Tag Archives: Spring

Different Hills, Another Spring.

I’m sitting outside wrapped in assorted layers because today is the first day of British Summer Time, the sun has been shining bravely, the birds are singing love songs and it’s (slightly) warmer outside than in. With my slippered feet on the table and coffee mug balanced carefully on the bench beside me I can look over towards Maiden Moor and Catbells where groups of stick figures are silhouetted on the summits; a pair fell runners just puffed past and as usual I feel slightly guilty for being still and apparently idol. With all this Spring going on it’s hard to believe that just a week ago I was in Narnia, well Bristol. I travelled down by train and experienced the weird, dreamlike dislocation of hurtling through blizzards, the train tilting and banking like a fighter plane, through the occasionally looming Howgills, and eventually arriving in a city blanketed in white. City snow is not something I’ve experienced, not since a childhood winter in Providence, and it felt very surreal to be wandering deserted streets at 2am, following fox tracks and skittering about pretending to be a horse (this last means my phone is now smashed and held together with sellotape).
The rare treasure of three days with BOTH my children was made even more special by the peculiar, cocooning weather. The highlight (apart from snack suppers by the fire, snuggled up watching Paddington films) was a hair-raising drive to Glastonbury on the eve of the Vernal Equinox, where we had hoped to fly Jake’s drone for some exciting aerial photography. It was unbelievably cold though and so windy that flying was impossible so we just walked and talked and looked across the Vale of Avalon and wondered what it would be like to actually live there. A town so full of  crystal shops, vegan cafes and people wearing rainbow jumpers that it’s almost a parody of itself. It’s easy to be cynical and laugh at all the serious New Age types but I suddenly felt very much aware of a road not taken, or at least veered off in my 30s, and wondered if it wouldn’t be a more forgiving place to face life, particularly older age as a “crone”, than the Lakes with all it’s obsessive running, cycling and extreme swimming. I’m still a hippy at heart and there is something comforting about knowing places like that exist,  that not not everyone over 50 has to wear beige Goretex, run 10k before breakfast and stop playing horses. As Louise Chatfield  commented, on Twitter, it seems at least like a place that is non judgemental or about putting people in boxes. I can’t wait to return.

2am in Ashton, Bristol.

Back in the North I discovered (on #WorldWaterDay of course)  the the water had gone wrong again- this time either overflowing like Aira Force on to the doorstep or gone completely and I’m not going to deny that I feel at rock bottom, sorely tempted by some of the more outlandish forms of self-help therapies spotted in the Glastonbury Oracle. Unicorn interactions perhaps or a spot of Puppet Therapy; failing that a new umbrella so that the door step is easier to navigate! I love you Lake District but my patience is being tried.

Again I am pondering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs particularly in relation to creativity – there are many exceptions of course and some would argue that strife feeds creativity but I do find it hard to justify drawing bears when I probably ought to be finding a more reliable way to help earn enough to meet the first level of the pyramid! Luckily I came home to a few welcome orders for wooden bears which ticks some issues in the “Esteem” box. I want to make more of these wooden pieces, perhaps a hare or a leaping fox… but so far this one has worked by far the best. I got some lovely new silk cords yesterday so he now comes with either a dark red or blue cord (or silver snake chain).

When I was in Bristol we had a look in Hamilton House where the Folklore exhibition organised by Gordy Wright opens next month. It’s a great place with loads of events, exhibitions and studios – what a dream it would have been to have something similar here in the old Cumberland Pencil Factory. Anyway, I’ve been working on a couple of illustrations and hopefully one will be getting printed and included in the exhibition… which one though ?

I’ve drawn myself a little hut by a lake and maybe if there is still magic in the universe and all that positive visualisation thing works it will one day be possible to find the illusive “Home” a place to belong, to build a garden again.

Meanwhile here is some proof of Spring, slowly unfurling .
( this time last year the pink blossom was already in full bloom and the white almost over)

Reading: A Line Made by Walking –  Sara Baume. Listening to : The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert  and Spiro who make the perfect music for swooping along Lake District roads pretending you’re in a film to.

