This was me 6 years ago ( well not quite) I’m a bit late posting, due to problems with my computer downloading images and being slow getting the words out! However, it’s enabled me to tie two themes together. My youngest sixth birthday was on Saturday and we watched the rowing and the woman’s eight win a silver medal.
In the last twenty years there has been huge developments in woman’s rowing, yesterday was a fantastic result. I sat and watched in remembrance of my days on the water at Durham and seeing Jess Eddie as a school girl rowing out of Durham’s ARC. Thinking of my good friend who made it to the Beijing Olympics and a former fellow high school student who was in the men’s eight. In the heptathalon, Jessica Ennis Hill proofed you can have a baby and come back to true athletic form. I am in awe of that. In the rowing and the athletics and for all the Olympic sports, there have been many comments about the sacrifice: the time away from family, the hours of training, and that the moment of success which could so easily be snatched in the last second, out of the winning. Not usually decisive, I made that very clear conscious choice as I went down to London in pursuit of the rowing dream that I wasn’t going to be willing to sacrifice any more time for rowing. Four years had been enough for me.
Now as I watch my husband’s dedication, I again sit on the edge of that choice. My husband sacrifices for his art but it’s a different progress than the journey through a sporting one. For the sports person their window of opportunity is short and if added into that as a woman you have a child then the sacrifices are even greater. If you are pursuing any dream there has to be dedication and persistence and a choice of leading a life which is in pursuit of a goal.
There are sculptures of heavily pregnant woman but for me they are too realistic. Each blue circle on this piece represents a day of the pregnancy, the journey of the development. Perhaps too it can represent the sacrifice. Motherhood is the ultimate of that.
Photo shoot today at the studio, so more new images to post and work to write about, once they’ve been uploaded and edited. The ‘Mother and Child’ collection is almost finished and ready for a fantastic exhibition coming up in December.
The journey of motherhood parallels life, it has its ups and downs, highs and lows. My two boys are diverging in their affections of me at present. My youngest is smothering in his kisses and cuddles and albeit, a natural charmer, he is still at the age where he loves me to the moon and back. My eldest has hit the point where when I say “I love you” there is no more, ‘to infinity and beyond’, but a muffled “Okay” in response. It feels to early but I think, as a Cancerian I will need to manage cutting the invisible umbilical cord step by step, although it never feels gentle. The changes are strange, it’s hard to imagine that my youngest will ever start to detach himself from me. Perhaps, he won’t it’s just the nature of their characters or the eldest/youngest child difference. Each stage of mothering has the joys and the challenges. It’s the summer holiday ‘joy’ a the moment. I am deliberately having a positive mindset. Of course, they will never be theses ages again and their infancy is starting to seem like a dream.
I am so excited about this exhibition, still a little while off but time increasingly seems to pass with speed. Not only is this relatively local to us, the space will set off each piece and seeing them all together in a glorious collection will be amazing. Took time to get this poster right but well worth it.
This month has been our ‘retreat’, cyber hibernation and other withdrawals to create time for spiritual concentration. This has not left much room for words. I posted on Monday images only, partly because I so many photographs there was not much more space for letters. Also, my whole being has slowed down and no words were appearing. I was having a blank.
On my morning walk wearing my ridiculously large ‘insect like’ sunglasses to keep out the pollen, the clouds really caught my attention. Somehow the lenses were acting like a contrast heighten button so the voluminous cotton wool like clouds looked even more impressive. I was thinking about cotton wool and how the pads you can get don’t have the same aptness for thinking of a cloud. The poetic line, ‘wander lonely as a cloud’, wandered into my mind, however the sky today was far from the image of a lonely cloud. It was a gathering for a cloud event, like a stack of candy floss before the opening of a fair. It’s magic when you can see the clouds making a shape of something. This made me think of the sculpture and his talent for making shapes out of things. He said recently that he has no imagination but a storage unit of ideas. In interviews he is often asked the question, ‘Where do you get inspiration from?’ Living with him I can verify that there seems to be an endless supply to ideas. I have never known him to have to think of an idea or to have to search or research for inspiration. He never has a blank. Creativity sits in his mind like the clouds over Yorkshire.
