to this wretched man I couldn't budge out no matter how hard I tried. Friends said "let go" my children thought he wasn't worth jack ... they were probably right. Is that love tho' ? Is that love ? Or is it obsession ? Infatuation ? Addiction ? 
I'm letting myself be quite dull in this blog post, no-one really cares about a  long ago love affair that didn't stay the distance. An unrequited love. Yeah, yeah, so what, so you loved him, had a few nice holidays, took a few walks, blah, blah, blah ... And that in a way is the sum of an affair when it finishes, you split up the goods, he takes his memories, you take yours - forgive me this could be a same sex relationship too, or even a friendship tho' breaks in friendships tend to be more subtle. 
So letting words spill on to the page, what is love ? Does love need to cut both ways can it be a one way street, does a beach or a woodland love the beings that inhabit and care about it ? Is it necessary for a man to love a woman who loves him or vice versa ? Is it ok to love someone who doesn't seem to love you ? Is it ok to love generally ? Just love life, love the deliciousness of being, of existing. Is it only a problem when the lover asks that the lovee reciprocate in kind, I love you therefore you must love me. We only ask that of living beings we deem mentally complex enough to love us as we love them. If I pick up a stone, I don't ask for that stone to love me, but if I fall for a man, in order to feel safe I want there to be some kind of mirroring, some gesture that suggests he feels as I do. Enough thoughts maybe for tonight .. to be continued 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Where to begin today .. my blogging has rather fallen by the wayside of late .. I am unsure how to move; forward, sideways, backwards, up. What should my next step be ? I have a feeling that blogging it out may help me find my direction so here I am back on the blog. 
I have a busy summer ahead. I am booked to do open studios in a few weeks which is exciting and daunting in roughly equal measures, have i said that in a previous post ? And the open studios are followed one after the other by the NNEP exhibition at Cley in which I am one of many participants and will be making a piece of work on the beach, and then the Waveney River Sculpture Trail which has moved from it's previous site at Earsham, near Bungay, to Raveningham. I'm doing something different this year it's connected to the two pieces I made on the sculpture trails in 2015 and 2016 and an ongoing project dating back to 2013 but I am holding it close to myself until nearer the time because it will stretch me in new ways and I am limbering up for the stretch.
Everything I do is connected. One of the reasons I wanted to do the open studios is because I knew it would force me to clear up my work space a little. I had rather hoped to go through all my portfolios and have masses to sell and to make a fortune, but that hasn't happened. What has happened as I have been sifting and sorting through many years of done and discarded work is found tidbits of this and that, here and there a nugget of gold, and much to be working with over the next year. Also new points of focus which I am tentatively reaching for just as I come to an end with other things. 
In November I put in a proposal for the Cley exhibition quite confidently expecting it to be turned down. I was interested in the curator and Cley is a well thought of exhibition local to me and I had an idea I very much wanted to make concrete. To my surprise and delight my proposal was accepted. The piece is called Love is Long Road and completes the triptych which began as a retelling of a seminal love affair that ended many years ago but has taken a stupidly long time in me to understand and close down. 
A fairly basic story telling device is a beginning, a middle, and, an end. Bigods Way 2 was the beginning, a tale of those first few years when all was hope and joy, and a glance from my lover would make me feel like I'd found flight. Sutram was the middle, the darkest days, days of being called whore and useless and mad, of disappointment, humiliation, sadness, confusion, anxiety, isolation, rejection, exhaustion. Sutram was the place I escaped to, was my sanctuary, was the place my lover could not reach me because it was inside of me, a part of me he did not know and could not follow. Suttram was all my senses alive to the elements, it was wind and rain and sunshine, it was every thought and no thought, dying and not dying. It was the beauty that is still available to us all even under the heel of an oppressor. It was that moment when a play of light on a wall would be so perfect it allowed me to breathe again. I felt very vulnerable after I had made Sutram and given it up to exhibition, I felt as if I had lost my hiding place, had shared maybe too much. It was a relief to take it down. 
But the story is not finished. It needs an end .. how will it end ? The reality is I won't know until it is done. And I have the vestiges of Bigods Way and Sutram which I am looking forward to reworking into other forms, because stories are ever changing. The happy ever after to the once upon a time is not always what is hoped for or expected. 
So here I am some weeks from setting up Love is a Long Road, the forms are made but now I have to know what I am putting into those forms. For me art is something akin to magic. There are processes that feel particularly materially magic, printing, dyeing, ceramics, ah hell, they are all incredible, the line that comes from a pencil in the hand of a person looking at an object or a view, that is magic, everyday magic that is accessible to everyone, there's not a right or wrong way to draw. But each one of us has our own way of drawing, just as we do anything, and that is what I am referring to when I say I have to know what I am putting into the forms. What line am I drawing out of my head onto the beach .. what thread is it that will run through, hold it together make it more than it is, make it my long road rather than another or maybe it will be a long road that others recognise and know that they too are taking, maybe it will meet with understanding.
To start, I want to be clear this piece is about love, but not white weddings and blossom, or maybe about those things, but also about grit, and determination, and faith, and not about a man or a woman, or maybe about a man or a woman, but maybe a child or a friend or a teacher, or an interest that is more than an interest is a part of your being, or a place that holds your heart, or maybe even yourself, maybe before we love any other body we need to begin with ourselves. 
It is hard to love ones self. It is hard to give unconditional acceptance to every part of ones own being. It is sometimes easier to love another, and hope that they will love you back, and in that love we can find a cushion, a softness we may struggle to give ourselves. But, I guess because I have been let down once too often I have been forced me to look to myself. When love between two people dies or maybe only dies on one side, there comes a deep searching, a trying to understand what flaw in you made that lover leave, doubtless there were flaws, but what made you see past his, or hers, and what made yours so intolerable. 
I have no answers to those questions. What I am looking at is how love keeps going, how do I work through when my work is all turning out rubbish when i haven't made anything good for months and my brain feels sluggish and I don't want to keep going, how do I do it, one step at a time, one foot in front of another.  Oh my first world problems. 
Here's a jig. How do you manage to smile when you are miles from a beloved home living in a tent in hostile foreign  lands ? How do you keep heart and soul together when the mind and body are pushed to their limits, by choice or by misfortune ? I'm thinking of people less lucky than me, people seeking refuge from wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia. How do those people keep walking in love. It is unimaginable. Is that why refugees are being met with so little compassion. Their plight is unreal to people fed and clothed and comfortable, in our comfort we fail to see the discomfort of others, to award them that which we take for granted. 
And back to easier tests. I love the sea and one of my ambitions is to walk around the coast of Britain. To that end I follow a couple of blogs of people doing this to get some idea of how I might do it. I'm still working on that. These blogs generally start out quite cheerful but there seem to be plenty of dreary trudges on grey roads through traffic and industrial wasteland and encounters with fierce cows (one of my own deep fears) and more else too. The point is it's a thing, you want to do a thing, you determine to do it and so it goes, it's through thick and thin, for better, for worse, that's love. Love doesn't give up. Or does it. Maybe sometimes it's ok to give up. Maybe sometimes giving up, letting go is the inevitable end. The only end. Maybe giving up is an opening, not an end, but a beginning.
So this so far is where I have got in my musings about Love is a Long Road. I have sketches and notes and a small maquette but mostly it is still in my mind, is still an embryonic form. So I will continue presently when I know more where it is going, where my road is taking me. But if anyone feels like commenting I would like to ask .. what is love ? who, what, where do you love ? 

For reference there are pictures and some writing on Bigods Way 2 and Sutram on my website