So, what do you do?

Art, blogging, books, craft, Life, United Kingdom

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What do I do all day? – I was asked this the other day, and thought about it – how do I  spend the majority of my time, once the domestic chores are completed, or more likely ignored?  I have to admit to the privilege of being able to dictate how I spend the majority of my time once I have discharged the responsibilities of housekeeper, wife, mother and dog walker.  And I love it. I love the space of being allowed to meander amongst the various pathways of my  mind and the plethora of material available on the internet – a real benefit for a curious mind.  I love the opportunity to create my versions of hand made books and to sometimes have the privilege of collaboration with a commission.

Once upon a time I felt somewhat guilty for not having a more productive endeavour, but no longer. Now I revel in the opportunity to sometimes spend time doing what I like, how I want to.

Time – its the most precious commodity we have,  so watch where you invest yours.  And when someone asks me now, I tell them how it is, without apology.  Took me a while, but I got there.

If you want to see more of my creative endeavours, then pop in to my Etsy shop or my Society 6 store page.  I would love to have your feedback too.

Enjoy your day, your week, your life.

The Poetry of Architecture, and the reason you don’t want to become a brand.

Art, blogging, craft, Life, literature, United Kingdom

 

St Marks

St Marks

Boy are you in for a treat today!!!  Recently I have been researching some Pre Raphaelite art as a favour to a fellow crafter, and in pursuing said research , I was distracted by a fabulous volume written by the critic John Ruskin, ‘Stones of Venice’ in which he praises the achievements of the massive numbers of common workers who laboured with skill, patience, and reverence on the great Gothic structures of medieval Europe. This treatise on architecture has been described not simply in terms of scholarship, but also as a work of art in itself.

I havn’t indulged to the degree of now being versed in the history or topography of archtitecture – I barely slipped over the surface- but the passages I have read can be understood as deeper messages than understanding that area of interest.  I will admit to having to overlook his many allusions to a Victorian God, but he was of his time and I am of mine.  Although I confess to a more agnostic outlook, I can see the virtue in believing in a connecting thread through time and space (albeit not Ruskins vision).

I hope you see value in the passages I have recorded below – ( a labour of love since I couldn’t copy and paste and had to type it out!)  It shouts loudly to me about ignoring the clarion call to give yourself a brand identity and express yourself in all endeavour simply with integrity, for the satisfaction that brings of itself.  Oh Ruskin!! I hear you!!!

…for it is necessary first to teach men to speak out, and say what they like, truly; and in the second place, to teach them which of their likings are ill set, and which justly. If a man is cold in his likings and dislikings, or if he will not tell you what he likes, you can make nothing of him. Only get him to feel quickly and to speak plainly, and you may set him right. And the fact is, that the great evil of all recent architectural effort has not been that men liked wrong things; but that they either cared nothing about any, or pretended to like what they did not. Do you suppose that any modern architect
likes what he builds or enjoys it? Not in the least. He builds it because he has been told that such and such things are fine, and that he should like them. He pretends to like them, and gives them a false relish of vanity. Do you seriously imagine, reader, that any living soul in London likes triglyphs? – or gets any hearty enjoyment out of pediments? You are much mistaken. Greeks did: English people never did,never will. …Very few faults of architecture are mistakes of honest choice; they are almost always hypocrisies.
So then the first thing we have to ask of the decoration is that it should indicate strong liking, and that honestly. It matters not so much what the thing is, as that the builder should really love it and enjoy it, and say so plainly. The architect of Bourges Cathedral liked hawthorns ; so he has covered his porch with hawthorn,- it is a perfect Niobe of May. Never was such hawthorn ; you would try
to gather it forthwith, but for fear of being pricked. The old Lombard architects liked hunting ; so they covered their work with horses and hounds, and men blowing trumpets two yards long. the base Renaissance architects of Venice liked masquing and fiddling ; so they covered their work with comic masks and musical instruments. Even that was better than our English way of liking nothing and professing to liking triglyphs….
..Half the evil in this world comes from people not knowing what they do like ; -not deliberately setting themselves to find out what the really enjoy. All people enjoy giving away money , for instance ‘ they don’t know that,they rather think they like keeping it; and they do keep it, under this false impression, often to their great discomfort. Everybody likes to do good, but not one in a hundred finds this out. Multitudes think they like to do evil ; yet no man ever really enjoyed doing evil since God made the world.

