“Nourish yourself with grand and austere ideas of beauty that feed the soul… Seek solitude,” Delacroix. I’ve been wondering what exactly is keeping me from writing more frequently….or making new work for that matter and I can only assume it must be that I now have company in my rural idyll. Solitude is important to many creative people and even though I still have loads of time to myself, only work part time in the day job and have my own small space to retreat to, the balance has shifted now that Rupert is also living and working here. I’m spending less time wandering lonely as a cloud and more time going on mini adventures together after work; more importantly for the writing of this blog, I’m not sitting up all night drinking shed loads of coffee alone with the radio (actually its never been the same since Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour got moved to daytime; I blame the BBC). I must find a new routine and the discipline to go with it because the reality of living in a draughty barn is that it’s much nicer when there’s company.
Daily routine and self motivation when you’re self employed is a subject that fascinates me because to the outside world it can look like you’re doing nothing and achieving even less… the idea of “working from home” often being a euphemism for laziness or sitting around in your pyjamas. I enjoyed the series of essays in the Guardian called “My Writing Day” which gave an insight into how successful writers actually get stuff done. In contrast my writing “day” means I uploaded the pictures for this post last week, started writing it, got distracted, had to go to work, had house guests and now a week later I have spent most of today looking at the rain, sorting old clothes for the charity shop, half starting an order for a gallery and suddenly deciding to spring clean the bathroom while my computer sits forlorn and resentful next to a pile of neatly cut out prints and calico squares for covering notebooks ( I am dressed though). I assume I’m not alone in behaving like this but it’s hard to tell when you’re halfway up a mountain and only have social media to compare notes with.
The summer seems to be flying by and some of the exhibitions I’ve been showing work in are almost over before I’ve had a chance to tell you about them. Despite all that I lost when I was forced to move I have to admit that this year has opened up so many opportunities for me. Until early September you can find these two pieces (and more) in the Byard Gallery, opposite Kings College in Cambridge! (when I was small I once accompanied my dad on a day trip to Cambridge where he was showing work at the Hobson Gallery; I remember telling him I planned to go to Cambridge, meaning the University of course but this almost makes up for my turning out to be more of a drop out than a high flyer!). There are also prints and jewellery in the Leeds Craft and Design Centre, cards and notebooks in the Leaping Hare Gallery, Easingwold and of course Cherrydidi in Keswick who have a small selection of eveything.
A couple of weeks ago I ran my second cyanotype workshop at the Greystoke Cycle Cafe. I have to admit I was dreading it as the forecast was for horrible weather and the forecast was right, it was dark and wet. In the end though, and looking back, I really enjoyed it- and so did they I hope. We managed to make loads of really lovely prints even in low light and with only a very small exposure unit between eight people; braving the weather to rinse prints under a gazebo with a hosepipe. Sometimes it feels a bit mad to be telling people how you make your work but it’s been so satisfying to have students get in touch with images of things they’ve made since the course and know that they were inspired and excited by what they learnt. One of my students was an artist called Tracey Escolme who makes paper cuts, she is part of next month’s C-Art if you are in Cumbria during September. A few people have asked if I’m doing any more courses and I’m hoping Annie will ask me back next summer; I’m also thinking about maybe doing some small half days here (mostly as an excuse to make coffee and cake) so do get in touch if you’d like to be added to a possible list of participants.
Have you noticed how I’ve been really good and not mentioned swimming? Well I have to just a little because I was pretty brave the other day and swam with Rupert to a little island on Derwent Water called Otterbield Island. Its not far and I won’t be qualifying for the Olympics but it was a small breakthrough in distance and conquering fear- the vertigo of swimming in bottomless dark water. I felt a bit tired and slightly panicky at one point and had to rest on my tow float (I got it for this reason because it allows me a moment to pause and have a word with myself as well as making sure the launch doesn’t run us down) but the water was mirror smooth and the evening was perfect, sunset and moonrise and “Nightswimming” by REM in my head. I also had a fun swim in the River Avon at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire, with my daughter recently… very different to Lake swimming and one of the best days I’ve had for ages.; a miniature holiday that felt very special.
Anyway, the day today is not conducive to swimming today and it’s almost time for tea so I’m going to do a spot of baking and build some extra layers of insulating blubber for my next outing! Here is a rare self portrait of me pondering solitude and creativity by the water a few weeks ago.
Reading:- “The Gap of Time” Jeanette Winterson Listening To:- Nightswimming REM