Happy New Year wishes!
I've been reading the wonderful 'A Year with Rilke' translated and edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows; these are daily readings which bring together many of Rilke's beautiful works, and for the 3rd of January is the poem 'Entering', from 'Book of Images' - just right for the year's beginning:
'Entering' by Rainer Maria Rilke
Whoever you may be: step into the evening.
Step out of the room where everything is known.
Whoever you are,
your house is the last before the far-off.
With your eyes, which are almost too tired
to free themselves from the familiar,
you slowly take one black tree
and set it against the sky: slender, alone.
And you have made a world.
It is big
and like a word, still ripening in silence.
And though your mind would fabricate its meaning,
your eyes tenderly let go of what they see.
Rilke's poetry often explores beginnings and departures, seeing and creating anew, being on the verge of the undiscovered... and stillness - evoking a presence beyond words and concepts. I always see strong visuals and colours when I read his work and love the creating and letting go in this poem...
Do you find this too? That when reading poetry or any form of writing, you experience colours and visuals?... I'd love to know whether reading inspires you to paint and create.
Please click here to read more, in the current newsletter...
It's wonderful to be showing my new works alongside Marg Mason's beautiful paintings and Katrina Slack's quirkily fantastic wire sculptures in the current exhibition at Morvah Schoolhouse Gallery.
Exhibitions can be exhilarating and rewarding. They also take a lot of practical preparation and are often emotionally challenging too - with the old faithful 'imposter phenomenon' turning up once again, attempting to influence, derail and even sabotage the day, with its questioning, mocking and varied array of voices. The physical sensations in the body of fear, sickness, shakiness, shame and vulnerability, amongst many others, can take a strong grip too. Sometimes so strongly that not turning up, not going through with it seems the absolute best option. (Certainly not a 'for she is of the tribe of tiger' -type feeling! - see pic above :))
Does this sound familiar to you at all? ... whether exhibitions or any situation where you are 'being seen'.
Fortunately, in my experience more and more, these voices and sensations which occur can be observed and acknowledged for what they are - emanations from 'the monkey mind' :-) (I like this term, often used in Advaita pointings) or the ego, 'the conditioned self' that each of us has as our persona. The learned responses from over many years jump in on cue. These can be limiting beliefs, notions that keep us stuck, hiding... entrenched ideas of who we believe ourselves to be. Ironically, they could be seen as trying to keep us safe, too, when we're in situations that could threaten/are difficult... however, often these very situations are those that help us grow and therefore, ultimately, enable us to shed those layers of voices and conditioning. The ego doesn't want this to happen, of course, as it's secure in its comfort zone, believing itself to be the CEO, (because we let it) and needing us to stay where we are, so it can continue to exist and control/manage us, business as usual.
Recognising that as our real self, we are not our responses or feelings or fears or thoughts or behaviours has been a wonderful liberation for me, a sense that I've felt for so long, since very young, but have not actually 'lived' the truth of...
When new experiences and opportunities unfold, the fears can be recognised, acknowledged and even respected as intense sensations that are a part of who we are in the world; we can say hello to them and not 'mind' them. We can remain unattached. It's ok, they can be right there whilst I continue to plan, to organise the exhibition, to meet others on the day, to socialise... they fluctuate in their strength and presence too, whilst I bubble-wrap my work...' You're not good enough', 'who do you think you are?... yes yes, I hear and feel you, thank you :-) - they hate to be ignored and will up-level until I listen, then they're more at ease... and as Eckhart Tolle would say, on letting be and allowing, try asking yourself, 'Can I be the space for this?' - and that's what I wrote on the inside of my palm, in Biro pen yesterday, when the anxiety was very strong just before driving to the event.
And it was genuinely fun, fresh, spontaneous and enjoyable and yes! I could be the space for this, for all these emotions and I could let them 'be' and they didn't derail me... and they even disappeared into the shadows to rest for a bit at many points throughout the afternoon.
I often do EFT, meditate, read inspiring authors and poets, watch and participate in satsangs online, listen to music, carry rose quartz, write on my palms :-))) for learning, grounding, self-compassion and reassurance and pointers in the moment.
I'd love to know what you do to help at particularly anxious times.
Some photos from the (truly!) wonderful afternoon...fears and all
... and to be the space which does not change :-)
I love this 7 min video by Robert Holden which is so clear on the unconditioned Self, the conditioned self ..and ultimately all in Oneness x
Land of Ice and Fire...and sheep!
My son and I have recently returned from an amazing and memorable 3-day holiday in Iceland exploring Reykjavik, The Golden Circle (a wonderful guide with ‘Grayline Tours’) and The Blue Lagoon… an adventure full of geysers, hot springs, tectonic plates and famous fissures, the original Viking parliament, a beautiful waterfall at Gullfoss, bubbling mud pools, silky milky-blue mineral rich waters, elves and trolls, moss covered lava fields and much more..!
I was also on the lookout, a little bit! for sheep on our travels, as always hope to find some strands attached to bushes and branches but we only saw a few sheep, roaming wild in the far distance beneath the mountains, eating moss and herbs…and apart from a few Icelandic birch there are very few trees to catch wool on….
