its about time !!

You may wonder what an earth the image has to do with what I am about to express? well its doesn’t really only that its a style I have adopted in lockdown. Putting on music I like and letting the movement, emotion express itself though me, the beginning is done with my eyes closed then after awhile I open up my eyes and go with the flow. This was a strange one, I had my music library on random and this one came up, an instrumental of course, not so keen on words although there are some, Its a Plaid Album, Double Figure, the tracks New Family and Eyen. Now the name feels kind of cosy, but what came out is rather bleak, a row of naked trees, bashed and battered by the winds, probably for decades they have been standing sentinel to our lives, never moving, forever watching and just getting on with is business. Just as in lockdown really, nature just blossomed, it was so uplifting.

Every day since the Covid issue came into our lives, I have been going to keep a record on here or at least in my journal. Well every time I sat down to do it, the words would not come, I couldn’t seem to describe just what was going on, the emotions were there but how to describe seemed beyond me, so now I think its about time I said something !

For me and for everyone else I imagine, a whole gamut of feelings filled my head from disbelief at how the government were/ are handling this, to sadness for the people who have just been overlooked, millions who have suffered for not fitting into the criteria for financial support or just neglected as in the case of disabled people, people with mental health issues and the elderly, told that services were not running due to Covid 19. At a time when stress and anxiety levels were going through the roof, there was nobody there to help them. What kind of compassionate caring society are we? Doesn’t the government realise that not everyone has a family / parents to look out for them. It would appear if you cannot take responsibility for yourself, usually the most vulnerable in society who struggle, you are worthless and the neglect shown says it all. Prices are rising, redundancies are now growing and we are being pushed to keep buying and bribed with vouchers to go and eat out in restaurants.

I feel we have been manipulated by this government, misled at every turn, Yes it was good the chancellor came up with the furlough scheme, but its seems obvious now that it was to protect big business, the ones who already rake it in at the expense of the workers on low salaries, not the self employed or the small business owners who are urged by accountants to become company directors and only take dividends, they were left with nothing. A small percentage was eventually paid after a lot of pressure to self employed based on profits on tax returns, but only one payment in June so far. Now there are many people being made redundant, and forced to take redundancy based on the reduced furlough payments. Even worse many big companies chains in the hospitality trade are now pocketing the reduced VAT instead of passing it on the customer. When businesses fail and many will in the coming months, it will be the elites, the traders, banks and corporations that will descend like vultures, pick over the bones , buy them up for next to nothing and make millions when the stocks rise. Its obscene, slavery has not stopped its just in a different context.

We are being told outright lies, from statistics, PPE, government contracts handed to the elites and their private corporations without any tendering process, ie Serco who has been carrying out Covid testing very badly, PPE sourcing and among other things runs privately owned detention centres in the UK, and who is the CEO? Rupert Soames grandson of Winston Churchill. Even when the government are called out over it, they ride roughshod over anyone who questions them. The press are chosen to attend briefings and many newspapers are not invited at all. There is something more going on here than just Covid, I feel uncomfortable and uneasy. This is not a world I want to be part of.

The lockdown has been ok really, I have been unwell just before lockdown, my energy sapped to nothing but I never feared for my life, took precautions like everyone else and my garden, connection with nature and my creativity have kept me afloat. Of course I have concerns for the future, my adult children and how their lives are being affected and of course the children being born now, what kind of world will they be inheriting? What is around the corner? Planetary alignment for the next couple of years are very turbulent.

Apart from all this though I do have hope, I see younger people wanting something different, caring about what they eat, exercise, health issues and green policies. I am sure with the young minds in research and sciences, engineering and so on they will find ways to keep our planet greener, bring laws into being that will put the earth first before profits, and the health and wellbeing of the nation will be the new way to measure the country and not by GDP. The young minds will find new sustainable green fuels at no profit / low cost that are run for the nation so that everyone can keep warm and eat in this harsh world we live in right now. I hope upon hope that these past months have helped people to see that the capitalist system is unsustainable, really see what is happening to the world, we cannot sit by any longer and what the corporations rape the earth and spew gallons of toxic waste and oil into our rivers and oceans. We cannot keep buying and choking the planet with our waste, it has to stop I only hope I live long enough to see this change happen

The ramblings of an Ex interior designer

Good morning folks

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.

