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 ...

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Are my ramblings making sense ? What do I know about anything ? Hitting hard up against my low self esteem today. This place is familiar, an expected part of the process of exhibiting.  I'm making a piece of work about love but what do I know of love ? Do I inspire love in others ? Do others experience me as a loving person ? Am I good enough to talk of love ? 
I am feeling fearful for the work I put up, fearful that my testament to my road through love will not show what I want it to show. I want it to be my vulnerability, my fear, my hope, my pain, my insignificance. I want it to be the effort it takes for me to meet the world with an open and loving heart when feeling not-good-enough is hard-wired into my being, when I anticipate rejection every step of the way. 
I battle with crippling shyness and I am unsure of my worth. I think this isn't really obvious to those I meet on a casual basis but it's a really huge block in me that I have to face-up to daily. There are people with whom I feel loved, my children, my grandchildren, and a handful of close friends, but I do not feel sure of being loved, or even liked, I do not know if I am lovable or likeable though I try to be acceptable. Does this disqualify me from talking about love ? This lack of knowing. Does my desire to love and be loved  make me a cripple amongst those more able, more steady, more secure, more obviously sound and matched in love ? Is my love worthless ? Am I a horrible, horrible person that doesn't deserve to be loved ? 
Forgive me for exposing the thoughts that go through my head. Making this work has been and still is a journey. I want love to be all fluffy bunnies and star shine, hell who doesn't, but it isn't my experience so I am working with what I know. My feeling is that love is a mix of grit and tenderness, that it isn't an easy path but if you get the mix right you may chance upon some times that are beautiful. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

And my sticks, ready, gathered into numbered bundles and waiting to planted on the beach at Cley. 

And braile crib boards .. one of these days I'll learn how to read braille with my fingers and be ever so happy 

And these are words

As an antidote to all the words and self-important musing a few pictures. It may be just as self important to post these. I have to remember "no-one really looks at my blog, or if they do they are generally nice people who wish me well and don't mind that I'm a bit odd and think too much". 

These are red thread works 
Today. Notes ? Or no notes ? I think more thinkings and maybe pictures or maybe not. Following on from my last blog, I've been thinking about love in defeat. Defeat is loss, love in defeat is loss, I have lost connection to someone or something I hold dear. A relationship has ended, be that a relationship with a person, a state of being, a state of nation, a notion I carried that has been broken or defiled.
Love is one of those things that cannot be commanded, it is or it isn't, like respect or trust it is born out of good will, good intention, good action. All those feelings may endure hardship but they are also bonds that can be broken, and if broken hard to mend. 
The work I am making Love is a Long Road has been a strange piece to put together, it's seed found root in my broken heart, and has been a way for me to process one rejection, that of course echoed other rejections and ultimately my rejection of my self. 
Why would I reject myself, surely everyone is flawed, surely those parts of me that I don't like, detest are the parts I need to pour most love into, or do I ? Is it love, or is it light I need ? Is it bringing those dark and shabby elements of me to light that I must honour. The parts of me that cause me discomfort are me as well as the the parts that bring me joy. There must be balance. 
If I refuse to see that which blights me can I be whole ? And if I am not whole what happens to the parts of me I refuse to give attention. In Jungian psychology they are referred to as the shadow and the shadow has a tendency to seep out if unattended to.
It could be said that this is a world issue, this looking away, this need to cover over that which is unpretty with a facade, a veneer, a made-up being. Those Chelsea residents whose view was spoiled by the sight of poor people in their district have now the burned out Tower as testament to the vanity and greed of their being. 
Perhaps it is unfair to judge just those residents so harshly,  that vanity and pride resides within us all. Our failure to call to account successive governments from Thatcher, through Blair, to Cameron and now May on a materialistic, enemy agenda has allowed the darker aspects of man's character to thrive. My blind eye, my deaf ear, my silence has allowed the wickedness of my country to grow. 
That is not to say that all my country is wicked, there is much good in Britain, or that I am all to blame, but failing to stand up, to say when things are wrong is a habitual flaw, it allows us to look away from our consciences. One's comfort should not be at an other's expense surely. And yet too often it is. 
And here is the break, the defeat, if I allow myself to come back to the work I am making (it is all I know how to do) how do I pick up that dropped thread. The line in me that says yes to love in the face of defeat, when love seems to be lost and hatred, love's twin, love's opposing force, seems to have taken hold, not just in my heart but also and very problematically in the hearts of many of those who hold power. 
My contribution to the world is small, I am a nobody, I may influence a few but not many, so how does my contribution make a difference ? As usual I am just putting my thoughts into more concrete form and have no answers. I am trying to reach a conclusion, and even that is selfish I want to sign off on a piece of work, to say "there it's done, love is a long road, I've thought,  I've mused and there's my answer" but it's not so cut and dry as that I think, love is a long road, it is a road of no end I think, it isn't "here I have arrived and all is good" but "here is where I am now".
It's so easy to talk about love, at the beginning of my thoughts about this piece, and in my proposal which I will copy and paste to my blog next week I think to remind myself, I have said how we know when we are in the presence of love. I wonder if maybe the road to love is following that presence which exists in all of us, following that knowing, knowing that there is a map within the heart that offers us clear passage, a free right of way, if only we allow ourselves to trust the best in ourselves and follow it with courage. 

