Monthly Archives: February 2011

Limitations and asking for help

As the dates of the art exhibition sneak up on me at rather an alarming rate, I have come to realize that it is time for me to start doing something I find very difficult.  I have always saw myself as mostly self sufficient.  I hate asking for help.  I would rather push myself to the edge of my energy quota, of  what I can handle, then to have to lay myself bare before anyone, admitting that I need help.

With this project, I have found myself being humbled by my own limitations.  There is only so much I can physically do, before I have to concede some kind of defeat.  It has been a hard lesson to learn, but a necessary lesson.  With ever request for help, there has been cringing.  Even when asking for help to find a name for this project, I did it with a heavy sigh.  I cannot do this.  For some reason, I have hit a wall and can’t find a way around it or over it.

Now that the dates are approaching, I am having to call out for help from my friends.  In the beginning stages of this project, I did approach a few people with requests for help.  I will need help putting up the work in each venue as I cannot do all of the lifting myself.  There is also the matter of sitting for hours and hours outside, watching the work, inviting people to take a look and talking to them about the project.

My plan is to start contacting universities, local artists and whoever else I can think of, calling out for people to volunteer a few hours of their time.  I do think that participating in this project is worthwhile, or, well, I just wouldn’t ask for people to make that sacrifice of giving up their time.

It is very humbling, risky and scary to think that I cannot pull this off without the help of others.

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The risk of speaking it out into the world

The other day I was having a chat with a good friend of mine.  Each of us are currently working on a rather large body of work.  It’s actually quite interesting how similar these projects are in their scope and international appeal.  Even more amazing is that I have only really just met this amazing creative, all colour and light and loveliness.

We touched on a topic that made me quite thoughtful, revisiting it several times throughout my day.

Speaking out your intentions.  Telling the world of your plans.  The moment you do this, people’s expectations of you change.  Or perhaps it isn’t that they change.  Maybe their expectations become more solid, more them.  Some will expect you to succeed.  Some will expect you to fail.

The thing about speaking out your intentions is that these ideas that are fresh and new are also fragile.  They can be so easily dashed by a lack of hope or confidence.  If someone close to you tells you that perhaps this isn’t the thing for you to be doing, it can stop something quite wonderful from blossoming.  I wonder how many amazing projects are stopped at this stage?

To speak your intentions is to invite people to comment.  My experience so far with this project is that the comments have been divided.  I have been taken aback by what people have said, as if it’s okay to speak out such rubbishness.  Why would people want to see that?  Are you sure you are going to finish it.  I bet you wish you hadn’t taken on this big project, now.  Some of this has been said at this late stage of the game, when I feel that I have made it very apparent that THIS.  IS.  HAPPENING.  It is difficult on a low day to continue to try to convince others whilst you are trying to convince yourself as well.

However, something amazing happens when you speak your intentions.  The universe conspires to help you, as long as you keep your radar turned on and are ready to see the people you need and the events unfold to help you on your journey.  My friends have rallied around me.  I’m meeting people that are interested in the project and interesting in themselves.  Even one off comments like ‘I think this is a worthwhile project’ is tucked away and carried with me.  More and more opportunities are unfolding.  Sometimes when I think of all these wonderful things, my head spins and I think that I am a rather fortunate and lucky person.

So this is my thank you to all of my friends and to all of my new connections I have made and to all of the future opportunities.

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Obeying that small voice

I have just had a very frustrating several hours.  No.  Back that up.  I’ve been having a frustrating few days whilst working on the Newcastle prints.

On my printing days, I cut up lots of coloured fabrics, some in keeping with my colour scheme and some for future smaller works.  I drape these all over my house to dry, then heat set for hours, ironing the ink into permanence.  After going through days of this sort of activity, I then cut and attach and layer and stitch.  I was doing this step yesterday and this morning, but it just didn’t seem to be going right.  My Exeter colours seemed to slot together beautifully.  I didn’t really think too much about it.  With my boxes of fabric beside me, I placed the colours onto the sheet in various arrangements until I was pleased with the colour scheme.  But for some reason, Newcastle just wasn’t happening.  Hours, I tell you, hours of hmmmming and hawwwwwwwing it finally occurred to me that it was just one colour throwing it all out.  It was the wrong shade of beige!  How dreadful.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the shade on hand and had to make haste to the fabric shop.  They haven’t had my colour in for ages but Hallelujah brothers and sisters, today I was in luck.  There was a whole new roll of it just waiting for me.

The fabric is now being washed and tomorrow I shall reprint Trinity Car Park (for the third time…so annoying), the Bioscience Centre and the townhouses.  Also, I realized that printing on white will work very good here as most of the background is going to be grey.  The white just pops.  It breaks up the grey bricks.

Anyway, I did think I was going to have to just set Newcastle aside for awhile, but now I can carry on and finish that wonderful city.

*a very long sigh of relief*

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‘Inadvertently’ adding the seasons

After laying out the pieces for the Newcastle sheet, I realized that the overall appearance of the work was a bit blue, a bit grey and a bit beige.  The feel of it was a bit cold, a bit like a damp Fall or Winter.  I thought to myself  ‘Why have I done this to Newcastle?  I made it look dreary.’  There are things I can do to amend the dreary and pull it up a  bit, so I’m really not worried about offending the good people of that city.  It is not grim up North.  I think it’s actually quite lovely.

I have a photograph of the Exeter sheet tacked onto my wall.  It is looking very green and cheery and much like Spring.  My ideas are already set for Dudley, which are going to be in the same colours as Newcastle.  As for Nebraska, bright bright light colours in goldy yellows and yellow-orange.  The quality of  light in the states is so different than the light in the UK.  It’s hard to describe.  Everything seems golden there.  Well, in Nebraska it does.  I don’t  know if it’s the lack of hills, the lack of rain and lack of green, but the sun’s  light plays differently upon that land than it does in the UK.

