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Tomorrow I’ll have my 56th birthday. It’s not too bad really, I thought it was the 57th, so I actually gained an extra year! Not that age matters. My hair is quite white I’ve noticed “en passant”, but as I’ve decided to embark on some new adventures I feel if not young, so at least timeless.
Much has happened since my post last April. I’ll not share it all here, just some points of interest. I’m leaving France after 25 years. It’s time, and opportunity knocked, so who am I to keep my door closed? I’m moving back to Sweden, but not my hometown of Gothenburg. No I’ll stay as far south as possible, within a hop from Copenhagen and the easy escape out into the rest of the world. Also, I’m joining a project that I have been introduced to by my brother; the extension of an already existing eco-village. That’s such a huge thing that I can only look at it in bits and pieces, but I know that if we can pull it through it’ll be great. Not only for us the participants of the project, but also for the surrounding communities. Well, one day at a time…
And, I’m going back to Africa. I promised myself that I would never ever go there again, after Nigeria, but this time it’s Ghana, and for my father’s 90th birthday. What can I say? Things change, and so do I, so here I go in January escaping part of my first winter by staying away until early March. I’m looking forward to the whole adventure, and hope to be able to record it separately. We’ll see. What else before I give it over to the old post I found here? For the moment not much. I still work on my different art projects. It’s been mostly work with eco-dying, or botanical printing which I think is what I will call it in the future. There’s been some more sewing, and altering and general re-cycling of garments, and also some printing on paper, making booklets and journals. More about that in a future post. This will probably be “My Last Post from France”, and goodness only knows when I’ll have a moment’s peace to post again. There’s packing and moving to be done. then un-packing and freezing to death in Sweden. Then packing and going to Ghana. Then….
Anyway. I’ll leave you with my old found post.
“Half and Half”
So much has and still is, happening, and the year passed it’s half-way mark, and everything is changing. I’m at the stage where I’m not sure I can even tell if the glass is half full, or half empty. Not that it matters. Suffice it to say I’m sure there’s a glass, and I have it in my hand! Just as I could the feel the sea on the noon-breeze the other day, can I also feel the winds of change gathering force. I’d like to think that I’m for once, the one stirring the air into new patterns of force and momentum. I’d like to think I’m the butterfly, beating my wings ever so lightly, creating this new reality.
It’s amazing to me how once an idea get a hold in my mind, once I’ve turned it over, tasted it, looked closely at it, it transforms into the New Truth. I can go with this new way of thinking, walking away with a good deal of confidence and trust in that which shall come. Where this detached state of mind comes from I have no idea, and here’s not the place to delve into it either. This is my blog where I share my creative journey. Please bear with me, because the way I hammer at the key-board bringing about this post is frankly beyond anything I’ve done in a long time. What it has to do with my creativity remains to be seen.
The next evening, already! I’m fairly organized, usually, but the tourist season is upon me, as is the very recent hefty rise in temperature… I feel sluggish and stressed all rolled into one sticky mess. Things will get better however. I’ve already scrubbed out my copper-pan, gathered some bark and leaves from the eucalyptus in my backyard to brew into a dye-bath. For what I’m not really certain of yet, but it’ll come.
Oh yes, it was about the future I was thinking yesterday when I started to write! Well, times are a-changing, and I’ve pretty much decided to leave France. Leave my lovely friends, my work, my house…. Wow! Seeing it in print makes it somewhat scary. It’s time. Time I take charge of my life, instead of dealing with whatever comes my way. So much of this life has been happenstance. I don’t mind, and very much has been very good, but still.. I’m all grown up now; having lived abroad longer than in my native Sweden, been married twice, over 55 now…. It’s time. With this break-up of my old life I hope to make a new one, on my terms, playing by my own rules.
(to be continued…)
My tenth post will be short and sweet, and only deal with the current exhibition. It’s a small-ish one, and in collaboration with Linda Hough. You’ll find her part of the show on her own site, and I’ll deal with my contribution here. I’m still seduced by Nature, and all she has to offer. This is the statement I wrote for the exhibition;
I am nothing.
She anchors me in that which is
The gifts she bestows on us are all
I value, and try to use them wisely,
“FAUX TRIBE” is my tribe,
and also a try at showing my aim
for an ecological mindset concerning
“To use again that which is discarded.
To select only that which Nature gives willingly.
To gather up the thrown-away objects Nature has no use for.
To aim for zero waste while creating and producing my art.”
While doing my best, I hope to inspire.
Now for the picture part!
For those of you living in my area; the exhibition takes place in Rue Henri Isnard, in Vence. Just a skip to the left from the cinema across from the back entrance of Monoprix. Kat & Max have a friendly, ecologically oriented food and coffee-shop well worth a visit with or without our exhibition. My apologies for the random placement of pictures. WordPress and I seem incompatible tonight.
