Monday, 28 December 2009

work house

This time of the year I am always filled with too many ideas the inspiration pot bubbles over and you are not sure which way to go. Terrible thing to drown in inspiration. So usually I start with random mono prints drawing with ink getting rid of what's inside my head, on to paper, back of fag packets, tax return forms anything that I can get my hands on. My studio is always airing on the cool side, it keeps my brain working much the same as"the Einstein" a quick submerge of your head in a cold sink of water. Many a time when I have had to get work finished for deadlines, have I had to do an Einstein.
I am working on too many projects at the moment so days of scribbling to formulate and delete ideas helps. My Studio is one of my favourite places in my world. It's all mine not many people ever visit it, as I keep it hidden, apart from Archie the cat who practically lives there. It is a place where the past,present and future blend together. Throughout my studio everything is in the middle of becoming something. One end of my studio is where I work, the other full of shelves covered in books, fabric, old radios, jars of buttons, threads, odds and sods, things that you will keep as they will come in handy and on the very odd occasion do. I like my living space to be calm and ordered but my work space to leave you always feeling inspired in a little bit of chaos.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

our family on the other side of the world

I would like to introduce you to some of my very favourite people in my world, they are my Cambodian family. They live on the Tonale Sap lake and make there living fishing. They live on a floating house that moves around the lake depending on the time of year, the lake is vast more like an inland sea. The Tonale Sap is said to be the heart of South East Asia with it's ebb and flow defined by the Mekong river fed by the melt down every year of the Himalayas. I met Thy on the right hand side when I was staying in a tiny little guest house, whilst working out there the first time. Throughout my stays in Cambodia we have become good friends with him and his family. They are 10 as Thy's mum died last year at 42 from pneumonia. The head of the house now falls to Thy's oldest sister sitting next to him in Blue. There little house is as wide as they are sitting across and about 25 feet long. They all live on this boat. I still find it difficult to believe, no space is your own. No room for privacy in Cambodian families. They sleep on the floor with pillows they all role out. In the heat of the 40 degree summer you must go nearly mad. Everything is so clean and beautifully organized everything has a place. They cook at the back of the house in a 4ft square space in a big wok. Everybody takes turns to eat their food, usually of fish and herbs. These can be found growing in anything they can find on the side of the house. The lemon grass is the most heavenly I have ever tasted. Life in Cambodia is hard, Thy's family live on 2 - 3 dollars a day, some of the children go to school but this costs money, health care is far from adequate. People and children die from diseases that are completely treatable with basic health care provision. A wonderful man who I met out there, has set up an incredible project which means health care is reaching the thousands of people who live on the lake via catamarans. Thy has taken me in I have lived with his family shared in weddings, funerals, shared culture, food, language and they have showed me how to live without a toilet. Thy and his family have generously shared and I have found out about the heart of Cambodia. My life is so much richer for knowing Thy and my Cambodian family. I still speak bad Khmer and can't throw a cast net to save my life.

Monday, 21 December 2009

land of magical happenings

Ta Phrom the trees have reclaimed the temples
Bayon Apsara dancer relief
Apsara dancers

Nothing can prepare you for the sheer beauty, magnificence and wondrous temples of the Angkor Watt in Cambodia. They commanded a vast empire under the auspices of an all powerful god - king. And they sustained a civilization of unparalleled achievement in south east Asia.
So often we find ourselves at the world's most incredible monuments, we are in awe of there architectural genius, there scale and magnificence. But rarely do we have the opportunity to see what it was like for the real people. Many stories and information of our past are told through chronicles of kings not peasants This is what makes the temples so interesting they tell the story of everyday life of the everyday people.
I love that you can still walk and climb over them all. No health and safety, you can fall from the top and maim yourself at your own risk. Can you imagine being able to climb all over Stonehenge it's a no fly zone let alone a no touch zone.
Around every corner you can't but wonder HOW?????? They are works of pure genius. Last year I ran a marathon around it at sunrise, that was quite something on two counts me running and being there for the sunrise. Where else in the world would you be stopped in the middle of running by an elephant crossing the path. That really was a wonderful sight as the sun began to peer over the top of the Angkor watt that morning. What makes the Angkor Watt so special is that the everyday life, they once supported has not totally vanished and can be seen all around, families gathering wood, monks, people just living. We went off the beaten track at some of the more distant temples which we shouldn't have because of landmines. But this is where you find hidden gems, whilst we were out walking we came upon dwellings where monks lived all their saffron robes were hanging on trees to dry. I walked through quickly with my eyes shut wouldn't do to see naked monks. I have been back to them now 8 times and still want to see them again. If you have the opportunity to go and see them don't tell too many people as I like to keep them a little bit secret, but you can't help sharing how wonderful they are.
Visit my shop and you can see little bits of my journies in the stuff I make

