Posts tagged ‘installation’

Diversity is Our Strength

diversity online

I’m soΒ  happy to announce that the fibre art installation Diversity is our Strength is now on show at the fabulous new Knit Nottingham at 9, Trinity Walk, Nottingham, until 12th August! Eleanor asked if she could have it for the month of Pride, which in Nottingham falls on the 30th, which made me sooo excited, as it feels like I haven’t shown any art since Peace Week 2014. The Trans-ally quilt flag has been strutting its stuff at some protests, and sadly at the vigil for those killed and wounded at the Latinx night at Pulse, Orlando. I’ve added some delicate ‘spinner’/ twizzels in red,orange, pink and purple with sequins to DIOS to commemorate those whose lives changed forever that night. I have PTSD and fibromyalgia brought on by PTSD, so my thoughts are very much with the survivors who will be needing support in a country that charges enormous amounts for therapy as well as physical medical aid.


Tonight, I’ve been reading about the third death in 48 hours of a black man, killed in front of his partner and children, by US police officers acting without cause. Tomorrow is 3 weeks since the British referendum result was announced, where a crucial 3% more voted to leave the European Community [and thereby capsize the British Economy, unsettle thousands of longterm/permanent EU residents, lose Britain thousands of necessary workers, and bring armed borders back to Northern Ireland] than to remain… because many of them believed this would stop immigration by asylum seekers from wartorn Syria !!!


DSC_0030The level of racism, anti European xenophobia and financial lying that the Leave campaigners used has become the backbone of a campaign by lawyers, scientists, economists and generally people of wider understanding to make sure the exit isn’t carried through. As a disabled person, exit would be a disaster, as a person who considers herself European and a global citizen, I am so ashamed of the level of belief in flawed media and election lies, and now, the wave of racism, xenophobia and just plain nastiness of so many. Leave has promoted racism as ok, and now every day, ‘minor’ incidents of verbal abuse through to smashed windows and most worrying, arson, have been happening. DSC_0039

Diversity was made thinking about the different strands in our DNA, the many fine threads it takes to make a thick rope, the 108 ethnic minorities within the community of Nottingham, the need for unity within the LGBTIQA communities… I’m bi, and I remember being asked to leave a lesbian night in Newcastle because of that, even though I was there with my girlfriend; I never assume gay men will understand underclass politics because so many of the ones I have met have pink pound privilege and old boy network contacts that mean they feel insulated from prejudice; I was spat at by a lesbian for defending transwomens’ right to access Nottingham Women’s Centre. However, I try very hard not to hold grudges, and I will always work towards unity where I can, and it baffles me when people don’t see through the mischief-mongers, trying to divide us while they literally Queen it at the top [her Maj earns as much from her properties as the UK Parliament awards her, and more from so many other sources, why ARE we funding her?] or coast along in their Β£2million cruisers bought from BHS pension fund plundering… etc etc. The Murdoch Media Empire is very much to blame, the weak opposition allowing so much bad policy to slide through unchallenged, but even so… why are people so willing to believe anyone other than the top elite are to blame?


I make beautiful pieces in a freeform process because I MISS beauty and integrity in everyday life dealings, I grieve that we are served so poorly by the MPs who mostly forget their constituents [honorable exceptions being the shining lights Jeremy Corbyn, Carolyn Lucas and Mhairi Black] and I work slowly because of my disabling conditions. I spend a lot of spoons on making art, quite a lot of money, [all those bargain queen tiara buys add up!] and call in favours when I am installing – thanks Sam!- and all because I want the results of that process to remind people better things are possible. Inequality is not inevitable, it is the result of choices all of us make, informed by our skills in deciphering what is around us. Some things are just plain wrong [racism, any xenophobia, any bigotry, any abuse of others] but what tools do we have to pit against them?


I feel arguing shuts others down, I would rather catch their mind, as I catch their eyes in a riot of colour that turns out to have an internal order that accepts and honours DIFFERENCE. There are quotes on posters around the work, part of its site specific installation this time round [it’s been at Nottingham Pride in the Arboretum and in London for Loudest Whispers 14] and they make concrete that message of DIVERSITY IS OUR STRENGTH. We’ve never needed to hear that more, to take heart that we are not alone knowing that it is a truth we must live by, and that it carries great beauty with it, great comfort and harmony and a place to heal, a home truth that places us at the edge and the centre, all at the same time.



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 πŸ˜‰

Thanks again for all your support, Keith!

Peace: The Hundredth Heart


I have been working intensively on my fibre artΒ  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!]


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?



The Hundredth Heart

I have written peace 99 times

to 99 people all around the world – or who live next door πŸ˜‰

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


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


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



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!



















a breath of sea air 1

I’ve had the loveliest holiday at Sand Bay, just outside Weston-super-Mare, well worth the radical rest and spoon saving. Being by the sea in brilliant sunshine just lifts my spirits and gives my batteries a deep charge!

