Skills and Wannabe Skills
Realisation 1: I have a great skills base! Broad and at a high level!!
There are areas I wish to develop and I now have a plan. Structure helps me with this and I have found courses, workshops and people who can support me, even though I could just practice on my own. The focus of time will get it done; learning from a mentor saves time and is enjoyable. I will save my alone work for my own research and development rather than gaining skills.
Realisation 2: I am a fabric maker. I like to be in control from the start of a cloth, if I come to a readymade fabric then I will colour it and work into it in other ways. Everything I do is brought to the cloth.
Although I can knit, crochet and make clothes I made a decision a long time ago to do this for relaxation, using other people’s patterns. I may use these skills within my fabric making, but I do not design knitwear or draft patterns; although I am fascinated by simple garment design.
Realisation 3: I enjoy working across my skills base, integrating techniques and processes to create my work. I enjoy the technical challenges this may bring and the problem solving. I am stimulated by process, technique and research.
Realisation 4: I hit perfection a lot of times! I look around at my work and it is there!! And my husband sees it in a whole different set of pieces that I had forgotten about!!! Now this was a surprise.
What is perfection? It is when I look my work and it speaks to the heart. It transcends the media and processes used to create it. It is in the moment.
Realisation 5: In the Moment. This is what my work is about.
Does my work express my moment or remind me of it? What does a viewer see? I certainly know that my work speaks to the heart of others and they enquire about the moment, and relate to it.
In the Moment
About being human. Staying open and being vulnerable to experiences. I will decide what is important in the moment.
In the Moment is not just my theme. It is also my mantra in making - to be in the moment of making. I work with complex processes built up over time. I can only gain perfection by being in the moment at each stage, building up the piece from a series of moments.
As I work I will have an internal voice that discusses the design elements, continually making judgments throughout, but at the end, when I sit back and view my work these have gone out of the window. If perfection has been reached then they underpin the work but I certainly do not see them. To me this is perfection.
Realisation 6: All of this has become evident because I am pursuing a new skill - writing.
Through journaling around the questions posed I now know myself a little better and through this am able to be more relaxed about my work. There is cohesion, purpose and perfection for me; and this is all I need.
I sat with the pieces I have in my studio that I love and look at every day. They tell a story about a difficult period in my life, where I could have shut down, but by staying open and expanding my life through my Buddhist practice I was able to grow so much. I have written about each one, about each moment.
“Love for Robin”
After a day housebound he used to come in and bundle me into the car, taking me to see the sunset over the reserve. We would sit on the bench together looking out over the water, still until the sun had gone down. I loved the stillness, the air, the space and sharing the reserve that Robin had created. The water was punctuated by the little structures he had built for the birds to settle on, like stitches in the landscape.
“I Have Cancer”
Mum rang, it was out of the blue; I did not even know she had been ill.
I had to celebrate the success of my student at the Lion Awards in London and we visited Tate Modern to see the war art and John Heartfield’s courageous work. My emotions were rung out and I only got peace when I walked into the gallery showing abstraction from the work between the wars of the St. Ives group.
Circles became my voice of expression in this time of pain, just as it had for those artists who lived through war.
This is the culmination of three years research; bringing my life drawing into my craftwork using natural dyes in my printing. It took so many experiments to develop the techniques and mum, as ever, had been part of this journey; sharing my ideas.
On my 51st birthday I showed it to her and she loved it. She was so proud; I could see it in her eyes.
She died 4 days later, I saw her unconscious, but my birthday was the last time I kissed her goodbye. I still feel the touch of her hair on my lips as I kissed the top of her head and said goodbye.
“Sonnet 94 by Pablo Neruda”
Robin buys me a book of poems every year at Christmas and this anthology included Sonnet 94 by Pablo Neruda.
I only knew death through Henry Purcell and Dido’s selfish lament. Here Neruda gave me insight into how a generous person with an open heart would want someone to face life after his or her death. It guided me through preparations for my grief.
The initial relief that mum was no longer suffering quickly passed and I was just left with the huge absence of mum in my life. Buddhism teaches that we are all still connected after death and I chanted to feel this. The second half of Sonnet 94 taught me to paint pictures in the great hall of absence and I stitched this in 5 days, pouring my grief into it as I stabbed the fabric.
It was the first piece I made that I did not show my mum. I realised that a piece was only complete when I showed it to her. I was now able to make again, confident that I was sharing it with her, in our hearts.
“Balance - a time of healing”
‘Neruda wrote a hundred love sonnets to his wife’ I told my husband. ‘Not my talent’ he told me after a suitable pause. I thought, ‘but it is mine’. I determined to make 100 love sonnets for my family, friends and community.
In this print Buddha emerged as a third figure framed in the mirror of two, creating a balance between the pair; between the invisible and the manifest, watching over them. Yet Buddha is within me; it is in the dark and in the light, as I watch over myself.
“Balance of M.E.”
The fabric version of the “Balance - a time of healing”. I could bring tension and release into the fabric along with:
- The balance of Buddha in my life
- The invisible and the manifest
- The light and the dark
- Suffering and joy
These are all two sides of the same coin.
My M.E. is my Buddhahood manifest. Through the parameters that this sets I have been able to become the strongest me I can be. Here I am, Buddha, at the centre of my being.