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“Relax and Formulate a Plan”

This  beautiful, wiggly wall over Lingmoor Fell is an allegory of the way my week – and emotional state – has been fluctuating since we walked that way on Monday. At one point on I was surrounded by botched printed vases, newly created landfill to prick my conscience, a mountain of useless greyscale printouts after my printer forgot how to do colour, no lights downstairs after all the fuses went (I looked in the fusebox but it seemed to be very windy and cold in there which is odd) and the DPD delivery driver stuck up to his axels in the mud outside. It has felt at times like I’m living in a kind of Krypton Factor game show for dummies, where every task has involved a massive hassle and steep learning curve; still, it’s much more satisfying when something goes right at last if it has driven you to tears for hours beforehand. Walking in the brittle spring sunshine, arms pinkening and prickling with unaccustomed exposure to sunlight and tummy rumbling with too much coffee and not enough cake, we climbed to the summit of Lingmoor and learned some lessons from the survival bag we used as a picnic blanket. These lessons, and the continuing sunshine, probably helped prevent meltdown and/or murder later on- and besides, what reason do I have to complain? Imagine building that wall… it was immaculate, with each header stone at the same angle despite the terrain.

I love the idea that you would ever be able to “relax and formulate a plan” should you ever find yourself actually needing to get inside an orange plastic bag for survival. Further down it suggested something to do with dried leaves, I can’t remember exactly what. I think this winter there have been a few cases of people whose lives have been saved by these bags though so I shouldn’t joke.

So as Friday night turns into Saturday, I’m sitting by the stove, with the cat dangerously close to my feet, feeling a little bit of the same sense of achievement I get on reaching the top of a hill. I’ve rebuilt my evil website, after many tears and it even has a shop. It’s a big improvement on the previous one so even though it’s more expensive and drove me nuts, I’m actually really glad that Flavors.me closed down and forced me to do it. I’m playing shops and it seems so much more exciting than Etsy because it’s my very own. The first two sales made me feel like a tycoon and I could never take for granted the magic of being able to do that without leaving my nest, from home, in the middle of nowhere.

Most things seem to be slowly coming together in preparation for BCTF but it’s frightening how much money you can spend on services and materials without even leaving the house; and how you think you’ve worked out the costs of things but then remember you need to factor in the sellotape, Paypal fees, tissue paper or sticky labels. Its fair to say I have felt huge ups and downs of mood and confidence this week and have been trying to be more careful about dealing with the downs. Sometimes it really is important just to relax and formulate a plan, to go for a walk or take time to read a book and not feel guilty; because the upside of being self employed, to balance out having no money, is that I have that freedom at the moment and I’ve noticed I work best in the evenings anyway. I’m like that annoying hamster you probably once had that slept all day, got vicious if you tried to wake it up and then suddenly started rushing about on it’s treadmill at bedtime- making a sound like squeaking bedsprings (the rushing about is me, not the squeaking).

And sometimes it’s tempting to sew up the scraps and offcuts to make something new, because, at the risk of sounding like an infuriating meme, failure is often just a state of mind or a view from a certain angle, it just depends how you frame it. Well, it’s time I let you go, thank you for reading and also for all the survey responses. I need to look at the results properly and apply my amazing analytical skills, before finalising my master plan, so for now it’s back to relaxing and dreaming of more days like these. Dipping toes into achingly cold water till the blood fizzes like champagne, winter dimmed eyes blinking in the light and you can almost feel the vitamin D soaking through your skin.

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” John Muir

 

A Secret Garden

Newlands Valley , the garden in Spring

March is upon us; the wheel is turning again, creaking at first as the brave new buds appear but before you know it we’ll be rushing headlong towards summer and taking it all for granted. Do you ever wish you could slow it down, press pause at a certain point; the first snowdrops maybe, or bluebell time? In melancholy mood I want to savour every moment, my 50th spring; when you put it like that each new season has a greater value – how many times will I see the wild garlic or the willow flowers?-  and I know I’m so lucky to live in a place where those seasonal signposts are a daily joy. My dad recently told my brother he had lost his feeling for where he was in the year, unsure if it was snowdrop time yet, since moving from the farm to the town and so spending less time outside. As for me, I’ve been in the next door garden this week, discovering the Victorian “Barley Twist” edges of the lawn which I doubt have been seen for years under the overgrown borders and tumbled rockeries. The garden isn’t mine, it has strange plants that I don’t recognise and it makes me miss “home” and my own lost garden again, but it’s a haven and I’m glad of it. I’m never happier than when I’m lost in a garden.