The Icelandic sheep is an ancient North European breed, slightly smaller than modern varieties, whose double-layered coat is uniquely suited to cold and wet conditions. The inner layer, or thel, is insulating, superlight and very airy, while the outer layer, or tog, is long, strong and water repellent. Carded together, these two layers make lopi, versatile wool used to knit lopapeysa, the distinctive traditional Icelandic sweater of concentric rings. I'd love one of these but they are hugely expensive and my knitting skills are not exactly up to the 'lopapeysa'!
‘At summer’s apex, the number of sheep in Iceland outnumbers the human population three to one, at approximately 500,000. Allowed to roam wild in the summer, they are ubiquitous on the island’s barren, rocky landscape, sometimes scaling giant mountains in search of edible moss and herbs, where they can only be seen as tiny white, black and brown specks thousands of feet in the air.’
Excerpt taken from: ‘Why Farmers and Knitters Are Fixated on Icelandic Sheep’
A wonderful chance meeting with a visitor to Morvah Schoolhouse recently inspired a new venture in 3D :-)
Mary makes felted pots and vessels and also keeps alpacas and she very kindly gave me a large bag of last year’s shearing from her 12-year-old, Josephine. The fleece is beautifully soft, a wonderful quality with subtle stripes and colour variation and a slight crimp too - such a joy to handle.
It's fantastic to know the provenance of the wools and fleeces, especially to this extent! and in feeling sure that the animals are treated with kindness and respect. This is fundamental to the work I do - further details here.
To make the pot, you can use a cheapy resist (£1 silicone baking sheet) and table mats. I cut a large circle in the resist and pre-felted three layers of wool around it, then, with a good amount of felting, the resist starts to buckle as the fibres shrink and you can cut a smallish hole in the felt and pull it out. (In the final layer I added a few strands of French D’Arles Merino for a little more colour contrast - darker brown - and then decided to sew a few ridges into the surface for interest whilst wet.) Finally, shape the pot and fill with bubble-wrap then leave it to dry in the sun (and the airing cupboard).
Felted pots/vessels and pods have such an organic nature, they feel truly beautiful to hold and you can create any shape, size and design, and each type of wool will create a different texture. The alpaca wool is very fine and soft so adding a little more of another wool such as Merino or maybe Texel (quite bulky and resilient) might be a good idea next time to increase sturdiness and I don’t think I felted mine for long enough this time... I might still sew a few more ridges too... they resemble texture on bark a little...
I can imagine future designs with simple embellishing, birds, ferns, flowers, plants, insects …maybe felt plates, platters, dishes, pots, sculptural pieces….endless!
The wonder of felt is that you are creating the form whilst also making the fabric and it's great to watch what happens and unfolds along the way :-)
There are many online tutorials for making felted vessels and I think I might follow one next time to get some more handy tips and hints. I'd also like to start working out how to film my work to make time-lapse videos (my son can help me with this!) and when I create another pot/pod I'll write more detailed notes... this first time was a real (pretty messy!) experiment :-)
Thank you Mary and Josephine for the inspiration, the tips and technique using resists - and your beautiful fleece xx
I was so happy to take part in a charity art auction this month, for Cornwall Hospice Care at The Exchange gallery, part of 'Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange' in Penzance. The event raised much needed funds for this important charity and was attended by many.
It was an honour for me to show my work alongside many well-known and inspiring local artists and it's wonderful to know that my felting, inspired by a line in a poem by the local poet W.S. Graham has found a happy home.
'A few scattered rooks blown against the pewter sky' from 'Waiting for Snow' by W.S.Graham
(please click for catalogue of artworks in the auction)
My feltings to illustrate an accompanying resource for a life-changing course
So happy that some of my feltings, prints and cards are in The Blue Bramble Gallery in St Ives.It's wonderful to see them amongst so many beautiful artworks by artists I've admired for quite a while and in such a unique gallery! I've taken some feltings out to show at Archie Browns in May and June but then hopefully will be making some more....
I've missed felting, with all the preparation, measuring for frames, painting frames, arranging prints and cards...I'll be happy when all is complete and I can get to work again :-)
Beautiful Arapawa sheep!
From Cornwall to New Zealand, with love :-)
You will notice the different texture of the wool as you felt it – the brown is very soft and easy to felt, the grey wool has an elasticity and stretch in it that is completely different from the brown wool.’
Thank you so much Allyson and Cilla - and Fernando, Lola and Luna! What beautiful sheep and I can't wait to get felting :-) xxxxx
There's a moment in Part 1, 2 or 3 where he sees a squirrel in a tree through the window behind the interviewer. The memory of that moment stayed with me from when I first watched :-)
....The Sparrow has now SOLD :-)
New cards available...
So happy with the new cards from Monkeypuzzle Repro Arts in Porthtowan. Excellent quality recycled card with envelopes and cello-wrapped...Ginger and the Stonechat. Available via my website and MorvahSchoolhouse gallery. Also many other designs available at BlueBramble gallery, St Ives.
Blue Bramble Gallery
E E Cummings
Folt Bolt Shop
G M Hopkins
Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
R S Thomas
Sister Corita Kent
Thank You :-)
W S Graham