One of the highlights was being in Bath and going to the Kaffe Fassett exhibition at the American Museum. There was an enormous installation outside the space, a huge tree with lanterns made from plant pots covered in KF fabric, and people had brought their own yarntags and decorated smaller trees and the trunk of the main tree :











It was a delightful addition to the collection celebrating KF’s 50+ years of


colourful art/crafting, which had samples to touch and whole rooms of rugs, furniture tapestries and quilts, cushions, pictures…





















Being allowed to take photos (without flash) was a real treat as there were no postcards available, only a few greetings cards and a lot of books that don’t include things like his hats:



The quotes from KF were inspiring too!




One of the surprises of the holiday was being seated at the front of the coach – they have fixed places – presumably because of the rollator being booked with me. It meant we had a great view, over the beautiful spring countryside, absolutely lush and verdant, exploding with new growth and greenness…and then the sun sparkling on the Severn estuary and Weston beaches…breath taking! I love travelling for the chance to look and absorb the organic lines of land and seascapes. I seem to store them to come out in abstract work later and today I am stitching on prepared paper, all turquoises and browns and sea greens and letting out my love of driftwood and water…happiness!


I’m steadily making more progress on the Wasting Waste installation, and trying to write about the piece feels really like wading through mud. Being in a very visual/ tactile space with all the fabrics and yarns is far more exciting! Forget words for now, then, eye candy it is πŸ˜‰

































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What’s in a Name?

So I’ve been interviewed 4 times in 2 months, and two of the interviewers were reluctant to accept Singing Bird as my action name. As an agoraphobic, this is an avatar that helps me be somewhere that sets off panic attacks, so their attitude lands very badly. One accepted it but his editor called it my pseudonym, my false name, and this annoyed me excessively until I thought about what I’d said during my interview with Kristina, that this is my ‘true’ name, expressing a part of me that has struggled for a long time to come out. And as the editor has no idea about that…no blame…


Interview by Kristina Lewis-Shipley for her forthcoming book on Street Artists and their handles:

KLS: Please ignore ‘SprayCan’ throughout the message, (hahaha) Ok, so the two questions are really simple:

Why did you first pick up a SprayCan? Where does your Street Name/ Pseudonym come from?

SBA: I feel the tiniest bit intimidated, but I’ll just pull my big girl panties up and speak loud πŸ˜‰

The two questions you put are 30 years apart in my life, and why I feel like my life is finally making sense – a big wound has started to graft πŸ™‚
I first made a piece of guerilla paint and fibre art in 1983, but it was a street action for peace. I was used to making peace flags for the barbed wire fences at the MoD missile sites or the Trident base at Faslane, but when I suggested doing it in Newcastle upon Tyne, the other activists were really snobby about it. They didn’t want to be accused of vandalism 😦 Luckily my best friend and my boyfriend were supportive, because on the day I was down with a stomach virus, and they had to execute the designs. I’d made pieces to hang in a tree and a piece to write on the walls and pavements in chalks, and after they’d done those, they added some of their own, which made me sooo happy πŸ™‚
Why did I want to do it?
I dreamt it.

A lot of my art comes to me that way, now that I am an artist, but at the time I was a bit lost, my parents had refused to let me do art at A Level, they were abusive in many ways, including physical and sexual, but looking back the biggest damage was withholding my way to be in the world. How is that possible, that a parent refuses to buy their child even super cheap felt tips? And pours scorn on everything that might encourage her?
So I grew up very bent out of shape and this was my first experience of genuinely needing to make MY mark in the world, and my new people, the activists did not like it, but I did it, and when I was up again, I added to what the others had done for me – it had been made for Valentine’s Day, so it couldn’t wait…it was a message of love to the precious earth and to her humans to stop the trashing…
I loved it and one of the ‘real’ artists I knew (he could draw!) decided it WAS effective after he heard about it and we should do some street art/ performance art and we did… πŸ˜‰
But it was interesting to see how flyposting was political and ok, and heartfelt messages and pictures chalked on walls, bedizeners hanging from trees…not so much…


My street name has been Singing Bird Artist SBA for five years, since my husband died and I could no longer paint, so since 2008/9. (er, long relentless optimist story, broken collarbone and ribs trying to save him, permanent damage, learning Machine Embroidery as a new skill to keep sane through staying creative…)
City and Guilds courses are REALLY tough, super structured and meticulous, I was an “interesting” student πŸ˜‰ but I found myself needing to express my wild side/politics and myself more freely, more directly…


So I started with hanging freeform fibre art in bus shelters etc and public crafting/freeform crochet and leaving bedizeners/happy makers in public spaces πŸ˜‰ My husband was an artist/poet and we would do this together before, we made environmental art in the woods too, so art for people to find has been important to me for a long time.

