Thursday, 17 December 2009

Happy holidays!

I'm sorry I haven't been able to visit and read your blogs these last few months - I was acutely aware of missing out but had other matters to attend to and am glad I did. Steps in the dark, steps in the light, with burdens shared and friendships deepened. In-between some very good news flew my way (I will have my first solo-show in 2010!). I also crocheted a few slow rows with the most vibrant of red threads, for a new fairy tale dress.

I leave you for now with these lines by Fernando Pessoa, translated from the Portuguese by Richard Zenith:

To be great, be whole: don't exaggerate
Or leave out any part of you.
Be complete in each thing. Put all you are
Into the least of your acts.
So too in each lake, with it's lofty life,
The whole moon shines.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Waiting for gravity lull

So very tired. Mostly busy with health-appointments, a good process, but also hard. Missing my blog, your blogs, but too much for now. Decided I needed a fun art-project and started crocheting a Rapunzel-dress. Looking at it today, when I'm hugging the walls and can't resist the force of gravity for long I'm struck by her verticality and envious of it. She (I tend to see my dresses as she's) was crocheted with a very small hook (no. 2) as I wanted the crochet to be tight, almost stiff, befitting a tower. The dress can just about stand alone. She is the first of a group of three fairy-tale figures, small crochet-sculptures (i.e. not made to hang on walls), using stands, which I'd like to have made especially. For now the dress hangs on a cable needle, which adds an interesting aspect.

Materials: synthetic yarn, artificial hair, cable needle
Dimensions: 19 cm x 78 cm x 4 cm

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Let's all flower!

We've had a summer of sorts, often concentrated in single golden days framed by rather longer cool and grey periods. Today the sun has been out since dawn, it is hot and the blue vastness above is like a glorious kiss goodbye to all and sundry when we know tomorrow will be autumny, as yesterday was. I sit in the garden, delighted to sweat, glistening with the blackberries, reddening with the tomatoes, and hanging in my chair much less elegantly than the garlands of passion flowers trailing in from next door. Peace and quiet would do nicely but instead we have the relentless but probably good-for-something grind of pneumatic hammers from nearby. Never mind, I console myself with Galway Kinnell's poem St Francis and the Sow - it is blissful, quiet fodder for heart and soul, and momentarily drowns those noises out:

The bud
stands for all things,
even those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing

I've stopped writing poetry, my brain doesn't feel thus inclined just now, crammed as it is with other stuff that really needs attention. My hands are happy - it's their time again, and I'm crocheting shaggy wings and a small, if towering dress. Feels good, so good, to be making work - hope to post something soon.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Thinking about silence (2)

Sister of swans

She hoards hush like treasure.
Her tongue lies heavy, snoozing
in its lair, stirring when thoughts
thicken. In her mouth they flutter,
wings like blades.
She blinks the world away:
in every tear a thing coils
until nothing remains but six faces.

A girl sits in a tree in the forest,
starflowers filling her lap.
Wordless she hurls her love
against the spell's wall, stitching
blossom to blossom, year to year.

(Did she eat? Did she drink?
Did she get down the tree to pee?
Did she sweat? Did she wash?
Did the flowers not wilt?
Did her first blood seep like red sap?
Was she afraid?
Was she cold? Did it snow?
How old was she when the king came?)

A famished eye trawls scripts
and scrawls, in the tapered shapes 
of petals, a beetle's forked horns,
the dart of a deer - words a flicker,
clinging, clawing. In the damp dark
of her mouth they home like bats,
winged bundles waiting
to fall into flight.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Thinking about silence

When better to rethink a poem than during the early hours when sleep unravels. Here's a difference to my artwork: once a piece is declared done it hardly ever changes again, whereas a poem niggles away at me until I return to it, over and over.


Last she pawns her tongue, for coins and crumbs,
belly a howling hollow; her books long gone,
a copper for thick tresses.

Scooped, scoured homeland, stony bane: her throat
sifts seeds of silence. She shades her eyes
but signs seep like tears.

For years she scrimps, heaving with voice and verse.
Folks come, unshout their woes, the loot and litter
of their souls, and ravaged faces soften.

Scalp bristling cold, she bears a bundle home.
She spreads stained cloth: out rolls a dull, brown,
shrivelled thing, with raised blue veins
and a diaphanous fin.

