Hello all on this beautiful winter morning, the sky is blue, the golden leaves are glimmering in the sunshine and I am sitting in my usual place in the bay window looking out across the common. I have sat here over 6000 times in the past 20 years, minus of course the time spent in Greece, but even when working this was where I had my morning tea, wrote my journal and tried to put my tangled thoughts down on paper so I could offload the tangled creative whirlwind that lives within me and start the working day afresh. The seasons have turned now 20 cycles, the sun has risen and have watched trawl across the skies, seen all the colours from deep coral red, orange and good to the palest of pink and lilac as the sun has risen and set. The luminous full moon hanging there in the dark skies so full and abundant and her feminine glow has illuminated those dark spaces within that are hard to reach sometimes. The trees have gone from skeletal forms to exploding green buds and then to full lush verdant green swaying in the summer breeze and the then golden autumn coat is donned until no longer required for the deepest winter sleep. 2020 is just around the corner, the solstice in a few weeks time will herald the waking of the sun and slowly, slowly after the winters blanket is thawing all the work that has been going on deep deep in that dark moist magical place will gain momentum and push up through the soil. I shall be watching the spring come to life from a new view, I shall no longer be sitting here but shall overlook rolling fields as they slope down the english channel, which is very visible from most of the windows.
Happy, of course, I started this search in February and have travelled all along the Pembrokeshire coastline, the south and south and south east looking for a home with an elevated view of the sea, think I was about to give up when out of the blue my new home came into my vision, its a compromise of course as the south east is more expensive, but I shall have a lovely garden where I plan to grow veg and flowers, a large terrace and creative studio big enough to paint in and sew and make that has a balcony to boot, lovely views from all the principal rooms and an open and airy feel. Will I miss Tunbridge Wells, where I have lived since 1969, my first thought is no, but I know that I probably take a lot for granted here, like I can walk from my home across the common to the Pantiles for a nice coffee, something I shall not be able to do. Obviously I shall miss my kids and my brother but I am only 50 mins drive away and envision lovely lazy lunches out on the terrace However I shall be near the sea, not walking distance by choice but a very short car ride away. The sea has been a big draw all my life, a place to go to relieve stress, restore my energy and enliven my whole being. It is all very exciting and is taking up all my time planning, organising my home to rent out and packing for my January move.
So what else have I been doing, well I have been supporting my very talented creative daughter in preparing her winter collection of sumptuous woollen wreaths and garlands that are for sale, she has been so full on, I am the tea maker and confidence builder !! I just love to visit and see the wool samples and her chosen colour pallets, the test samples, hear about the provenance of the wools selected, types of flocks, the texture and so on. There was so much to get done I had no idea, all the packaging and carrier bags, display stands, labelling, ribbons, postcards, business cards, keeping track of the sales and invoices. Guess working for me for 10 years I know how methodical and organised she is and how our perfectionism makes us work so much harder. Kirsty can be found at the next Support local fair at One Warwick Park, Chapel Place, TW. on 8th December, to see them in the flesh you realise just how much work has gone into making them and just how luxurious they are . Well done Kirsty and one very proud mum. @shethreads on instagram
It’s been a long few months since I posted
here. Mostly my jottings are sporadic
and I am always making promises to myself to post regularly, but I don’t. Partly because I write “morning pages”, something
I started after attending workshop at Alternatives many years back, all about
the “Artists Way” given by the author of the said book whose name escapes me,
and whom I cannot search as I am in the midst of a horrendous storm in the
north of Kefalonia. Usually I can see
Ithaca, the home of Ulysses, but today its totally obscured by the rain soaked
clouds that have descended. It is also
partly due to my mind being totally preoccupied with moving home, since closing
down IDC to pursue this new part of my life with gusto I have been making plans
to move away from Tunbridge Wells a place I made home when I married in 1969. With all this going on The Extraordinairium
and my little creatures are sitting happily in my studio and have not ventured
any further, although they have grown a little with a couple of additions and
the nearer I became to selling them I realised I couldn’t part with them, so
selling I am not sure at this juncture.
Although I have always said I would not make to commission, in this
instance maybe I shall so that my current family can stay intact.
