Friday, 30 March 2012

Wishes Granted

I celebrated my birthday last week-end and my thoughts turned to my Grandma Peppermint as I was totally taken aback by the quantity and generosity and thoughtfulness of the gifts that I received. Grandma Peppermint into her old age would often say on celebratory occasions like these 'Well I never received many gifts as a child, this is just marvellous'! whilst her grey blue eyes would sparkle and she would laugh the sweetest excited laugh ... Well that's just how I feel every time I walk into my bedroom and I admire with pride my new belongings and I know I am loved and blessed, very blessed. My thoughts also turned to words often uttered by my mother when we were children 'It's the thought that counts', alas these words were normally spoken to cushion the blow of an ill suited gift but this year it is not the case, not at all. So thank you friends, loved ones, you have nourished me deeply and mother ... you were right all along! Lastly, special thanks to my dear friend who makes my birthday cake each year, see here for last years and here's to many more!!!

Friday, 23 March 2012

I love this girl and not just because she bakes me cakes ...

I love this girl and not just because she bakes me cakes! I loved her for making me those bubble wrap knee pads during installation week at the art gallery we met and worked at. I loved her when we moved that HEAVY washing machine together on a little trolley three doors down the road. I loved her every time she convinced me that I was worthy and capable of a job I had almost persuaded myself out of applying for. I loved her when she said 'Toot Toot' at the top of her voice whilst driving the hire van helping me and hubby on one of our many house moves many moons ago. A 'Toot Toot' still raises a smile from me, every time! I loved her when it was really a time for it to be all about her and still she spelled out the words 'I carried a watermelon' and I loved her for remembering the things I love and laugh at. I loved her as I watched her preparing her boy's lunch, making that spread of food as pretty as can be and frothing that milk to top his hot chocolate. I loved this girl every time I watched her go down 'the big blue slide' in one of her pretty floral dresses that makes it extra slidey, she always lets out a scream! I love this girl for her gentleness, her kindness, her generosity, her love and especially for knowing how to get Fifi's jacket potatoes just right!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

'Mothering Sunday' - As mum would say ...

Cut out bird from wrapping paper by 'Sukie'
(Perfect for my hand made mother's day envelope)

I can't get enough of these 'hearts on a stick' and I find I can make them appropriate for almost any occasion. This week-end our stick love was directed at my mama in celebration of Mothering Sunday - never let the words 'Mother's Day' be uttered within hearing distance of my mama as she will correct the term giving an explanation of it's origin just like her mother used to! After a lovely lie-in, my little men brought me breakfast in bed and left me ALONE to enjoy it! Bliss!! Then a little later we headed off to visit my mama brandishing our stick love and a lovely, lovely time was had by all. Home once again, I decided to really milk the day and took myself up to my room to watch a chick flick in peace and I managed it people; a lie-in, breakfast alone and I watched a whole girlie film all by myself!!! (c'mon hubby, you know you love to torture me with a running commentary when I'm chick flick-ing but not this time!!!) Of course, by the time I'd finished the film I was already missing those boys of mine and so in they climbed on separate occasions and merry cuddles were had. For as long as I can, I'm going to savor those boys of mine climbing into my bed to watch stuff that makes me smile .... right alongside me, right by my side.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Singing like a bird ...

Quote by Martina Topley Bird
'Encounter with an exotic, mysterious Bird' by Bernadette McNulty for The Telegraph 15 March 2008

I have long been a fan of Martina Topley Bird and during my Papa November days she was definitely one of the voices I looked to for inspiration. In name and in nature, for me this lady really sings like a bird, her voice reaches a place in me that stirs great excitement and not just about the voice and its resonance but about sound, experimentation and melody. Recently I have been thinking a lot about how to make my seemingly disparate art practice, in it's multi media guises, well how to make it come together to form one body of work. I have felt a need for clarity, a need to complete the jigsaw as it were instead of going round in circles searching for missing pieces, aimlessly attempting to make sense of something that is quite simply - missing. I have been driving myself nuts with the whole angsty artist thing and I'm sure I've been driving that hubby of mine insane too but it is with great relief that I can say that I think it's coming together and those pieces do fit!

It was actually listening to Martina Topley Bird day and night and spending my daily time in the shower ritualistically singing my heart out (hubby's left for work by this time and the kids just ignore me!) that somehow opened up some memory box about lyric writing, song writing, my previous sound work, re-discovering folders and folders of poems and pieces of cultural theory I had written years ago specifically about memory, translocation, exile, childhood. Great material to discover in a weak moment of 'I don't know what to make work about, I don't know why I make work'.

