A Mountain for a Soap Box

Dodd from the shore of Bassenthwaite

This past week or two I have been pondering the meaning of life and the secrets of success and happiness while traveling on slow trains, celebrating major life events in inspirational cities and continuing to explore the wonderful land of mountains, lakes and lush bracken jungle that I’m constantly surprised to be suddenly living in. Maybe I should have opted for Philosophy at university like my lovely brother (so I could say what I mean more clearly)… anyway it seemed to me, at low points, that success and happiness are almost always measured in monetary terms. I’ve been horrified this week by news stories about the Prime Minister’s pay rise while doctors are being told they don’t work hard enough, people work like hell to subsist on minimum wage, important benefits are cut and don’t even start me on the proposed reforms to the hunting bill. It was the hypocrisy and lack of respect for anything other than Mammon that upset me most. It’s easy to feel like a failure (professional, financial or personal) in a game someone else invented… and then to find out they’re sitting on half the cards and the rule book. And so, yesterday I forced myself to look at what I had actually achieved in the day, a day in which I felt low and unmotivated, and it was this…

Shelter Print and embroidery by Kim Tillyer

1. I finished some stitching on a print I hope to show at Dalemain House in September as part of C-Art 


Moomin Pan with gooseberries

2. A pan of gooseberries for a fool (!) and a plate of warm peanut butter biscuits.


Handmade climbing chalk bag

3. I made a climbing chalk bag from a piece of cyanotype printed fabric and other things found in a hastily packed box of fabrics.

So, take away the crushing sense of failure that means I am too poor to buy a flat with a nice kitchen for my daughter, a house with a studio for my parents or a car that works for my son… surely all we need is food, warmth and shelter and a bit of love…oh and creativity. Everyone should be able to afford this by virtue of their daily work and I never will understand the crazy economics of a world that sets such inequalities at its heart.

Sara Tillyer Smith Graduation Day

Goodness, this wasn’t meant to be a soap box tirade, sorry. Its just that I was in Bristol last week for my daughter’s graduation. It was a lovely and emotional time and we had a lot of fun, saw some great exhibitions, ate delicious food and talked and talked about what to do after university, the search for meaningful work and a place to live. Walking around Clifton we chose our ideal homes in the leafy, flower scented avenues before returning to Stokes Croft and stepping over the collapsed homeless man in the street, wracked with guilt but powerless to help.

Distant Mountains from the train North

It is a proud and melancholy feeling to realise that both my children are now grown up and have the hats to prove it. My nest is very empty and now begins my slide into eccentric old age; I may collect gnomes or teddy bears and take them on trips to the supermarket in Keswick…

So, leaving Bristol was hard.; it felt full of all kinds of life, diverse and creative, inspiring and shocking, but as the empty train trundled North and the sun fell in to the sea  I felt excitement in the pit of my stomach to see the mountains silhouetted in the distance.

And some bears are waiting, as well as a cupboard full of stuff to make a loaf of bread. The Fells are green and wet and really don’t mind how slowly you climb them so long as when you get to the top you look back the way you came and feel overjoyed to be alive despite the struggle of the climb.

Bear Print Cyanotype

Reading:- “Titus Alone” Mervyn Peake   Listening To:- Wind in the Sycamore trees



8 responses to “A Mountain for a Soap Box

  1. Sue Hutchinson

    Beautiful. You express yourself so very well Kim.

  2. Agree with every word you wrote here. Impossible not to really, given the glaringly obvious causes ~ the insatiable greed of the corporate world , cozily in bed with every govt. you can think of ~ the definition of value or worth of ANYTHING is measured only in monetary terms and that vile phrase, ‘is it marketable?” applied to everything from health care to education! I loathe all that are responsible for this and yet very angry too at the mainstream society that goes on acquiescing to these self serving , unethical , immoral bastards and doing nothing to stop or stem the tide. They((Corporations and Gov, the World Banks ect) are destroying not only the only home we have, the planet , but the lives and souls of billions, by either convincing by fear-mongering and lies to be a good little consumer and all will be well,but to insure that nothing changes for the majority of working people except to be the enablers and cogs which keep the machine running for the sole benefit for the 1%. Talk about a soap box, if anything gets me up on mine , it is the very things you address here. Once there, it is hard to get me down off it. I would not care if only they destroyed themselves, but I really ,really resent the fact they are and will, if allowed, take us all down . I always feel by saying and doing nothing then you ( ” you “as in general) are simply an enabler and almost as bad as the ones who would keep you happily in that position) instead of i.e.getting involved in grassroots movements , signing online and local petitions, writing letters and calling govt officials and more ~ as much as is possible really~ because nothing changes unless people insist that it does and there are a hell of a lot more of us than them. We have to balance and take sustenance (refuge really too) in doing what we are able to , and continue to create what is beautiful and find beauty in the things we do have, but having said that, I think it incumbent upon each person to speak up and take some form of action in any way possible against the soul-less partners of BIG corporations and their malignant partners, our so called democratic govts. whether locally or nationally or internationally. There are many progressive and positive organizations trying to fight and change what is going on so one is not a lone voice crying in the wilderness (although it often feels that way to me) It helps if you can connect with others so that you do get a feeling of actually doing something towards stopping what I see as inherently evil. I hope this did not plunge you into more despair ,as it certainly was not meant to~ there are many who feel as you and I do~ I hope that by acting together towards real and positive change we can end some of their greedy free ride of running roughshod over the very people who make it even possible for them to exist in the first place.

    • Well said Val and well done for saying it so quickly! It took me all day and a mountain of biscuits to agonise over what to say without alienating too many people.Thank you x

  3. 🙂 I think I pretty well stay “fighting mad’ although I find in order to save what little shred of sanity I have left , I have to take a break from reading too much online in respect to social, political, environmental and animal rights issues.. Difficult to achieve that balance, but if you have a lovely natural environment to seek solace in(such as you do, lucky girl) and your art, good books, inspiring music ect~ that can help a lot. I have reached a point in my life too. that I no longer feel compelled to suppress the truth so as to potentially spare people’s feelings. Yes, the truth is often brutal, inconvenient and unpleasant but far better to know and possiblely then take some action however small, than to live a lie and continue to deny and possibly contribute to whatever agency is responsible . My’ anthem’ when I feel I am in danger of sinking under the weight of the world is the song by Tom Petty ” I Won’t Back Down~ (hope this link will work for you, if not just go to youtube and type in Won’t Back Down, Tom Petty ) ~ do not know if you remember or know it. but it might just be the thing to give you that extra bit of courage in times when you feel like giving up ! A great video as it features George Harrison on guitar and Ringo Starr on drums ~ Keep the faith Kim . Thank you, for being you and speaking what you feel and sharing your thoughts . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvlTJrNJ5lA

  4. p.s. Power to the People 🙂

  5. so pleased you liked it! x

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