Posts tagged ‘politics’

Plastic Challenge 2018

I’m setting myself a challenge for 2018 of reducing single use plastics. I’d been thinking about this for a while and then someone on Zerowaste Nottingham suggested a zero single use January. I already know I’ll fail the zero goal – my meds come in plastic sheets with foil seals and I take 6 to 10 tablets a day… but I’m interested in what wangles my creative mind will come up with that will reduce my usage 😉

I think how I give/pass things on to others will be a major area – from using black binbags for landfill rubbish [mainly cat litter! which as I trained Nonie to accept wood pellets will at least compost and not make huge quarries, ugh] to plastic bags for slices of cake to friends.

I was very pleased with myself for re-using polystyrene pizza bases as platters for the muffins I made for a local free meal cafe [open to anyone street homeless or who attends a foodbank] but then had to swathe the pile in enormous amounts of clingfilm as the platters were slightly the wrong shape and the film couldn’t tuck in. Sigh…

The wins: the polystyrene and the old show cards re-used for ingredient listings; a friend gifted me lots of stuff she won’t use following a diabetes diagnosis so some went in; most of the fruit in the muffins were actually those fancy pressed fruit bars they sell in gyms that I bought vastly reduced from Approved Foods, unwrapped and cut up with scissors [spoonie tip!] and the cocoa and cherries also came from AF, our friend in fighting bbf stupidity. I’ve worked in catering and know what to watch out for with things like flour going off/getting infested, but surely most people know anything with a huge sugar content is going to last for years?

So, lots of wins/ saves from unnecessary waste there 🙂

The painful losses, hmm some of these come from a form of vanity [professional appearances!] but also from the way things are sold nowadays. Mainly clingfilm! Oh my, I wrapped and re-wrapped when the gap became clear. Then how to transport them? They were being picked up by another foodbank supporter and in the end, cursing the rash dispatch of AF boxes to the recycling, I remembered the battered Bags for Life the friend sent stuff in – I hope someone bethought themselves that they can be renewed at the supermarket for the foodbank use, but didn’t want to seem too preachy/ teach my elders to suck eggs so didn’t say. It was very hard to hand over food looking so shabby, but as my favourite saying goes you can save your face or your ass [read planet] and shabby did the job. Then there were the tubs the margarine, cherries, dried fruit etc came in. Hmm. More later! For the moment, a loss.

The next batch I had thought through a bit more and saved the wrapping from some decorative balls I bought for my next art installation


an aside – do you KNOW how LONG it took me to find out those balls with the slices on are called sola balls? 18 hours of scrolling through floristry and interior design sites.. finding anything when you don’t know the name for it is incredibly difficult, I started with the image pages and apparently most other people don’t know either 😀

So I had the beautiful packaging complete with pretty dangle tag and after airing them for a few days, put the next batch of muffins in the presentation bags. The trays of winter spiced flapjack and gingerbread went in the huge ziplock bags the lotus pods had been delivered in, again after airing [lotus pods aren’t poisonous!] and the info tags were made from scraps of paper and upcycled show cards again. The foil trays I sent the tray bakes in can be washed and re-used if the free cafe people are careful how they slice the cakes [really sharp knives cut through the foil if pushed too hard] as can the ziplock bags I sent the xmas cakes in.

So, much less waste – but even making the cakes makes waste because of the way I’ve been buying ingredients. To be fair, I only decided to offer cakes again when a few friends had said they would help this year, otherwise it is too many spoons. Having company, someone to spoon the mixture into the muffin tins another friend lent, maybe to wash up, it all helps. Also someone able-bodied to nip to the shops in the Xmas throng for emergency cherries 😀 But now I am in the swing and prepared to commit to at least once a month donations, then it would make sense to buy margarine in 2kg tubs, as they can be washed out to be delivery packaging. I already use the little fruit tubs for painting, as I make up a big batch of a colour to keep continuity across different materials, and they tend to need a hard scrub after use as I use craft/acrylic paints which are non-toxic but clod together as they dry. They can be cleaned and put in local recycling though.

The clingfilm/cellophane on the much reduced price fruit ingredients etc and the plastic bags that sugar comes in aren’t recyclable, so I either decide they are an exception clause A [because they make my donations financially possible] and/or pay a plastic toll to a group who do ocean clearing I think… One solution with the sugar is also helpful for spoonies and vegan recipes – using the ‘boiling’ method of cake making, making the mixture in a pan, using golden syrup or black treacle or natural blackstrap molasses or even CAJ concentrated apple juice instead of crystalline brown sugar, as you can buy these in tins or glass containers. White sugar is even easier, as Silver Spoon comes in paper and is from British sugarbeet, so hasn’t travelled thousands of miles to get here either 🙂

Meanwhile, friends will be getting their slices in re-used margarine tubs for a while!

