Monthly Archives: April 2011

I feel like a tourist in my own country

Apparently, I am now the owner of a Funny Accent. It has something to do with my d’s at the end of words like “would”, “could” and “should.” I’ve also been struggling to string together a coherent sentence, swapping British words for American ones.

“So, like, have there been lots of adverts…ads…Uh….ad-ver-TISE-ments for oh sod it, I mean screw it, I forgot what I was saying.”

(My brother Derek laughs and says “AdverTISEments, Caz?! Ha! That’s funny. Just say what you would normally say, because NO ONE says it like that here.”)

I find myself baffled at the size of milk jugs and butter tubs. Even the juice container is enormous. My bafflement continues when the tv is switched on and people are shouting, shouting at me. They speak so fast and loud. What I’m saying is important! You will listen because I am speaking unavoidably loud!!

When did all of this happen? When did I become so alien? I’m sure when I was here three years ago, at least some of this seemed normal. I’m sure I didn’t have to adjust as much.

My mom is now looking at the tin of whisky fudge I brought over.

“I’m sure if you had five, you’d still be able to drive.”

“What if I had six?”

Ok. We’ve still got humour. At least we’ve got that in common.

20110429-083007.jpg

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Wedding

I am away tomorrow to Cleveland. Yeah.  Cleveland.  I don’t like Cleveland, but I like my family and I really like my step-brother.  It is his wedding to a lovely girl named Heidi that I am off to attend.  April 29th is the big royal wedding and it is also the big Hatfield wedding.  It will surely be a hoot.

My step brother walked his red-headed little way into my life when I was 9.  He had a blankie and cried a lot.  I didn’t understand his need for a blankie as he was 5.  Even then I thought he needed to man up a bit.  And man up he did.  Something quite awful happened when he grew up.  Him and my other brother, Derek, became good mates and would gang up on me.  One summer they heaped blankets on top of me, handcuffed me to a fan (??!!), ran around laughing then ran outside.  When I eventually freed myself from the blankets and fan, I found a water gun, filled it with boiling hot water and ran after them.  My summers were usually filled with them picking on me, the only sister, the oldest of them all.  I’m sure at one point I hated them.  It is only natural to feel this way.

And then we all grew up a little more and somehow became friends.  Now my step-brother, whom I affectionately refer to as ‘Junior’ as he is Gordon Hatfield Jr, is a maker of guitars.  He has a rather scary exterior, but I tell you, he is all marshmallow fluff on the inside.  His stint in the marines, his many tattoos and sometimes very interesting facial hair haven’t hardened this Hatfield.

I look forward to the wedding.  And the Guitar Room…which is…erm…a room of guitars should anyone wish to play.  If anything, it will be the most unique and interesting wedding I have ever had the pleasure to attend.

So congratulations, Heidi and Junior.  May you have many happy years together, many wiggly nephews and nieces to offer me and please do name one Gordon Hatfield III.  That would just be rad.

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My one chance

As I’m sitting here, laptop on lap, coffee on my bedside table and the curtain drawn to let in the light, I am trying to decide how honest I want this post to be.  This blog is supposed to be the honest and true account of the project, which also very obviously means an honest and true account of what the artist is going through as she tries to make it all happen.

I woke up this morning with a start.  I’m going to Cleveland for a week soon.  When I return it is just going to be a lot of madness happening in my household.  I will be like a mini tornado ripping through the house, trying to complete the work that still need completing, making more contacts, writing more emails and letters, making more plans, confirming, re-confirming and triple re-confirming schedules.  I have a bundle of work to take with me to Cleveland as I just cannot even spare more than two days of not working on the project.  This is it.  This is crunch time.

So this morning I woke with a start and my mind began to race.  I am STILL grappling with the problem of the poles and weights and the outdoor set up.  I did try to solve it yesterday, but unfortunately the building up of a pergola took over as more important and well, this is just something else I’m dealing with on the side.  A friend of mine helpfully suggested that the poles might not be able to take the weight and could snap.  Now I’m trying to source something made of metal.  (So, uh, yeah, thanks for that, Russell.  No.  Really.  Thanks.)

There is also the final preparations to make for the trek down to Exeter and Dudley.  I’ve been told that we will need to drive from Exeter to Edinburgh on the Sunday we take down the exhibition.  That would mean leaving Exeter at 6pm and driving all night so that my husband can be back for his conference on Monday.  I did try to suggest that perhaps there are other ways to go about this, but was told we will just have to deal with that later.  Later?  I can’t keep putting off these things until later. The list of I-can’t-deal-with-this-now-so-you’re-going-to-have-to-sort-it-later is growing by the day.