Friday, 18 December 2009

itchy feet

Spirit house Ho Chi Min City Vietnam
My wall showing some of my favourite places

Do you get that feeling when your feet are so itchy and wanderlust is all consuming. You long for journey's to meet people from far of lands and to just travel and be free. I like that feeling of having nothing more than my smelly old Moroccan bag that smells like a dead camel, passport and an unknown journey ahead. Terrible thing, I know in these days of Carbon foot prints, but I really love the smell of aviation fuel as I know new experiences are just around the corner. Every morning I wake to the wall in front of me filled with my favourite photos of my favourite places I have travelled to. It heartens me to think about where next. So many places, so little time, the year ahead is to be a year where I go and see a whole lot more of the world and all it has to share. I thought I would blog a week of sharing my favourite places, people and their stories.
Be still my wanderlust, be still until February.

Monday, 14 December 2009

what's happening?????

I have shared my life with a wonderful person for many years. We are the odd couple.
When we did our degrees it was fish and fashion.
For a while now I have started to worry that there is every possibility that this much loved wonder is turning into a mermen. I quite expect to wake up one morning only to find his feet have metamorphosed into flippers. How can one person eat, breathe and sleep water. I think he will soon be able to breathe in it.
The water lures him like sirens the sailors, he works in it all day, when not working his passion is fishing for the mystical carp, he dives and when he comes home every night he falls asleep in the bath with a glass of wine. If it's over an hour I send the cat up to make sure he is still alive. How can one person have such an affinity with water? I like my feet firmly on terra firma, as water is probably one of my greatest fears. I once went and was regressed to see how I had lived my many previous lives, the one that I remembered most about was my life in Atlantis. So the fear is real, if you believe all that stuff. I can often be found swimming or running from water in my dreams. I nearly drown at least once a week in them.
If he does grow flippers, I don't know how he will get shoes to fit.

Friday, 11 December 2009

caged in

Just finished two cushions they were inspired by my journey to Vietnam, where all the shops in one particular street had rows upon rows of miner birds nattering away in Vietnamese. It really made me laugh a lot, so I sat and sketched a couple and this was what I have made. My sister got hold of this brilliant 1970's summer dress and that's what I cut up for the psychedelic fabric. I love the acidic colours and swirling pattern.
Just going off to work at a project I am involved in. I have been working as an artist with people living with locked in Syndrome. I can only liken their lives to birds trapped in cages, but they are trapped in their bodies. I use line, colour, form to enable them to express themselves when many of the other ways of communicating are not working. It takes a long time and much patience to work in this way because the communication is so subtle and can easily go unnoticed. It's sad I work with someone my age 37 who is unable to move apart from her eyes and mouth. We laugh lots, she still has retained a wicked sense of humor that I was assured by her daughter she had always had. Every week I leave and wonder. How do we measure somebodies quality of life??????????