Her mouth's a bony lair, where nothing lives.
Tuber, muscle, earthworm, stiff as a bell's tongue -
she waits to feel it wake.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Tired, but something flows

Sunday falls

Sunday's levy is a fall and a tear:
The grit gripes and grinds with tiny teeth,
rings up its coin of scraped skin,
its mouthful of wool.
I slip a hooked finger in,
pull burry edges wide: no blood,
just the usual stings and stitches.
Under blue knit my knees are round
and hard as darning eggs.

At the instant of falling a stop
and a rush collide. Holes are my calling
and I ponder their collective names
while mum closes in: a host, a hoard,
a huddle, a spill, herd, hive,
charm, mob, throb. A cloud.
Best of all: a murmuration of holes, due
their quiet puffs, their quiet flutter in and out
the tunnel of my tights.

Mother slaps dirt off my legs,
all sighs and stringent hands.
On the way home dad photographs me
standing on a low wall. He calls: smile!
and I draw myself up
in my black patent leather shoes,
their toes well clawed,
my blue and red chequered poplin-coat
with its lustre of dust.

I give him a gap-toothed one
and that frayed blue ‘O’ stows away.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Note to self: BREATHE!

There are situations which require such notes: Agreeing to read one's poems in public is one of them. I'd put my name down simply because the opportunity came my way - I wouldn't have dared search it out. It felt like a mad and sweaty thing to start with but when the day arrived it just felt right. A beginners' event at the local library, with a small and eager audience - such a gentle start.
There's something strange, for a visual artist, about being present with one's work and not just letting it stand in/speak for you. But as with a piece of art a poem only comes full circle when it's out in the world.
As I read it took a little while to find and trust my voice, to let myself be guided by the poems' sounds and rhythms, away from fears about failing, falling short (and being heckled - are there poetic hecklers?), but once I got there I didn't want to stop.
The days after: Fatigue loomed like an ugly ogre and with grey felt hands smothered everything. Everything. It seemed almost impossible that this was me too, this exhausted uncoordinated bundle of flesh and bones and frazzled brains. Slowly emerging again, as you can see.
I had a little toe out in the world!!!

Image: Bittersweets (wrapped poems)

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Offering (3)

My body is just tired, but my brain is tired and buzzing, if that makes sense. Aunt Frieda is stalking me, I guess she wants a poem that does her justice.
As I've been told a couple of times that in my poems I am often not sparing enough with my words I took my sheet to the garden, sat in the sun and crossed words out with my thickest black marker. And again and again. Didn't leave me with a new whole poem but lots of little floating poem-clouds. These are my favourites - each of them could be a whole story. They're almost like titles for pieces of art.
Oh, and Tante Frieda's sister is here too.

girls in dresses
as blotting paper

I realise that something different is starting to interest me here. These lines are not so much about being spoken, I want them to be read, individually, and evoke images silently.
left only my favourite

Monday, 15 June 2009

Offering (2)

Just not up to making work yet but editing poems and preparing to read some out in a small group. This will be my first time, terror of terrors, but feels right. Need to air my poems. The waiting game was an exercise for my poetry-course a while ago (first attempt at writing a sonnet, which I enjoyed very much); this one here is the revised version of my Tante Frieda-poem which some of you may remember. I've rewritten it heavily but feel rather adrift as my course is over, alas, and it's again rather wordy, even if 'crafted' with more attention to its sound and music. I wished TF was still around, I'd like to ask her lots of questions. A piece of crocheting will grow from this, I think, first stitches maid (made!). Feedback welcome.

Tante Frieda

The last room on the right, opposite chapel, is hers,
her last room, where she waits in state,
hatted and girdled, hair teeming with pins.
Her crumpled face crackles with mischief.
She is older than the century, erstwhile Rapunzel
who had not known to grow her hair.
Hand-me-down air clings from mother-dear -
a prayer under every breath
and her daughters' dresses stiff as blotting paper.

Frieda, five feet tall, taught and enthralled
boys in their teens. Happy times
and best of times for being out of step:
she was removed from school when she refused
to toe the Führer’s line. Much of her life though
she stowed away, homing in mothed skin,
counting beads and her heart on a string.
She sailed dreams trailing shaggy wings,
and when finally laid up, without guard or girdle,
kept her handbag in bed with her, open,
spilling regret like teeth from an old mouth.