Moving home, which I may add when I moved to
this home, now over 20 years ago, it was to be my last ever move. At that time my ex husband and I shared an
old fisherman’s/beach hut on a deserted beach at Shellness on the weekends, a
great place next to RSPB land, no costa, Starbucks or Pret. Sharing alternate weekends it was a haven
away from the pressures of running my own company, with only a one-ring gas
picnic stove, no running water and toilet that needed to be emptied, I loved
it. To go to sleep with sound of the sea
lapping up on the beach, waking to an ever changing seascape and walks along
the shore to see what flotsam and jetsam had been washed up over night, buying
a fresh sea bass from fisherman on the beach and pan frying immediately downed
with a chunk of bread and lashings of butter, it was heaven. Sadly my ex sold it over one winter without
telling me or giving me the opportunity to purchase it myself for the family,
that was a very sad moment not only for his deceit which I should have known,
but no longer would I have an outside space to call my own as I specifically
chose a flat without a garden as the beach home was to be a family preserve and
given to our children. Ever since then I
have hankered to be close the sea. At
last now I have the opportunity, my thoughts have changed a little with the
news of the first small town by the sea in wales to be actually decommissioned,
meaning in two years time all the utilities will be cut off and the town will
not be included in the councils remit, so it will just go into decline, a ghost
town. How can this be? How can you just
stop serving a community of people who have paid their taxes over the years, no
compensation is being offered, its beyond callous, its brutal. So decided with the way our planet is heading
I would like an elevated view rolling countryside and a distant sea view.
First I followed the call of the wild,
visited north Pembrokeshire, Strumble Head to be precise and fell in love with
a farmhouse there. With holiday cottages
as part of the sale which initially attracted me, after coming back to earth I
realised all the work involved was something I did not want to take on, at 70 I
wanted to spend time developing my own creative pursuits. Now people don’t
worry about getting older, I have never been happier and the prospect of this
new life of no paid work, new home and freedom just fills me with
excitement. Despite constant searching for “the view” I
couldn’t find anything similar unless very badly “modernised” or derelict. Great idea, I would have thought 20 years ago but I don’t want that large
undertaking now. Also my kids thought it
was rather a long way away from everything I have known, in the cold light of
day I came to the conclusion that in the last decades of my life I want to be
near them and not distance myself from them.
For the last 30 years I have been totally absorbed by my love of
interiors, and the building pressure of ever larger projects being undertaken,
working with huge construction contractors like Wates and Balfour Beatty it
just took every ounce of my energy to keep everything on track. Now I want to be the person that was lost
many years ago, the person who had time “to be”, to find enjoyment in the
mundane, the simple pleasure of living with the seasons, growing flowers, fruit
and vegetable, preserving, cooking and baking and of course “making”.
My search for home with a view took me all
along south coast, I have now found that home with a perfect view and my offer
was accepted the day before I journeyed here.
Slowing down from the fast pace life of running my own design business, staff issues and so on, standing back now it makes me realise just how shallow the whole lifestyle design thing has become. I know I played a role in this “Luxury” for the masses syndrome that has consumed everyone since those early TV programmes from the 90’s, I too was sucked into must have latest colour and trend, went to all the trade fairs, Maison Objet in Paris being my all time favourite. However, increasingly over the past years I found the whole trend based design to be particularly irksome where absolutely everything in the industry is monetized, not only the so called trend and colour forecasters but the people who feel they must have the latest at whatever cost and just discarding perfectly good kitchens, bathrooms, furniture, lighting just because someone somewhere has said this colour or style is not cool anymore. Just this morning I was listening to a podcast of two rather “prominent” women in the design world putting across the latest sound bytes of design info whilst there insincere laughter at each others tittle tattle left me cold. Why is it these people are so popular? Haven’t we minds of our own, can’t we use our intuition to choose a colour/style that feeds our souls and can bring us joy and not be “told” by someone who is going to make money out of us by vloging, blogging and podcasts and so on. All on the make, all trying to attract big business to sponsor them, give discounts on sales and so on. I don’t know about you reading this, but I feel like I am full to the brim, just cannot take all this over consumption anymore. The world is bloated, oversaturated with “stuff”. We have been force fed too much in the belief it will make our lives better, what a total lie we have been telling ourselves.
In essence the whole issue of excessive
consumerism can no longer be ignored, its not just about the items being “recyclable”
as Hugh FT found out when he researched this issue on his recent TV programme
and found our recycled goods rotting in Malaysia. It is about waking up and
realising that we must look at the quantity of product we are purchasing, do we
really need to discard last years velvet sofa for this years latest, yes we can
give to charity shop or resell, but its still purchasing new which is something
we all need to look at. The Patriarchal
Capitalist model of year on year profit and keeping shareholders happy is
totally destroying our planet.