It has only just occurred to me that I am creating seasons in my artwork.  It’s how I remember these places when I lived there or at least, when I visited very briefly.  I found Exeter green and delicious, having visited at the end of the summer.  And after spending several cold and rainy months in Edinburgh, the change was noticable.  I visited Dudley in November.  Need I say more.  And for some reason, whenever I think of Nebraska, I think of hot, listless summers.

It was whilst I was heat setting (ironing) the Newcastle  pieces when I realized what I had done.  Inadvertently.  And that word reminded me of something a bit naughty I did when I was a kid.

During family gatherings at my grandparents’ house, my cousin Melanie and I would find ourselves being up to no good.  We would climb up and down the laundry chute.  We would graffiti the pin board in a guest room.  And we would prank call from the basement phone.  Oh what little devils we were when we were together.  I blame her.  She was a year older and I am easily lead astray.  Our favourite prank phone call went a little like this (with Melanie doing the calling as I couldn’t hold it together enough):

Melanie:  Hello Ma’am, this is Peggy Ann Sue from the phone company.  We are currently conducting work on your phone lines and are contacting you to ask that you do not answer your phone in the next ten minutes as this may inadvertently cause harm to our men working on the line.

She would then hang up, wait a minute, call back and we would both scream.

Now that I think about it, it’s pretty impressive that a 10 year old even used the word ‘inadvertently’ in a sentence.

It was the blonde that did it

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Centre for Life Bioscience Centre

Today I am creating the final screen for Newcastle.  I saved this one for last because, well, I wanted to put it off as long as I could.  When I visit Newcastle, I can hardly bring myself to look this straight on.  I put my head down or fix my focus on something else ahead, like the brightly coloured centre of fun and exploration, which is just across the way from the centre. Staring at the Bioscience Centre and recreating it is going to make for a very hard day today.

This is where I had my IVF treatments.  I was given three attempts but after that second I just couldn’t face going through that kind of heartache, pain, emotional torment again.  The drugs they put you on are hideous and I found my mood quite altered most of the time.  After a month of this, you then have to give yourself injections.  I’ve seen diabetic needles, nice and thin as a hair, but these needles, oh God, they are much bigger.  As if that isn’t enough, you have to actually prepare the injection using different vials and syringes.  So, you get to think about it for a good five minutes before you stab yourself in the leg.  As much as I tried, it was the final step that I couldn’t bring myself to do, so my husband had to give me my injection.  And then there are uncomfortable proceedures, followed by two weeks of hoping and praying and saying things like ‘God, if this works I promise I’ll volunteer my life to raising money to help cancer patients’ or some other negotiation.  Eventually, nature tells you it didn’t work.  But you still have to go in for a final appointment.  And sit in the room.  And try not to have a meltdown infront of all the other people in the room that are going through the various stages of treatment.  I still can’t believe my final show for the tour is to be in this building.  I am going to have to call on all my inner resources to get through the set up.

As today is going to be a bit difficult, I have made a plan for success.  I am playing my most favourite and uplifting songs.  Today there is no room for the usual beautiful melancholy music I usually listen to.  And to help lighten the mood even more, I will end this post with photos of my lovely dog, Josey.  We brought her into the family just before I started treatment.  She’s been such a great friend to me.

Josey's first day home

perfection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josey and I on the Isle of Skye

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Views from my room

View from bedroom balcony

It broke my heart to have to move out of this house.  This is the townhouse on the Tyne that used to be our family home during our short stay in Newcastle. There was something about living along the river that was quite special.  It was always changing.  Tide up.  Tide down.  And the big ripple the would move it’s way up the river when the tide turned, now that was a treat to behold.

My dad said that Gramps had always wanted to live by a river.  What a funny thing to want, as I’m sure he didn’t grow up by a river or any large body of water, for that matter.  There was a pond on the farm, but that was it.  And I tell you, you can’t get any further away from an ocean than Nebraska (if you’re in the states, that is).

So, anyway, today I completed my printwork of the row of townhouses where I used to live.  I have one print yet to create and hopefully that will be completed by the end of Friday.  Next week I will put the Newcastle pieces together, heave a sigh of relief that one more city has been created, then move on.  But where do I go from here?  That seems to always be the question.

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Sleepless

I’ve been busy since 2am.  Filler has been added to my row of townhouses screen and I’ve updated my website.  So here I sit, annoyed that it is now 3:30am and sleep doesn’t seem to want to visit me just yet.  My Dad has difficulties sleeping.  Has the baton now been passed down to me?

I remember being sent to bed as a child.  Up, up, up the stairs I would climb, crawl into bed and wait.  When I was convinced that my parents thought I was asleep, I would find my book and commando crawl to the door where the light could reach the book’s pages.  I would read until I heard the first creak of the lowest step, then quietly slip back into bed as if I’d been sleeping all along.

I’m not even sure what is keeping me up at the moment.  My brain goes and thinks and doesn’t seem to stop.  Sometimes I can get a handle on it by thinking of a song I like, but then there’s another trap because the song loops and loops and I’m back to thinking too much. Usually I just lay there for hours, getting increasingly annoyed until eventually I drop off.  Tonight I decided to do something useful with those hours.  I have shut off my alarm clock and will sleep as long as I need to in the morning, which means I’ll be up no later than 8:30 as I am not good at sleeping in, either.

As my grandfather once wrote in a letter to me ‘Off to the arms of Morpheus I go.’

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