I have caught some beautiful days this summer. Wandering. Walking. Captivated by the clouds and flowers this year. Always looking up for some loftier inspiration. I dart around like the swallows in my pursuit for easier homemaking, exercise, minimising and reducing waste, writing and looking after our business and the boys. Reminded recently about the need to be grateful for the place where we are at, both mentally and physically. I am fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the world. Sometimes grounding ourself in the importance of seeing something through, brings us back to earth.
(Little parody of the Teddy Bear’s picnic) I think the heat in the shop is getting to me.
If you go down to the woods today,
You’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down to the woods today,
You’d better go in disguise
For every butterfly there ever was
Will gather there for certain because
you’ll find there, a huge bull’s backside
Bull’s backside for butterflies
Butterflies are having a lovely time today
Watch us catch them unaware
and see them undefeated play
See them gaily gad about
they love to fly and mount
upon the bull they stay for a dare
At Doddington Hall you can see
the sculpture by Shendi
Inside the hall and in the open air!
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.
Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden
Black and White Cottage,
Standon Lane, Ockley,
Surrey RH5 5QR
May to end of October:
Fridays and Saturdays 11am-6pm.
Sundays and Bank Holidays 2pm-5pm.
When my husband was installing these pieces he met HANNAH PESCHAR herself in person. Unfortunately this is the last year that this exhibition will run. so we are privileged to be part of it. She asked my husband what his inspiration was. My husband answered, ” it is enough just to have your eyes open and look around”. She said she had only ever heard one other person say that; Henry Moore.
The first week of the holiday ended and I had felt smug at how well I had managed the days with the relentless rain and keeping busy. Yoga, breathing and letting it all flow working with me well. However by the second week with less yoga practice and illness I felt personal tested because the weather was so good. I had had several ideas for active boys but I have had the most odd and strange fever. It sounds dramatic but when you have an infection it is as though an alien has taken over your body. However, it makes you grateful for your health and appreciate that for some people who can be their state of being on a more permanent basis.
So for the last weekend of the holidays, feeling a little bit more normal I planned to take the boys to a local museum where I had seen a little advert for ‘slow art day’ with a child friendly image of a tortoise. I thought that would suit us all as it was about the pace I was working at – tortoise pace. When I looked into a bit more I realised it wasn’t a kids holiday making activity but an annual event celebrated around the world with the idea of taking time to look and appreciate 5 pieces of art work and then discussing it. I think this is a fab idea but I couldn’t envisage not feeling hundred percent with two boys on the run, more at a hare’s pace, in a gallery space.
This was the general theme of the holidays, having plans and then them not quite happening, always a good lesson to learn. So here are some images of our own slow art the boys did at home and over the holidays on the rainy days.
Having a first day to myself yesterday after the two-week holiday with the boys, I went for a walk and realised walking helps me to think through ideas. It enables me to hear my voice in the peaceful sounds of nature. My husband has been busy working through an idea in clay, a preparation for a larger piece. He was telling me how he has realised he carves the whole thing in his mind before hand almost like watching himself do it in his mind’s eye.
On my walk, I took a moment to sit on a bench in a field with a large oak tree and a stream running through it eat. I noticed something I hadn’t seen before, a plaque with a poem by William Henry Davis:
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
So I sat, ate my apples and reflected. I am conscious I am always hurrying the boys and think about articles about ‘The hurried child’. It is important to slow down and do things at a pace that makes us appreciate. My husband is driving with loyal driver and designer Anthony Hartley to Surrey to put these pieces (images below) in the wonderful Hannah Peschar sculpture garden. So if you are in that neck of the woods (odd expression but seemed appropriate) then take a slow wander around the beautiful surroundings amongst stunning sculptures and works of art.
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.Henry David Thoreau
“I don’t believe anyone ever suspects how completely unsure I am of my work and myself and what tortures of self-doubting the doubt of others has always given me.” ― Tennessee Williams
All artists have self doubts.
My husband often has his doubts and uncertainties simultaneously with a very clear dream and extraordinarily clear talent. The moment of finding his style was a pivotal point. Not in no longer having those doubting moments but more determined.
It is amazing how just taking a moment to stop and observe can help you clear your mind. As I ate my particularly prepared porridge and looked out the window, I captured a moment. A bird perched in a tree finding shelter from the wind. How much protection it found? I wondered, as the tree danced with the movement of the strong gusts on this cold and blustery January morning.
Even within language we may not all be visualising the same thing. If we say ‘tree’, what type of tree is it. What are you thinking of? A willow drooping low and forlorn, a palm reaching energetically tall, a busy evergreen, a strong oak with branches stretching outwards. Is it a tree made out ladies legs? What concept do we have in our own mind’s eye.
It is easy to think of trees as strong and immoveable. As the numerous branches move like dancing arms outside it makes me understand that nothing remains the same. Everything is moving, flowing, shaking, changing.
I had a big writers wobble the other day after reading my brother’s newly formed blog. I had a sudden large wave of self-doubt as I compared my own skills with his, unfavourably. Immediately seeing his confident youthful writing style as superior to my own rather than thinking that it is just a different way of writing.
Perhaps a tiny slip of the deadly envy creeped in or a little bit of sibling rivalry but it didn’t last long. I don’t harbour bad and unnecessary feelings for long. Especially towards my younger brother to whom I am maternally overprotective of. I used it positively. It made me realise that I had to focus on my own style and my own direction.
