A Wake

Lily pads dip and quiver in the November breeze. Sun hot on the skin, feeling alien after days of grey, cold rain. The crowd gathers on spongy grass and gazes at koi carp, poked playfully by children on knees leaning over their reflections.  Love. That is what is thick in the air, that stays present even when the breeze picks up and the crowd moves into the stillness of the chapel.

The warmth of the falling tears comfort those around me, as we surge with emotion, some containing it, some letting it explode from the crevices of deep ache. For what do we cry? For the pain in our hearts? For the sudden memory of a moment we shared? For the floating thought of another long gone soul who catches our mind in a moment of openness? For the thought of the future, for us, for others, without this person present? A glimpse at our own funeral day? I allow the tears to splash, untethered, down my cheeks. Free to feel, to let my heart roam I am filled with life. With warmth for those who come together to share such life that has passed. My heart is held in my awareness. Comforted by my presence. I do not stifle or ignore. I am almost surprised at how simple my experience becomes when I choose to give it room. The pain ebbs through my chest and gently pulsates out into the air. Song sang passionately from the core sends ripples of hairs standing to attention all over my body. My eyes close in absorption. I am carried away.

As we stand and slowly make our way back to the carp and thick white mugs of strong tea, my insides long to make contact. As if by magic, I allow myself to ask. I am soothed by the presence of not one, but three warm embraces. Simple and humble, they reassure and comfort. My heart knows exactly what it needs. Laughter tinkles past half full glasses of wine.  Embraces catch contorted hands around damp tissues between chest and bosom and eyes squint, bloodshot at the low rays. I carry forward into the day, back into the step of life, with a fire inside me.

Lost & Found

I am very proud to present ‘Lost & Found’ the film collaboration debut from Jo Keeling  and myself.

As part of the brilliant Ffotogallery‘s  ‘Introduction to Digital Video’ course that Jo embarked upon in September, a short film was to be made. I was very excited when she came to me with the idea of making the focus our love for collecting.

To spend some time reflecting on how collecting has been a part of my  life was enlightening and energising and this made the basis for the script. Jo’s vibrant storyboard and directing brought this to life and it was such a blast to shoot!

I have been so inspired by Jo and our collaboration that I am due to start the course myself in a couple of weeks… I may stay behind the camera from now on!

A great creative start to 2014!

Lost & Found from Jo Keeling on Vimeo.

Apologies for the lack of embedding. Some Vimeo issue. Just click on link.

Composting

It’s that time of year when the damp roads and pathways bubble with the beginnings of mulching leaves.  That smell that means the end of Summer and the beginning of warm socks, knitted jumpers and catching the scent of wood smoke on the breeze.

It has also brought with it a lot of internal composting too.  To be completely honest this has been going on since July (hence the radio silence) but at last the seasons have caught up.  Listening to the hiraeth draw I spent a fantastic and nourishing week at the beautiful Mellowcroft in Powys in August and returned home to West Wales.  Now, back in Bristol I am feeling quite in my element on park walks and in the corners of cafes reflecting and listening to ideas and creative bubbling.

The last few months have brought with it the beginnings of great transition.  An exciting and nail biting step forward in my creative life; returning to part-time freelance Art Facilitator and opening up more time and space to focus on creative practice.  I have had the great fortune to have the multidisciplinary artist (and lovely person) Melanie Thompson agree to mentor me in this step.  The beginning of our journey together has been fantastically enlightening, supportive and inspiring…. and we are still in the starting blocks!

One of the things I have been grappling with over the last few months is the draw for validation about what I am doing. The reassurance that my work, my thoughts, my feelings on life and creating are good, right, justified and worth pursuing.  A trust and confidence I have faced in those shadow moments where all you want is someone to come along and take you by the hand to guide you through… A trust and confidence that only you can truly give yourself, in the middle of those nighttime hours spent pondering your next move.  A patience that feels contradictory.  Grieving for an old life. Witnessing a new life spreading out in front of me.

This is where I find myself now. Slowing down and being with myself.  Digesting change and listening. With pushing and demanding of results, productivity, big, constant, unrelenting action from myself I find myself two steps back.  In staying as connected as possible to my body, maintaining my needs for sleep, good food, exercise, comfort and good connections life begins bubbling and fizzing in the compost.

Creativity from the mulching.  Feeling my way, step by step.

Gone Fishing

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Mellowcroft – August 2013. Meadow Planting.

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Mellowcroft. August 2013.

Coppet Hall August 2013

Coppet Hall, Pembrokeshire. August 2013.