To me she was the kindly crone from my fairytales,
born old, hands packed with plenty, ready
to grant wishes to those who dared want.
Postern to yesteryear she sank in her downy bed,
eyes logged with sorrow
that she’d never been kissed.

Friday, 12 June 2009


The waiting game (Clytaemnestra)

Take one who weaves with measured industry a web
that cannot hold her grief. She finds relief
in hating, tracing her loss in warp and weft,
stretching her rage as cord on cord unreels.
How fast he dropped his father’s cloak for armour.
If only she’d unstitched his sails, slashed stays,
lopped masts, strap-strained his greed
to hear his name sung.
A girl’s death plumped limp sails!
Instead she spins fast strands, soft-gleaming
in the light like strings of rain, last robe
to stain in hues that are his royal due,
and maps in silver lines a hungry grid,
empty just now, a subtle gift, a trap.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Wings of lead

O.k., so I’m still very tired and I can’t get words to fly in formation or stitches to curl around each other, but a book came in the post today and I read aloud a poem I love: Little Sleep's-Head Sprouting Hair In The Moonlight by Galway Kinnell, and something in me surged and something in me sang. Read it too!
In a letter from a German friend I found more treasures: she’d cut out for me from Le Monde photographs of the work of Chiharu Shiota, who I hadn’t heard of before. Her art blows my mind, it is powerful and dark and sensitive, and so evocative. It is of this world and others that we hardly dare dream about. Oh, it makes something in me surge too, but also sink sink sink as the quality of the work and how it stirs and touches and pierces makes me question my own and leaves me doubtful about its (relative) quality. Won’t stop me though. Fingers are twitching, words swimming up from way down deep, an idea may just be forming.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Breast egg

At my most tired everything flies away from me and until my faculties return I feel like an empty nest in which only a few straggly feathers flutter. It’s been one of those M.E.-shrouded weeks, not only was I physically exhausted, but I couldn’t read, think, write, only managed a few aimless crochet stitches. In my fury I am like a big buzzing fly trapped under a glass dome, which keeps hurtling itself painfully against invisible walls and remains unable to understand what separates it from the world. Same fly’s urgent hum seems to rhyme to ‘Carpe diem’, which only increases my frustration as will power is of no help at all. It loses all meaning when you’re to energy like a holey jug to water. But today there are drops. What about drops? I can do with drops…
The month of May hasn’t been all bad, to the contrary. With the help of friends I participated again in the local artists’ open house event at the beginning of the month. I presided from my IKEA-armchair, watching my art perform somersaults, cart-wheels, saltos on a string in my stead. Rings were thrown into the air and caught and thrown back with enthusiasm, laughter and emotional acuity by those who visited, and lively conversations ensued. Then my mom came and we had a few lovely days together, with one esp. memorable outing to Tate Modern, where the artwork puzzled, amazed and delighted her and I finally saw work by two artists who I’ve long admired and whose art I only know from books: Ana Mendieta and Marisa Merz.
So there, today's drops have been squeezed. Next chance I get I'll visit your blogs.

Pin cushion
Materials: synthetic yarn, cotton, polyester filling
Dimensions: 19 cm x 11 cm x 12 cm

Friday, 15 May 2009


Materials: pair of girls' shoes, ribbon
Dimensions: variable

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Dress for seven sisters

I would have liked to make this ‘life-size’ and let the dress stretch across a wall but as I didn’t want to commit to a life-time project I made it a small piece. Started last September, put it away while I made my shoes, final stitches the other week. Decided to have some fun with it now, my work (art and writing) has been so serious lately, and I’m feeling so bleeding tired and in need of light relief, so here’s a quick little poem to go with the dress:

Material: Silk/wool yarn
Dimensions: 41 cm x 18 cm

Dress for seven sisters

To curb their cheer,
to hold them near
a dress was made
from wool too coarse
where silken slips
could soothe and tickle.

Twelve arms vanish,
strapped of their art.
Cool skin, pale blue
as starlings’ eggs,
lies with breath held
in every pore.

A skittish storm
of hands is stirred.
Happily trapped
these fingers trail,
tease a pink purr
from turbid skin.