Observing nature helped too, the bird in the tree. We all have moments where we doubt ourselves. The wind shakes the branches of our spirit a little. It makes us grow and develop. My brother who is writing about his recent travels, tells me he hasn’t changed. People don’t change. Perhaps travel doesn’t change us. I think though, if the experience doesn’t change us then time will. Travelling inwardly to the depths of our soul should change us. If we want to change the world then we have to start with ourselves.
I have read lots of beautifully brilliantly written blogs over the last four years, here are 8 I would recommend:
“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”- Robert Hughes. Perhaps. I guess it is one of those emotions, it is only human. ‘Only Human’ my husband’s exhibition at Cartwright Hall will end on 23rd February. So one more month to go and view it.
So my mantra for this month. Stop doubting and start daring to dream.
‘As the birds wake in the dawn and the sun begins to rise, the soul is more in tune with the supernatural.
It can be strange sleeping in a different place, sounds and sights less experienced. In London last weekend a loud thud woke me from my sleep, I visualised a lorry over turning, sliding and landing with a bang. I heard the birds chirping their dawn chorus amist the unnatural flashing neon lights. My first thought was that the refuse collectors were picking up the rubbish. With grinding sounds, beeps and distressed noises which disturbed the natural order, I realised it was too early and got up and looked out the window. Fire engines and police cars were the ones flashing their lights but I couldn’t see an incident. I moved to another room to see the trauma yards from the house. Several fire officers and paramedics trying to cut their way into a car which was not too far from the window having brought down the garden fence. Not sure if I should be watching but riveted to the spot I watched as they took off the crumpled car door. A man’s body inside. Once through the metal barrier they slide him out in seconds. Surprised that they didn’t then whisk him away to the ambulance, I peered through the break in the blind as they cut off his clothes and left his exposed chest for what seemed a while and I feared he had died on impact or on the extraction from what was his car.
I wondered if his soul was hovering above at my window in the mystical morning of early hours. There was a slight movement of the arm and I realised he was still alive,they finally covered him after putting in an intravenous drip, tube down his airways and practically operating in the middle of the street. Whilst people around slept unbeknown to them the amount of people assisting in this incident on the street below. I thought about all the people doing ‘their job’ for the emergency services and how they unwind and clear their mind after such emotional and visual experiences.
Once the ambulance left with the man safely on board. I went back to bed and sleep finally came. I floated out on the street like a voyeur, one of the woman came over and hugged me and I whispered how amazing the work they had all done but it turned into a tight grip and she asked me why I hadn’t done more to help. I woke and wondered whether the whole thing had been a dream but in the bright sunshine of the sunday morning the remains of the scene proved it had happened.
In the light of day the ghosts of the night were no longer there. The streets were cornered off with tape and the ruins of the fence lay littered around the crushed metal and broken glass that was once a moving vehicle. A possession. A means of getting us quickly from one place to another. It made me think about how we put so much value on our possessions when they can be crushed instantly and rendered useless. Our precious souls on the other hand we take for granted. Bodies saved by the many who work in professions which call upon a kind of heroism that goes sometimes unnoticed. Our physical being so vulnerable, so easily crushed but so resilient, ultimately only the creator knows when our body is to be crushed, no longer of this world. Our soul to be returned.’
Exhibition of ‘Souls’ in three weeks time in Blackpool. So, if you haven’t managed to get to an exhibition in London because you live in the North of England now is your chance to view the pieces which ‘invite the viewer to delve into their own imagination and think deeply about their own existence.’
I have been busy this weekend ‘getting ready’ for my husband’s best friend arriving and staying with us. Shopping, cleaning, sorting, baking, cooking, all the things we do to prepare for visitors. It wouldn’t be a negative thing except for then nobody can do anything until guest has arrived and then everyone can relax and mess it all up again! I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet but my ‘traditional English roast dinner’ was practically perfect. With no burning or breakages in sight. This was aided with a list of timings and post stick notes stuck on pans. All the scrubbing and washing and wiping and brushing is a preparation for an end result that doesn’t last. The peeling, the chopping, the stirring, for food that is eaten in less than half the time. However, when done lovingly the pleasure is in seeing happy satisfied friends and family at the end of it.
This weekend also saw the wrapping and sorting of the sculptures ‘getting ready’ for transit this week down to London. My husband remarked that they all look like dead bodies, mummified ready for their journey to another destination. There is still a bit of paper work to be done but most of the preparation has gone really well. Then wagon is set to arrive for the loading and for a band of merry men to take the ‘exhibition’ down and install it for the preview. To which we will then all go back down again the following week. Again, which we will need to ‘get ready for’.
My brother is ‘getting ready’ for leaving home for the other side of the world and my sister for a new job. So we are in the ‘getting ready’ period. Sometimes it can feel like we are permanently in that point in time, preparing for something with the end result feeling too far away or when it comes around we realise the ‘getting ready’ was the best part.
Nature is ‘getting ready’ for its period in hibernation. The Trees are shedding their leaves and the earth is in retreat. Everything in this life fades and dies. Ultimately what are we all ‘getting ready’ for and what are our preparations?
It struck me whilst walking in the park that it wasn’t long since a thick blanket of snow lay across the land, out of the depths of winter new life burst through. How quickly things can change. Like our mood, like the highs and lows of daily life. The rhythm of nature mirroring our own inner worlds. The flowers are finally starting to appear and little burst of sun shine pierces through the april showers. We have to ride the storms of life with patience and wait and hope for those joyful moments that makes us appreciate all we have. Happy Friday, enjoy this blessed day.