Posts tagged ‘daoism’

pain and politics



I have been looking through favourite collections of quotes and seeing which I feel to work on, preferably by using Picasa to type them over an image. This takes less energy than the Letraset I sometimes use, which can be a bit stressful when it’s a long quote, as I have to guarantee keeping my focus all the way to complete success – hmm, tall order at the moment, as I am stiff and achey from pinging my intercostals dragging the bin out [reminder to self, phone the disabled bin support line!] and not the full wattage as the painkillers make me clumsy, almost dyslexic… So, ‘work with what I have, how I can’ is the mantra for this week.

somewhere else

I had a few difficult decisions, regarding spoon priorities… I was feeling quite shabby by the time I finally had a shower, but unless you’ve been there, you really can’t imagine how much energy taking a shower drains from your daily quota. I wanted to cut fabric and I needed to make space for the last two loads of  boxes from Flat 4 and I should have done more work on a charity application… meanwhile I was getting lots of questions put to me about arrangements, which due to fibrofog felt very hard to answer! How do we make decisions when everything feels almost equally pressing, and there simply isn’t enough energy to handle our affairs? For me, this time, asking for, accepting and rewarding/valuing the help of my community/ circle of friends. Looking for the shared gain, and trusting the boundaries. I simply couldn’t have done this a few years ago, being disabled physically is teaching me a lot…

I had been planning my move since xmas, and had enrolled a lot of friends in helping me. [I am very lucky, but I have also worked very hard on my trust issues to be able to ask, to give what I can and to be able to hear yes or no without it altering the friendship!] I also did what I could to lengthen the process and plan it, in terms of considering whose skills matched what task etc. I only had one major mistake {sorry Sam!} and friends coped with me getting a bit stressed very well. Boundaries are really important – if someone does something from obligation, it gets tiresome very fast.

It’s funny, because in Daoism the idea is to avoid choice, to be so aligned to the flow that a path seems lit before you, but one of the things I did was offer some people lots of choices and some very few! The guideline was thinking hard about what I know of how we work together, and all the skills and resources available. I have a few friends with chronic pain and/or fatigue issues, and it was one of those friends who drove a borrowed van for me, and I was trying to persuade him to take money for a takeaway [to make up the lost energy, so generously given] and he ended up persuading me I would be denying him the chance to be the capable helper! Another friend is very fit but has a dodgy leg, but more importantly has been sanctioned for missing daily signing at the Job Centre because his son was visiting and leaving a poorly 4 year old with a neighbour is not ok really…apparently he should have brought the lad to throw up on the floor, then his money wouldn’t have been stopped. Sigh. Anyway, who is helping whom? Clearly they [and many more] are all helping me. But apparently I am helping by being part of a process where a friend’s self esteem is boosted, and another gets a big box of Approved Food goodies and gleanings from my pantry, when he most needs it. A couple who have been under horrible stress from online trolls for daring to hold their heads up as a transman and a non-binary person, helped me by being the best DIY team you could ask for, and I can only hope that being practical and problem solving things like disassembly and installation made a rewarding change…another friend has helped lots with organisation and packing and being my guarantor – she is now getting my lovely bike at a very bargainaceous price, which makes us both happy… there are lots more exchanges going on, some obvious, some subtle, some barter for art has been involved too. A friend who is very ill sent me the loveliest box of treats, which helped me feel in contact when I had no internet access and then when she was having a rough time, I was able to be supportive.

‘Fair exchange is no robbery’ is a maxim I was taught very young, interdependence as part of community self-reliance as an activist and then when I read up a lot on Daoism I was given a new take on it. ‘Ming’ [sorry, no idea how this ming is pronounced] is enlightenment where the interfusion of all things becomes crystal clear in the inner vision, that we are all part of the universe, all atoms of stardust endlessly recycling in more or less aware states…


From a Daoist perspective, things like moving can be lived as a community event/ process/ happening. This time I have been privileged to experience it that way, the best of all possible outcomes for someone with chronic pain and fatigue…

All these giftings/ barters/ supports have made think hard about  how the British government/ the Conservative DWP policies are failing so badly at respecting disabled people’s role in the community. We are seen as valueless scroungers, to be removed by callous cruelty and heartless persecution. The NHS is being dismantled and services are being cut, while Tories trumpet that  disability and health issues can be ignored because we make no contribution to society. There are disabled MPs, the Prime Minister had a disabled son [for whom he claimed every benefit possible] and the minister for the DWP dropped everything for 6 months to be with his wife facing cancer. Yet all this brings no compassion – Stephen Hawking, the scientific genius, has communicated his concern that other people with Motor Neurone Disease are being left to die, we know people are being pounded into serious depression and suicide by the policies…only an election where these immoral fools are ousted will help.