The items that sparked my personal use twang of conscience were shower gel and shampoo. After a fair bit of research it turns out you can get shampoo/shower bars that do NOT contain laureth sulphate/lauryl sulphate, not because of the effect on human skin, but because the toxology tests on animals are utterly disgusting [warning: included only for accountability, reading it is extremely upsetting  ]

and because of the effect on waterways – fish can cope with SLEs to a certain extent, but what they eat can’t, see effect on Daphnia:

so that means suppliers like Lush are out. I’ve found a lovely supplier on eBay who managed to send a box out in time for Xmas, though I’d intended it for New Year 🙂 she guarantees no SLEs and various other things are reset to vegan-friendly. I’ll give you a fuller report when I’ve started using them 🙂

So much food for thought – as usual, a mantra I will be chanting is ‘don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough’. I know I will fail a zero single use plastic challenge, but trying will be very interesting 😉





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 😉 meanwhile a 5m ethernet cable from the £shop is making internet access possible, though not comfortable.


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


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..]


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.


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 😉 ] 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…

somewhere else

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 🙂


art, survivors and disability politics

CN: PTSD, RTS, physical illness/damage following abuse, SJWs disability fails


Eleanor of Knit Nottingham asked for Diversity is our Strength to be in the huge window for a month for LGBTQ Pride, and I was really happy to have it on show again. This time I made posters of the quotes I used in ‘open and shut’ as Brexit had just shocked everyone I know, and I’m pleased I did that. The piece drew a lot of comment and appreciation from passers by as well as the many customers and browsers at Knit Nottingham. However I was disappointed by the lack of response from a lot of activist friends in my wider acquaintance circle, very few made the effort to go and see the piece, even though it was on for a month.


[image: Sam helping hang the giant DNA spiralling coils and pompoms of DIOS]

Art is a really valid form of protest and being told it was unimportant compared to an event 3 minutes walk away for an ablebodied person went down very badly! It made me question how deep their understanding is of the effort that it takes to be politically active and creative as a professional level artist when you are disabled by chronic pain and fatigue. Disabled artists are regularly overlooked because our CVs seem thin – finding an accessible venue is very hard, getting the art in often even harder, and that’s assuming you could wrangle the resources of energy and capability to make any art, and manage brain fog so the art has good resolution and a powerful presence. As the piece occupied the huge window recess of Knit Nottingham, you didn’t even have to go inside to get an excellent view, and with the weather being so good the door was propped open most of the time so the posters were easily seen by taking one step inside.



The lack of response from supposed-to-be-allies has made me very disappointed again about the way disability issues are ignored overall by otherwise aware people, and by contrast the appreciation and support from Survivors Collective has been so valuable. I found myself silenced in a way that shocked me, I thought I was past being unable to speak up for myself or my art… but betrayal by allies is a really bad trigger for any survivor and I am no exception. The first therapist I ever saw couldn’t cope with the fact I wanted to work on my mother’s collusion more than the perpetrator’s actions… and shortened my sessions to 20 minutes and then cancelled them. Tyneside Rape Crisis later interviewed me to get evidence to dismiss her, but never apologised and crucially refused to waive the waiting list time for me to see a different therapist… talk about bruised! I was left paying for my own cab home [a significant cost at the time] in the dark, having been told they didn’t need me anymore and no, they didn’t see it as appropriate to support me in any way. I barely slept for a week with the huge waves of adrenalin from the fear, anger and hurt. It took me years to trust a therapist after that, and I still have no assumption of support from feminists or professionals [it’s a bit hard to disentangle from the aftermath of being raped by a doctor with the professionals, but there is some residue directly from the RCC fail.]

