Posts tagged ‘feminism’

stop and start again

CN: PTSD, ‘domestic’ violence to women, hearing voices

Lots of ways to read that – one meaning is that the internet wifi has gone down irretrievably and my one hour callback from the tech dept arranged by customer services after the first fail [tsk tsk] still hasn’t come 9 days later.. my new router from a different company should arrive sooner than that though πŸ˜‰ meanwhile a 5m ethernet cable from the Β£shop is making internet access possible, though not comfortable.

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I’ve had an emotional break-apart/through too, I have had a painful experience in taking on too much and having to excuse myself… I was tagged to The Women’s Quilt, a very brave endeavour, where there will be a square for each of the 589 women in Britain known to have been killed by a violent partner, father, other male relative during the period 2009 – 2015. That’s 2 a week, in a relatively small country. I volunteered to make some squares, though finding out we had to do the research ourselves on the women was where I should have dropped out. I assumed there would have been a collaboration with the friends or next of kin over what they would like a woman remembered for. Having to read up about 8 women and a 16 year old girl’s horribly violent deaths and try and find any source of information about the woman other than as the victim was very difficult.. every newspaper covered the number of stabwounds etc very few said ANYTHING about the woman. The Facebook page became filled with heart rending stories as more people making squares shared how terrible the deaths were but also how horrible the gaps are… The admins were careful to tell people to protect themselves and only take on what they could, but the constant reminders via Fbk notifications were upsetting – yes I turned off the notifications, it takes a couple of days to take effect… I managed to make 4 squares, two of which are very plain because there just wasn’t any personal information. One woman was about to go swimming so I made her a mermaid

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another was the concert pianist Natalia Strelchenko, so I found some music printed on fabric for her [ it’s The Holly and the Ivy, but needs must..]

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I was really surprised how much this experience shook me… I think to be fair if I wasn’t already upset by my brother-in-law dying [the oldest and last of the three brothers, my poor mother- and sister-in-law] and his wife now being seriously ill in hospital, my therapist of the last 11/12 years having suddenly being diagnosed with cancer again and having to stop work, a friend being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma… then it might have been less upsetting. Combined with my personal griefs, the Trumpland woes and Brexit suicidal xenophobia… I just felt very ‘precarious’, a word I use when I feel the PTSDs are running amok and I can barely hang on to the wild horse of survival… I’ve made it, and learnt – yet again – that pacing is some tricky shit.

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I feel I need to withdraw from Facebook and use it much more carefully. I signed up as an artist and then Facebook made me have a personal account and a ‘business’ account. It’s a useful tool and a tyrannical master… my friends have a broad range of politics, so my home/feed is full of bad news with the occasional positive…no one means to be negative, but that’s a lot to hold your self and daily purpose against. While I was feeling ‘haunted’ by the details of the deaths, mixed in with life stories of others and my own experiences of violence and helplessness, I felt bombarded by all the bad news in the world, how the right are rising and fascism may overtake Europe and the US… and as the feelings of uselessness rose, I was rescued by the reminder [yes, voices in my head πŸ˜‰ ] that you can only do your OWN work, that in the face of death and destruction, all I can and must do is make art, however I can. It was amazingly reassuring…

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I can’t only make art of course, but if I accept the loving reminders of politically aware friends like Uditi Shane and Jennifer Moore, then my art IS enough of a protest to make… and the rest of the time I need more mental space, I need to have more space to experiment and be playful. Because life sends enough challenges without the constant flood of negativity the news etc brings. In my own words, “I am one 7 billionth of the problem – sometimes it’s ok to only be one 7 millionth of the solution”. I usually laugh as I say it, because it can be very easy today to feel we aren’t doing enough, and putting that perspective on it changes everything. I’m pretty sure even on a bad day I manage to do my share, because my ingrained habits of thrift, recycling, buying fairtrade, vegetarianism and giving to the foodbanks etc do that… During my internet hiccups, I didn’t miss Facebook very much at all – because I could connect for long enough to message friends but not long enough for general browsing or reading the feed, which I had come to dread. I read books, sewed towards the Empire piece, caught up with some dyeing projects, slept off the adrenalin rushes… and now I’m starting again, trying to follow Olitski’s excellent advice πŸ™‚