It just isn’t getting through that this is my one chance to do something quite amazing.  I can’t just do a mediocre job of it.  I’m not a mediocre kind of person.  So now I’m writing lists of all the things I would like to do for this project if there weren’t any barriers. If time weren’t an issue, I would like to do all of these things.  If I coud drive forward my own decisions, I would do these things.

I will do these things.  It’s time to call upon my bloodymindedness, again, to make this happen.

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Hosier to Head Shop

Would you like a decorative vase, Sir?

The mystery of Which House? has finally  been solved.  Well, more solved than previously.  I am 95% certain that this is the building where my family lived in the 1860’s.  Yeah yeah, I know, I felt mostly certain that it was the Amusements but now, after consulting maps, photos, the 1861 census and pestering the Dudley Archives, I feel that this is the closest I am ever going to get to certainty.

As bad luck would have it, I did not venture into this particular shop whilst doing my initial research in the town.  This shop with the review that it is a “little smoking paraphenallia shop in dudley. An ok shop if its what your looking for”.  I did visit the sandwich shop to the left of it and stood in front of the shuttered windows of the closed amusements to the right of it.  But venture in?  No.  That did not happen.

Because I am so easily amused, I find it a bit hilarious that my grandfather’s grandfather was born in this place.  How very entertaining to think that the grandson of the man born here would eventually become an FBI agent.  And now, well, in that very same space they are probably selling posters of Che Guevara, decorative ‘vases’ and everything else that goes along with that kind of lifestyle choice.  When once there was a small business of hosiery making and a busy, bustling family, there is now, well, I’m not really sure.  I will pop in and visit when I bring the exhibition to town in June.  I hear that the people who run the place are friendly.

It is so interesting the different paths families take.  Paper maker, Hosiery Master, Farmer, Farmer, FBI Agent, Business Owner, Artist.  My grandfather was all about having a doctor in the family and kindly offered to pay my way through uni so that I cold get a proper job.  I don’t think he realised at the time that it cost a bit more than a couple hundred dollars to send someone to that kind of schooling. He wasn’t very impressed with my career choice, which is a shame, because that particular career choice is now honouring him in some way.

I wish that my grandfather was alive so that I could share with him all of these interesting things I am finding out about our ancestors.  His reaction would be something like, “Well, I’ll be damned”.

Amsterdamned, ya mean!

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The people you meet along the way

The show has been taken down.  Before I unclipped the clothes pegs and folded up the sheets, I stood in the middle of the room and admired my work.  It wasn’t admire as in ‘OMG I can’t believe how amazing I am’ because I promise you that I do NOT think I am amazing.  I was admiring the hard work that had gone into making it happen.  There isn’t any shame in recognising that you have worked bloody hard for something and that sometimes you just need to step back, be a bit merciful to yourself for not being perfect, and congratulate yourself on the achievements you have achieved so far.

With that said, the journey has most certainly not been a solitary one.  There are so  many people who I have met along the way.  In some way, they have made an impact on my life, the work, the experience, that I would be remiss to not mention them in this blog.

I obviously have my Wall of Thanks to read through, but sometimes the offerings have come in quite a different form then just pointing me to the right information or assisting with finances.

In no particular order, but in the order that crawls into my mind first:

Rhiannon Connelly, for her hard work, skill and perseverance.  It has been fabulous talking to Rhiannon about her own experience, working in the solitary confines of one’s own studio.  I know what it’s like and it’s like you need to know when to give yourself a break and find inspiration beyond your four walls.  I am so excited about her project and want to visit the work in one of the cities.  If you do not invite me, Rhiannon, I shall be very cross. For more information about Rhiannon and her lovely work, please visit here.

A lovely Ms Vanessa Foley popped into the gallery to take a look at the exhibition.  Actually, I think she was one of many to be looking for the framers, but stumbled into the gallery instead.  We got into a great conversation and hey guess what?!  She is having her work on display at the Newcastle City Library starting the 26th of April and running into the first week of May.  So go go go, everyone of Newcastle.  See her work of birds and textiles.

There is my most recent arty find, Mr Lee Turner of Hole Editions, who I met sitting out on the step of Mushroom Works one fine day.  He doesn’t usually lurk there.  In fact, he lurks in his studio most of the time.  Very hard-working, gets stuff done, works with a slew of other well-known artists and is an all around lovely person, that Lee.  Again, I am so inspired to see the hard work and determination of other artists.

There are so many more to mention.  Ian with his constant and much-needed cheerleading and fantastic ideas made even more brilliant with bucket loads of enthusiasm.  Diarmid with his super man skills  of proofreading…proof reading…proooooofread – ing.  I am sure his brain aches at every read of this blog and it’s/its/it is many errors.  To sample Diarmid’s writing, please take a jaunt down the streets of New Castle.  And as I have mentioned in two previous posts, Anna and Adrienne, always ready to receive any frantic text, email or phone call from their friend that seems to freak out very easily. Oh, and I really cannot forget Rachel.  She’s very smiley.  And I have a lovely photo of her on a rope swing that makes me smile every time I see it.

