Organic Process: fibre sculpture

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Organic Process has been hanging on the bedsit door where I can see it from my bed for over a month, as I wrestled with the final resolution. It’s about 2.20m x 30cm x 30cm/ 7′ x 1′ x 1′ and made to be viewed from any direction, so would suit being hung in a stairwell or a ‘crossroads’ corner, where it’s easy to see different angles and details.

To resolve it, I removed 3 elements and added 2, ironically removing some of the organic materials! It originally had some chunks of driftwood and tiny sea shells, but was losing its effect of ideas coming together from thin wisps of inspiration. After staring at for so many weeks I had to laugh – the removal and insertions took maybe 20 minutes, with another half an hour spent checking ends and securing some of the loops…

 

I will make some smaller companion pieces from the ‘leftovers’ but I am really pleased to be packing it away to await photography for a slideshow – I am not good enough with my hands/camera to scan up and down without wobbling ;)

I’ve really enjoyed just how freeform this piece has been while working, how much it celebrates and affirms iterative process, the working until the object of working becomes clear… and the seagreen that is so hard to photograph is very pleasing to live with. It’s also a pleasure to go back to Wasting Waste though, the heavy brown/blues feel right for the approaching winter. This is a very summery piece, with hints of seafoam and light breezes and birds wheeling and shells glistening in bright sunshine on the beach… and as the landlord came round with his blowtorch to light the storage heaters [oh my!] last week that’s pleasing, but not consonant.

I packed Sea Change and Peace/the Hundredth Heart away yesterday after airing and drying, and there is a real pleasure in finishing another piece and

DSC_0014-002DSC_0015-001DSC_0018-001DSC_0020-001DSC_0026-001DSC_0027-001resetting the work boxes/storage to suit the new priorities. It’s a good time of year to pick up pieces I put down and having left them fallow, now gather in energies that had diluted too far. We’re having a burst of very hot weather for the end of October/ beginning of November, and combined  with getting more painkillers sorted out, I   DSC_0027-003feel ready to re-focus. I got distracted by activism on a bigger scale than really works with/for my fibromyalgia, but I have come to the end of that cycle (thanks to some flaming, I have a new appreciation of how much I hate being nitpicked on!) with some positive results. [the Peace Fair, the anti-ATOS demo etc] Now it’s time to put making first again… and being happy about that decision (after some guilty conscience searching!) is probably why Organic Process could find its resolution.

 

collage cards

Having an eye test and chiropractic and friends to dinner all in one day wasn’t my smartest move…and my shoulder and neck are definitely wanting a break from crochet for a while…so, l needed a project where l could work in bed with short bursts of stitching at the machine or by hand.

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Collage cards are perfect:

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a visual feast to uplift the spirits, a way of testing ideas out for twinchies [2inch canvases] and stash busting some recent gifts and impulse buys ;) Jennifer gave me some interesting used and saved wrapping papers and when l was prepping for playing with fire l sorted out some bought handmade papers for embellishment. They come in large multi-packs and there are always some l look askance at, being too patterned to work over easily. So I picked out the ‘flock wallpaper’ and heavily pressed ones, mixed and matched with wrapping papers and stitched to a backing paper. It would be just as easy to glue them, but by stitching them l start to ‘knock back’ the surface and personalize them, and l get very tentative if l don’t do that early on. A way round is to glue with coloured PVA, so that splashes can help break up the perfection and become starting points for embellishment.

Annoyingly I couldn’t find my pinking shears until I’d stitched everything down, cut shapes out of the collage sheets/complex papers l’d made and glued the first ten cards down, sigh! I was hunting for the broken pair – brown handles, not the neon yellow ones right in front of me, oops!

l prefer a deckled edge as it makes things merge better, but the shears won’t cut the flock surface anyway [that’s how l broke the brown handled ones, grrr] so l will work distorting the edge with metallic marker dots etc. That’s a lot of work for a card, too much to get a minimum wage price on, except – aha!- part of the decoration is a detachable charm/totem, either a bracelet or hanging bedizener. Dome/roof shapes are for housewarming-blessings for moving, the ships are for journeys/exploration eg a course or placement as well as travelling. And cats, cos cats run the internet and are always popular!

Hopefully l will be able to potter along pacing myself with lots of rest between little bursts of activity. My downstairs neighbour is away so it has been a very quiet weekend, without him popping in for coffee and recipe swaps, but friends are coming for a bring and share meal on Tuesday, which gives me a chance to do some market research/ get some feedback on pricing – not knowing what to charge for things l never buy!

keeping the colour

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Well, the weather has been every-which-way as the tail end of the ex-hurricane sweeps through, and as the high winds have been making me restless, but the barometric pressure was making me ache, and my arm was really swollen and painful from crochet and knitting, I was really ready for something different, full of colour and…smell!