 

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Think Again: Being Human 2016

An exciting opportunity came my way and luckily I had the spoons to respond! [Viva Oxygen Therapy!!] Have you heard of Theodore Zeldin? He’s a very special person πŸ™‚

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sorry this is such a rubbish photo, but it was taken by candlelight πŸ˜€ that’s a commissioned cowl in his hand, made by Singing Bird Artist πŸ˜‰ oh my, what an honour. You can find lots about Theodore Zeldin online, his short biography is here:

http://www.oxfordmuse.com/?q=theodore-zeldin

and his books are available from all good bookstores, as they say. Personally I think he has contributed so much to intersectional thinking by extending the way ‘respectable’ history researchers and professors can expand into political zones and make the voices of ‘ordinary’ people shine through. That he then champions a method of peace-making through conversation, an unfolding of understanding by breaking down stereotypes and having people respond not react to the person in front of them, perhaps from a group they had biased thoughts about, oh, this is Nobel Peace Prize stuff in my book…

He is here in Nottingham both to launch the Being Human Festival 2016 [many other venues across Britain, see http://beinghumanfestival.org/event/conversation-dinner/ for the event where the photo was taken, many events also took place at Contemporary, where some Black History events took pride of place ❀ ] and the Nottingham Portraits project, where a city will be revealed by the views of its citizens, many more events planned for that!

So, what was Singing Bird doing there? Well, you know I’m a textile and fibre artist and work as a process artist, incorporating time and site specific details… Amber Forrest contacted me through Knit Nottingham, who suggested me as a knitter, who though disabled, would be very comfortable knitting during an event to commemorate it in some way. Thanks Eleanor, I owe you πŸ˜‰ After an excited phone conversation and meet up with the lovely Amber who did so much [thanks again Amber] to make sure I was comfortable and my agoraphobia and fibromyalgic needs were met on the night, I was primed. Knit a hat, no a cowl, for a man who has pioneered such exciting techniques to open people’s minds and show them more is possible! This is my joy in action πŸ™‚

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This is a man who wears suits a lot – that’s what professionally active historians of 80+ wear, but I noticed in photos often has his shirt collar open, no hat and no tie. Aha! A cowl might be useful then, particularly when travelling. Amber had found the yarn above, a navy with white thread running through, which turns out to be recycled glass fibres, and get this, it glows in the dark!! How cool is that! I immediately felt how like a pin stripe it looked, like those suits… and having thought about how he has worked to bring out hidden sides of people, I thought of natural colours, a rainbow maybe, no, better, a sunset, with colours reflected in the sea, all the ripples he has made in the world, shimmering reflections taken on their own wave out into the world and the waves he has met and with which he has rolled, how much further he goes than you’d expect from the pinstripe… So I prepared for the event by knitting the ‘pinstripe’ side and starting the sea and sunset, with short lengths of yarns prepped to allow many elements, reflecting the diverse and various people expected to the event at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant.

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I arrived at the event and was seated with some help [bar stools and sticks don’t go!] introduced to some lovely people, then escorted upstairs [plenty of disabled people came to the event, but they all had to be ambulatory, and those stairs with cold brass handrails were no fun to come down]Β  to be able to choose where I wanted to sit. I smiled, remembering my late husband, as I chose the back corner where you could see 4 doors, but hide a weapon at my right side – yes, classic ninja/agoraphobic out but stressed!! He always knew where I would sit, and as a martial artist found it very funny, because I’m also a pacifist. πŸ˜‰

There were speeches, from the head of Humanities at the University of Nottingham, about the Being Human Festivals and their intentions [improving community integration and access] and from Amber introducing the Nottingham Portraits and MUSE project, and Theodore Zeldin then spoke on how to use the Menu of Conversation we were offered to guide the process. He advised how to avoid traumatic topics if you needed to, but still speak of things important to your life.. it was an amazing list and very interesting… only one thing jarred.. the use of “both sexes”. Theodore has written some great stuff on improving communication between men and women and works with his wife [they have joint copyright on some ideas/processes] so understands the huge need there is for this work.