It’s really about time I catch up here. While Facebook is all very well for sharing the instant, a blog is the place to tell the longer story, or post all the pictures. And pictures we shall have this time (albeit not all of them!), as I wanted to share some of my recent adventures with Dolly, my dressmaker’s dummy!
It has taken me so many years to come back to cutting and sewing garments. The reasons are many; too much unyielding pattern-making, too much cutting and sewing while I lived in Nigeria, doing just that; cutting and sewing… Too little time, space, patience. This time around though, I’ve found ways around all the old “musts” of traditional dress-making. First I had to say that finding my creative self through Linda Hough‘s gentle coaching made all the initial difference. Then I stumbled on the eminent Julian Roberts and his theory (and practice) of free cutting, or subtraction cutting. This technique lets me work on the garment the way I always wanted, even though I didn’t know it was possible. By building, draping, shaping. As with much else that I do; using my flow, making it up as I go along. Julian Roberts came my way through India Flint, my one big inspiration in dyeing and printing on fabric and paper. India’s work and work-shops span the whole world by now, and I really hope to meet this Australian wandering wonder-maker one day. Not only for her extraordinary workshops, but also because of her way with words, look on life, and how she treats Nature. As I’m waiting for that to happen I dabble in the technique she more or less invented, using the results for building my collection of clothes. Once that’s completed, I’ll be sure to let you know what’ll happen next!
So… for some “show and tell”;
Dolly and I went on to invent an Early Spring dress in wool and lightweight cotton…
This is the path I’m treading now, hoping to create by re-creating, re-purposing and re-designing. I love the challenge of vintage fabrics, second-hand garments, the natural printing. The slow hand-stitching to embellish my products makes for a lot of time to just sit quietly and think. I feel at home with this, and hope to be able to continue. Alongside this I’ll continue to take my photos, play with techniques and generally explore my creative flow. I’ll also continue to keep you posted about the bends in the road to come. One such bend is a small exhibition in Vence, that you can read more about here. Until next time…
My passion is still for the amazing and (for me) random results of dyeing with Nature. I’m learning slowly, and can’t wait for the day I can afford a workshop with India Flint, the original alchemist. Learning for me is so far by trial and error. Last week I tried my hand on three old silk-blouses. One was a hand me down, and the two other were found at the local thrift store, the “Sécour Populaire”. My favourite haunt where I do almost all my shopping for the home and for clothing. I won’t write much, just show you the process and how it all turned out.
The first blouse is an old “the Kooples” with a crepey kind of silk in double layers. As I’ve come to realize that the Eucalyptus in my back-yard isn’t working for me I bought some branches at the florist’s. Iron-bolts to go with it for a dark color.
Shiny silk, from “Zara” if I remember correctly. Branches found in the garden. They had yellowish buds in clusters. Completed it with a pretty grass (weed) which there’s an abundance of all over the upper “wild” part of the garden. On paper the grass once yielded purplish blue. One can only hope….
Wet blouses in the backyard. I let them dry in the sun and wind (they kept falling down!) And then I just ironed them lightly. I have an idea that the ironing will fix the dye… I’ll wash them later, and iron them again. I don’t like ironing (mildly put) but in this case it’s well worth it.
Three blouses freshly altered. I’m quite happy with the result! The dark one I’ll keep as it’s old and somewhat cracked in some seams. the other two will go into my “for sale” bag. i hope to accumulate some stuff and have a sale come summer.
I gave myself licence to chill, to play with different techniques for months to come, and now I can’t remember why. Was it because I felt I needed to “decide what to do”? If that indeed was the case, all has changed now. I see that I can actually do what I want, whenever I want to without the need to be one kind of artist. I’ve decided to be a Jack (or Jill) of all trades for as long as it works for me. My camera will always be with me, that much I know, because the world is a splendid place, full of such beauty big and small that I feel the need to record and share. And my new passion of “indiaflinting” (my word, used now with the permission of India Flint, eco-printer extraordinaire) is something I think I need to do for the rest of my life as well. The randomness and adventure of eco-printing suit my personality just fine. So fine in fact that I’ve decided to take up the long long lost cutting and sewing of my youth. Dolly, my dressmaker’s dummy is already standing in wait for me, my fabrics and my scissors!
But there is also the joy of art journaling. The colors, the “anything goes” feeling of painting, cutting, pasting… I want that too, so that stays as well. And the joy of folding books, and the need to learn to bind them! Paper-making for more books! The list goes ever on, as does this Rocky Road.