Thank you all for adding into my life so much goodness.

Joy!

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The high school years…

That girl with the long hair...that's me.

Now that I am working with McCook images, I can’t help but find myself being hurled back into memories of my past.  Try as I might to think of what McCook must have been like for my dad and my granddad, I only seem to be able to imagine it within my life time.  To be honest, you can count on things being basically the same for my dad during his high school years.  Things don’t seem to change much there.  The non-changingness of the place is somewhat comforting.  You will still find Seihnert’s bakery commanding a nice space on Norris, teenagers will still be Dragging Main (which means driving up B Street, turning onto Norris, parking in the Methodist car park for a bit to talk to your friends, then rewinding the circuit and repeating it),  Mac’s Drive-in will still be serving all manner of food delights, the speed limit will never eek above the painfully slow 25mph and my mom insisting on driving below that (!), German Heritage Days will happen every year and the whole town will continue to be very supportive of the high school football team.

I was in the high school band, my dad was in the high school band, and I think my granddad helped with the high school band.  My dad and I had the same DT teacher.  Said DT teacher has been the only person EVER to have said I look like my dad.  I went to the First Congregational Church.  My dad goes to the First Congregational Church.  My grandparents were members of the First Congregational Church.  The Greens are very much rooted into that land and I suspect will be for quite some time as I think my sister will be setting up home there, or at least close to there, when she gets married and grows a family.

My high school highlights include:

– Being a member of the Art Club!  I was not only a member, but the President for 3 years running.  We made calendars every year as a fundraiser for our trip to cities, like Denver and Lincoln and Omaha.  We went to these things called ‘Art Museums’ in these cities.  It was totally fun.

– I was a pizza slinger in high school.  When I wasn’t working on school project, I was working on earning tips from my pizza waitressing job at Pizza Hut.

– My first car was a Dodge Aspen Road and Track, the colour of blue that no car should ever be.  You know…sky blue.  I had my first fender bender shortly after acquiring the car.  I rear-ended a massive truck right outside the school.  Commence lots of kids pointing and laughing.  Other car stories include me painting a Grateful Dead Dancing Bear onto the hood and also naming it the ’60’s Rever’ because, well, it was supposed to be Revery (embarrassingly lame), but I never actually finished painting on all the letters.

– Winning gaggles of art mentions, awards, and a Scholastics Silver Key.  I was mentioned in 13 different articles from 9th – 12th grades.  I’m not quite sure how many awards I won, however, the best was when I was in 9th grade.  My artwork was selected as best in region, taken to DC and hung in the Capitol Building.  Ace.  I was also involved in Journalism class and worked on the Editorial Page.  Considering the fact that my grammar is horrible and spelling worse, I am surprised I was even allowed to participate.

– Prom! The bottom photo is of me and *gasp* an older man on a Prom date.  He was only three years older, so not so scandalous.  He was a college student.  Oooh, Cassandra, shameful little tart.

– The foreign exchange students were always interesting to me.  I did make rather good friends with Gaelle (France), Emmanuella (Italy) and Cecilia (Sweden).

Well.  That was both fun and embarrassing.  Will get back to work now…

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A call for assistants in Exeter and Dudley

As the Exeter and Dudley exhibition dates approach, or as I approach them rather (hm…not really sure on this one.  Are they doing the approaching or am I?), it is becoming very necessary that I find my assistants for each venue.

Although I have secured the good services of my husband for the Exeter leg, I still require a few more bodies to assist with putting up the work and invigilating the exhibition.  As for Dudley, well, the three people that I had lined up over a year ago are now no longer available.  A lot can change in a year and their work schedules have made it so that they are not able to get the time off to assist.

Unfortunately, I cannot put up this piece by myself and will also need help with sitting with the work.  I mean, at some point there will be a call of nature and I just cannot leave the artwork to stand by its lonesome in the cemetary or on the high street.

Specific requirements for assistance:

I will need help with carting around the pole stands and weights, positioning the poles as well as stringing the line across from pole to pole.  Assistance will also be needed to just sit beside the work.  I’ll provide the comfy deck chair.

Venues and dates for assistance:

Friernhay Open Space, Exeter

3-5 June 2011

11am – 5pm

 

Dudley High Street

17 June 2011

11am – 5pm

 

Participating in this project would be a great addition to a student’s CV of experience.  If you have an interest in seeing the behind-the-scenes chaos, I mean FUN, of putting together a travelling exhibition, are interested in local history or feel that perhaps you have a couple of hours to spare in your day, please do get in touch.

And if you should happen to know of anyone that may be good to get involved in this project that lives remotely close to Exeter or Dudley, please do direct them to this blog.

Many many thanks,

Me

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