Clouds move, sometimes you can see it slowly, sometimes fast but it is a rare thing to have a cloudless sky over our little village on the edge of the valley. In all this cloud contemplation, I noticed to the left it was a smattering of shades of grey where as to my right it was a different scene, pure blue burst appeared in patches hinting at the suggestion of blue skies behind. If you showed someone who had never seen the sky before my view to my left they would be surprised if you said sky is blue. Sky seems even more rarely these days to be blue here in the North of England. We know that beyond the clouds is a vast expanse of ‘blue’ that we can’t see. In each of the ten sculptures for the ‘Mother and Child’ exhibition the sculptor has used blue. Colour is the key to my husband’s sculptures. They don’t merely serve an aesthetic or decorative quality, they are the meaning behind the piece. The colour is crucial to the philosophy as well as adding a lusory quality.
Colour does evoke feelings and emotions. Why does a blue sky make us feel happier than a grey and white one? We often think that are emotions are influenced by external factors when actually it is more often our thoughts that create our feelings. We are often clouded, pardon the pun, in our vision by what we see before us and are unaware of the unseen, the design behind it all. Again thinking of the sky at night, I love it when it is clear and we can see a few of the twinkling stars. But when I look upwards and see just those few stars, I remember when I had the opportunity to camp in the Serengeti, many moons ago and the awe and wonder at the littering of lights above which was a huge realisation as to how much we aren’t always able to see.
As I spend this time in spiritual practise I focus on how all these marvellous signs in nature indicate to me a creator. I am acutely aware that we don’t all share this view. We were, ‘made in tribes so that we may learn from one another’. We just don’t tend to focus on the learning and veer more towards the misunderstanding. There are so many paths up the mountain and everyone takes their own time and twists off the path. For some, their view-point may be a bit like the grey cloudy sky. They may be faced with a sheer rock face with no possible foot holes so the view of the mountain is obscured and to them non-existent. As with viewing the sculptures, behind what lies in front of us there is often a deeper meaning.
This is simply one of the most stunning pieces my husband has made, though I think that every time he finishes one.
In Maslow’s paper , ‘The Theory of Human Motivation” he proposed that healthy human beings have needs which he arranged in a hierarchy. Physiological and safety needs being at the bottom of the pyramid indicating more primitive or basic than others (such as social and ego needs). If we think of those physiological and safety needs for a child as breathing, food and water, place to sleep, security of the family, health and place to live we might group that under a heading ‘Shelter’.
A mother’s first instinct is to bring her child to her chest, cover them and protect them from the world around. A shelter is a building that provides cover. Some mothers in the world are looking after children with no building or structure to protect their offspring. Mothers are the only shelter. The curvature of this piece is as though the mother is moving her body to be a physical shelter.
The way the lights and the shadows fall enhance the beauty of this piece but the almost crumpled position of the woman’s body displays her potential discomfort, the sacrifice and the perseverance to keep the babe protected.
Where we are more fortunate to have those essentials of a roof over our heads with warmth and food, we start to shelter our children from the reality of the world around us. How much should we do that? Can children become over protected so much so that they can’t function in society because it is too harsh a reality. These questions are starting to whirl round my mind as my eldest, I am observing, is starting to leave those years of innocent childhood behind him. How do we persevere the innocence and wonder of those formative years without restricting all that the world offers. Should we shelter our children from the inevitability of the environment we live in today?
On Wednesday I did my first ‘wordless’ post which I actually found tricky because there is so much I want to say about this glorious piece, ‘Mother of Many’.
Ironically, I also posted three pictures of my boys on Facebook due to a ‘nomination’ for a ‘motherhood challenge.’ My ramblings for this piece were not going to be as follows but I shall save it for another Mother and Child post. However, I felt I needed to get some thoughts down on ‘paper.’