 

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I realize I have very fond memories that surge up when I smell scorching wood or paper, watching Andy make his amazing art pieces by the fire, knives red hot on the grate, flowers and trees and stars springing out from the grain…my work is very different, no sacred geometry, all freeform as usual, but the scorch smell makes me smile all the same…Some friends came round to play with fire on Saturday and there was a lot of laughter and fun, and it was a lovely feeling to pass on his skills and show them the tools he made as well as finished pieces…they can never meet him, but they have a much stronger sense of him now, I’m sure. People aren’t really dead when their work is so alive…

 

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And then today I cleaned my sewing machine and played with the leaf stitch, using 3 threads at once, 2 up top, 1DSC_0009-002 in the bobbin. If you want to try this, a few tips: go slowly! And put the needle down before you start, have the heaviest thread in the bobbin, so the two ornamental threads balance it and keep your eye on the needle – if there seems too much tension, stop immediately, you don’t want a broken needle flying up in your face.

 

For  a post on using paper punches and scorching paper:

http://singingbirdartist.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/tooling-up/

 

For a post on heat guns and fabric:

http://singingbirdartist.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/hot-fabrics-1-the-organza-sandwich/

Singing Bird Artwork

Singing Bird Artwork is my fundraising shop on Etsy:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/singingbirdartwork?ref=ss_profile

- if you have time to go look, and like anything, it all helps, as with over 4 million other listings for handmade jewellery, it might take a while to get noticed ;)  Even handmade mixed media journals has nearly 4,000 listings! Getting clicks will get the shop onto the noticed thread, so more people will see it…

I’m hoping to sell some leftovers from artwork to fund an exhibition next year. I got really inspired by seeing this clip of an amazing freeform crochet artist, Mandy Greer, in Canada:

She rocks! I really liked how she incorporated items from the museum’s storage into the installations :)

I have been working on some little fun pieces while I figure out how to finish Organic Process, and even designing some artwear – that’s been a while! So here is some eye candy – enjoy!

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Nottingham Peace Fair 2014

Just to be clear, this is my very personal account, not an official record ;)

stall: local slow foods, yum!

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DSC_0028DSC_0026DSC_0030DSC_0036   DSC_0041  Nottingham Peace Fair 2014 was one of 30+ events for Nottingham’s Week for Peace. At a planning meeting back in November/December 13, Quakers hosted an interfaith and community based meeting, with maybe 60 people attending, out of hundreds invited – sadly one group were missed, the Ukrainians, who would have loved to have been part of it, I found out 2 days before the Fair, boo! A lesson in treble checking, we have some 90+ communities within Nottingham, many with community centres and organisations, so keeping all the email contacts up-to-date is not the easiest task… Anyway, Lynne Richardson, who became the anchor of the Week for Peace, herding cats with humour and grace, mentioned she wished we could have an event like the Green Fair, a huge festival that fills the Arboretum Park…but she knew we didn’t have the money for it as the Council weren’t interested in supporting anything other than publicity via their newsletter. (mutter mutter £14,000 flyover by the Red Arrows for United Forces Day mutter mutter)

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Having been at various markets/ events held at Sneinton Market, I thought we could put on a little sister version, smaller, but still valuable, and being the relentless optimist that I am, I took on most of the organising, getting support from friends outside the committee, as they were plenty stretched already :)

After a few mishaps – l did not expect to be in a major flare for the last two MONTHS of organising, and due to damaging myself with the trip to London to hang installations for Loudest Whispers I was already behind with my art work for Week for Peace – it all came together really well on the day, even the sun shone for the middle bit :)

We had 20 stalls, ranging from inner peace (a Reiki healer), domestic and community peace (POW, Women’s Aid Pet Refuge Project, Unite/unemployed, Veggies, Animal Rights, Arimathea) politics with heart and compassion (Green Party and Left Unity) to local and international campaigns (Quaker Peace in Action, Palestinian Solidarity, WDM, CND, Amnesty, Greenpeace, Frack Free Notts) and then some fundraising and crafter’s stalls, plants and a slow food stall and then my stall had the tombola for Refuges for Pets (fosters pets for women and children at Women’s Aid refuges) which raised £28 and a possible foster carer. I also had plenty of takers for my vegan cookies, baked goods and crafts for Action Village India, thanks to selling a machine embroidered journal that raised £50, which is a big help to a micro charity. Not sure if it’s selfish, but I really like to feel that I’ve made a difference… with the amount of spoons all this took, I needed to feel it was worth it. There’s been a discussion on some PTSD pages on Facebook about what helps, and I’m very sure being able to make a positive contribution helps me…Having goals and feedback is really helpful for rebuilding self esteem and lifting thoughts out of the trauma tracks. It has to be carefully balanced though, and I’ve really missed doing the Action Village India stalls since I got fibromyalgia. David was a great help with preparing stuff and my lovely homehelp was a star about fitting in extra washing up when I’ve had bake-and -freeze sessions! Seeing 12 bags of cookies and 6 packs of flapjack and some fruit rolls fly off the stall was very uplifting. I enjoyed performing new poems too, though I wish I’d managed some time to rehearse just before, but I was wearing too many hats for that…