However, it is 2016, and we do now know there are far more sexes/gender orientations present in our communities, I have several trans friends, some happily transitioned, some at the beginning of their process, but most of my closest trans friends are non-binary, and I have 2 cis friends who also feel they identify more with genderfluid orientations. What is commonplace to me doesn’t seem to have reached Theodore, but I hope someone will draw his intention to this lapse in language, because I don’t feel any lack of diversity in his approach… I will include it in feedback to the Menu process forms and if I am part of the spinoff events MUSE intends, I will definitely raise it, and suggest sticking an amendment over the top. [I am torn between eco awareness and trans ally on that, far better to have new forms, but how many have been printed already??]

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Overall I was very pleased to see a diversity of people there in terms of race and culture and disability, I met at least 2 gay men, spotted some lesbians and doubt I was the only bi person there… there were a lot of white academic types, but then they were there as helpers, so like the wait staff created another group making it slightly hard to get a sense of true proportions. One University guy made a gaffe, but it turned out well, as he casually said he had been hoping to meet some homeless people – silence from 4 of us, and then a refuge project guy spoke up about varieties of homelessness and to support him I said, hmm, yes, I had been 20 minutes away from having no key to a place of my own, flat sitting for a friend while unsafe at my own place [house sharer was letting in violent neighbour angry I had helped her partner leave… sigh] was this close enough to give him an idea? Lovely project guy immediately says ‘Twinnies!’ and goes for a fistbump and handshake! The other two joined in and it turned out we had all been in precarious positions, the woman next to me making that very good point about how many paycheques most people are away from the street if they lose their home. The Uni guy looked a bit embarrassed but got over it and joined in and heard about the project in Beeston. Sorry I didn’t get people’sΒ  names, but knitting takes two hands, actually it takes three when you get your work out and find you have lost a long needle in the taxi!!! I spent a flustered time figuring out how to knit in smaller sections at a time with many dropped stitches being sorted by candlelight [omg] as every other row took all 3 of the short needles from my mitts project… and then some… and BREATHE!!

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My main conversation partner of the evening was a joy to meet! She was full of anger and righteous indignation and an edge of despair about Trump and Brexit and we talked non-stop!! I told her I am a possibilitarian and relentless optimist [at least when I have the right painkillers!!] and how I felt the working class had been abandoned when the first Council houses were sold off, and then when things like the Trade Unions, which had begun to diversify, black leaders in the TGWU [Transport General Workers] and women getting senior positions in the FireFighter’s Union, were pushed out of the Labour Party and the spin doctors let in, and the training and development side of the unions and the Labour Party stopped. I was never a Labour Party member, but I knew loads of Labour and various flavour Communists from being a socialist feminist with the National Assembly of Women… well I was the token anarcha-feminist πŸ˜€ [some of the working class women were very doubtful when I joined, but were won over by my ability to make profits on the catering to fund speakers for International Women’s Day] These were mainly women who had become politicized by the Miner’s Strike, strikes over working conditions, by meeting or being refugees and feminists in teaching or Council work. It makes for a different energy, less despair, more backbone when the shit hit the fan, and because this ISN’T the pit collapsing on 200 men in your village/town, a relief it isn’t worse. Although it is very very frightening…

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The rise of the alt-right/ white supremacists seems to have started with Brexit, risen with Trump and if Marine Le Pen gets in in France… ffs… the recent event in Spain with Franco praised and the Nazi salute being offered to a Catholic priest – omg, omg… this is very, very frightening. Or is it? This was here before, but underground.. now it has surfaced and like a particularly bulging spot, it can be tackled and all that pus can run away. Before, Britain First and other despicables could deny their Nazi roots, now they are gloating, out and proud. And they are sickening the middle way-ers who very naively thought they could vote Ukip and it would only be black suits, not blood on the streets… if the second referendum comes through, I think enough lies have been proved, enough nastiness has been shown that with more canvassing and talking to lost-in-the-muddle types, we could get a very different result.

