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 CafĂ© 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!