And yet, in my own life, I feel more valued by my circle [more of a wobbly star!] and part of a community via the internet, than seems possible with that in the background of everyday’s choices. [Given, that were I able to apply without fear for upgraded benefits, I could have paid for the whole move…] People at the sharp end get what abundance and community are, enough is as good as a feast, and when you share, everyone has plenty. They know they are part of a whole, when they are not being beaten into the ground by the propaganda the media have been recycling straight from the Government benches, the pernicious belief that some people are worth more than others, and only some skill sets count. If you can’t feel when things are wrong, if you can’t respond to what is, because you are blinded by political expediency, you have lost your humanity. And how can they not see?

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turning corners

DSC_0021Sophrosyne (n) a healthy state of mind, characterized by self control, moderation, and a deep awareness of one’s true self, and resulting in true happiness

I read this on facebook, such a lovely thing to come across…

DSC_0023Centering down to do more of what I want/ what is mine to contribute right now means giving up some of the many other exciting and sparkling possibilities available…there is a happy balance between total simplicity and sufficient resources to sustain an artist in many media. Finding a new main medium/ expression for my art has lead to acquiring a lot of materials that all appeal, but are not necessarily viable [certainly not in my bijou flat!]


Like most artists, I have a tendency to stockpile materials, and as an upcycling artist, the number of POSSIBLE uses I can think of for an individual bit of…tat… are distressingly many. At the height of an argument with an ex he told me I was like a disco mirror ball, to which I replied, ‘Yes, how wonderful, all those facets!’  He  shouted: IT WAS AN INSULT!

Nerts to that!

DSC_0024By nature I have been much more of a juggler and a marathon tasker/ up with the rocket, down with the stick/ all or nothing person and it is a revelation to become seasonal and patient, an ‘enough is as good as a feast’ person. It has grown on me gradually, first of all through agoraphobia, then Daoism, gardening, living with someone with bi-polar, but now mainly having to make a balance that will keep me able to make art at least sometimes in a day/week. Pacing is so central to my management of the pain and fatigue and  weakness of fibromyalgia, and it involves moderation, never one of my strong points till now.

DSC_0025Lately I have had help tackling the studio, and great progress has been made, yay!

I give to a lot of projects, so friends give to me, knowing I can channel things, but it can be very tempting, all that eyecandy! Sorting through boxes always brings a feast of ideas to mind: the trick is enjoying the ideas and letting them go, materials and all!

I am becoming increasingly comfortable with knowing a number of projects ahead and rotating between them – after a lot of work on Wasting Waste, I’ve had a spell of gardening and pink Wool against Weapons knitting, and now I want to work on something else, still for Peace Week, but a different installation, probably the ivy rootballs. I’m going on holiday on Monday [the sea, the sea!] and when I come back it would be great to have WW sorted and stored, easily accessible but not on every surface!

So I’m very pleased some more sorting happened today:



Zero-waste projects are 1) making strong fabric carriers for the Foodbanks to give food away in, I had a few left over from the ones I made for the Fixers stall and clearing out my work-in-progress/UFO crate has added more.

2) putting all my threads and snippets into the same place so I can make embellishers for the guerilla gardening pouches. I have some see through plastic storage jars that seem just the thing.

I bought some more see through plastic (shoe) boxes and David, who was helping, gave me some ziplock freezer bags he was clearing out, so I am sifting and sorting, and I suspect there will be a lot of boxes of those, but then, they are very handy, so this shouldn’t be a problem, hmm?

DSC_0073Having sorted out the pieces of the duvet cover I am almost ready to finish quilting, I was able to put unwanted cloth into the smaller shoe boxes and colour code it. This liberated a 20litre crate for Wasting Waste yarn stash, which liberated an 80litre crate  for Diversity is our Strength, which liberated the travelling bag so I can pack to go on holiday on Monday! Oh my!