So in this lesser matter of ornament. It needs some little care to try experiments upon yourself; it needs deliberate question and upright answer. But there is no difficulty to be overcome, not abstruse  be gone into ; only a little watchfulness needed, and thoughtfulness, ans so much honesty as will enable you to confess to yourself, and to all men, that you enjoy things, though great authorities say you should not.

This looks somewhat like pride, but it is true humility, a trust that you have been so created as to enjoy what is fitting for you, and a willingness to be pleased, as it was intended you should be. It is the child’s spirit, which we are most happy when we most recover’ remaining wiser than children in our gratitude that we can still be pleased with a fair colour, or a dancing light. And, above all, do not try to make all these pleasures reasonable, not to connect the delight which you take in ornament witht hat which you take in construction or usefulness. They have no connection; and every effort that you make to reason from one to the other will blunt your sense of beauty, or confuse it with sensation altogether inferior to it. You were made for enjoyment, and the world was filled with things which you will enjoy, unless you are too proud to be pleased by them, or too grasping to care for what you cannot turn to other account than mere delight. Remember the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies for instance….

We won’t be alone admiring it ; it became one of the most influential books of the 19th century, inspiring William Morriss to re publish the chapter ‘The Nature of Gothic’ and prompting the narrator of Marcel Proust’s ‘Recherce’ to visit Venice with his mother enthused with Ruskin like spirit.

 

“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.”

See the whole book here   http://ebook.lib.hku.hk/CADAL/B31390055V1/

 

Based on the original by John Ruskin in his architectural treatise, The Stones of Venice

Based on the original by John Ruskin in his architectural treatise, The Stones of Venice

 

Feeling the flow

Art, blogging, poetry, United Kingdom

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Some weeks flow don’t they?   This week sees me in fine fettle – loving what I do – see above!!! Foraging into different times and different cultures brings me a whole lot of happiness.  Firstly there’s the research side of it, which can cause aeons to pass without me having a sixty third cup of coffee  and that is only a good thing.  Learning about indigenous people from far away places connects me to a living humanity and that excites me. It transports me away from the mundanity of the everyday and I engage in someone elses belief systems and experiences.  Then I feel all that headrush sort of somersault inside me and it makes me dance inside.  Dancing inside is a wonderful evocation of life spirit and involves no muscle tension, so all good.  That is when I go  to the tools that help me create something decorative, which in itself makes me feel sort of full up. Like when you’ve met someone new you know is going to be a valuable part of your life.  Speaking of which, I have reason for another inner dance this week, as my eldest son discovered to his delight he had received a First in his History and International Politics Degree at Leeds University. Yay!!!!! (Now where are those dancing shoes!)

 

I saw a man pursuing the horizon

Stephen Crane

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never—”

“You lie,” he cried,
And ran on.

Composition I and Composition II

Art, blogging, photogaphy

cris seascape 1 print cris seascape 2clock

 

‘The composition is the thing seen by every one living in the living they are doing, they are the composing of the composition that at the time they are living in the composition of the time in which they are living. It is that that makes living a thing they are doing. Nothing else is different, of that almost any one can be certain. The time when and the time of and the time in that composition is the natural phenomena of that composition and of that perhaps every one can be certain.

No one thinks these things when they are making when they are creating what is the composition, naturally no one thinks, that is no one formulates until what is to be formulated has been made.’

 

Thanks to Gertrude Stein for the words.

Thanks to my lovely husband for the photography, and the holiday. Thanks to our boys who make holidays and life the best way to spend our days.