Cheeks bloom, eyes blaze.
When mother comes
two dainty hands
are raised to greet her.
That skirt bluffs frills
and ruffles.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

In the mean-time

The last few weeks I’ve had to set aside my artwork, the lopsided-project and the reading of blogs, reluctantly, but life had other ideas, rather good ones actually, involving a magic trip to Seven Sisters (where the sea sparkled as if the stars were skinny-dipping), curtain poles, Roni Horn’s exhibition at Tate Modern, and a choice of red and purple blossoms – which left no energy for much else.
I’m still aligned with spring though and do not want to let my blog wither so I’m offering you this, written a couple of months ago, and, I hasten to add, not biographical in any real sense.

Cosy for my heart

I knit and knit a useless thing that might have been
a sleeve. Two purl, two plain, a drip-feed of stitches.

No wings for you, no name, no song, just loop
passing through loop and the clicking of needles.

Some stitches cruelly ring a life: rib, seed and moss,
flame, sea foam, little shell. You fell away a tiny curl

of flesh, a blur of nerves and tissue. I fold my life
around the lack of you, this sealed threshold.

You’re a breath held. The mouth that would have kissed
and sung you lullabies and called your name has set.

Instead I drop a stitch and watch it slide its groove, unfurl
down rung by curly rung, unstrip its alphabet.

From there I spin a life, dressed in a poem’s raggedy lines,
this spider lace of letters.

Friday, 10 April 2009

To live so small as I

I started these at the fingertips and crocheted my way upward, unsure about its final form. Had I been able to work faster the piece would have been a different one, as in my head it went through all kinds of mutations, but by the time I had the arms done I knew I wanted tights.
I feel inordinately pleased with this diminutive object (diminutive not so much in terms of size, I've made smaller objects, but in the vibrations it gives off: not like a song sung at the top of one's voice, more like a murmur or a hum).
Writing about the memory of my cousin E. ties in with the need (and this need has been at the heart of my art practice for years), to try and find ways of considering difference. Here it’s about the sense of difference a child might have, of not being, not feeling ‘right’. From somewhere a purple shadow fell.
The title is inspired by a line in a poem by Emily Dickinson who, inspired by Lesley, I have lately been reading much more closely:

It would have starved a Gnat
To live so small as I—

And there is something here of the Empedokles-quote I am still enamoured by.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Lopsided (12)

Following on from the photo described in my last post where E.’s legs are all but invisible I made a set of drawings some years ago. At the time I had a stamp made from a small (unfortunately very bad) drawing: the figure remains the same while the ‘legs’ shiftshape and become ever more incongruous - as do the phantasies and projections we indulge in when faced with and shaken but perhaps unmoved by the mystery of an other. I’ve got a whole stack of these drawings somewhere, found three on my computer the other day – perfect timing.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Lopsided (11)

There is a photograph of her, tiny against the mass of happy relatives: Whitsuntide 1957, my mother's and father's engagement, the whole family photographed standing in the park. Everybody smiles, my mother's face lit up like I have never seen it. E. is about five years old.
She stands there, one hand clutching the other one as if she had to keep them from moving, from gesturing uncontrollably; stands there, her little body so tense, like a jack knife about to flick shut; stands there, clutching her hands to her stomach as if it was aching; stands there, pressing her hands to her middle as if about to fold in onto herself. She stands there, as if all she could do was try to contain her pain, as if all she could do was try to hold her aching body in this transfixed form for the eternal moment it took to take the photograph. She stands there with an old face on a child's body.
While some of the women in the photograph wear sleeveless dresses she is dressed as if for winter. The coat with its little round collar is cut like a dress, only that the material is heavier. She wears a sweater or blouse underneath, its edges just visible under the coat sleeves, and a pair of dark trousers, which in the photograph have congealed into a heavy black pedestal for a legless girl. I read pain into the hands clutched over her stomach and into her little serious face that is the only one in the photograph that doesn't show at least the trace of a smile.
She looks straight into the camera.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Lopsided (10)


Material: tissue paper
Dimensions: 40 cm x 82,5 cm

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Lopsided (9)

This view of the paper shoes - photographed from above and close-up - comes closest to the pair I found on Berlin flea-market and which moved me so. I'm thinking again about how they move - the sadness about them is manifold. Leaving aside their unevenness – it’s enough that these are children's shoes which would not fit anymore on the feet of whoever they belonged to - if they were still alive. It's enough that they have obviously been worn extensively and repaired and repaired, with tears and cracks in the leather and lots of tiny nails hand-hammered in their soles. But there’s something beyond the passing of time that (de)rails me, twofold: It’s the actual time they seem to refer to - war time, fascism in Germany, which I need to explore. Just for now I’ll focus on this though: what I find most immediately disconcerting is the discord here - there being two of a kind, but (probably) not two of a pair, and thus the impossibility of a whole and of restoring them to an owner, even an imaginary one.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Lopsided (8)