Why have I shared that story? Because when allies let me down, that is what is triggered – the feeling that even the politically aware will use me for their own ends and then abandon me when I’m no longer useful. Somehow the disabled and very particularly survivors are seen as people to at best pay lip service to, but at worst [Anonymous, I’m looking at you here] to be told to get out of the way so others can organise protests on our behalf, that we can’t attend because they are inaccessible due to noise/ violent or triggering speech/ lack speakers with awareness of the need to maintain empowerment levels/ in places without seats etc etc. Any request I made about access to the Nottingham 2014 anti-ATOS protest was met with horribly triggering speech telling me to ‘get over it’ – kind of aligning themselves with Iain Duncan Smith in my view – and in the end only intervention from a local Anon ‘leader’ calling the dogs off left me any space to make a NVDA family and disabled friendly protest space possible. Macho politicos are definitely not respected by the intersectional activists I prefer, but to my shock and hurt, the same dismissal of the importance of what I was doing prevailed. A very dear friend told me she hadn’t realised how much her lack of interest would matter ‘personally’ to me and she would remember in future.  Her personal support was very welcome, but left a gap, a place still not met, this is bigger, there is a political choice in the work, a creative act that aligns disability with the other divergences from the nonexistent ‘norm’… and where is the understanding audience of allies? Where was the support that understands and accepts art [with political quotes on photo posters even IS political] and deserves not to be dismissed as apolitical when giving reasons why visiting sometime over 5 weeks isn’t possible, or even important. It has taken me weeks to climb out of the feeling that the piece simply wasn’t good enough… [though how people who never saw it would know that??] and if Survivors hadn’t contacted me to request having it on show next year having seen a couple of photos online, it would have been much worse. Their instant grasp of the politics and the sheer exuberant beauty of the piece really, really helped.

A discussion with them has then led to an exciting return to a piece I laid down a few years ago, Cradle for Stones, the respect and esteem from the Collective leading to a surge of energy for finishing it – knowing an audience exists for it makes a huge difference to how I feel working on it. It’s about complex PTSD, the layers upon layers that multiple incidents cause, the patterns, the keloid scarring, but also, the pearls, the friction that creates a beautiful, lustrous jewel. Crucially it’s about how all this coexists, that being a mature survivor with years of recovery doesn’t mean that the days of raw pain stop, it means you have tools and experience and can self soothe and cope. The extent of what you’re coping with varies enormously. Being a longterm survivor means there is very often a history of damage to the body, in ways those not affected can’t imagine.


I can feel the taboos rising, how much do I share? Taboos for my own protection, but also others, the many, many others. We are all individuals, we have different scars, different areas we are bent out of shape. But also we share conditions that the professions rarely connect – yes PTSD, but fibromyalgia and the other chronic fatigue illnesses can be [Lyme’s] from a tick bite, but can more commonly be Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.. from all the adrenalin of those recurring nightmares, panic attacks and constant anxiety. Often people are hospitalised for mental illnesses when they can’t cope, but Mental Health units are so poorly funded they are now mainly about dispensing psychiatric drugs, and very little therapeutic support is offered. Equally directly connected is self harm in the form of cutting, but abuse of alcohol, drugs and disordered eating are widespread responses. Back pain is often connected to childhood abuse, damage from broken bones sometimes untreated, likewise deafness and other head injury consequences. Damage to anus and vulva is a very taboo subject, damage to the brain is becoming easier to acknowledge – no, we’re not delusional and making false accusations, but yes our histories mean that our brain chemistry and structure were affected, and brain scans can show that, when the complexity of a survivor’s response lights up a scan where a simple/ untriggered response is very localised.  There’s so much more, STIs, unwanted pregnancy, HIV, but that’s as much as I can bear to write, and will have been far more than many can read.



To live with any or all of those symptoms and conditions is unfair enough. To make art with them is very draining, and needs careful pacing. There are lots of artists with chronic physical or mental illnesses or a disability facing that challenge of wanting to raise issues and start a dialogue or open some doors, making art that is demanding to make and difficult to explain, very hard to arrange showing for. To then be ignored when we make art about anything really, but particularly about diversity, inclusion, intersectionality… hmm, that’s a failure of politics, a loading of priorities that ignores our perspective, our lived experience of constant exclusion. ‘Nothing about us without us’, but nothing about us without allies either, surely? And when we’re talking broader politics, then nothing without us, because we are a vital part of humanity too.

link to ‘Peace, the 100th Heart’ at Nottingham Friends Meeting House

To be a survivor and make art is  a gathering of energy, abilities and intention and definitely an act of speaking truth to power. Our allies need to acknowledge that. There is a privilege in being unaware of daily pain, of mental struggle to stay active against the odds. Dismissing our artwork as apolitical is a thin spiky end of a wedge that leads to all the deaths when our disability benefits or medical services are withdrawn. Showing support for a disabled artist is as important as being at a vigil, on a march, attending a meeting. The difference support can make extends much further than most people think – a gallery may look harder at its access for visitors and artists, a piece of work may go viral and bring an argument in Parliament to tipping point… but also a door may open in an ally’s head, the clunk-click of intersectional politics being the only way forward may fall into place. We are an important part of our communities, we intersect with every other intersection, why are we and our insights optional, add-on extras, to be fitted in only when convenient?



midnight ramblings

This is not very coherent, it started as a Facebook status and wouldn’t stop!