There is a pause in which we have time to organize against white supremacism, already Muslims and Jews have acted to make a joint organization to defend religious rights, which is amazing.. I have seen Jewish Voices for Peace making common cause with Black Muslims via Facebook through supporting Black Lives Matter demos over the summer and a couple of days after Trump’s election, this amazing announcement of the new organization. I had tears of joy… may this feed back, may this help those American Jews who do support the sending of military aid to Israel stop and instead build a programme of mutual understanding and send peacemaking volunteers to Israel/Palestine…

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But back to the event, celebrating thinking again, meeting and talking and responding, not reacting… there was such a buzz, such good energy in the room… I woke up the next day early and full of positivity, and managed to start clutterclearing my studio! That’s a win! I am meeting Amaya for a cuppa at the weekend and we will talk more about the ideas thrown up, she has great energy, skills and education and empowerment and I hope we will be able to come up with some ideas to help gather the resources of our individual networks and enrol them in creating more connections…at the least, hanging out with likeminded friends is good for your mental health! more win, more hope, more possibility webs spreading into the world! It has to be good.

 

transphobia, feminism and being a permaculture activist

http://feministsfightingtransphobia.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/a-statement-of-trans-inclusive-feminism/

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!Β  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 monthsΒ  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 Β£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!! πŸ˜‰

diversity3image Keith Turner: detail ofΒ  ‘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! πŸ˜‰

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…andΒ  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 πŸ˜‰ ) 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 πŸ˜‰

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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? πŸ˜‰

diversity at Pride

First: a big thank you to the friendly strangers who helped me when the taxi driver jammed the brake on my rollator again! They pushed the rollator lifted on to its front wheels and carried a big bag of diversity (!) down from Addison St to the community stage so all I had to do was walk slowly, and only once! I was panicking about how to manage two trips with nothing going missing or wrecking myself 😦 And they weren’t even going to Pride, so it was particularly nice of them to help me πŸ™‚

So, a lovely sunny day, with lots of entertainment, people dancing barefoot on the grass, lots of stalls to look at and good causes fundraising – including Pride itself, as it all costs money to sort out. I was at the community stage at the beginning and saw the march coming in as Single Bass sang, then went home for a rest and came back to take down the installation about an hour before the rain was forecast, which meant I got to see an excellent singer, Emily Franklin, wow, what a voice! And it was lovely to hear Single Bass sing again, she is such a thoughtful writer, ‘Aseity’ (empowered groundedness) is one of my favourite songs, and as ever I got tears in my eyes when she sang ‘Weather the Storm’. I missed her second set, which matters less now this is available online πŸ˜‰

http://single-bass.bandcamp.com/track/heavy-woman

– Keith helped me hang ‘Diversity is our Strength’ and then took some photos, so here is your eyecandy πŸ˜‰

And now I am resting and very slowly pottering round tidying up the yarn explosion…where did all the feathers come from???

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Hollie McNish: the best poet of the streets since Benjamin Zephaniah?

A friend sent me a link to Hollie McNish on you tube, and I was stunned: she is the best poet I’ve heard perform for ages! I went to a lot of performance poetry events with Andy (Andy Postman, my missed by many super funny/ out there surreal/zany poet and artist husband) and I have seen some very good poets, call outs to Mark Gwynne Jones and Dave ‘Stickman’ Higgins, local stars Sue Allen and Michelle ‘Mother’ Hubbard, and the nationally acclaimed, truly amazing uncrowned poet laureate Benjamin Zephaniah (the ‘Naked’ album is outstanding…)

So this accolade is not given lightly.

She is human, witty, politically aware in a very “personal is political” way about the underpinnings of the system, but, as she says in ‘Mathematics’ she has done her research, she has found out for herself, she has checked her sources. Like Zephaniah she is on the side of life, the overflowing cornucopia ofΒ  delight it can be, that is imperilled by thoughtlessness and greed. Like him, she knows WE have the power to change the unquestioned into the unthinkable. She engages us, and leaves us wanting more – I’ve checked with friends and I am far from the only one to repeat play immediately, with a “wow, that was good!”