For me the shoe has many functions, none of them identical with the real function it had for E.: it is my way in and my barrier, boon and bane, thrall and threnody. I can’t see her without it, but I can’t see her with it either.
Found this in my thesis: ‘but what has happened is that the thing we are staring at has sunk into its image’ (Maurice Blanchot). When does looking become staring? At college I made a video-piece where I seamlessly edited out people’s blinks to get permanent stares. Blinks of course are like little breaths for the eye which can’t function without these nourishing moments of darkness. People who looked at the piece often couldn’t work out what was strange and straining to see ended up not blinking themselves.
I feel like I’m staring back into my childhood, searching for E. Everywhere I find her she is standing and looking. Always frontally, always head on. Might she move if I turn my back?

Friday, 6 March 2009

Lopsided (7)

The shoe

Eyes straight she wades
through a thicket of stares.
Under a drab frock
her spine’s a bony squiggle.

Her limbs’ imperfect rhyme
drags scores of prying eyes
to a brown boot
with a high-raised sole.

Those looks roll down her
like dribble. Her shoe’s a piggy bank
where she stores stares, a clogged
register of tags and snags.

Whispers hang in every air,
brush her skin: ‘The poor girl.’
‘If only she’d.’ ‘Who will ever?’
She sways on thin stalks.

Night-time she’s a pink flamingo,
stands poised on one leg
in shallow waters. In the sky
the moon turns a blind eye.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Lopsided (6)

I am working on a new pair of shoes, using this very thin, faintly pink, porous paper with some more deeply pink tissue paper. This time I want translucency, lightness and light, but also girlishness and prettiness, qualities that aren't to be taken uncritically, but which were denied E. by default. She was a little girl at a time when disabled children were dressed in drab colours and shapeless shifts, doomed attempts at hiding away an imperfect body, as if it carried shame.
In the process I’m finding new forms and softness where I didn’t expect it. For an instant I see through the shoes and feel the feather-light touch of another being brushing against me, hear a murmur as if from a conch shell. I hold still, all ear.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Lop-sided (5)

It’s a relief to be posting visual art, I feel on firmer ground here. Poetry is still so new a medium and I feel my failures in a dim and acute way (if that makes sense). It feels like I’m speaking with a faltering, croaky voice, a voice that is mine but also alien, or at least untried. The lack of familiarity comes partly from not haven’t made use of this poet’s voice for very long, but I feel similarly about my voice in general. Fact is, I do not speak enough. Everyday conversations with people I don’t know are few and far between and have become strained because of those periods when fatigue literally usurps my powers of speech. It's made me incredibly self-conscious. When I took to reading poetry aloud (long before I even wanted to write any) it was partially to re-acquaint myself with my own voice.
But enough of that: I’ve finally finished my pair of shoes. Made from brown tissue-paper they are ever so light. The layering of the shoes’ 'upper' is very thin, for the sole slightly denser, to link with the reality of such a raised sole's volume. I’ve chosen a small pair of boots as a toddler would wear for her first steps outside (also the first pair used in And where, and how). The shapes are hollow, air-filled, like empty egg-shells. This is less an act of remembering than imagination (but still of remembrance?), as my cousin was five years older than me and I wouldn’t have been around to see her as a toddler. I don’t even know if she would have had a bootie with a raised sole at such an early age, but my memory of her is inextricably bound up with these shoes, for better and for worse (I’ll come to this in another post).
There is an ambivalence about the shoes being cute as well as disturbing. I do feel touched by them in themselves, but esp. - when looking at these photos - by the way the laces curl up together. Made me think of Roland Barthes’ punctum, the unexpected detail that pierces one’s heart. The shoes pronounce a series of lop-sided relationships - my mind is whizzing away...
PS. The poem is still in flux. The changes appear below, in
Lopsided (4), which I keep up-to-date.