I can just about read again now, clearly, without losing the thread of an argument, which I credit the oxygen treatment with restoring, and so I have lots of half chewed thoughts about the past years of terrible Con/Dem government and now worse Tory gov and Labour party wrangles about what party they want to be, and what we actually need in Britain, in the world…and then I saw a link to an Independent story by Samuel Osborne about the Empire’s worst atrocities

and realised I had filled in that poll, obviously to anyone who follows me! as someone who thinks the Empire was a terrible mass failing in humanity, comparable to the Holocaust… but I am apparently in a minority, so here is what I say when I have to discuss empire:


The boneheaded arrogance of the British Empire caused so much damage, India/Pakistan, Israel/Palestine, the transAtlantic slave trade, the theft of antiquities, the crushing of indigenous peoples… ‘manifest destiny’ is normally applied to the ‘American’ Dream, but really the Normans conquering England, then Wales, seemed to be the start of the pattern of greed no longer needing concrete reasons to continue being greedy.

As soon as one group has stolen more than its fair share, it fears losing those ill-gotten gains. The enemies made by all these illegal/ immoral acts must be denied the right to educate or organise… and then several hundred years later, here we are, in a mess where so much is owed, but the greediest of the greedy have stockpiled their hoard off anyone’s shores in non-existent tax havens, and the common people of the UK have barely any infrastructure left with the transport all private except for oh, the expensive roadbuilding and maintenance bill; the healthcare system being undermined and sold off to the highest bribe; the education system set up to provide poorly skilled, low esteemed people without information or the reasoning skills to apply them widely; media owned by the new overlords of consumerist society, pushing useless products at people conditioned to ignore their true needs but to self medicate with whatever suits the market… grrrrr…

How do we unmake all this? not by ignoring those most hurt and damaged by this machine of destruction, or  the choice of profit over nature [people and environment] but by remembering and choosing slowly and carefully who to vote for, what to buy, what to make, what to grow, who to support, who to understand as still hostaged to that machine and needing education and support to disentangle them… media and information sharing are easier than ever before, but reasoning skills and political literacy in the UK and US are lower than ever before… I really hope Corbyn wins the Labour leadership and the PLP who are no longer socialists storm off, so a real People’s party can emerge, a phoenix that burns off the corruption and business-as-usual approach of millionaire MPs. We need Corbyn and Mhairi Black’s fire and conviction and community… we need more too, all the activists who could have been MPs had the system not been stacked against them, imagine Benjamin Zephaniah not pissing on Parliament, but principalling it, being a Black Rod who would shut up the hawhaws and baying pigs… stop the complacency of landowners/ biggest thieves and turn the DWP fraud investigators on the tax evaders, stop fracking and mining and worst of all nuclear and raise more turbines…

Oh, so many more things… but start with remembering, Normans and Saxons made an enormous amount of the mess, Catholic dominion amassed wealth that could fund enormous projects to rejuvenation community in Europe where so many seek sanctuary, and that only understanding we have always been diverse, the people who walked over the Ice Age plain to what became an island were a mixture, and traded all over the world when the seas rose… there is a hidden history of dealing fairly with others before the Norman values took hold, and it can return and inform us, the mixed bag on an island falling off Europe, very vulnerable to climate change, but known for taking on huge challenges… only this time, how about restitution of fairness, commitment to nature before profit? An Empire in reverse, where we went and learned, shut our mouths and listened with both ears, asked humbly for clarification and advice when we did not understand, and changed not others, but ourselves and our dealings?

It can never be fair because the Empire took so many hostages, uprooted and changed forever so many things, so how do make the new ‘we’ truly inclusive? How can power not corrupt? How can a benign dictator [thinking fictional Vetinari here, not Mao etc] be better than a run-for-profit democracy… how do we re-educate, re shape education so it engages people, lets them explore the full history of things the current system wants hidden… What would restitution look like? Jubilee [the forgiving of all ‘Third’ World debts, in understanding that the Empire stole more first] is a start, emptying the museums of all stolen goods and returning to culture of origin, where it survived, and otherwise deciding with closest kin where it should now be held…Banning slave trade, zero hour contracts, companies using the benefits system to fund their employees [Tesco etc]  changing child labour in the textile and fashion industry to free schooling plus 2 hours FAIRLY paid work which would keep the family afloat…Organic farming, fair farming, understanding of heritage farming where sheep manage a landscape etc etc… so many things…

What can the millions of individuals do to become a movement for change?