I hardly ever buy fabric anymore, maybe a particular keynote colour, as I am working through the stash acquired by a few years of visiting remainder sales and friends’ clearouts…it does take having access to a large collection of fabric to acquire the huge variety of snippets I love to work with though. This is where SOPHROSYNE comes back in…I seem to have hit the point where I can balance letting go of some plans [making embellished/complex cloth floor cushions, making clothes, printing cloth] and taking on others [guerilla articulture.]

Knowing and accepting what I can do within the limits of fibromyalgia is not a straightforward thing: but then, life is never straightforward, right? Some things suit my face though – the audacity of street art, the gifting and salvage side of what I make and how I choose to share it, these are much more mainstream than they were, more impactful as I can now share them through Facebook groups. I like to be playful in my making, but I am very serious about how stepping out of expectations of what contribution (among others) people with disabling conditions can make to the idea of worth in the community. People living outside the ratrace are necessary to the w/holistics of communities, we model being and doing, not having and buying. Artists/creatives of all kinds can encourage others to think out of the box and work with what we have to make what is needed:



Finally though, it comes back to living with what works for me, knowing what works for me and enjoying that. Definitely a corner turned.


Heart truths

“The root of the word courage  is cor – the Latin word for heart.  In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and, today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic. Heroics is important and we certainly need heroes, but I think we’ve lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. Heroics is often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that’s pretty extraordinary.” -Dr. Brene Brown

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Discussion of hate speech, hate acts, internet abuse, bullying and oppression, sexual abuse, violence of most kinds.

Apology to dyslexics, I hardly ever post this many words with no photos, and the backdrop gets really hard for this much reading 😦

I was on BBC Radio Nottingham on National protest against ATOS and the WCA [work capability assessment] Day (Feb 19th). After being taunted by a Tory MP that I was “to be congratulated on my ability to organize the local protest and perhaps I had a future in Events Planning?” I responded by explaining what an experienced organizer I had been before becoming ill and now doubly disabled, and then I heard myself say: “This is a shadow of what I’ve done, I’m a shadow of who I used to be.”

And that went very deep for me.

In so many ways I am more than I used to be, so many less too…but this expression that all the colour had drained out of me…ouch! That hurt!

Since becoming interested in being part of the Nottingham protest I have had to endure a lot of trolling, betrayal, backstabbing and mean-mindedness. I find hate speech ineffective and alienating, and some levels of it are triggering for me, and I know, many others. As I choose my facebook contacts pretty carefully, I’d always been able to avoid a lot. Now I am able to ‘unfriend’ people and pages I have been struggling with, I can feel the relief.

I find it disturbing how demeaning speech is insidiously becoming acceptable in campaigning, and is promoted by many anarchist groups. I have become a target to be discredited because I objected to swastikas and Nazi imagery on posters, gory images and what I consider to be sexualising  and rape culture speech – I really can’t figure out how to tell you the terms I mean without saying them and risking triggering lots of other survivors, and I don’t want to do that…

Suffice it to say that when I was accused of “playing the victim” and needed to pull myself together, stop being offended by words and be a survivor who tackled the ‘real thing’…I found myself furious, as an ex-campaigner who has done a ton of awareness raising work, and also deeply sad.

This was from a survivor saying they were fine with the term and so was everyone else. Where is their connection to their authentic self? Where is the permission to be vulnerable AND effective?

Don’t worry, I did point out I existed despite them trying to negate me! And I know, even if I was the only one, it would be wrong. I have done that work. I can be vulnerable AND effective. But how is it to be around people who lack respect for that? Triggering, wounding, unsafe, draining. Greyness. Shadowed.

Language matters. Language opens and closes doors. I write how I like on my blog, but I use ‘crystal mark/simple English as much as I can when campaigning. Language creates permission and gives presence and frames of reference within which we examine what we want to build and how we want to build it. How does a person who has been abused rebuild and keep their respect when terms of abuse are used to humiliate? Non-physical but pointed insults attacking the right to acceptance and pride in sexuality, race, gender self-definition, difference of ability, choice of work, whatever the bully chooses to demean, these all create spaces where respect for the person is blurred. And once that has gone, then abuse is possible and condoned, and protected from reporting by the targeted individual or groups.

Thus the rise in use of terms relating to sexual abuse is very worrying, survivors of violence (whether random or targeted) and sexual abuse, bullying, hate crimes and hate speech are definitely a majority in industrialised countries. And yet survivors of abuse are not respected the way we need to be.