Until next time

The Extraordinarium

“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

Little creatures

Well this journey is travelling forward with great speed.  First rabbits and now a Fox and a Badger.  I have so many ideas jumping out at me that my sketchbook is full of animals and clothes styles…… loving it.    These are both on aluminium armatures, its great stuff, very flexible, light yet firm.  The wools slips and slides a bit when wrapping, but the more you do it the easier it becomes.  Felting the heads is now not as daunting as in the beginning, once you have the basic principals of felting and understand the different shapes that can build a face, with an image to hand its very easy build up the details and watch the little figure come to life.  They do really have their own characters and if never ceases to amaze me how “touched” I feel  by their presence.

IMG_1513IMG_1478IMG_1444IMG_1448

Rabbits and bags and things

Very productive couple of days.  Daily practice completed, then on to manifesting my dream bunnies.  I just dont know why this has come to me now?  I had just had to make them, something told me to bring these animals into reality,  what I saw in my daydreaming, I made them real !

This last project which has been sitting around in my cupboard for far too long has been completed.  The crocheted shopper made from free plastic shopping bags.  Ocado bags come in all shades of grey, perfect.  Finished off and fixed on leather handles and its complete!

img_1421

img_1430img_1410img_1427img_1393img_e1414img_e1415

 

feeling free

 

Another large project (day job)  has at last come to fruition and with that comes the release of feeling I can breathe again, no pressure……..  and even closer to  my goal of giving it all up for good.

today in my studio I tried out mono printing for the first time.    What a great way to work, I love it and cannot wait to get back down there again today.  Experimenting with inks, acrylics, alcohol, cutting stencils and the excitement of pulling the print, revealing such unexpected results.  I am ,looking out for some good printmaking weekend courses, if anyone knows of any please let me know.

I am also working on a large piece, acrylic underpainting and now layering in oils.  Intertwined shapes, at first large and as each subsequent layer they are becoming smaller and more defined, colours changing all the time.  Sometimes clashing  and full of vigour, sometimes much quieter and more sombre.  Almost like a weather gauge of emotions.   A journey I am enjoying

IMG_E9940IMG_E9926IMG_E9929IMG_9942IMG_9944

compartments

Spent the afternoon in my studio, one to get away from the oppressive heat and two to calm my chaotic mind.  Last time I painted here it was a landscape, very tranquil with the sun just coming through the clouds after the rain.  Today, pouring out the chaos onto the canvas, at first it was fast and furious, then it slowed and as I kept standing back to look I could see lots of small compartments, all the different hats I wear I guess, and why there is often chaos going on.  Some cool and tranquil compartments, some hot, hot, fiery and overflowing but, and this surprised me, there is balance, that felt good.

Guess we all paint for different reasons and are drawn to different styles.  I don’t think I have yet found what really feeds my soul in terms of “style” and “content” of the painting, but just feeling and seeing the lucscuious colours oozing from the tubes, the buttery smoothness as the paint glides over the canvas, listening to loud, loud music, the movement of they body as the brush sweeps in wide arcs, this is why I paint, its so freeing, and exciting.

My sketch book is filling too and I know this is stirring something deep inside, its definitely a journey, and a daliy practice of creativity whatever it maybe certainly has its own momentum.

Moel Hirradug

This painting of Moel Hirradug has had several lives, three different attempts, one all green, one multicoloured and this one I think I like the best.  Still feel the need to try again though, next time might be acrylics and pastel.  This one is oil and it shows the iron age fort that sits atop.  I have it on my friend’s authority that the view from the top is amazing, sadly I didnt even attempt it.  Far too hot.  The painting also depicts the parched earth, no rain now for 54 days.IMG_9614