I’ve just re-started Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken, so more may follow this 😉

midnight ramblings…



Meet the artist…

I will be at Knit Nottingham on Thursday, 5 – 7pm, to discuss art, community politics and guerilla/ public knitting/ fibre street art and to encourage newbies to have a go at freeform crochet. If you want to bring in your work for us to ooh and aahh at, I love cheerleading  too 😉 I even have the pompoms  😀

Here is a vlog from EleanorTV – she knows me as Dee, Vita and Singing Bird, so they all get a roll call 😉 but it’s all me, with one pair of hands!

Never assume a hook, yarn and sparkles can’t change the world, we just have to keep on keeping on with the positive message that one person at a time, one conversation at a time, things can be turned around. The big problems are huge, but they all stem from the massed little problems, that people can be turned against others when they do not know them, when they fear them, when they have stopped talking to each other. This is so depressing, so oppressive to live under… but the flipside is that then, anything, any one thing can make a difference, the ripples go outward. When we can open minds with humour or appreciation or even astonishment, we sneak past the prejudice, and then things can change, we can start a conversation that isn’t shut down by fear. And gradually we can make a difference. There are so many people of goodwill, wanting change, but because the big changes are intricate and require huge momentum, feeling powerless. When we take on the little problems instead, we can build a tiny part of that momentum…

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
Martin Luther King Jr.


Diversity is Our Strength

diversity online

I’m so  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 £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.


flag waving

After a very bitter election result – make no mistake, thousands will die as a result of further Tory cuts to the welfare budget and health and emergency services – no one I know feels very cheerful at the moment. Luckily I had a project I was already working on, or I might have gone to bed for a week…


Having seen a lot of uninformed prejudice on the subject of transgender identity when I volunteered at the Women’s Centre, I’ve always tried to be a good ally, and speak up where I felt it would help. About 18 months ago, that meant on a facebook thread that was getting unpleasant, and now I have 3D friends who are very involved with Nottingham TransHub. An event was organised for last Sunday and another friend, Keith, was doing the media/sound so I was called on to lend some backdrop cloth…a long and very laughter filled hour followed as he wouldn’t express any firm opinions on what colour/style etc 🙂 The next day I decided to make a quilt to be a backdrop, based on the TG flags and what I feel about gender… that it is both more simple than people make out and much more complex.

People are the identity they feel themselves. Simple as that!

What they feel themselves to be fits on a spectrum much broader and more colourful than the binary of the Judeo-Christian consumerist transnational business heads. Colonialism tried to erase many cultures’ much more nuanced understandings and expressions, but if we listen, there are people prepared to tell us how it can be…


Some transgender people do indeed transition, via surgery and hormonal treatments, so I have used a butterfly to symbolise the transition.

With equal validity, some do not – they define as non-binary, perhaps similar to two-spirits in some cultures, but because they have to work very hard with their intuition to clarify this and stay strong in the face of the pressure to find a binary pole, I have used a heart. The black/variegated batik fabric is very close to the PoC Pride flag colours, which I wanted to bring in as there was an awful lot of white, pastels and Euro-traditional baby colours in the mix, so there are blocks of this in each spectrum too.

So, my quilt is based on these ideas:

at the heart of it all, we live on a blue and green planet

we are personalities based on the energies that run through us [I based this ring on the directional poles used in healing and medicine wheel work – nothing is right, wrong, better or weaker, just itself and powerful/empowering when used in the right place]

we live in a society that acknowledges male, female and TG and is beginning to acknowledge A-genderedness. So there should be 4 poles, not 2 or 3 on that circle…

there are currently a variety of flags used at Pride parades: Trans sexual, Transgender 1, 2, and 3, Neutrois, Genderfluid, Gender Non-binary, Genderqueer, Intersex and Hermaphrodite. I added an Ally flag, too, cos..I’m an ally making it? 🙂

There will be more embroidery/embellishment, but I finished it Sunday morning, it was used as the backdrop at the Transcribing Gender event open mic that night and it may be used again at IDAHOBIT [International Day Against Homophobia, Bi, Intersex,Trans Prejudice] organised by local activists and the Police, on Sunday again! So better to leave it tidy…