With my camera I can actually shoot the moon. Amazing, and beautiful!
My cloth in its brew waiting for me to bring it out into the sun…
The color of FAITH is greenish blue like our splendid planet where we can actually still find beauty, togetherness, joy and curiosity…
…and sharing all that is good. At least that is my FAITH.
When I’m not happy I tend to draw back, being less in communication, less active. It’s not a positive trait, and one that I try to address as best as I can. Recent development concerning my home and work-space set me off of course. I’m not happy about the impending move to… who knows where?, and how?, so I’ve mainly stayed at home licking my wounds, feeling somewhat resentful and sorry for myself.. Instead of working on my different small-scale projects I’ve been watching movies, reading not so good books, eating indifferently and generally been living a life in limbo.
But… there was this tub in my back-yard with two rolled up bundles of cotton-fabric, leaves and what-nots. And I did spent a good amount of time perusing the exiting and wonderful world of India Flint’s eco-dyeing. So before I could say ” not a NEW project, please!!”, there I was, wrapping and soaking stuff. The result is amazing. I feel humbled by all there is to know regarding Nature. Also, I feel happy in knowing that nothing turns out exactly the way we think it will.
Behold Nature at work, with the messy help of the Accidental Alchemist:
This is only the beginning of a new adventure. When I can create things like this, my worries turn into white noise. Nothing more. I’m happy again!
I’m looking both backwards and to the future right now. The year has begun, and I’m in the process of deciding what comes next. I’m receiving some coaching again to set me on the right track, or rather on any track. So far I’ve decided to go easy with myself. I have so many self-made and/or inherited rules about how to be and what to do that for now I’ve given myself license to just play and explore. The mixture of rather rigid rules and a tendency to censor my actions and work sometimes leaves me with no place to turn. This time I’m trying to alleviate that by giving myself a good six months or more to try new techniques, create without a new exhibition in mind and just be. Good that I did too, as it seems change is in the air, and I might have to find a new place to work and live! It’s something to fret and worry about, but I have faith. Faith in the goodness of people around me, and faith in the fact that I will find a way to make it all good, landing on my feet again.
Looking back I’m going through some visual journal pages and spreads:
Early work on self-doubt and general lack of confidence.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with everything I want to do or try to do. Below, my own personal inner mess. Being pulled in different directions makes for a scattered artist, no doubt about it.
The response to the question “Why do you want to work with your art?” To me the world is such a wondrous place. Full of beauty and so much to explore and share. There isn’t a way to not work with art. To do creative work is who I am, no matter what becomes of my work once I’m done with it.
Through my creative work I’ve found a way of being myself. When I’m in the flow of the creative process, I find utter stillness and a way to be just me.
The spread below came together not long ago. I started it last Spring I think, by finding some words on a thorn-out page from a French novel. The words read “J’étais heureuse. Une fois.” “I was happy. One time.”
I’ll wrap this post up with this even earlier page. This is also a combination of text and color. The words here are ripped out phrases that put together represents the state of mind I was in at the time. “I told him I was willing to be easy. But there was one melancholy part. And what with the songs.”
Now let’s see what the future brings.
I went to Lisbon for my birthday. This was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but it didn’t come about until last month. Well it was worth waiting for. I fell in love with that beautiful city, and will go back again for a more extended visit in the future. I could go on and on about the lovely architecture, the amazing weather, all the monuments and beautiful houses ad infinitum, but there were other things that made a deeper impact. Lisbon reminded me of what’s important; That less really is more. That the surface is just that, and what is beneath is so much more real and interesting. That maybe having less can spark a new creative way of thinking. That sharing what little you have proudly is worth more than just displaying your wealth. I’m sure I’m romanticizing a bit, but this is the feeling that stayed with me during my visit, and the feeling I brought home to cherish. There was filth and poverty and abandoned buildings, but also, quiet, smiles, a slow tempo and Fado. This mixture suits me just fine, and taken together with innovation and creativity and good food, I mean hey, it’s all OK!
I took hundreds of pictures during my stay, we’ll see what they’ll bring. Below two simple spreads from my Travel Journal.
It’s been a long time coming, this post. i didn’t know it would be like this, with the exhibition, the postpartum-feeling and then the urge to go on to new things. So here I am so much later… I will at the very least get some pictures up of my work, and who knows, that might spark some small words into a medium-sized text to go with it. We’ll see.
I remember saying many months ago, that my definition of success in my art work would be to be able to share my work and to get some acknowledgement for what I do… Well I did, and I got it! I even got some things sold. Feeling very happy, and also proud of myself for having pulled it off. Though I wasn’t alone, ever. I had so much help in every sense from some really good friends, old and new. I’m truly grateful.