Falling headlong,

Art, books, Life, United Kingdom

Barthélémy d' Eyck 1442 - 1445 Still life with booksSomewhere there must be a Venn diagram that shows people who read, and people who don’t, well I am in the section where they live to read. Is that strange to you? Possibly not, since you are reading this blog post. Lately my time has been increasingly devoted to my hobby (illustration), since I am getting used to the new freedom that a woman without a real job but with a family begins to enjoy on the imminent stretching of wings by the adult offspring. I say that with tongue partly in cheek, since I worked full time in a very busy environment with a responsible paid job which I eschewed in favour of bringing up a family. I never regretted a moment, though sometimes I would have like to have gone back to work for a) recognition of my talents b) a rest and c) some of that dirty lucre. Oh well, we are where we are, self respect diminished to non-existence, a rubbish wardrobe and a knackered spirit. Boys are good though. I digress, this is about reading, or what happens when the lights go out? My reading gene has been hijacked by some monstrous atrocity, and I want it back. I’m not saying I don’t read, just that I struggle to maintain the same enthusiasm for it. I will not give up however, because who am I without a book to shape my thoughts? Beg my affection?
It does occur to me, sometimes, that there are people inhabiting this planet with me who do not care for reading. I know, shocking, it upsets me even to consider. Should I be evangelising reading? Perhaps I should. I have helped out in the local school with the juniors, does that count? I don’t want people to just read, I want them to eulogise about what they read, to fall headlong.

“The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.” 
― Wallace Stevens

 

I am not a preacher though, I have no talent for conscription and fully hold with the idea that  the world is improved by diversity  as opposed to homogeny.  So if those non readers prefer kayaking or climbing mountains, football or the society of naturists, so be it.  I shall continue to risk everything in the pursuit of the alchemy of the written word, and hope to be transported to foreign landscapes and impossible times by wizards and wordsmiths.  See you there.

Image is Bartheleme d’Eyck c 1442 , courtesy of the Rijks Museum.

If you are interested in owning a reproduction of his beautiful painting, it is incorporated into a variety of products on my Society 6 site, which is linked on my home page.

 

 

Home

Art, poetry, United Kingdom

You think, you like to think
home is where you began;
but home is not always
at the beginning.
Sometimes
the journey home begins
in ummarked territory.
The familiar is just- that,
but it is not home. The
heart knows it, the blood knows it,
skin knows it.
Desole, desole –
Not knowing
you are homeless, not
understanding that stationary and
rooted is not the same thing. The
heart hunts a home, it stalks in
unsavoury places , attempts
ingratiation, will accept
stopping stages until
it makes it mark.
Home is not a hearth,
not a mother, nor a father, sister,
brother. It is sensate, innate, lacking the
cognition of recent evolutionary
progress. Home is prehistoric,
a reaction in the gut. You cannot
choose.

 

Willima Frazers 19th centrfrf

My words, William Hazlitts cosmography.

 

Calling Martha Stephens, keeping my promise!

blogging, poetry, Thoughts, United Kingdom

cropped-oldnorth.jpgOne of my favourite poems is by Stanley Kunitz.  I came across his poems by reading his obituary a few years ago.  I had a very curious reaction to the article I read about the poet, and immediately was drawn to read some of his work.  Before I had done so at any depth, the curious part of this story identified itself – I wrote a poem about a poet I knew very little of, it arrived all by itself really.  Now I am going to share this poem with you because in the space that we inhabit internetwise, I have been delighted to make a new acquaintance Martha Stephens via this blog page.  I recommend her blog to you, and in our conversation I remarked how striking it is that an artist can connect regardless of the time or location they are writing in.  So I present my poem to her, and to you as a comment on that everyday miracle.  I don’t think it is a particularly good poem, but the provenance of it is interesting.  Then I want to share one of my favourite poems of Stanleys.

In memory of Stanley Kunitz

Hear this; all poets, would-be wordsmiths,
Stanley is gone. Stanley Kunitz, died 101.
(Read and grieve, grieve and read)

A magician amongst wizards, Auden,
Cummins, Ginsberg went before,
overshadowing Stan, but not outliving;
the man , as was the poet, worthy
of our awe.

His lifetime lived in query,
of a father never known;
death by suicide, and Stan
warm in the womb.

(Read and grieve, grieve and read)

His muse played amongst
beloved plants and flowers,
man of spirituality,
knowing the depth
of their heavenly powers.
‘Desire and desire
and desire’ his hand me down,
a way to live, a tinderbox
to ignite others fire.