Remembering intersectionality, these circles of oppression overlap and isolate, with vocational and financial opportunity offsetting for some, but further disadvantaging others. Class is now becoming a really tangled issue  with the complication of working and unemployed members of each class holding very different experiences of how these systems oppress them : a wealthy Hindu family who work in skilled manual trades, but who have no idea how desperate a sanctioned disabled but originally middle class white person in dispute with the Department of Work and Pensions might be…And a victim of abuse in the wealthy family might still be at greater suicide risk than the person enduring sanctions, if they are very sure they will win their appeal (eg ex solicitor, knows the loophole to argue).

It’s so complex – but so simple: anyone, anywhere deserves to be treated with respect. And if they are being oppressive, their mind will not be changed by being insulted, it will have to relax to let new information in.

The great Audre Lorde said it best:

“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.”

My response to all that has happened and all I feel is to create a space where inclusive, creative, compassionate campaigning can take place without hate speech.

So I have! 😉


An unfortunate truth  is I have to be prepared to check out every contact seeking to join the new group, and proofread every post/comment for at least the first month. I know from friends how draining being an admin of a Facebook group is, I now know how grey I feel after reading pages of hate pretending to be effective invitations to people to change their minds, hearts and actions. I want to be colourful again! I don’t want arguments! Spits dummy on floor!

But I have to honour my hurt, and the truth that if I want a disabled- friendly, non ‘hating’ group where anyone can rely on finding a peaceful, positive, constructive place to create small acts of protest, kindness and change…then it will take that. The shadow will shorten as a particular group of activists loses interest, the burden is already lightened by finding so many amazing things to post, my personal page has long been a relay point for loads of inspiration 🙂 Any of you who read Sustainable Man will know how many brilliant initiatives are out there.

I have called it anyone everywhere inspired by this wonderful quote from Martin Luther King:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.

and also to reinforce the reasoning behind my refusal to bow down to the bullies: as a disabled person, I have the right to be allowed safe space at a protest about disability benefits. Many people require safe spaces to be able to make our positive and valuable contributions. We are not weak, we are strong when we declare we will work in positive ways, refusing to be divided against the others oppressed by the systems in power. Being inclusive matters, honouring ourselves, staying focused on being the change we want to see matters … speaking our heart truths… being vulnerable AND effective

beauty as a manifesto, calming as a practice

“It is [the] spiritual and evolutionary function of beauty—the power to generate life-affirming change—that is so vital to the visual arts and culture in general, and it is what is intentionally absent in much postmodern art…. Restoring the centrality of beauty in art may signal more than visual relief from the tawdriness of today’s art. It would also be a confident assertion that the future we seek is connected to our desire for beauty and to an appreciation of how beauty can help lead us to a more perfect tomorrow.”                     Carol Raphael       “The Beauty We Create” – See more at:
I have been very lucky with finding some new artblogs recently – particularly as 3 of my regular ‘go to’ blogs are slowing down on posting, having slices of life I presume.
both make work I find inspiring and motivating, and make me the tiniest bit panicky 😉 I can see we have similar concerns and each have ideas they are working on that mean our work would really make a dialogue in a gallery (drags self back from delicious fantasy 😉 ) but if I don’t make more of the work in my head soon, it will look like I am bouncing off them at best and copying them at worst, when really these are ideas I have been growing for  months and years…
STA43461-001Fibromyalgia means I have to work much more slowly on production than I like, and anxiety is really bad for that, as it increases adrenalin, which increases cortisone, which heightens the pain, which reduces my ability to make…nasty vicious circle, that.
Taking time out to meditate, to skywatch and flow watch (Daoist practices) will be key, and silliness like lifting big tubs of plants or bricks to weight mulch because I am so frustrated that the other flats won’t come out and help in the garden multi 086-1has to stop. The chiropractor put my collarbone back in again on Thursday and said I would feel much better afterwards, and I do, but I’m so annoyed I let myself down again…
I have done a little knitting of cradles and crocheting of the connectors, and already the pain is worse. So I have had a hot shower and a painkiller and an icepack and a nectarine and orange smoothie with organic ginger tea and now I am ready to plan rotations of activity to alternate muscle usage, brain usage and rest.
Thinking/reflecting/musing/’seeing’ work all help me feel creatively active, and, as importantly, help me with planning artist statements at the different levels they are expected. One of my resolutions to come out of the courses at Nottingham Contemporary was that I would modify my statements to reflect my permaculture beliefs and not spout high flown art-speak. I make good work, that to a large extent, speaks for itself. Thanks to altermodernism, it is less necessary to enfold the art in conceptual smokescreens, and simply to say:
I make art to inspire others to think outside the norms of capitalist consumerism.
I make art to call people to beauty, who may have lost hope in this sick system that it could be possible to live more harmoniously.
I make art to present something so real and so compelling, that previous disbelief is replaced by hope and trust in healing and beauty:
a beauty with wounds that are being treated, issues that are accepted and worked through, but a beauty of balance and sharing and richness of texture, colour and line, that makes you want to reach out and touch, to take home with you, and to live with, a little more each day.