Back To My Roots

Practicing letter writing.  Bad signage pains me and good signage can make a venue/shop/event.  I have noticed this especially at festivals when working for Pieminister.  The best places with the tastiest food were the ones with the lovingly hand painted signs and menu boards.  Slowing down and taking care with your aesthetic, cooking, outlook and life in general… Well it simply makes everything quite delicious.

I am reconnecting with a love of making words larger than life and getting enthusiastic about learning and developing this craft a lot more.  Making connections between text and image, and allowing that 8 year old self who dreamed of being a sign writer out for a wee run around.

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Letter writing practice.

 

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Twit Twoo Tattoo – Edinburgh

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Washed by hand. Painted by hand. Easton, Bristol.

Blind and Box Drawings

Here are some images I have made over the last few weeks.  Firstly some more drawing box images from getting out and about.  I am really loving this process and bringing red into the palette is particularly exciting.  Following this some blind drawings made in moments sitting in the park, watching spring arrive, plus some blind drawings of people at train stations.  I like how they have come out and thoroughly enjoy this process of drawing people over actually trying to make them look like how they are.

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box drawing with red no2

daisies blind drawing

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Growing Things

With all of this sunshine the seedlings on the windowsill are looking very healthy and waking up to water them every day is a real joy.  The allotment is beginning to take shape, and spending time with all of the crawling, wriggling, and flying creatures makes me feel like a child again! We have a frog in our little makeshift pond and a delightful Robin who pops up to eat the worms when we’re digging.  This one may be a bit big for him though…

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May 13 Growing Things May 13 Growing Things No2

 

 

Drawing and Control

This creative project finds me flipping forward, back, sideways and up in the process of exploring, experimenting and reflecting… and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I had thought it would be great to blog LOADS about EVERYTHING, but finding quiet to simply be IN the process (the good, bad and ugly) has felt more important.  This is where the question of control comes in. When to control, when to not, how much/little… I have not found it easy to relinquish control over the quality of work produced, over the last few weeks where the inner voice has been particularly loud. Inspired by the Writing and Control weekend at Arnolfini in February, I have been exploring this in relation to image making.

Playing with the process of drawing became my starting point after visiting the Drawn exhibition at RWA Bristol.  Knowing that I have all of the ideas, feeling, thoughts and insights around a subject flying around constantly within me, I decided to focus on finding making process based inspiration to take my work forward.  The previous post had been inspired by the simple mark making of drawing, and I was extremely surprised by the range of work and approach to the process “drawing” at the exhibition.

The first artist who caught my eye was Peter Matthews and his work “4 Hours in the Atlantic Ocean, England”  This beautiful, energetic, intricate and layered documentation of experience fascinated me.  As much as I have been aware of, and slightly dabbled with, the documentation of experience through drawing this opened my eyes to the unique and personal ways in which this can be done.

Four Hours In the Atlantic Ocean, England, 2010 full image website

I also came across Debbie Locke‘s Drawing Machine in the super fun interactive lab part of the exhibition.  Her Rucksack Drawings particularly struck a chord, as they curiously documented the experience of journeying.  I have since been back to meet with the lovely Debbie and hear how she makes her various drawing machines and the enthusiasm and ideas behind her passion to explore this.  This was really fascinating and inspiring.

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Debbie Locke – Rucksack Walk

With all of fermenting in me I have spent the last two weeks experimenting with documenting journey’s various handmade drawing boxes and processes.  It’s become quite the delicious obsession!

The most interesting and exciting part of this development has been the element of taking and relinquishing CONTROL while making, journeying and indeed living.  How much control do we need when drawing? How does this feel for us?  How does taking our unusual obsessions out of the home and into public do to us?

I shall post up images of the various stages of the drawing boxes, and images of what came out, over the next week.

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Another GREAT find these last few weeks is Mr Michael Nobbs and his Sustainably Creative website, books, inspirations and all round loveliness.  Having found a pot of juicy things to explore at Drawn, I was returning back to Keri Smith and her “Artist’s Survival Kit” for some fun, playful and not-too-serious starting points (note to self – aspiring to have gallery ready work within 2 weeks is not going to help with STARTING anything…) I found Michael’s Twitter page.

Following this, and a scout around his website, I fell in creative love with his approach to “one small thing a day to move your creative life on a little” and bought his “Drawing Your Life” book and signed up to my free months subscription of his website.  Receiving daily podcasts and snippets of inspiration on how to break creative projects down, keep things small and step by step and find the beauty in the every day to begin… Well, it has refreshed a wisdom in me that knows little and often is the great way forward, and this feels so very joyful and delicious. Thank you Michael!