She appeals to the part of everyone who knows what is fair, but may have been gaslighted (manipulated) into silence or denial, shouted down or isolated to the point of self doubt. She knows when to be positive and affirming; we must protect the wild places, honour the mothers doing the best for their babies, stand up for our right to be ourselves…

She is an original thinker, with fresh imagery and an ability to set out clearly the issues that may have been niggling at the back of our own minds – the school uniform fetish has always set my teeth on edge and I’ve been able to articulate why quite easily. The cloying cutesy cupcakes/vintage housewifey thing has annoyed me ever since it came in, but I assumed it was an age thing that these girls/women had no idea how much physical hardwork and brain numbingly boring real housewifery was in the 50s, whereas I could remember my aunt talking about getting her first hoover: in a pit village, dusting and sweeping was a twice a day job and depressingly pointless. Hollie joins the dots and holds up an image that makes me shocked, yes, little girls playing house are little girls with no power and could be depressingly easy targets for the predators waiting to pounce, but more importantly they are women missing out on their own lives. They are missing the now, the only place where we have power to respond to what happens in our life, to set aside the endless daily lists to make the memories that will sustain us, and if we are caring/parenting, making happiness for others too. No one at my memorial will stand up and say I was always on top of the dusting (friends rock with laughter at the very thought!!) but they will remember fruit smoothies in the garden with laughter as we made bunting to cheer up a friend moving to a new city, they will remember calls to say, the chestnuts are ready, fancy a bike ride? Paints and fabrics at the ready, seeds and trowels, and yes funky food….though pesto scones, 20 ingredient salads and lemon and marzipan cookies are what happened this week, not cupcakes, and duster, no, fraid notΒ  πŸ˜‰
She breaks down the barriers of political thinking that run on rails, with no room for manoeuvres… if ever there was a time when we needed fresh, heartfelt thinking, humane values and clearheadedness, this is it. And the best news: she is young, all being well we have years ahead of us of her work, her questioning eye and clear voice calling society out and inspiring us to find a better way. Viva Hollie!

a rose by any other name?

– would definitely smell as sweet…but would a rosegarden sound as attractive if it was called a thorncob border?

I am preparing to promote a piece going on display [all the details will be shared as soon as I’m allowed!] and realising, though the name makes perfect sense, it lacks pulling power…it’s also out of synch with previous exhibitions, which in some way or another reminded people to pay attention.

the same but different

no such thing as empty space

nothing is ever wasted

flagships for the landlocked

So the working title of the piece was Gaia’s Gorgons, and relates to a dream I had where I could see Medusa/the human Gorgon (she has 2 immortal sisters) being slain by a warrior and hearing a braid of voices saying ” You killed my daughters, my guardians, who will protect me?”

This is not my normal style of dream at all, I assure you! Anyway, I jotted down a few things from the dream, lots of red and green, that there were 3 gorgons, daughters, and that the sword was the warrior’s hand. Then I went on some classical/ Greek Myth sites online, and discovered, yes, there are 3 gorgons and they are daughters of the nature and ocean goddesses, or if you read Hesiod:

“the Athenians believed Gaia birthed the Gorgons using the castration blood of Ouranus to protect her earth from the carelessness and cruelty of the failed Gods, the Titans.”

– so getting why that wasn’t the version in primary school!!!

After some more delving I found a (new to me) myth:

When Perseus laid the Gorgon’s head on a bed of seaweed at Lake Tritonis, the soft, dancing weed was changed to strange fronds, which out of the water became stiff and hard as rock as they died. The nymphs were so startled they took the head from plant to plant…

[you can find out more by reading Timeoroi Libyes C3 BCE; Diodorus Siculus and Ovid C1BCE, and Pausanius C2AD]

–Β  I knew the theory that the head of snakes was a (literal) whitewash of a head of dreadlocks, the European Greeks invading Africa and killing the Libyan warrior queen and rewriting history in the way of all victors, to make themselves heroes, but that the link with Libya was written about 5,000 years ago kind of blew me away πŸ˜‰