transphobia, feminism and being a permaculture activist

please read the statement at the link: it marks an historic moment, a turning point where feminists [people who believe gender-based oppression of people is wrong] are coming together to be clear that women affected by transgender have a place in feminism and women-only space, as equals, and is probably the first statement where people who identify as feminists are queuing to sign in solidarity of trans-inclusion within feminism.

diversity5-001image (Keith Turner) : detail of ‘diversity is our strength’ in situ at Nottingham Pride, 2013 Singing Bird Artist

*****TRIGGER WARNINGS: lesbian/lesbian violence, transphobic comments repeated, collusion with abusers*****

Why is this so significant?

Well, transphobia is one of the reasons so many good women lost their energy for feminism – fighting transphobic lesbian-feminists [let me be CRYSTAL CLEAR!  that’s SOME, not all lesbian-feminists] in the late 90s. I was fairly new on General Committee at Nottingham Women’s Centre when a letter came requesting clarification on the right to access the facilities, written by a post-transition woman. I read it out, and said, “well that’s a clear yes, isn’t it?” and looked up to see a variety of expressions, but all including exhaustion, on the faces of the other volunteers. To cut a very long story short, no, this was round 3 or 4 on trying to get agreement for access. I volunteered to be the ally/advocate for transgendered access (all the other lesbians on committee heaved a sigh of relief, and the Lesbian Centre sent a delegate to oversee our process and advocate remaining closed – while knowing this would mean losing all Council funding for workers and basic costs.)

diversity3-005image (Keith Turner) : detail of ‘diversity is our strength’, Nottingham Pride, 2013

The next several months  of “process” were agonising…for me, it involved becoming emergency homeless after helping a lesbian neighbour leave her violent lesbian partner and being told that the perpetrator was welcome in the Lesbian Centre and I was not. That’s the level of shunning I received… I lost all but 2 friends in Nottingham (luckily I still had 3 in Newcastle, a mere 4 hours away by train…remember I’m agoraphobic…) Meanwhile I continued to volunteer several hours a week to keep this huge unwieldy building with 40+ rooms and 60+ projects open and available, warm, dry, safe, secure (I notice I realllllllly need to let go of the £6,000 gas bill ($8,000) for one winter quarter where we would come in on a Monday to find the Lesbian centre had left the radiators on full and the windows wide open…ALL weekend) That was just one of the disillusionments….

This was the time when I came to realise that extremes meet..that the worst kind of rabid tabloid and the supposedly politically aware and analysed and completely anti-oppression transphobic lesbians both believed and would state with conscious cruelty remarks like “they’re just men in skirts” or “what about when they rape women and children”. I apologise to any people affected by transgender for repeating such hurtful crap, but it is like when discussing child abuse, some people really don’t get that some people say things like that unless you share the truth you know. I was there, it scarred me. I would go and talk in therapy about how I felt struggling to keep the centre going, for these heartless, horrible oxygen thieves….as a survivor, with a family who insisted on silencing me, I find collusion excoriating.