Loving Keats, and Blake and
struggling, as poets do.,
the chaos of being here,
and now;  the conundrum.
Hear this; all poets, would-be wordsmiths,

Stanley is gone. Stanley Kunitz, died 101.

And this is the poem that I put to music and image, the poem that is playing continously in the background of my life.  A wonderful evocation of how change is inevitable , and how as humans we need to be able to  accept ourselves as we are, as we have been and knowing there will be new challenges to face.

The Layers

BY STANLEY KUNITZ

I have walked through many lives.
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

 

Rock of ages.

Art, earth, photogaphy, poetry, United Kingdom

 

Digital painting from Elgol, Isle fo Skye . Anne Corr

Digital painting from Elgol, Isle fo Skye . Anne Corr

Six Significant Landscapes
I
An old man sits
In the shadow of a pine tree
In China.
He sees larkspur,
Blue and white,
At the edge of the shadow,
Move in the wind.
His beard moves in the wind.
The pine tree moves in the wind.
Thus water flows
Over weeds.

II
The night is of the colour
Of a woman’s arm:
Night, the female,
Obscure,
Fragrant and supple,
Conceals herself.
A pool shines,
Like a bracelet
Shaken in a dance.

III
I measure myself
Against a tall tree.
I find that I am much taller,
For I reach right up to the sun,
With my eye;
And I reach to the shore of the sea
With my ear.
Nevertheless, I dislike
The way ants crawl
In and out of my shadow.

IV
When my dream was near the moon,
The white folds of its gown
Filled with yellow light.
The soles of its feet
Grew red.
Its hair filled
With certain blue crystallizations
From stars,
Not far off.

V
Not all the knives of the lamp-posts,
Nor the chisels of the long streets,
Nor the mallets of the domes
And high towers,
Can carve
What one star can carve,
Shining through the grape-leaves.

VI
Rationalists, wearing square hats,
Think, in square rooms,
Looking at the floor,
Looking at the ceiling.
They confine themselves
To right-angled triangles.
If they tried rhomboids,
Cones, waving lines, ellipses —
As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon —
Rationalists would wear sombreros.
— Wallace Stevens

 

With an eye made quiet

Art, blogging, Life, Thoughts, United Kingdom

Wherever you are  Anne Corr

The conscious mind hungers for success and prestige. The unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence, when the skull line disappears and we are lost in a challenge or a task — when a craftsman feels lost in his craft, when a naturalist feels at one with nature, when a believer feels at one with God’s love. That is what the unconscious mind hungers for. And many of us feel it in love when lovers feel fused. – David Brooks

This passage from David Brook’s excellent book came to mind this morning, as I lose myself in the playfulness of adjusting photographs mainly captured by my husband , and turning them into images with digital tools.  I hope to enhance the power of the image by using a variety of techniques, but most probably the best image is the one that is left alone.  It really doesn’t matter, because what I am getting from the process is something Brooks terms as limerence.  And I have sought it all my life. I am full of gladness that I have the privilege of time to use pursuing it. I was a young teen probably when I first became conscious of those moments of transcendence – it may have been earlier but my memory of my young childhood is barely apparent. What I do remember is making my way through a local park, violin in hand on the way to my lesson when I suddenly became aware of the smallest area of grass at my feet, and the overwhelming feeling of delightedness and joy.  It felt as though I had been in touch with magic, and for some time , years , I assumed it to be quasi religious.  That moment made me connect to a universe in a way that I wanted to do again and again.  What I didn’t know then was that those moments can’t be sought, they are of their own time, outside of any control by me. There have been others, but few and too far between – but the upshot of me feeling that moment was that it informed me about my choices, and it informs me still.

And that is why I love the opportunity to practice my craft – I only wish I could create the same peacefulness and abandon in the kitchen, but sadly not.

If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal — that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
Henry David Thoreau in Walden

 

Into the Mystic

Art, illustration, poetry, United Kingdom
Into the Mystic

Into the Mystic

Expect Nothing

Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.

Poem by Alice Walker

Illustration my own – please do not use without permission.