Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Winter Wander at Greens Pool

I promised I'd post more photos of our beach wander, so here they are.  This was back in August, still winter then, but it had been a gloriously warm day.  As you'll be able to tell, I was very fascinated with the patterns in the sand!

I'm really enjoying this website at the moment, especially after reading this.  One of the reasons why I really felt I needed to get the heck out of the city was because the levels of noise pollution, and the overall, never-ending sounds of humans and our machines were driving me to distraction.  Living here is a joy because so often I cannot hear anything that I could identify as human made.  I think it is a mostly unacknowledged problem that constant 'unnatural' noise is actually driving us balmy, and we desperately need to hear what the rest of the world, the non-human majority, is saying.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Books...and magic in the mail.

I know that some of you reading this will know all about the marvellous project that is Hedgespoken. A travelling circus, puppet show, gypsy storyteller caravan, magic wagon, tall tales traverser and more, it is the heartchild (because brainchild sounds too clinical) of Tom Hirons and Rima Staines.  If you want to be logical about it, then it's an old Bedford truck, revamped and re-membered as a travelling home and performance space.  But Tom and Rima ran a crowdfunding campaign last year to get it up and running, and one of the perks of adding a few drops into the ocean of generosity that surged their way, was to receive a copy of this.

I first read Tom's poem in 2012 (read it here), and it's one of those pieces of writing that stops you in your tracks and knocks you sideways.  A poem you read for the first time and it is full of things you know, somehow, though you don't know how you know them.  And it makes you weep because you wonder how you could have forgotten that you knew.

My beautiful copy arrived safely in the mail a week or so ago, and it is a covetable little piece of pure art.  Gorgeous illustrations by Rima, and Tom's magic words.  It is like a talisman, a small pocket sized treasure, and even better, a small affordable treasure.  A little rough magic born from hedgerows and overgrown tracks not often travelled.

Holding this little, precious thing in my hand, made me dare to wonder if I could make something like it.  If maybe some of my little stories and scribbles might be worthy of such treatment.  After all, I DO love books, I love making them, and I've always dreamed of making beautiful, magical books.  That's where my Map Book began, in those dreams.

So the last week has seen me busy with a little book of my own.  True to form though, I cannot seem to create something that would ever pay me back (financially anyway) the time I've spent on it, each one hand stitched and individually embellished with white, red and gold ink.  But there is joy in it.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with these, perhaps I'll open my Esty shop again, though with an internet connection as flighty and as unreliable as the weather, that might not be terribly wise.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel in that regard though.  We have finally got our 'shed' approval, and can begin building what will be, for a couple years anyway, our new home, and the internet reception there is, strange as it is being further from town, much better than where we are now.

Front cover illustration, printed separately, glued to card cover and embellished with gold ink.

My new logo.

The illustrations on each page are embellished with white ink, hand painted.

Final page hand painted embellishments with red and white ink.

When I get bored, and need to make something just because I need to MAKE something, I make these.  

Tiny Business Card sized paintings

Decorating my Frame Drumstick

Trying out the wood burning tool on a charred kangaroo skull, found after a bush fire.

Same problem again, of course.  What am I going to do with them, who is going to buy them, and what’s the point of making a notebook that might sell for a couple of dollars, when it takes me half an hour to make, or painstakingly burning patterns into a stick?  I don’t know.  I had a conversation with a neighbour who is a serious artist... and I mean SERIOUS; international exhibitions, Government tenders, big corporate commissions, little frivolities such as being the Art Director for opening ceremonies for the Commonwealth games.  That kind of SERIOUS.  He was talking about the kind of people who like to be able to walk into a big fancy gallery and flash a lot of cash around, and buy something because it happens to take their fancy on the day, or maybe it matches the new curtains in their mansion, or just so they can show off that they have so much money they can send big bucks on little (unnecessary?) luxuries like art.  And it occurred to me that I don’t want to sell to people like that.  Am I being snobbish?  I don’t think so.  I don’t want my work to be in a fancy gallery, going for thousands of dollars.  Sure, it would make life a lot easier, and I probably wouldn’t feel quite so guilty whenever I sit down at my desk to do what feels like playwork.  I mean, you can justify everything if it’s bringing in an income, can’t you?! But most often the people who like what I create are creators themselves, and their opinion means a great deal to me, and if they buy something then I know they REALLY want it, really think it’s something special because mostly, they don’t have much spare cash to wave about.  If I’ve put my heart and soul into creating something, I want it to be bought by someone who understands that, not someone who thinks it will match their couch.  Someone who buys art just because they CAN.  I want my work to be bought by the people who CAN’T, but still do, somehow, because it means something to them.  I know I’m resorting to terrible stereotypes here, perhaps it’s just my friend’s thirty years in the business have caused him to become very cynical about the ‘art industry’ and I’m letting it rub off on me too much. 

But, when I really think about it, I don't believe art is something that belongs in a rarified atmosphere, it doesn't really belong hanging on pristine gallery walls in air-conditioned buildings.  Art is something that should be a bit grubby, knocked about at the edges, it should be worn (in both meanings of the word), carried around from day to day, it should be in the hands of children and the poor, and the sick and the elderly and it should DO something.  Tell stories, give hope and healing, make you laugh, make you cry, make you think, make you think differently.  It should be part of everyday life, because it is NOT an unnecessary luxury.

But my artist friend did tell me a story.  Years ago, he had work in a gallery up in the city, and a homeless man used to come in regularly and wander around, but there was one painting this man especially loved, and he'd come in just to spend time looking at it.  And he told my friend that he was going to buy it.  Which my friend took with a grain of salt.  Until, months later, the old guy came in with the cash in his hand and, despite attempts by my friend to make him at least accept a discount, he insisted on paying the full price.  The catch was that he had nowhere to keep the painting because he had nowhere to live himself, so he asked if it could stay in the gallery and he would visit it.  And he did.  

I suppose there are many other things that old man should have spent his money on, and who knows where he got it from.  Perhaps he'd been saving it up for years.  Perhaps he was really a millionaire slumming it on the streets.  But perhaps it's just that a painting that he didn't even have a place to keep safe made him feel happy, maybe it spoke to him, whispered stories that he needed, wove magic that only he could see, gave him back memories he thought he'd forgotten.  Maybe it made the world right again, at least while he looked at it.  

And so I tell myself, if I could paint like that, then THAT'S what would make me an artist.  What the price tag says is irrelevant.

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