reflection , design by Kim Tillyer

Apart from my occasional trips in to the garden, to gather sticks or hack through the undergrowth, I’ve been busy with all sorts of odd BCTF preparations, whilst wrestling with guilt trips about my lack of a regular income. I call myself so many mean names before I’ve even got out of bed that it’s not surprising confidence is low… but so far I’m managing to meet all the targets I’ve set for myself, new work is happening every day, spread sheets, catalogues and even the odd drawing are being created and I’m starting to really look forward to April.

polar bear lantern by Kim Tillyer

One useful thing I discovered whilst filling in last month’s sections of The Makers Business Toolkit planner was that many of the people who buy from me via my Etsy shop or Facebook are people who have followed Witchmountain in one way or another for a long time. I really love that I feel as though I’ve known some of you for years, what would I do without you?! But, in trying to train myself to be more businesslike, I realise that I need to reach new people too; BCTF will hopefully do that but I wonder how else to do it? I’ve made a little survey just for fun and it would be great if you could take the time to fill it in , it’s multiple choice, anonymous  and very quick. Thank you.

SURVEY

display by Kim Tillyer

Now the night has crept upon me and the fire has got low, it’s time to think about sleeping and talk to the cat about her plans for the evening; it’s raining outside but I don’t want waking up at 4am by beast scratching at the bedroom door like a demon.

kitchen sink drama

Reading: “Dip” by Andrew FusekPeters Listening To: “Dead in the Boot” elbow

Website: Wooden-boy the arty adventures of musician Sycamore Sykes, including my favourite greetings card of the moment for book lovers and introverts everywhere 🙂

Emerging

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Last weekend it was Easter and the clocks changed, so all of a sudden the fact that it is not yet spring became more obvious because you could actually SEE the wintery proof on the drive home from work. It’s been winter since the beginning of time but today the sun came out, in a clear blue sky and it shone with some real warmth… so warm that Mr Tortoise came out to help me in the garden.The poor old cat  was amazed and once again regretted eating the things it found on the floor after a particularly wild party years ago… is that stone talking to me?!

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It felt so good to be outside, there was something very sweet in the air (willow pollen perhaps?) and small discoveries made with every handful of dried leaves and dead foliage removed…”ah, so you survived Snake’s Head Fritilary?”,  “Happy April Pasque Flower”. Meanwhile the tortoise found a rabbit’s jawbone on the lawn and began to eat it in a way that made me glad he’s only the size of a small cheese pasty.

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I’ve been so sleepy after work lately that creativity had really taken a back seat until I frightened myself by deciding to rent some wall space in the Joe Cornish Gallery, along with Jane Thorniley-Walker. It was a spur of the moment thing, partly to help get the new “Long Gallery” looking ready for it’s opening day. Imagine my surprise when both Jane and I sold work on the first day, and in such illustrious company ! The piece I sold was a cyanotype which I still enjoy experimenting with, although I’ve got a lot to learn and my methods are haphazard.

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I felt encouraged and finally got around to making a start on a cushion that someone commissioned months ago and made some tiny bird and feather prints,  with stitch,  that may or may not make it to the gallery.

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Anyway, here is part of our section in the Long Gallery…Jane’s mosaic owl looks perfect. The wonderful black and white work on the far wall is by photographer Neil Bage and you can also see work by Lizzie Shepherd, Prints For Arts Sake and Mark Banks in this room.

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Now I must tend to my battered hands which resemble the tortoise’s legs and sting from pulling up nettles with bare fingers (gloves never work do they), I may seal them in plastic bags full of hand cream! Here is a message to those of you on Facebook… my brother and I have recently got the password for my daddy’s page ( from his gallery) and are now in charge of running it. We’re building it up steadily and it would be great if you could go and take a look…like, share and all that stuff. Thank you and I hope spring has sprung where you are. x

https://www.facebook.com/WilliamTillyer

 

Sweet Honey and Primroses

I’m drinking extremely strong coffee and eating a square of bitter chocolate with chilli as an antidote to the super sweet baking disaster that’s sitting on the work surface looking at me reproachfully. Honey and Rose cakes seemed like a good idea this afternoon but I was really only imagining what they would look like and forgetting that I do not have a sweet tooth; give me Marmite and salty butter any day! I imagined drippy white icing and crystallized rose petals,Jasmine Tea in the pink enamel pot, chipped vintage china and a jug of Primroses. Oh well, I got the Primroses.