After public debates in more than one venue, with consultations with all the projects, eventually access was granted. I never felt the same again about the Women’s Centre, and I don’t think I ever entered the Lesbian Centre again. I started the Art Access course and found great joy in exploring such a healing space for myself. In the second year, the new head tutor asked me where I “fitted” in Lesbian Art, and I just said, “Oh, I don’t…” and he said, “Well, you must, you’re a lesbian?!?” and after a pause, I said,”No, I think I just came back out as Bi !” We both started laughing, it was a very odd experience!! 😉

diversity3image Keith Turner: detail of  ‘diversity is our strength’ in situ, Nottingham Pride, 2013 Singing Bird Artist

But I had just been researching lesbian artists, and I was very aware that I had so little in common with the more famous ones, and certainly wasn’t welcome among the local ones, but most importantly, art is where my utmost truth is crystal clear to me, and I just KNEW I didn’t fit there…2 years later I met my husband and fell head-over-heels in love, so I was right about that! 😉

But one of the sad things is that the same lesbians who are trans-phobic are also bi-phobic…and on the rare occasions I would meet a lesbian from those days, I would feel tainted, like, it would look like the only reason I supported trans-access rights was because I wasn’t lesbian enough…16 years on and I finally, finally feel I could join a feminist group again because trans-acceptance would be accepted…and  bisexuality would be accepted too. Hopefully this would be a feminism where so many more experiences would be validated too – womanism/acceptance of the dual struggle against racial prejudice, being a woman of belief (without oppressing others eg being Jewish and being welcome, but accepting Zionism would have to be left at the door; being Muslim and leaving violent jihad there too, being Celtic Pagan, Christian, Hindu , Atheist…even Daoist 😉 ) class and privilege reversed to support and education, issues of health, disability…. and then things I would call for now that weren’t really on my radar then:

access to shared organic landscapes, wildness and the right to share cultivation (bring back the REAL commons!!)

commitment to a future that values all living species and organic entities over industrialisation and dis-embodied corporations of capitalism

commitment to the future, of the planet and all the species we can protect

a redesign of society as if people and planet mattered (I just need to be clear that animals etc are people too, just not human)

– this all exists, it’s part of ‘expanded’ permaculture, which is sooooo much more than gardening design, brilliant as that system is. Read Starhawk’s ‘Fifth Sacred Thing’ to get a sense of how a state could run with that level of respect, or the second in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy. Yes, I know they’re novels, I recommend them because they are so brilliantly written that you can imagine yourself inside that decision-making process, and feel how hard they would be….but worth it, because the alternative of yet more ‘unlimited growth’ capitalism is beyond terrifying. So I want a feminism that includes permaculture as its anti-capitalist strategy and a permaculture that welcomes all to the orchard 😉

STA45213-001visitors and my rollator at Pride 2013

And the single best thing for me is that right now feminism is the phoenix in the fire, it has the chance to spread its wings and become a campaign FOR things that would make the world better…so much of people’s opposition to feminism is based on misunderstanding, and feminism has this moment to seize the chance to re-frame, re-name and re-empower itself, ourselves, all the people, the planet, save our present and future…

How exciting is that? 😉

summer solstice garden

so, ok, I cheated, these were taken yesterday, as I couldn’t hold a camera steady with frozen shoulder/dead arm on the actual solstice, but these pictures are about the very green lushness of the garden at this point. We have had a wretchedly long winter, but at last some blue skies and warm summer sun are bringing out the flowers. A fortnight ago the foxgloves were nowhere, now they’ve catapulted themselves up in places I don’t remember planting them:

STA45085STA45084 these are taken from the back of the rockery, which is now becoming an island bed between Ben’s new raised beds and his badminton lawn. He has uncovered some more lovely rocks and done some more heavy pruning, but has left this holly arch for me to play with 🙂


– with holly and ornamental thistle, this is a very prickly bed 😉

I love the contrast of the rocks and the lush vegetation though this is very non traditional for a garden, ornamental rockeries traditionally have alpines, and small tidy succulents, but I like the feel of being on the edge of a shaded woodland glade – as there are giant copper beeches at the drive gateway, with hollies as tall beside them, and then the badminton lawn, this makes for a very natural feel AND a lovely surprise for an inner city garden, all at the same time. 🙂


I thought the foxgloves I grew on the allotment were huge, but the super rich ‘forest floor’ of the reclaimed rockery is making giants, this is the biggest basal of a foxglove I’ve ever grown, it’s at least 12″/30cm across, more like 20″/50cm…STA45091

The liquorice blue agastache looks lovely against the dilapidated creosoted shed, and the bees are in heaven, we saw at least 3 kinds, with about 3 dozen in total, one bumble bee was wobbling around very drunk between two of the biggest flowering foxgloves 😉





















