Sunday, 26 April 2015

Pulled out a Plum Potion

 My fingers smell like soft fruit. I have been finger painting with jam. Before you ask, yes, I am feeling ok. It was Pip's suggestion for the ingredients of this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion, the text of which is "Have your fingers in many pies". "Fruit pies" sampled are plum, gooseberry, and lemon.

I am trying to keep busy creatively, keep on pushing and looking for opportunities, without getting crushed by the feeling that I'm running on the spot. I do feel like things are moving in the right direction though, albeit at the rate of continental drift; I'm not the most assertive, go-getting person, so it doesn't come naturally to me. Tips for getting work out there, into the big wide world, where people can see it, would be much appreciated.

I also feel like I have too many ideas, which can be very distracting. Trying to stick to getting things finished, whilst accepting that some things may be too ambitious at the stage I'm at now, is a painful process. I just want to do it ALL. Patience, young grasshopper.

In the meantime, these potions are a happy medium. I don't have to think about them too much, but there is something very pleasing about creating and gradually hoarding them. What to do with them when they're done, though? That is the question. Most or not all of the ones I've made so far will be on show as part of the E17 Art Trail from the 30th May, along with other stitchery. I will post more about that, and the workshop I'm doing as part of the Trail, a little closer to the time.

This one owes a debt to Clerke and Joy, fellow Dartington alumni, who created a performance lecture to tour art schools a couple of years ago. It's called Tips For The Real World, and imparts wisdom (or lack thereof) on how to function as a young art graduate when released into the wild. One of the drawings on the website is captioned "Have your fingers in lots of pies", and I often find myself scribbling the phrase down. It's become a sort of mantra to keep on going even when I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall.

This blog post has become a lot more naval-gazey and mopey than I intended; I think perhaps I'm just a little hungover. Hopefully I will have some more exciting news to share soon. I am writing a book, although I feel terribly pretentious whenever I tell anyone. Unfortunately books are a bit of a slow burn and can't really be shared until they're done, so let's just say it has a stitchy-feministy-mental-healthy flavour and I am enjoying writing it tremendously. Perhaps I will be able to share more soon. Until next time!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Labels and Fables

The pages of my visual diary are filling up in earnest now. I've been doing a little diaristic doodling and collaging, and decided to design labels for the #secretsofselfpreservation potions, to give them a bit more unity and make the outside of the bottles more appealing.

I have designed labels for Week 1: Pox Potion, Week 2: ROAR Don't Mewl Potion, Week 3: Cadbury Purple Mantra Potion and Week 4: Emergency Glitter Potion, though I forgot to add the weeks for those last two, so will need to put them in digitally! I may rework the labels digitally too, using my rudimentary Photoshop skills.

It feels good to be working on paper again; I will have to take the plunge, pick up the pencil, and draw, and to hell with how it turns out. I can only get better with practise.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Sweaty Palms Potion

I'm doing incredibly well at the moment, really. So well, that were my life a terrible action movie, I would be saying "I'm doing well... too well."

I'm thinking about reducing my medication, perhaps in a couple of months' time once I've settled into my new job properly.

Of course, some days are better than others. I still get anxious, over the most ridiculous and inconsequential things, which I'm sure no one else notices, no matter what I may assume. But I feel I've reached a point (partially thanks to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) where I can almost ignore my anxiety, and just get on with life regardless.

Which is why, this week, I have embroidered the words "Anxiety is just one small part of me and I won't let it run my life" on sumptuous orange velvet ribbon for #secretsofselfpreservation.

Why orange? Simply because Judy Chicago wrote in Autobiography that orange is the colour of anxiety, and I agree with her. Louise Bourgeois appliquéd the words "The cold of anxiety is very real" on to a white garment reminiscent of a lab coat. Anxiety has never struck me as cold, other than the clammy sensation felt in the aftermath of a panic attack. For me, anxiety is hot and prickly, bubbling up like lava in the body and overflowing into erratic and panicked behaviour. Orange, therefore, just makes sense as anxiety's colour to me, though I am aware this is entirely subjective and doubtless many people would have a different association.

I have filled the potion bottle (which, fortuitously, has an orange lid) with orange tic tacs, which are pill-like, reminding me of how far I've come in my medicated journey and that one day I may be able to live a "normal" life without medication.

I wrote part of the (orange, naturally) potion label with my right hand to get the shaky, juddery characteristic of anxiety across.

I really like the use of uniform colour and will definitely be exploring this in future potions.

Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Pet Pals Potion

I feel that the title of this (belated, sorry) potion was partially inspired by Rudi of Sidcup and Roxy of Holloway "friends and colleagues" of Bobby Baker and stars of animations featuring Bobby and promoting the work of Daily Life Limited. I have been thinking about the work that Bobby and Daily Life Limited do in the run up to their micro festival, which I need to buy tickets for as soon as I get paid! The feedback that I got about this particular project when I took part in a Daily Life Limited workshop really helped get #secretsofselfpreservation off the ground, so I can't wait to see what they do next. It would be easy for Bobby "just" to make work about her own experiences, but the fact that Daily Life are supporting a whole new host of (often young) artists who make art out of their mental health experiences is commendable. I would love to be in a similar position to do so some day. Without wanting to sound completely bleeding heart (which I am), I want to make a difference with my work.

I suppose this week I have been making a (very) small difference to the lives of some animals; tending to two cats and a bearded dragon, feeding and chatting to them, and on occasion removing (tremendously) pooey newspaper.

I have found that caring for animals is a very particular kind of pleasure; companionship without backchat, I suppose. I think, once you've fed something, you can't help but care for it, in a way.

So in honour of this newfound, short lived responsibility, I have stitched that "Animals are good for your health" (rather shoddily as I haven't been feeling very well the past couple of days), and accompanied the text with some copyright free illustrations of domestic and more exotic animals.

I think this should all act as proof to my boyfriend that co-owning a rabbit is a practical and sensible notion. But until he relents, I will keep stitching.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Perseverance Potion

Week Fourteen of #secretsofselfpreservation brought some potentially exciting news, training for my new job, and a long weekend.

I feel like I've got my work life balance right now, and that I might, just might, get the word out a bit more about my art in 2015.

This is why this week's potion is entitled "Perseverance Potion". The ingredients read "Don't give up the night job ("night job" being art, not an untoward activity).

I have accompanied the stitched words with a jumble of beads and sequins, which I have a substantial stash off and use frequently in my work. They make a pleasant noise when you shake the potion bottle, not unlike light rain or the sea.

Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.