It was a foggy day on the moors today and cold enough to justify lighting the kitchen stove and getting down to some serious Etsy listing, e-mail writing and  “fantasy business proposal” planning. Yesterday’s meeting with Vicky Trainor was a real pleasure and I’m going to take some of her advice about re-packaging things to unify the “brand”, emphasizing the “treasured” aspect and making the most of my extreme good fortune to be living in this very special place. I fully intended to sit with paper and pencils and draw today but you know how it is; I traveled from place to place on a virtual sightseeing tour, calling in on old friends and getting so full of ideas I could pop. A new discovery was the lovely Moon to Moon where I loitered on an imaginary beanbag, gathering inspiration for that fantasy business plan…

Anyway, you’ll be the first to know if it becomes reality. Now that double dose of caffeine and the re-discovered Joseph Arthur album I’m listening to has given me a bit of energy to tackle the drifts of icing sugar I managed to get all over the kitchen and goodness I may even do that drawing after all.Thank you so much for reading . x

Listening To : Joseph Arthur “Termite Song”

 

Whatever Happened To The Masterplan?

Hard to believe that last Sunday it was snowing. Today I have been looking at the little signs of spring in the garden, planting some shallots and spinach and my gift to myself , three white Dicentra spectabilis plants …the Bleeding Heart plant.I do love this time of year; the first signs of old favorite perennials emerging through the soil, the hamster soft catkins on the willows, the sweet musky scent of the balsams which I breath in from their sticky buds so that the smells stays on my nose. I do not like the fact that there was a wasp in my room this morning, filling me with an irrational fear that goes beyond being stung.

Today I also went to an interview for a waitressing job…..this wasn’t part of the masterplan.

I pondered the protocol; do I write about this at the risk of sounding like a bleeding heart, or do I maintain the myth in order to remain “professional”? Well, I started this blog at college and it while it has evolved over the years I do feel the need to record my experiences honestly, just in case anyone else on a similar path might find it useful. One thing I realised ,just now in fact (!), was that in reality I had no plan post graduation. I’d written essays about becoming a designer/maker or working freelance but never really considered what I would make,how I would sell it and how much of it I’d have to sell to avoid getting the electric cut off and living on lentils. In fact, I think , in hindsight, the weakest part of the whole college experience was the professional practice side which should perhaps have forced us to be a bit harder on ourselves and more realistic.If there are any students still reading this…make a plan, and then a back-up plan!

Hey, its not all doom and gloom. I had a wonderfully enjoyable day at Baron Bizarre’s Vintage Fair where the sun shone and the beautiful people ( quite literally; I don’t think I’ve ever been at an event with quite so many pretty boys and leggy girls!) all came out to marvel at the burlesque dancers while a peacock strutted about on the lawns and I caught up with some old friends ( and hopefully made some new ones). It was especially lovely to have a table next to my very special friend Susie of Drawn by Badgers who had made all the bunting for the event and creates the most gorgeous needle felted animals and precious framed works of art. Susie is an amazing person and I think you should all go and say hello …

So, today I listed a lot of things in my Etsy shop and dashed to the post office with orders to post. These new brooches made with my bird design printed on to cotton have made me keen to do some more digital printing and definitely some new drawing.Tomorrow I have my mentoring meeting with Vicky which I’m really looking forward to and as usual I’m bursting with ideas and dreams…its just figuring out a way to make them real.

Listening to:- Boy & Bear “Lordy May” ( because the battery went on the radio last night at just the wrong moment ) Reading :- The new issue of Selvedge and What Katy Did Next who kindly included my lavender heart in her latest mood board. Thanks Katy x

“Flashes from the Archives of Oblivion”

Wow, three days of sunshine,washing on the line and Lapwings getting territorial in the field. I’m waiting for the Curlews return as the year creaks slowly back into life.

I dug out a very old sketch book, looking for things to photograph, and found these drawings from 2005.Snowdrops and lost love, first signs of Spring.It feels as thought the sun hasn’t shone for a year but maybe, just maybe there’ll be a break in the clouds soon.

Anyway, the point of today’s post is to let you know about an exhibition of William Tillyer’s prints/reproductions of watercolours, which is opening tomorrow in Harrogate at the Godfrey&Watt Gallery .A rare event in the North…

23/10/05