Quiet and Slow…

Having thought I’d have some quiet time, my diary yet again seems to have filled up all by itself!

I had wanted some studio days of just drawing, and twig wrapping, either in silence, or listening to gentle music. I might even come home early for an afternoon nap to make up for the early waking and an inability to get back to sleep.

But June, having just turned the page on the calendar, is packed!

93 Children (Seed Tray, twigs, silk and cotton thread, 2022)

In a fit of organised professional confidence, I entered work for the RBSA Members and Associates Show in June, when they reopen the gallery after a really comprehensive refurbishment programme. I have been rather brave and speculative and have entered two connected pieces: A wooden seed tray of silk-wrapped twigs, and an ink drawing of twigs, using another seed tray as a frame. This is a bit of a departure of style… a turn back to the textile and stitch, but on a much smaller scale than previous installation pieces such as Nine Women, Drawing Songs or Are You Listening? The pieces themselves are smaller, and currently just fill the seed tray. But my intention is to keep going until I have hundreds of wrapped twigs. I am trying out different ways to present these fragile pieces, to see how many different ways they can be read. I am approaching other galleries to spread myself, and this tale, out a little further. But the admin of this takes time and focus away from the making. 

850 Years (1) (Ink, watercolour and salt on paper, 2022)
850 Years (2) (Ink, watercolour and salt on paper, 2022)

I’ve also entered the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize again. Each time I do it I say I won’t do it again. But I had the work in front of me, my camera set up and my credit card out, so why not eh? So in the one afternoon, I submitted to both. I can forget about it now. Except if I get long-listed I will have to rush them to the framers to get them done ready for delivery.

The Sitting Room have started to get bookings again, and therefore have started rehearsing in earnest. This is somewhat easier now we are currently a trio again and are all available during the day. What is wonderful about this is we have so many new songs written by email over the last couple of years, we can now get together and work them up into performable pieces. We have the time to work out some gentle three-part harmonies properly. This is what feels good when performing: well rehearsed singing and playing, and feeling part of something special. The songs are good. We do tire of playing the same things over and over, but, when there is little rehearsal time, gigs that are close together tend to be similar sets. The idea is to get together more, so that a wider range of these new songs (and old) are at our fingertips, to ring the changes.

I’ve composed a short piece for the Radio Public event on July 9th. I shall possible do another, longer piece if I get the time. But I’m quite pleased with it as it sits so far. Feedback has mentioned “hypnotic” and “like a slow work-song”… I’ll take that!

I also find myself being rather more active politically, albeit in a small way. I can’t traipse the streets to campaign, but I can make protest placards, and help others do the same… I can show youngsters how to make zines, to get a message across quickly, cheaply and in a more interesting, personal way. So a couple of days I am doing that. The gathering of materials and equipment will take a while too. But what this does is make ME feel better. I was feeling helpless and frustrated. This might not be much, but it is something, and I can do it easily. 

Maybe I’ll have a nap in July?

Or some reading time?

I’m still picking up and dipping into Tim Ingold’s Correspondences. These essays inspire me… my thoughts about my own work, but also for lyric writing… the sounds of snow; the nature of flight; the attitudes of the mountaineer towards the mountain… all have inspired small sections of responsive writing that will at some point coalesce into lyrics. For now I am mulling them over… they lie down to mulch a while.

I’ve also been listening to Andy Mort’s podcast about gentle rebellion, introversion and sensitivity… and Kathryn Williams’ podcast  about sleep, with her gentle soft and low voice, sends me to sleep too soon and I have to listen again in the morning.

I need to remind myself to be a whole person…it’s not all about applications and submissions, but spending time thinking while making. Relaxing into it, allowing myself time… not just a snatched hour here and there, but good solid hours of making and thinking in order to dive deep. And then of course, to keep gently moving so I don’t seize up. I have almost completely healed from the falling over at the end of April – I can’t believe it has taken so long – and so now I am starting to get back to walking more every day, and increasing the distance in the hope of getting back to where I was a six weeks ago! 

There is a thought in my head that to be a professional artist I need to run myself ragged to prove something… and yet I know that this is not the case. I can be a gentle, slow professional.

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