Sunday, 18 June 2017

It's going to be hard not to write in anger today. My focus is in part on the work I am putting up for the exhibition at Cley in a couple of weeks, dyeing threads and tying them around sticks to spell out l.o.v.e in braille. 
But all the time I am thinking about the people who burned to death in the Grenfell fire, and those who saw and heard them burn to death, and those who are intimately connected, friends, family .. and so on out .. it's too shocking to take in, too horrible to admit. 
And it's hard to know what to say .. it's a serious wake up call. The suffering all across the world is disregarded by most governments it seems in their pursuit of wealth and status and power. Greed and pride and vanity are guests of honour. And those who are in government to serve the people of a country more often seem to serve those who fund them, the rich donors hold sway and if there is nothing left for the poor because the rich have had it all, so be it. Well, that is not ok, surely that is not ok. 
So how do I fit my work around a darkness that needs to be felt. When the sun shines, and babies are laughing, and flowers are in bloom, and so on, it is easy to love, such grace lends itself to love, but how can love keep going when the world is ugly. 
I was thinking before I wrote this blog that I would post images of notes I've made for the piece of work I'm making but it all feels so trite and irrelevant. Britain has a prime minister who is planning to begin Brexit negotiations tomorrow as if life just carries on and it does, but also it doesn't. Even writing a blog that most likely only one or two of my close friends will read feels somehow disrespectful. 
So that is love maybe .. sometimes there is no love .. it will come back, it does come back .. but sometimes there's a pause, a stop, when love draws in, holds children a little closer, calls for a quiet attention, a softening inside to cope with the hardness of that which is outside, maybe sometimes love needs meeting like a white flag on a bloody battlefield, needs surrender, truce and grace, and give and understanding. 
I will come back to my notes tomorrow or the next day or the day after, I had thought I would be more determined but I was wrong. I am glad I was wrong, I don't want to be tough in the face of suffering, it hurts to feel, but it's an unfeeling world that accepts and depends on the suffering of others for the pleasure of the self. 
There is a need for change, I think, and maybe opening up to feelings, our own and those of other people and beings, is a way that change might happen. Excuse me for thinking out loud.  

Monday, 12 June 2017

Tuesday .. and last weekend was the last in the Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios event. I had a hundred and fifteen visitors during the course of the three weekends I was open. That number included some friends, and other artists, four children and two babies, and even repeat visitors from the time I opened three years ago.
It's an interesting experience, quite different,  for me, to exhibiting where my desire and expectation is that I produce a finished work that stands for itself. Open studios is another kind of vulnerability because it is me as an artist that I am giving up for show; my process, my habitat, my thought-stream.  And though I have learned to cover it I am quite shy and solitary by nature and meeting and greeting so many people leaves me pretty exhausted. I have to pull out from my back stores to get through so many meet and greets, and the financial gain is not worth mentioning, so why do it, well, the contact  with other artists (particularly through the local trail in which I participate) is invaluable, and visitor response offers directional pulls and affirmation that guide and support my creative path. 
I am only four years from graduating and I still feel very much that I am only just starting out. I am aware that I have covered ground but when I look up, and open studios is a chance to look up, I see how far I have to go and also how vast and wide my canvas is. That canvas can be daunting but open studios also gives me a chance to review my work, to check in and see with eyes that are not mine. 
It is not something I do every year. It is not something I want to do every year. But, it is a very useful exercise and discipline, and confirms in me the worth of what I am doing which is a good bedrock to stand upon and from which to venture forth.  

Friday, 9 June 2017

General election week and the heat from the fire has been crazy. For reference; Theresa May got most seats but lost all of her majority, and some, and Jeremy Corbyn won seats, more than he had before -but less than May, so he now has more power to his elbow to oppose, which is good, but cannot follow through on his manifesto as he is not the government. 
It would be a hung parliament .. and for a wonderful half hour or so I wondered if maybe it was the beginning of a new politics in Britain. 
But, May has formed a government with the DUP ( a somewhat backwards Irish party with ten MP's) which my gut says is unwise and might easily undo the fragile peace brokered in Northern Ireland in the Good Friday Agreement. Time will tell. 
As a nobody all I can do is wait and see, and hope. Corbyn feels like hope, like a light in the darkness, but he can do no more than he is able. 
In my heart I believe that good will out .. that good will win the day .. I daresay my version of good is different from others. I suppose I see good as the weed that breaks through the crack in the pavement, the bees drinking from my birdbath, the small family of wrens that fluttered up from the ground when I was in my garden the other day, the robin on a gate post with a beak full of worm-y things. And in the people I know who lighten my heart and load (this is a good that my beautiful daughter wrote about yesterday, thanks for the reminder Jessamy) 
One of my long term creative projects is finding a way to illustrate the Tarot deck, both the major and minor arcanas. For the past couple of weeks I have had two cards at the forefront of my thoughts. The Hanged Man, still work in progress but close to being. And, the ten of cups, finished yesterday at about 9 am, after a hung parliament was called, and before May gave notice of her intention to form a government with the DUP. 
The meaning of the ten of cups as given by Alfred Douglas in "The Tarot" is; in upright position: a peaceful and secure environment. The search for fulfilment is crowned with success. Perfect love and concord between people .. and in reverse: disruption of an ordered routine, antisocial actions, selfish exploitation of the goodwill of others. Manipulation of society for personal ends. 
The image I'm putting up is of the ten of cups in upright position because that is how it came to me. I feel that May's political manoeuvres are more towards the reverse but my belief is that "lux lucet in tenebris"