I’ve never seen this grass before, and wonder if the pollen is what is making me sneeze every morning…it grows from strap rosettes, a bit like bluebells….Yes that sycamore needs chopping back again already…

my potatoes are doing well:

STA45106 and right next to them, I saw a Monet in ivy…Monet is famous among painters for the variety of his brushstrokes, 28 different styles of mark in a small square is average for him. Look at all the different ivy leaf shapes in this square foot:


and finally, my sweet peas are out! Jen came round and said how lovely it was to smell them as she waited (I am very slow to the door) and I really like how welcoming the pot is. That’s the spring one, daffs, violets and sweet peas, now I need to think about an autumn one 🙂 I have some heritage peas, a salmon flowered short ‘umbrella’ kind and gave Jen some for her allotment, but may use the rest in the next tub, with some autumn bulbs and cyclamen…


overcoming post show slump

So in the cab back from the art in the park picnic, I started talking about post exhibition slump and how to avoid it…it is an odd feeling, all this effort (and now I have fibromyalgia, I’ve skimped on so much to free up energy spoons for the xhib) around one outcome…that is now winding up.


The tree monkeys will deliver big bags of fibre art and signs etc to me, I will hand them vegan treats and later I’ll go through making sure stuff is dry and ok to store until its next outing. Keith will send me more photos and I will make the slideshow and ponder how to use it to catch the attention of art venues. And while I’m very glad the chores are over, there’s always been an after-the-party feeling, a Christmas tree going back in the loft feeling after a show…because I only exhibit once every couple of years for a solo show. I feel that may be changing, that now, ironically, when I have less energy for it, I may have acquired the promotion skills/mindset to springboard better and set installations on mini-tours 😉

It feels different this time, that I have kept the faith with what I want to make next AND where I want to show next, that while I feel tired, I still have momentum. My computer skills are enormous compared to after the 2011 showing of  ‘Pushing Buttons, Ringing Bells’ and that makes me more confident to approach the Council, having jumped through the hoops for the H & S this time, I can do it again…

There is a process of embodiment that goes into making art/craft, an idea becoming physically present in the studio, and then when it is seen and shown, in the world. And the urge to make it  and the question it answers are satisfied, so it starts to separate from me and the more it is shared, the less attachment I have to it, maintenance and organising more exhibitions are almost a distraction from the next ‘real’ thing, the next question that is being asked and answered in the process studio. It became its own thing, can’t it do its own organising?  😉  And the ‘chores’ are dull by comparison with making, though the birthday party bit is fun 😉 so part of the slump can be the list of shoulds and oughts, this piece deserves to be seen more widely, all that work…even the praise that pleased me so much can become a burden! Because the new shiny thing is in the studio!

But then going in the studio is often quite hard straight after an exhibition, because all that praise was for that answer to that question, this question is new and tricky and has to be thought about and felt about and not answered slickly or later it will show up as shallow…and the temptation to repeat what got praised or to repeat “so they get it THIS time” any pieces that felt missed or undervalued, all that has to put to one side…it can all feel a bit sticky…


So what works?

What works is work!

Turning up at the sewing machine…getting my hands all painty, running my fingers through yarn and fabric, working on what I never stopped working on, newly tinted by what experiences the show has given me 😉 watching the tree monkeys climb up among the branches, trying to take good photos under the thick canopy of blossom

sc04-001and new leaves, the smell of fresh mown grass and rainy soil (so different from hose watered) the sound of the traffic and tramworks, the smell of tarmac, the overpoweringness/fibro-fog/agoraphobic  jostle that only an exhibition would make me face, the interesting chats blurring into babble on the super tired way home on a bus when all I wanted was to be back in bed….

all that will be in the next piece

All the help I got from my lovely friends, and then the new friends I made on Contemporary Conversations, and through see more and sea change being installed the same day (looking at you Anna R and Clare C!) and reconnecting with Jay H through facebook promo stuff, the chat with the family in the park about slow living, the way I felt telling visitors, “yes, I made this!”…. all strengthen my conviction that art is what I do best and that fibro isn’t going to stop me…

and will be part of the strength to negotiate more showings of sea change…

while I get out the components for Cradle for Stones that I have been looking at, thinking about and planning for but not allowed to touch for a month 😉

I didn’t set out to re-write my relationship with post show slump, but it seems to have happened, very wu wei 😉 daoist sages laugh near me 😉

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