Everything has “money accumulation” written in and I mean almost
everything, you cannot cough without someone making a buck of your likes and
dislikes, look at how at much money is being made by data harvesting, how in
fact this alone has changed the stability of the world I grew up in. Its all quite sickening when the onus is put
on the consumers alone, what about the companies who manufacture the goods, the
companies who rape our planet for the raw materials. People we must stop buying for trends sake
and make wise choices for comfort, durability and longevity.
Well that is my ramble over, the island of
Ithaca is still hidden, the rain is still coming down in torrents and the power
has just gone down.
“The Extraordinarium, a place, a home for extraodinary little beings to gather and where extraordinary things happen.
Herbert, he is an extraordinary little being, has seen many centuries come and go and has watched his beloved walled garden and the contents therein slowly decline. What was once a thriving country house, slowly fell into disrepair, the sons were called up to fight and never returned, the same went for all workers on the estate and slowly everything came to a halt. The owners died as much of a broken heart as old age and the house fell into total decline. Herbert of course always found something to eat from the rampant grasses, berries and seeds that grew wild everywhere but he yearned for the day when his beloved walled garden could be bought back to life
it came to him in a dream, he didn’t know it then, but this was to be the beginning of something quite extraordinary ! dream trees .”
I have started to put together the books for my little creatures, the characterful beings that are drawn to “The Extraordinarium”
the sketches below are ideas for the dream tree, a very rare specie. I am intending to make one, probably cut paper, shaped and curved to form three dimensional image just like my flowers and shoes, or a moulded paper clay that I can actually model and place in a perspex case. Early stages yet, but all my creatures are made and the individual stories are coming together. These will all be for sale, where I dont know or when, but soon
Just back from Pembrokeshire my third visit this year. Just glorious weather, blue skies, rugged coastlines and foxgloves everywhere. So colourful, pink flowers everywhere and when looking closely in the hedgerows up the lane pretty wild orchids. Even bought a magnificent plate by Pembrokeshire ceramicist Jonathon Cox, large 40cms dia, lustre painted design depicting the local flora. Came home just so full of ideas !!
Mind is working overtime as usual, in my head I am creating so many things that my hand cannot write and sketch them down in my book quick enough. I dont know about you all out there, but my sketch book is full of notes, mindmaps as well as the obvious drawing stuff. I have many and variety of sizes and formats, landscape, square and portrait and I find it somewhat chaotic at times because I forget which one I have been working in and spend ages looking for the “right one”
My extraordinary creatures are coming to life, all their characters are beginning to take shape. Right now I have three more made waiting for their clothing, a goat with the most amazing set of horns, more dramatic than his friend the painter, he holds great presence and power. A delicate little whippet, definitely feminine and a seated hare. Talking of seats I purchased a beautiful little chair, you can see below two little friiends looking comfy.
I have also just taken delivery off a stack of vintage and linen off cuts, all 100% natural linen and very pleased with them indeed as some show obvious wear which I love. Have replenished my wool stocks, all natural colours and English and Welsh breads, even some Herdwick, the breed that Beatrix Potter bought back to life in the Lake District back in the early 1900’s, Its all very exciting as there is so much more that I am carrying out on this project, eventually everything will be for sale . These are one off totally handmade art creatures their clothes hand stitched and most have removable clothing, They are collectables suitable as family heirlooms. These are not toys as they delicate, needle felted wool over an aluminium wire armature, but I see them as story telling characters to inspire and ignite imagination and creativity in all ages.
Along side all this each character will eventually have handmade art story books to accompany them. The Narrative contains something really special and this item will be available as a paper sculpture
Coming here to the North of Kefalonia it always felt like I was coming home, arriving at the airport, the warm moist air enveloping me as I take the first step from the air conditioned cabin. The familiar face of Makis greeting me and taking my case to the taxi, the breathtaking views as we climb north driving ever higher. I have been coming twice a year now for 6 years, a long time for me but for others I have met here this is nothing, Some people have been coming to Kefalonia for 16-20 years or more. The farmhouse always held me, its wild gardens, olive groves, views across the ionian seas to Ithica, the wildlife, the chickens and goats, this was a sanctuary away from the deadlines and constant pressure that hounded me when back in the uk. Now that the pressure is off I wondered if returning to Kefalonia this time would feel different as I am no longer fleeing the pressure of trying to spin all the plates in the air, run a home, a business, staff, family issues and so on. Its doubly hard when there is nobody to share this burden with me. Designing interiors, mixing colours and textures, choosing original artworks, designing my own furniture pieces it gave me the best feeling in the world and I was in my element, but the procurement and installation , working along side architects, and building contractors and the male dominated construction industry who wouldnt know good design if it bit on the bum, all this side of designing took away that feeling completely. Even though I won awards and various accolades it just wasnt enough to keep me fighting the design battles anymore.