SBA was definitely a response to him dying and me having to work without his support – I have agoraphobia and can’t be out alone after dark, or in isolated places. Then I mixed in with Nottingham yarn’bombers’ for some joint blitzes. I prefer yarn ‘tagging’, cos I’m a pacifist, but I understand the excitement of saying yarnbombing, and also the backing off from the guys within graf (def NOT all, waving at you, lovely Popx!)Β  who are hostile to using tagging for yarn/fibre work.
I have had fibromyalgia for over 4 years now (following the neck injury) and use a rollator, so can’t action very often, but am blurring the lines where I can, I have 2 fibre art installation pieces in a gallery in London in February and they want me to make a ‘live’ piece for the private view. What they don’t know is that with the help of the friend I’ll be staying with I will yarntag across London while I’m there – coming to a railing near you, peopleΒ  πŸ˜‰ [Due to the injuries following installation, I couldn’t actually do this, but made it into art for the Anti-ATOS/WCA protest on February 19th and Robin Hood’s Rally against Budget Cuts on March 19th 2014]

I chose to use my yarntag name as my ‘fine’ artist name (big thanks to Banksy for showing the way) so I can link the two sides, legal, illegal. It also frees me to work a different way – the art world is full of puffed up entitlement at one end and genuine heartfelt making at the other. I have struggled with writing those pompous post-modernist windy statements, and then last spring I cut through it all and declared I would only use Singingbird Artist/SBAΒ  for ALL my art/social justice/permaculture activism. It comes from a Chinese proverb “If you keep a green tree in your heart, maybe the singing bird will come.” To me it means that if we are true to our deepest calling to make our mark in the world for what is needed (to cut through the mindless consumption junky culture capitalism demands, at the cost of the earth and all her peoples) then we each become a singing bird for those around us who need to hear that things can be different, change is possible, every *small* act counts.
Since I got my ‘right’ name, amazingly, loads of doors are opening for me, so your question about the name strikes home!

As Singingbird Artist, I make what I like, as fast as I can πŸ˜‰

Which is not very fast, grrr,Β  I have permanent damage to the deep tissue in my hands, but all the joy that pours out into the work and the world makes me really happy. I even like it when people steal the work to take home, if it speaks to someone that much, great, I’ll make another, keep spreading the song πŸ˜‰


re photo, I need to be anonymous – the Dept of Worry and Persecution will stop my disability benefits at this prioritisation of my energy to art not hoovering πŸ˜‰ so I like to use this one as a thumbnail- the rollator makes the point that physically disabled people can still make art/actions πŸ˜‰

Well, back to making! I have been working on the brown – blue water waste piece, some tricky freeform knitting, but first there are some garden photos to edit πŸ™‚

Loudest Whispers 2014

I was really tempted to call this post loudest whispers, quietest screams…talk about suffering for your art πŸ™‚



So, I went to London last Monday to supervise Sea Change being installed at St Pancras Conference Centre Gallery… due to the curator being 45 minutes late, the previous artwork still being up and the curator needing to see the work hung a few ways, sad disaster has occurred. Sea Change is up in an improvised space, and I hope will stay up till March 28th, with Diversity is our Strength being shown in the foyer slot earmarked for Sea Change.


In helping install it 3 times in 1 1/2 hours (Jen did the lion’s share) I wrecked myself, with the coup de grace being run-limping for the train, they had already shut the doors on the train!


Luckily we got let into First Class and I staggered down to our booked seats, Jen making 2 trips after me with rollator and bags.

Since then I have been all systems down, my arms barely move, my hands hurt like blazes, my legs were shaking and spasming, I have a mystery muscle tear bruise on my left leg… I was terrified on the limp to the train my right leg would cramp and collapse, but I really didn’t have Β£120 for new tickets.

DSC_0042Of course I really don’t have a new body available either… 😦

I have had to recognize I won’t be able to go back on Friday and hang the Valentine piece or do the Same But Different fibretagging in London. Wow, this is such a huge thing for me, you can’t imagine, unless you are also a powerhouse who sweeps on through against the odds and snatches victory from the jaws of defeat type…My body just can NOT rise to this one…


UPDATE:Β  opened my email box to find this, which makes me feel so much better πŸ˜‰


– excellent!

So, what do you do with dozens of hearts and frustrated creative energy?


Think up alternatives! Elizabeth and Eleanor listened and laughed on Thursday and I felt better after that, then after a heated exchange on facebook last night (someone on the internet was WRONG! my, I amaze you πŸ˜‰ ) the little contribution I was making to the local ATOS demo has grown a bit… Someone asked Eleanor if they could be put in touch with a yarn activist, so fingers crossed, I can get filmed making a piece to support the ATOS protests πŸ˜‰

Win! πŸ˜‰