Nearly four years ago I made a sound installation titled 'Nesting', I have mentioned it here before. I have talked previously about my frustration that the work's end product was not originally meant to be a sound installation or at least only in part but I was too afraid to break into the performance work that I have so desired to explore for years and years. At the time, I offered the excuse that as I was seven months pregnant and developing work related to themes of gestation and birth, that it would be a little too obvious to perform heavily pregnant. Of course, it was an excuse, I was just scared. I have deeply regretted that lack of bravery, that excuse. Not in a beat myself up kind of way but in that cease every opportunity kind of way. So recently whilst re-examining these thoughts and feeling the same fear about putting forward images of my recent performance piece for submission to Premier Pli II, after much procrastination I finally came to a familiar crossroad. Do I take a leap of faith and hope that bravery and risk taking will triumph? Or do I spend another 'x' amount of years regretting that once more, I was not brave? So with that in mind when hubby gave me a nudge to deliver the goods for Premier Pli II, I thought once more of the sound piece that I created for the installation 'Nesting'. All of a sudden it became very clear, I could see how my latest performance piece is an extension of many of the ideas from that 'Nesting' period. Ideas that originally explored gestation and one's early experiences/memories of sound and word in the womb, represented in the sound piece by distortion, a young baby's cries, lullaby sounds and high pitches and the notion of that shift in volume and resonance from the experience inside the 'nest' in contrast to outside of the nest when gestation is complete. The latest performance piece explores activity that occurs outside of the 'nest' or 'home', 'safeplace'. It is no longer an infant's cries and conjured world that we hear but universal explorations of childhood and play, children's games and childhood fears, memory and sounds and triggers that build a picture of nostalgia and it's meaning.

Last night I listened again to that sound piece and all the field recordings that I had considered using at that time and the edited versions that I decided against using and the individual sounds that allowed me to re-work the sound piece. I have always been an over planner, I always come to the table with too many possibilities but on this occasion it worked to my advantage because something that I thought would take hours and hours of work, something that was overwhelming me, became very simple. An updated sound piece exploring my personal interpretation of 'nostalgia'. There were old and new pieces included in this jigsaw, recordings of my eldest boy's cries aged one week old still included, field recordings of an incredible trip back to my childhood home in Ghana, high pitched sounds that make your ears tingle momentarily and that you can still hear for just a moment after it stops sounding and layers of itty bitty activity, hand movement recorded by a sensitive microphone, foot steps crunching on pebbles from far away, repetitive melodies from a baby's mobile triggered by a baby's hand movement. I LOVE sound ... and do you know what I can hear as I type away here ... birdsong, sweet birdsong from my back yard. So, I believe I've come full circle. In summary, I am very grateful to Martina Topley Bird whose beautiful bird song helped me spread my wings ...

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Little things make my day brighter ...

I recently discovered beautiful wrapping paper by Cavallini Papers & Co Inc and I have been blown away!!! Here are some detail shots of two different stunning sheets. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that taking a look at one section of their papers feels like an indulgent experience at an archive or museum, takes me right back to Pitt Rivers one of my favourite places to visit! Today Cavallini are making the sun shine inside and out!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The calm before the storm ...

Thank you for the quiet time alone last friday. For being able to do the school drop off and start my day with the buzz of the city and tea for one. For finding this beautiful rubber stamp (pictured above) that will forever make me smile and will bring much joy. Thank you for week-ends and time together as a family, for second breakfasts and the genius of having a dunkin' donuts next to pret for the ultimate mix it up! Thank you for the pleasure of watching that eldest boy of mine enjoying a moment and folks he really knows how! For play dates and role play and for Grandma's that make fabulous dressing up clothes and grandchildren that appreciate them. Thank you even, for chicken pox because without all of the chaos of itchiness and lack of sleep, the calm of the week-end would not be so sweet. For biscuits with faces on that distract from the itch ... for a little while at least and for building towers with bricks and knocking them down again and again. Like Rocky Balboa once said to James 'Clubber' Lang 'Ain't So Bad'!!! And it really ain't, so, bad!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Tinka made sparks fly today ...

Card by Emma Gormally aka 'Tinka'

Once upon a time I was sat upon a coach next to my very new husband when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a very beautiful girl, we smiled at each other and it was pretty much 'love' at first sight!! It was with great delight that some days later I discovered that this beautiful girl was also enrolled on my degree course and this was the beginning of a wonderful friendship!

Today some loveliness arrived by post from my beautiful and dear friend miss emma gormally aka 'Tinka'. That envelope hit the floor just at the most perfect moment, a moment when I was feeling a little lost in my day. There was a whole lot of goodness in that envelope I tell you, a beautiful hand made card plus delicious material and bits and bobs for collage and mixed media fun!! I have been desperate to show some of miss gormally's work here as I am a huge fan, I'll definitely pin her down soon and write a post featuring more of it but until then here is a little taster of 'Tinka'! Friendship, it's a beautiful thing!

Detail of card made by Emma Gormally aka 'Tinka'

Friday, 2 March 2012

That which inspires ...

Yesterday I tried motivating myself into making again by gathering a little inspiration and stringing it up and what pretty pictures these strings make. I'm in need of a project except I don't know what, lots of creative energy to burn but in which direction? I'm feeling utterly cowardly (again) about the performance work and have no clue where that's going. I'm sure I'll pick it up again soon but not much strength for it right now although brimming with lots of ideas for hand made costumes to perform in - but then what? Sit my kids down to watch mummy prance around the sitting room in a creepy costume? So, before I overly irritate myself ... I decided to do what I inevitably do when I don't know what to do, make hand cut stencils for a little printmaking at home. Just the smell of oil sticks gives me peace, too stressful to think of getting etching inks out even though they are my preferred material and scent. So, what am I making? I dunno, stuff with birds in it ...