So her I am and pleased to say that the feelings, even though the first two weeks have been in the coldest ever apparently, haven’t changed a bit, I still love the island, well the norther part anyway, south more built up and busier. Guess the one thing that has changed is the longing to live here. For one ,I do not like the fierce summer heat, so July and August would be a definite no no for me and two, I have found the uk version of northern Kefalonia, its wildness, rugged cliffs and coves, forest and quiet windy roads where I feel drawn to make my permanent home. Still visiting Evreti, Kefalonia for 2-3 months each year I can have the best of both worlds, and still continue to travel and explore the uk and of course spend time manifesting creative objects into the world.
Of course with the advancing years, 70 last January, there is that little conumdrum of how much should I be spending? how long will my money have to last, how long will I be walking in this world? Something one never considers when younger, there is always decades to enjoy, thing to try out and if mistakes are made, plenty of time to put it right. Now though decisions seem more important to make as not time left to rectify anything. Do I say to myself another 15 years, divide it up and spend the said sum each year? Do I buy a house with an income, (holiday rental cottages} and run it as a small business? Guess I am lucky that my business was successful and have these kind of issues to contend with. I am not having the live on a uk state pension, the lowest in the whole of Europe! Actually there was no luck, I gave my all to my company, blood sweat and tears to make it successful! All I know is that this is whole new chapter in my life, one where for once I have the total freedom to choose, a real adventure awaits and I am very excited to watch each day unfolds and just where this path will take me
It has been awhile since I posted. My life has been full and packed with inspiring visits, projects, cliff walks and so on.
North Wales and the Lake district beckoned, visiting friends, coming together on really sacred lands and holding ceremony to visiting Beatrix Potter’s first cottage by Lake Windermere. This cottage, its warmth and love really resonated with me, my desire to move away from my large spaces and tall ceilings to a simple home, intimate, full of my own creations and a space that will feed my soul and where I can end my days here.
This desire was strengthened yet again when I visited Pembrokeshire, everything just opened up and there was the cottage I have been dreaming in came into real life, after viewing it I came away absolutely blown away with its detail, it was as if I had been walking around it in my dreams and the universe had manifested it for me.
North Pembrokhire is wild and rugged, the flora and fauna excellent and the views tremendous from the coastal path, lovely sleepy little villages, NO costa, NO Starbucks, NO chains, in fact not much at all but what I love about the farmhouse I stay in Northern Kefalonia is right here in Wales, I dont like hot sun and I dont go t to greece to roast on the sandy beaches, so in a way it has everyting. The only difference is NO swimming Pool. Guess I will come a fan of wild swimming, should keep me fit and healthy.
So we shall see what transpires, taking my daughter to view the property again after easter.
Here are a few image of what I have been getting up to and the last one, homage to my lovely mum, 27 years ago she passed on to the next life. Happy Mother’s Day
well I am at creature no.6 and and the need to keep creating the little forms seems to have no end. Is this and obsession or it is just plain creative surge, both I guess. When I have an idea that comes up in my head I just have to go with it, its like its not me manifesting these things but a force that is beyond my control, so I really have no choice but to keep “making” as the ideas flow and my sketchbook of ideas expands daily. I know by past projects this will pass and try as I might to further develop and idea and stick with it appears not to happen for me in this way. I so want to be able to progress a concept, try all avenues and really explore the possibilities and develop the forms into something that is really unique to my process. Each time something downloads into my thoughts I think this is the one, this is my work, I can own and this and develop it fully, sadly though its hasn’t yet, perhaps this time maybe different.
My new creature is a really soft body little lamb needlefelted onto a pipe cleaner armature. Head is needlefelted too. Everything handmade and hand stitched using found and vintage fabrics, laces and so on. Such a sweet little face and demeanour, this is a real doll, can be cuddled and redressed if need be, unlike the others which have metal armatures. She stands at about 10 1/2 inches