Launch Event

I was invited to the launch event of an exhibition bring the book Lost Words by Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane to life at the Sill this week. I’d seen the book and have admired the images, but I hadn’t spent much time with the text.

The premise is that generations of children are growing up not knowing the names of things in nature, or being able to recognise them. That this knowledge has slipped out of existence and this book was created as a way of recapturing the magic, bringing these lost words back to life. Such words and natural living things as bramble, conker and fern.

I had the most enjoyable evening talking to fellow visitors as well as hearing some of the spells within the book being read aloud. It was inspiring so much so that I intended to link into the idea of lost words, and lost worlds as I return this weekend to the Sill to facilitate a storytelling session about the multicultural communities from ether past who lived and worked around Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.

Fern

Fern’s first form is furled,
Each frond fast as a fiddle-head.
Reach, roll and unfold follows.
Fern flares.
Now fern is fully fanned.

Robert MacFarlane

Not making any promises but …

It’s nearly 5 years since I adopted a visual journalling practice for everything. My life and troubles. My dreams and creativity. My sanity. And the practice of using text and images and collages and paints and washi tape and anything really I can get my hands on has been life changing and empowering. Visual journalling brought me back from the brink. It’s been my safety blanket, my confidant, my cheerleader, my vision. Visual journaling has taken me to Iceland and retreats, national creative projects and inaugural residencies. I can’t promise this is what happens to you when you try it. I can’t promise the results you’ll feel and see when you sign up for the current offering from @olwen.wilson which is safe and guided visual journalling. The only thing I can say is that this practice will change your life and how you centre yourself within it. Check out @olwen.wilson and see what she’s offering. You will not be disappointed. #visualjournalling #visualjpurnal #creativepractice #iamdreaming #patience #compassion #selfcare #selflove #selfempowerment #emopweringwomen #creativeretreaticeland #icelandcreativeretreat #power #claimingmypower

Who’s afraid of the dark?

A 6.30am alarm wakes me. On a Sunday. And the gadget, a smart watch, ringing the alarm is somewhere on a desk somewhere hidden in a dark cold hotel room.
I stumble out of bed blind and unsteady, hand and arms outstretched in front of me, combing the black air, trying to touch something soild. Trying to stop the incessant noise.

I was brought up to fear the dark. It didn’t take my small imagination much to conjure up monsters under the bed and ghosts on landings. Lying perfectly still in my bunk bed pretending to be dead already, the dark dug deep into my psyche so that I grew up fearing my own reflection.

When I’m not watching my weight (come on, when am I not watching my weight?) I enjoy an extra cold pint of Guinness with a shot of blackcurrant to cut through the bitterness. A drink of pure iron. Thick like treacle, it works well as a lining on my stomach before multiple rounds of alcoholic concoctions follow. Who knows? Who cares? But as long as my core swims deep with the dark stuff I’m ready for anything.

On our living room wall in our maisonette flat in Bradford where I grew up, we had a velvet scroll depicting two islands. The land was made up of bright green stitched thread. The towns and villages were named in golden thread. Bright red blazed across the top, ‘The Islands of Trinidad and Tobago.’ I’m not sure if we were ever told but our dad came from those islands. It was a silent fact. I liked to touch the thread, when I got the chance. The stitching was tight and taut. My eyes, though, were pulled into the expansive black crushed velvet Caribbean Sea wondering how he survived the swim over to the U.K.

I thought these smart gadgets were supposed to make your life easier. Why wasn’t it flashing neon green, or red even, at the same time as sounding an alarm, giving me some clue as to it’s whereabouts? I felt I could have done better with my eyes shut. But I’ve been living that way for far too long. Now with eyes wide open to the dark, I’ve become wise to the tricks of history. I’m woke.

Black and White Studies

Today I started a new project which I’ve been putting on the back burner. A project which @beyourownbeloved hosted by @viviennemcm helped me remember. I think I was spending too much time and energy on talking myself out of it instead on it. As Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, ‘You don’t need a permission slip to be an artist.’ #blackandwhitestudies #beyourownbeloved #selfportrait #selfportraitureasmedicine #blackartist #blackwomenrock #selfcare #selflove #selfcompassion #creativepractice #power

Work in Progress: Guildford from the banks of the Wey

Guildford from the banks of the Wey, JMW Turner

Guildford Castle on an elevated mound seen in the distance,
Turner chooses to focus on trees and sky. Planes and sycamore,
alder and birch.
Rich oily greens, olive and mustard dominate the abundant scene as the Wey flows on.

Nature captured up close in all her splendpur rendered for the casual viewer on mahogany veneer mounted onto cedar panel.
Majestic and full, there’s the
desire to connect rather than control; be within rather than without.

Do you wanna know a secret?

Do you wanna know a secret?

Yes I thought that might get your attention. I’m willing to share my dirty little secret if you’re willing to listen?

Okay. Here goes.

I love Nordic Noir. There. It’s out now and I feel a whole heap better.

When I want to chill and relax and switch off, I switch on a Scandinavian crime drama or pick up a novel in the same genre.

There’s something about the landscapes that act as a backdrop for the crime, usually a grizzly murder, that holds my attention and enchants me. I know. Sick right! All these people getting bumped off and there’s blood and guts everywhere and I’m mesmerised by the ice and snow and the mountains that set the scene.

This genre is quality storytelling as well and solid characterisation and suspense and tension too.

I can binge watch a whole series or read a whole book in a evening ( and into early morning) when I get into a certain groove and I’m not ashamed to tell you. At the moment I’ve been making my way through Walter Presents series on All 4. Last night was Rebecka Martinsson: Arctic Murders. A Stockholm lawyer who returns to her hometown after a childhood friend’s death. And isn’t her home town remote, icy and full is lakes and mountains? Beautiful.

I know it’s pure escapism but from time to time it’s good for me, or anyone really, to suspend reality and slip into another, usually distant from the norm, world. I do believe it supports me in my day to day living and striving and thriving. A little sanctuary of make believe. I highly recommend it, I do.