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i'm in the garden

First of all, don't click on the image to make it bigger. It's all pixellated and weird and I don't know why, but I didn't have another one ready and I think it looks alright small, so leave it be, ok?!!

It's been an interesting few days for me and I've been thinking hard about things as usual. Another bout of illness helped with this as it meant I couldn't do much else other than sit up in bed... things have also been rather quiet as Rory is stuck in Dubai waiting for the ash cloud to blow away.

I have come to several interconnected decisions...

  • I will spend more time in the garden, because it's lovely, and if I don't get out there and look after it, it won't be lovely anymore.
  • I will stop moaning about not having any time to do art and get on with making something beautiful out of what life throws at me. I am needed to be a big part of my granddaughter's life, and whether I like this responsibility or not, it is mine. There is so much about it which is delightful and wonderful and I am in danger of missing that side of it if I am not careful (for which read, if I carry on moaning all the time).
  • I will close my shop for the time being and concentrate on making for pleasure if time allows.
  • I will take more exercise now that spring is here, it always makes me feel better and I have no excuses.
And so I'm off into the windy, sunny garden to dig up some weeds. Have a happy Tuesday.

cross pollination

Elizabeth Bishop: Pansies, 1960, watercolour and gouache.

A recent snoop in our secondhand bookshop brought to light a book of paintings by the American poet Elizabeth Bishop*. I was immediately interested, because I have a great curiosity for artists who write, poets who paint, painters who embroider... the rich exchange of medium and mood experienced by so many artists over the centuries. It's fascinating to find that an artist or writer you know for their work in one discipline turns out to have been active in a quite different area of expression.

Elizabeth Bishop: Table with Candelabra [undated], watercolour and gouache.

Of course, women artists have often done this instinctively through domestic textiles and decoration of the home environment, indeed the home has traditionally been the sole provider of surfaces for embellishment and opportunities for creative expression for those many many women who have been denied a more focussed outlet. However noble or humble the setting, I just love how creativity oozes out of artists and writers like mud through the fingers: it's unstoppable. Vanessa Bell's work at Charleston Farmhouse is a wonderful example.

Mary Fedden: The Lemon, 1976, pencil and gouache.

I learnt from a book about one of my favourite painters, Mary Fedden*, that she also makes what she calls 'little soft lions' for new babies... exquisite embroidery and wonderful tactile shapes that call out to be held tightly in tiny hands. I shall post a couple of snaps of them taken from the book although of course they are copyright, but I think they deserve to be better known and I think many of you will love them, as I do.

* William Benton, Exchanging Hats: Elizabeth Bishop Paintings. Carcanet, 1996
* Christopher Andrae, Mary Fedden: Enigmas and Variations. Lund Humphries, 2007

All images are copyright of the artists and mustn't be reproduced except, as here, for personal use, and without due credit.

the anxiety of responsibility

The beautiful stained glass windows at Blackburn cathedral by John Hayward... I can't stop looking at the textures and colours. Find out more about the artist here.

I have been struggling to force my thoughts out onto the screen. Physical tiredness, emotional exhaustion, mental lethargy... all the things I thought had gone for a while are here again.

My thoughts are flitting around everywhere and it is hard to catch them and make something coherent of them that you might want to read, but this bittiness does reflect my state of mind and so if nothing else it is honest. I have been meaning to write for a while now.

It frustrates me that I am unable to share more thoughts about creativity on these pages other than so often to express the barrenness I feel. Soon after I wrote the previous post, the ground beneath me started to shake and slip again and my mood of peaceful optimism evaporated, leaving me instead with the old familiar feeling of anxious worry...

Each time I think I am nearer to a peaceful wholeness, a time when creativity may flow, it seems that life requires me to focus closely on something else. I am evidently needed to be intensely active as a mother, grandmother, mentor and guide at the moment, despite feeling hugely unqualified and quite at sea about it all.

This need to be so totally available for my family strips me of creative energy like a sharp frost decimates new growth in the garden. It is so frustrating but I must focus very hard on what I'm needed to do and, indeed, trying to convince myself that I can do.

Thank you so much to all of you who so kindly left comments on my last post... I am sorry that I haven't had the time and energy to reply to you all personally but be assured that they have been read and re-read and are very much appreciated.