Faces and Cold Wax

IMG_9515Not working at the day job today so had time to relax, breakfast on the Pantiles then back for painting and trying out a new medium, new to me anyway.  Gamblin’s cold wax, its a mix of pure refined Beeswax and Gamsol, odourless mineral spirits.  Wonderful stuff and it makes the oil paint a thick butter consistency.  Thought I would try painting the South American woman’s face I tried a couple of week or so back and this time I am much happier.  It  has colour, the paints rich texture makes wonderful marks, using long flats and egbert brushes I managed to make  really nice painterly strokes,  even painting alla prima I could still, with a light touch flick a different colour over the first layer and create wonderful colour mixes and movement to the strokes.  Blending the colour to create a blurred outline is something I am always trying, this medium it just happened without really trying.  I used Rosemary Ivory brushes, long flats in sizes 6,10 and 12

colour at the jerwood

Friday a really sunny day and took myself of to Hastings and my usual ritual of brunch at the Jerwood Gallery.  Sitting outside on the terrace looking out to sea, the sun streaming down felt relaxed and far away from work related issues.    Great food, great view and of course the paintings which I always come away from feeling energised with all kinds of inspired thoughts and feelings

This time I came back with a fish, a fresh caught  sole for my dinner, amazing price of £2, together with some asparagus, home made hollandaise, plenty of lemon, delicious !!

Here are some colours I especially like, one of the them by Duncan Grant, all have some association with the local area and all the colour combination will have been absorbed like a sponge and then squeezed out into my next project.

 

IMG_9265IMG_9261IMG_E9272Version 2IMG_9263IMG_9259

self doubt

img_6476

SELF DOUBT, oh how I know these words so well.  Today I watched someone talk about their fears, their face showed so much pain and as the conversation went on this person crumbled before my eyes and all because that crippling self-doubt reared its ugly head.  There are two schools of thought here, one to FIGHT against it, drive through it, beat it with your will and battle through triumphantly.  this may work in the moment but long-term it never allows us to understand what is behind it and accept that sometimes we cannot change things.   The other way is to sit with it, watch the feelings develop and at the point where is becomes too painful don’t run, don’t find away to run away from the feelings, feel what its like and let it take us to a place of darkness where those rich seams of gold exist, Its only allowing ourselves to really feel what is going on that we realise that perhaps there is nothing to fear after all?

I have learnt to manage these feelings in most areas  and over the years my real sense of self-worth has escalated, but now and again those feeling of self-doubt  still trips me up  and about a month ago it reared up again big time.  I was attending the opening launch of a project I completed back in the winter  it took over 3 years to come to fruition and for  my client it has been great success.  I felt very proud of what my company had achieved. The night before I struggled with what to wear, struggled with the feeling of not wanting to be surrounded by people and  somehow felt a fraud.  Spent a sleepless night trying to think up all manner of reasons I could put forward for not attending.  Even walking on Paddington station to catch the train to Bristol I was still in flight mode, but I smiled and chatted with other attendees and once I entered the building I managed to get through it, but I felt really uncomfortable,  all because I had really strong feelings of not being good enough.  I imagine nobody had any inkling of what was going though my head as they all complimented me on the designs, kissed me on the cheek and have me hugs.  Think this has been the story of my life really, the real me for the most part  had been hidden.

Do these feelings resonate?  Is it something to do with  creative people, are we extra sensitive?

faces

A work in progress. Oils. Not sure what is drawing me along this journey of interesting faces but just letting it all unfold and see where it takes me. The first image is how it looks now, the second image is how it started its journey, almost two different images, it continually dies and then is reborn again into something new.

Oil onanvas panel 40 x 50 cms. As you can see at the moment this a very limited pallete, I am wondering how this will develop. Probably be week or two before I return, off to Vienna for a few days and my day job is full on !!

my daily dose of creativity

 

img_6407

Making marks on paper can be quite exhilarating,  my natural marks are soft organic sweeps curving this way and that so have tried making more liner marks on one of my 3o minute doodles recently and really enjoyed the difference.  I am loving the pastels and have been experimenting with the different sanded pastel papers, they do appear to hold the pastels well which allows for many layers to be applied. Have used the the 240 and the 800 grit, quite a marked difference and wasn’t keen on the roughest one at all, seemed to end up with definite stripe effect to the finished work   I have been using Unison and Jackson’s hand-made soft pastels, to he honest I cannot really tell the difference as yet..

img_6417