Material: tissue paper
Dimensions: 14 cm x 15 cm x 14 cm

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Lopsided (4)

Me thinks I resolved the poem too neatly and with it the issue of memory and its taunts, haunts, demands and frailties. It’s been nagging me since I posted it, but posting was important, I wanted it out in the world, fresh, naked, and see if it could breathe on its own. It is good to have the blog as a sounding board, it helps me communicate with myself in interesting ways.
Working on this poem has been illuminating to me, as it brought up things that I hadn’t consciously considered before. The recalcitrance, resistance, unwieldiness of memory has become clearer. The mood of and relationship within the poem changed with the ‘knowing look’ –
I now have an opposite who wants to be reckoned with - unsettling and exciting. It was a surprise to see written: ‘I want speech of her’ - so true! Letting the poem breathe and change here makes me consider it a live thing, as is the process of remembering.
I’ll leave it at this for now. Made changes in the first stanza, clarified mood and direction. The ending is new. Still don't feel it's quite right, it will keep changing, you'll see.

Keeping time

She died a child, a sigh
breathed on a window.
From where she makes her play
for me I cannot say.

Finders keepers: her pale face
hovers, pain-pinched,
with a knowing look.
She clings to me like a bur.

Has she crossed these distances
to stand and stare?
I want speech of her,
not this stone-rose mouth.

I prod her, feed her lines –
she cries like a fox.
I touch her eyes –
those lids won’t close.

She keeps with me now
in my hoary house,
still as a picture.
Glassed under I heed her not:

Say my name! Say my name!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Lopsided (2)

When I saw these children’s shoes on the flea-market stall in Berlin I not only thought of them as a pair but as having been worn by a girl, one girl. Before these shoes I had no interest in shoes and my need to have them puzzled me. I felt touched by them, pierced actually, by their confident asymmetry, the fact that dis/misproportion was so perfectly wed with similarity, with two-of-a-kindness.
I’m going back in time here, to when I found the shoes, to when I first made them part of my art-practice (at art-college) and further back to my childhood, as the shoes led me to someone I had all but forgotten: my cousin E., who was five years older than me and died when I was 12. My memory of her surprised me all these years after her death and I don’t think I’ve stopped thinking about her ever since.
I remember a photograph which turns out to be of myself. I saw her like this: motionless, still, peering into the eye of the camera with a small smile. Slightly curly brown bob, dark brown eyes ringed by black circles. She stands alone. A little girl with a hunchback and one foot in a shoe with a raised sole, to make up for a shorter leg. I remember that this shoe was of a strange shape, as if the foot in it was lumpy, twisted and contorted. When I find the photograph I realise that memory has played a trick on me: the smile is mine, I stand where I thought she stood, limbs intact. It makes me wonder what need her image touches in me.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Shoes, shoes, shoes

These are some of the photographs the glorious digitalesse took for me at the exhibition at Café Gallery. I love the eyes that looked here - these beautiful images reveal my shoes to me in new, exciting ways.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009


I found these on a flea-market in Berlin about 12 years ago: a pair of old children's shoes, stuffed with yellowed newsprint from 1941. They look like two of a pair: one for a left foot, one for a right foot, same make, same leather, similar degree of wear and tear. But the left shoe is remarkably bigger than the right one, extending the length of the palm of my hand, while the smaller one only covers about two thirds of it. Still I never stopped thinking of the two shoes as a pair.
What is the (hi)story of these shoes? They lead me backwards and forward in time. All the pathways that slowly unfold and open up to me are entangled, make up a dense web of history, of experience, of stories told and untold, stories sensed, imagined, suspected. Stories of mine and stories of others. With lop-sided gait I want to tread these paths and see where they take me.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Winter gift

I want to sing chant yodel my thanks to one Beth Elliott, chair of the Bermondsey Artists Group, most generous of spirits, who I'd not met before: She came Thursday night, tenderly packed my work, took it to the gallery and put it up for me – without her the shoes would not have stepped off my shelf at home and out into the world. Some of you have seen them here, but now ‘And where, and how’ can be seen as part of Rummage, an exhibition at Café Gallery, right in the middle of Southwark Park, London. Beth’s icing sugar sisters are sleeping/
dreaming nearby.
This is an old photograph, the work looks so much better now, displayed as it is on a low wide plinth at the centre of one of the gallery's spaces, where the shoes can be looked at from all around and above. They look glorious, beautiful, fragile and true, and I was amazed to be touched by them anew. A great gift, just when I'm trying
to re-assess my art practice.