 

 

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We had two sets of performers, Mouthy Poets and Gary Morgan at beginning and end with Single Bass, El Dia, Tonya and Faye,  Sam Hope and me again in the middle… very enjoyable. There is a film clip coming which has some of the performers on, so I will post that another time. I was amazed to find out later from Tonya that she and Faye haven’t been playing long, their cover of a Pink song was David, my helpful neighbour’s favourite, while I preferred their Indigo Girls number ;)

 

Everyone had a good time, I think,  including the Sneinton Market Officers, Wendy and Brian, who were so supportive and I hope enjoyed their thank you goodies! There was a lovely relaxed atmosphere and I got a lot of thank yous, which was very pleasing because by the time I got home I could barely move ;)

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Maresa of Mouthy Poets preparing her interpreter to perform her work, her poem about de-cluttering the recycling was one of my favourite moments, best was probably Single Bass playing this song, Heavy Woman, which has been a favourite since before we became friends:

http://www.single-bass.co.uk/songs/heavy-woman

Peace (the 100th heart) film

Keith Turner has made a lovely film of the installation, with his video and recording of me performing the poem at Nottingham Peace Fair 2014. l wish l’d fitted in some more rehearsing, you can hear me relax about 10 lines in – that’s a Suffolk accent that starts to come out ;)

Thanks again for all your support, Keith!

https://vimeo.com/107396887

Peace: The Hundredth Heart

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I have been working intensively on my fibre art  installation for Peace Week in Nottingham…due to illness and a hold up with the wooden plaques, I’ve been having to work faster than I like/is good for me. [wow, I’m getting the hang of pacing, I actually expressed that right first time round, previously I would enjoy working this fast, however tiring, that’s progress!]

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One side effect this has had is on being able to name it, the name finally became clear on Tuesday, and it has been installed today – Saturday…oh my!Still, better late than never. It has been ‘the peace thing’, Peace Has Wings, and now Peace, the Hundredth Heart.

I have copied ‘peace’ in 99 languages, including many different scripts/alphabets… it condenses down to 87 plaques due to some languages sharing the same word. I thought, shall I look up a one hundredth? and then it came to me, what we need is not all these words, spoken or thought or prayed, valuable as all those are, but a feeling in the heart that can be shared across nations and cultures and scripts and alphabets…we need to ALL have the hundredth heart, where peace is felt and breathed and lived and held dear, not a cerebral thing, to be discussed and negotiated, good as those things are, but felt, beyond words…and art is non verbal communication, intuitive philosophy, so how better to say this?

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The Hundredth Heart

I have written peace 99 times

to 99 people all around the world – or who live next door ;)

sometimes in scripts I had to draw,

tongue sticking out with concentration,

ink dancing in flamboyant swirls,

and I ask you to meet me here,

you, the 100th heart

who needs no word, who knows how to

live, love, dance, cook, teach, nurse, grow peace

reach peace, share peace, laugh and sing and draw and paint and sculpt

peace

from the very sticky clay

that is our messy world

I ask you to meet me here,

you, the 100th heart

who needs no words, who knows

how to lay down difference and to work together

to not need to be right and to not need every last thing spelt out

but to start in

here and now

in the moment of power

in the moment of change

where we are all human

and can use the silver bridge of understanding

that being human on a blue and green planet gives us,

now we see how grey and brown and dry and dead

we are making it…

I ask you to meet me here,

you, the 100th heart

who needs no words, who is

finding a place in the middle

where we can agree not to poison the river,

not to strip the hills till they fall into the sea,

not to spray the fields till they are silent and poisoned,

not to mine and frack the earth up, till it swallows itself

and takes us with it

You, the hundredth heart that knows we can all stand on that silver bridge,

that without us, the words will be there, but empty

peace needs the hundredth hearts

to live, love, dance, cook, teach, nurse, grow peace

reach peace, share peace, laugh and sing and draw and paint and sculpt

peace

from the very sticky clay

that is our messy world

to grow peace in the sticky clay of our hearts, where we

get hooked in to petty troubles and wanting the things pushed on us by

a greed making world of money and politics

that has forgotten the

blue and green planet

the stars in the night sky

the silver bridge

we need the hundredth hearts who reach out

and with their smile

make us know

how simple peace can be

where it starts

without words

the hundredth hearts

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And so the last string of plaques have little heart shaped mirrors…

The installation went really well, I had support from Sam and tree climbing from Tom, who knows Jen and Bob, my usual tree monkeys… Three hours of quiet and therapeutic play really!

I will try and get better pictures tomorrow, my hands were a bit shaky by the end…and I need to look up fig trees in myth, Sea Change is hung on the biggest fig tree I’ve ever seen!

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