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Now I started daydreaming dreads and braids, all in reds and greens and linked with seaweed and coral…I even chatted to a guy in the bank about it, he’d got a really fresh cornrow with snaky dreads and I got caught staring, so I explained it was for art and why, [probably won strangest customer of the day ;)] but he was mega impressed with the idea of making a piece about it, because by now I knew I was linking this to Gorgonian Corals, a family of corals which

“are now studied as important indicator species of environmental (including climate) change”

– read Heikoop, Risk, Shearer and Atudorei 2002/3

You can imagine, I was a bit startled where this dream had come round to!

My hands knew exactly what they wanted to do though, all those dreads, braids, the waving fronds, the coral like statues of seaweed:

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So, it all makes sense, but…that’s a lot of information for anyone to take in who isn’t already really into Greek myths.

And the thing is, like all my work, it’s a celebration of the small, the tiny inflections of colour, the hundreds of threads making a whole that is in turn part of a larger thing…it’s very tactile, it ranges from supersoft acrylic yarn to machine cords all twisty with tension, to rustling crepey taffeta, to bristly torn and machined organza to slippery nickel chain to pearl smooth shells…the dreams and the myths were all the inspiration that brought me to make the piece. It’s format is site specific and it will possibly be hung as tree jewellery, possibly extending from a seat… so in situ, it’s about surprise and delight and wonder at the sheer time it took to make….and the fact that it will be open to the elements (it’s fully washable) and what is it doing there?!

What will be evident is the extended repetition of simple techniques, using the huge variety of jackdawed leftovers and upcycled scraps, working slowly and making something new and pleasing πŸ˜‰

Add to that the fact that I suffer from chronic fatigue and crochet makes my hands hurt now (I finished this before the great fall of last August) and I’m not sure I could make all this beauty again, that is fragile if treated with disrespect, it feels precious, just like the corals, there’s an edge, how do we value the irreplaceable?

What sort of name does all that convey/ what sort of name conveys all that? And attract the eye/ear to come and see the actual piece?

I am hoping I’ll dream the answer…

bundles make magic

“The proper, fitting shape of the novel might be that of a sack, a bag. A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings. A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us” Ursula le Guin

found with a much longer quote, here: http://windling.typepad.com/blog/2013/03/elucidating-the-world.html

– well worth reading, the full quote and the whole post from Myth and Moor, lovely photographs too…

I have bounced from being in a very happy, post-chiropractic tired but cheerful and optimistic place to a post- letter -from- the- Benefit- Centre, heart in mouth place…Knowing how badly these civil servants handle tricky don’t fit the boxes claims, and how upset I got in 2007 when I had to fight for a year to get my DLA back, my first instinct is to cower with fear…but an alternative thought is playing on the edge of my mind…it will be what it will be…so you might as well make art πŸ˜‰

I have a lot of components sitting on the table in the studio from a piece I wanted to make ages ago, called cradle for stones. It involves papier mache shells (think grapefruit to large cabbage size) cut in half with bundles inside, like fibre art geodes πŸ˜‰

Remembering that art objects are also texts, that can be read… maybe it’s time to make some power bundles to help me through the trial by ordeal, trial by endurance that standing up for your rights with the benefit system can be. I paid into a National Insurance scheme to cover me should anything awful happen to me, and guess what, it did, and guess what, I feel entitled to the service my contributions paid for…I am not a scrounger, I live with chronic pain and fatigue, but knowing the humiliation they feel entitled to put claimants through, I feel my adrenalin rise…and then the pain follows…

yes, better go make art!

Here are some images of components from theΒ  installation ‘Gaia’s Guardians’, it took me a mere 2 years to make πŸ˜‰ and is based on freeform crochet and other fibre and textile art elements about the use of gorgonian corals in climate change prediction. I’m hoping to get it out in a public space in a couple of months, it’s a site-specific installation so hanging it outdoors would be amazing…it includes freeform crochet in nickel chain, yarn, fabrics, machined cords and the funkiest pompoms you’ve ever seen πŸ˜‰

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