For those not in the bizarre word of social media, ‘ I was nominated to post 3 pictures that make me happy to be a Mother’ and then you had to tag 10 people who you think are great Mothers to post pictures for what was named the ;Motherhood Challenge!’ Now, I deliberated over doing this for two days (amongst everything else) mainly because I really try not to post pictures of the boys on the internet any longer. If I do I try not to get too much of their faces in. It’s a shame really as my whole purpose for joining Facebook way back was so that family abroad could see pictures of their nephews/family here in UK.
I am not sure what I was thinking when I posted them I think I have been spending too much time on Facebook in distracting myself from editing my first draft at an attempt at a novel (now there’s a challenge). But, perhaps I saw it as a celebratory thing rather than a ‘challenge’ and when I chose friends/family for it I didn’t think they were any better at the role than ones I didn’t choose. Anyway, after reading this article in The Guardian I realised I should have been a little stronger in my convictions of not posting. Mainly because of course when you tag someone your post appears in their newsfeed and I find that a little disconcerting.BBC News also have a response and a discussion as people have reacted in very different ways about it. So, I decided then to withdraw my post – I should have just put up the image below. Click on the link to see a lovely animation made by my friend which is called ‘Mother of Many’.
I am not so sure what I feel about the word ‘challenge’ in this instance I think the wrong word has been used. Challenge means a call to prove or justify something / invite to engage in a contest (contest meaning supremacy). I think it is this focus that has caused ruffled feathers. I have done a few challenges lately, yoga, writing and dairy-free diet which all have some element of the definition in it.
Motherhood, however shouldn’t be a contest and it is in this world of social media and school playground politics where there can be an element of bragging and competition which is unhealthy, unrealistic and quite simply annoying. There are women in the world who face real challenges of where to find the next meal, drink of clean water, shelter, place of security for themselves and for their family. Yes, there are women for whom it is a’ challenge’ to get pregnant (I am not sure I like the word challenge in this sentence at all, but I am making my point). For we all face daily challenges, mothers or not, some that makes us smile some that make us frown.
So, I will end my little dilemma debate and dedicate this image to my beautiful Mother, mother to three and many children she has taught, my husband’s Mother who had five children as in the sculpture, to my grand-mothers and to all friends, family, readers and women of the world; whether with children or without because the ‘mothering’ quality is in us all whether we have children entrusted to us or not. ‘Mothering’ which means to care for people the way that a mother does, can be done by anyone. For there is always a moment when someone needs that close care and attention.
“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.” ―Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm
I don’t know why a number on a calendar which is just part of one system causes such a turmoil in feeling. Some time has ended and some new time is beginning. Each day is a new day but there seems something more significant in a ‘new year’. Because of the cold wet climate here it is the perfect time to stay in, under the duvet and do nothing but think. I was listening to a snippet of a radio program on diaries and just caught the idea that journal writing enables us to see self-development. As I flicked through my journal last night I realised the last four years is a bit sparse with entries but then I have regularly ‘blogged’ perhaps instead. I wonder if it is slightly more filtered than my weepy outpourings of motherhood in my journal.
However, I begin this new year 2016 on a more upbeat optimistic outlook as I approach a new stage with the boys entering into a more ‘junior’ stage. Over these holiday days the sculptor, never one to do ‘nothing’ took the time to carve a bull but with him he took the boys to enjoy being with him in the studio. Always trying to be grateful for what we have, the only thing I think they need of is more outdoor play, exploring for themselves and having freedom to do so. As they grow our little back yard diminishes in space for them to do that. So the larger space of the studio yard during these wintry days has been a perfect way for them to let out steam, spend time with Baba, for the sculptor to carve and for me to carve out a little bit time for myself. As I just reassuringly read in the blog that inspired me to start ‘blogging’ five years ago, when we mother’s do get this precious time it can be hard to know exactly what to do with it.
We move from a year which has had its challenges, tests of patience but been full of activities and achievements for us all. It feels another year has flown even faster than the last.”The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience” Tolstoy.
Thank you for taking the time to read this little online journal of our continued journey of sculptural exploration and family life. Blessed Friday, Happy New Year with hope that 2016 may bring peace, love and the time to bring that all together.
I post photos I have taken of studio moments, carving out sculptures and memories.