Material: Japan paper.
Dimensions: ~ 150 cm x 25 cm x 15 cm
The shoes are life-size as real worn shoes were used as moulds.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Hopscotch highway

The hall is her hopscotch highway,
wide as a lane and all hers,
front-room a teeming jungle
where florid ornaments tangle underfoot
and walls send ivy tendrils to catch
at her: wing-heeled she leaps
into the easy chair, safe now,
feet on seat (forbidden).

She mouths a strangeness: antimacassar –
that fuss on the armrest,
formal, gleaming creamy-white,
like mother’s pearls (forbidden).
One day the necklace tore, made patterns
on the floor like milk-teeth scattered
for seeds. Mother’s hand fell hard
on her mouth. The day withered.

The gurgle of bath water draining
reels her in. In half-light the washing line sags
with mother’s stockings, shapeless
as discarded skin. She heeds the drum-roll
of drops, brings her face close:
Wet has a smell! What’s under skin?
Her tights are woollen, beige-brown
like the inside of mars-bars.

Today she’ll risk her blue-veined marbles
under the plane-trees on the promenade.
Below, the cobbled street hems in
the grey flow of the river, its slow,
steady streaming (forbidden).

The grave call of a ship’s horn sounds,
deeper than anything. Freighters glide
their measured course as if drawn
on strings, passing all day with their loads,
regular as breath.

Later, when the day slows, mother will call
her in, they’ll look out the window,
they’ll sing their waiting-for-dad song.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Where to go from here?

Over the last few months I’ve so often wondered whether I want to continue making art. Should I concentrate on writing, esp. when my artwork progresses so slowly? Having discarded several unrealistic ideas for bigger work my ‘normal’ rush of ideas seemed to have come to a halt. It’s not like poetry just flows out of me, I do need to work and reach deep inside me, but its timeframe is more gratifying: I can have something done in a couple of weeks as that part of my brain seems to be working when everything else is in a tired slump. I’m thinking back to my beautiful red dress with the very long sleeves. It took me about a year to finish it, I showcased it here and then it disappeared into a trunk and who knows if it will ever be seen outside of this flat? Maybe I can get somewhere with my poetry, if I work really hard? My grasp of it is still tentative, there’s much to learn about form and rhythm and flow, and I’ve only got so much, or rather: so little, energy at my disposal - it needs focus focus focus.
Now however my thinking is changing and turning towards concrete ways of bringing my art and my writing even closer together. A first idea is forming, which I can’t quite formulate yet but it’s ticking away. In the meantime I’ve returned to my box of unfinished/uncertain pieces and found this lovely spidery fleece, crocheted a couple of years ago from strands of three artificial hairs, with a size 10 hook. A web of airy loops, it weighs practically nothing and still feels substantial and even rough between my hands. Initially I’d wanted to make a whole blanket but it grew very very slowly indeed and might need a lifetime’s commitment.

Dimensions: 30 cm x 38 cm

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Not flying, but lying down

Happy New Year to you all!
Had a lovely time with family and friends over Xmas-period, but very tired now and not up to much at all. The internet is heaven-sent in times like this – it is like an open window through which I speak to all kinds of people; where I lower my basket on a string, empty, and lightly draw it back up, filled with groceries or books or information or a red winter-coat - all without ever leaving the flat.
It’s nice not to have the focus on being ill. You can be as slow as you like – no hassle. Nobody knows if your speech is slurred from tiredness, or how many times you’ve had to go back to the computer to get that message written. Better still, nobody knows (unless you tell them) if you’re still in your pj’s or even wearing yesterday’s clothes, if your hair is by its wash-by-date or if it’s one of those lucky days when you’ve finally triumphed and washed your hair in the morning and it feels silken and soft, almost as if it isn't yours, but a soft warm animal having temporarily landed on your head and letting its long fur hang while it snoozes. Not today though.
So for now the internet makes for my most consistent link to the wider world: During those times when I’m too unwell to get out or see friends or even have telephone conversations, I still creep to my computer to check for e-mails or messages on my blog, which I may or may not answer or even fully read, but just for that feeling of connection. Thanks for bearing with me - I don't answer my messages as often as I'd like to. And thanks for keeping them coming.
And again, loudly: Happy New Year to you all!