If you only ever watch one film try watchingThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a translation of the French memoir Le scaphandre et le papillon by journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby. ... who suffered a brain hemorrhage and became locked in, he went on to write his memoirs using just the blinking of one of his eyes. Difficult viewing at times. Nobody said this life was easy.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

lipstick lady

This painting by a dear friend makes me smile every time I look at her, she is hanging in my dining room and I treasure her. She died a year and a half ago. She kept popping into my head today, so I thought I would like to share this painting "Lipstick lady". She was in her late 70s, she was a true eccentric, who when had money lived like a king, when none lived like a pauper. I used to see her every week we would sit in her flat which was hardly ever cleaned, a shrine to art and fashion with a shed load of dust on top. Every week we would read Harpers, Vogue, Tatler, any of the glossies as well as avant-garde and quirky publications. Shirley lived ate and slept art. I loved to sit drink gin out of the finest chipped tea cups, delight at each page and natter for hours about the world and his wife. Shirley lived with Schizophrenia throughout her life, I met her in the last 12 years of her life, when she came to an arts project I had set up. It wasn't until she died that I found out that some of those stories that were so ingrained within her were not the reality, they were part of her delusions that were so real that she had lived with them all her life and where reality and fiction had merged the delusions had become her reality.
We always laughed lots, she painted with anything she could get her hands on. She could often be found knocking up the paint on the whole dinner service. Even the cleaner who she paid to come round and sort out the almighty mess, stopped doing the cleaning and ended up coming around for 4 hours a week to be the life model. So the house remained a messy magpie's nest.
My favourite story was when we had gone up to London to visit some galleries and we came upon Vivienne Westwood's shop, Shirley popped in and found some wonderful earrings. Me being the voice of reason said "Shirley you are about to be cut off you need to pay the electricity bill." She promptly replied "Sod the electricity bill darling. We have candles".
Thinking of you!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

simple pleasures

Just put up our Christmas decorations. There is that lovely warm feeling getting down from the loft boxes of decorations that some how feel kind of new but feel very familiar. Each bauble tells a story, whether bought in Cambodia, Singapore in the garden centre with my Nang (gran) or ones that have been handed down from my mum. These baubles look a bit worse for wear they are showing there 40 years old. Is that not what Christmas decorations are all about memories, tradition and love. I don't have a Christmas tree, the thought of them being chopped down to end a sad 2 weeks in a central heated house over Christmas. I can't do that so instead my mum every year coppice's the cork screw willow and this is what we have. Dec's are up and just lit the first fire of the year, there is always that expectation that you are going to be smoked out, as you haven't swept the chimney. Everything seem ok at the moment.
Off for a glass of wine and some carrot and orange soup and lovely crusty bread. Life is about simple pleasures.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Bruno and his amazing magic mushrooms..........

Last evening myself and some friends attended the preview of Reveal an exhibition I have some work in. It was a lovely evening, shared with wonderful friends. My mum has always said to us all "You are as rich as your friends" I am a zillionaire as I have a wonderfully eclectic mix of friends who I really appreciate and love. Everything was going well at the exhibition until the magic mushroom incident....... In the middle of the exhibition were many plinths full of ceramics and glass. Yes breakable, fragile, delicate things. I must set the scene, I was over the other side of the room talking to my dearest friend and over the other side of the gallery next to the plinths stood Phil, A ( anonymous because she doesn't deserve to be connected with the incident and BRUNO, who does deserve to be named. It was a chilly evening and Bruno and A came from work with coats and bags. I was watching them talking in a group as I was catching up on the gossip and then in slow motion I saw the bag swing round and decapitate a ceramic mushroom on a stick that was poked into a flowerpot of sand. There was that split second where you don't know whether to laugh or not. Bruno's face was a picture. Was he going to reveal his crime or place the mushroom back in 2 pieces? Did anybody see as he looked around the room, he scanned around everybody was busy nattering. Would he be able to live with the dark secret ? Was he going to confess?
Yes he did, frog marched up to the desk by Phil. Bruno looking like a Brazilian Harry Potter,waving his decapitated magic mushroom. A his wife moved away from the impending problem and we watched Harry Potter try to buy a broken ceramic magic mushroom. The maker was terribly gracious and said not to worry at all. How kind. That was good news for Bruno as there had already been a car clamping incident the day before, so a broken magic mushroom expense was not looking good.
God I have laughed until I hurt about last night.
Thank you to my friends. You are wonders.
Visit reveal if you can, there are some really wonderful makers exhibiting there, just be careful of the mushrooms.