Friday Poem:Spread My Wings

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It is 21 years this week since I sat down on an ugly-but-practical brown couch and watched a Rage TV special – Nirvana Unplugged in New York. I’d heard of the band, I knew how the singer died, and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s also true – that record changed my life.

I wrote this poem during the following year, expressing frustration with the constraints of my ordinary life. Nirvana fans might notice the influence of “Sappy”, but there’s a dash of Hank Williams in there, too.

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This jar is far too small.
There is no room for my wings;
There is no room to fly;
I want to spread my wings.

I’m not a moonbeam in your jar;
I’m not a pretty toy;
I need to move, I need to breathe;
I want to spread my wings.

These air holes are too small.
You must not smother me;
I want to take the air,
I want to spread my wings.

Let me loose, what’s the use
Of keeping me in here.
I might not fly away,
But I want to spread my wingsa-collage-2

One of the things I did as I escaped from the jar of proper lady-like behaviour, was to stick anything that appealed to me on my wall. Nowadays, that’s an “Inspiration Board”, but twenty years ago, it was weirdly adolescent for a forty-year old woman with 5 kids…At some point, the collection came down, and was upcycled into a series of collages, of which this is one. There’s an apt quote on there-

“Our lives improve only when we take chances – and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves”

Walter Anderson.

I also got rid of the brown couch, and as much other ugly-but -practical-with-kids brownness out of my house, and started surrounding myself with things that I actually liked.

After ordering and waiting patiently for “Nirvana Unplugged in New York (on cassette), I expanded my music collection, my library and my stash of art supplies. I now have the Melvins “Gluey Porch Treatments”, and  I’m reading  Bessel Van der Kolk’s ” The Body keeps The Score”, about the ongoing effects of trauma. When Micheal Azzerad asked Kurt, “Is your’s a sad story?” , he hesitated, and said “…No…”, going on to say that the events of his childhood were commonplace, which, unfortunately, they are. But it is a sad story, they are all sad stories, which Dr Van Der Kolk and his colleagues are learning to address with proper treatment – too late for Kurt, but there’s hope for another generation to have more than numbness – they will be able to spread their wings.

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Friday Poem

I wrote this short poem years ago, and I wish it wasn’t relevant any more…DSCF4507 (Large)

“Peace!” is my battlecry,
With love I taunt my enemies,
And when they writhe in travail
on the floor,
I ache with empathy.DSCF4509 (Large)

The images here are from an artist book I made with an inspiring quote from Ian MacKaye,and the last one from an altered book. I learned about the concept (and reality)of dominator culture through reading Derrick Jensen‘s book, A Language Older Than Words. It was a challenging read, but well worth it.

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Only love can conquer fear.

Creativity: Envelope Book

I was lucky recently to find a beautiful box of vintage notepaper on a market stall. Nestled under the notelets was a stack of small envelopes, and I immediately decided that some of them should become book pages.

I made the cover last week before I left home, sandwiching two pieces of board between two layers of papers. The printed one is handmade in India, the blue silk paper is handmade in Moyston by my friend Karen. There is a gap between the boards for the spine.

I used a very simple stitch pattern, and sewed straight onto the spine, one envelope at a time, starting at the back. I didn’t quite line up the stitches, as a row of holes would probably tear really easily. One of the envelopes tore from one hole to the next as I stitched anyway, because the old paper is quite brittle.

If I’d been home (or thought to pack more supplies!) I would have sewn the book with a heavier thread – as it was, I used doubled ordinary sewing cotton, which wouldn’t be satisfactory for a book that was to be used a lot. I don’t think it will be an issue for this one.

Now I just need to find interesting bits and pieces to place inside all those tiny envelopes!

Creativity: Party Guest Book

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I’ve got a birthday not far off – one of those landmark ones, and I’m having a party…A book for guests to sign as a memento is fairly standard on these occasions, and being an artist, I made my own.

It’s quite simple, with only one signature. The pages are 110gsm cartridge paper, and the cover is repurposed card with the printed magenta card glued over it. The cover design is a variation on the cover of the invite ‘zine I made, and I used the same orange thread to stitch the booklet together.

I couldn’t just leave it at that, of course! One of the pages already had this quote on it – an alternative verse of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings”. Since it’s a birthday party, and there will be cake, and my guests are invited to dress up in Punk Rock Style (there will be cliches) the words seem oddly appropriate. So I added a cake.

I’d bought a packet of pretty scrapbooky sheets, so I added some of those. Where I liked both sides, I hinged them with washi tape. When only one side fitted my theme, I stuck them down, again with washi tape. I picked two designs to use, a pretty one, and a punkier one. In the back, I put a copy of the invitation, and an old envelope to put some photos of the night in later. Camera and balloon stickers from Kikki K illustrate its purpose. I also put in a peony stamp, which I coloured with watercolours, and my Peace Love Empathy rainbow heart design.

I hope that the scattering of interesting inserts, stickers and drawings removes the terrible White Page anathema, and that the fact that something is already there will encourage my guests to be more adventurous in adding their names for me to remember the occasion.

Friday Poem: Ache

I’m mining the back catalogue for this week’s poem. I have not been to that place where the hums are lately, but I need to go there soon….20151103_105959

Wounds heal

But, God, the scars ache.

Broken hearts and broken bones

Will both be mended

But, God, they ache

Whenever the days are bleak

And cold.

Time heals

But, God, it aches,

The memory of pain,

Raw where the scars are

Brutal at the mend.

The poem is one of those in “Rainbow and Rope”, which I made nearly 20 years ago. I worked out how to put it together by looking at old cloth-bound books, and made three copies, each slightly different. I had an electronic typewriter (since deceased), which I typed up all the pages on, with a lot of messing around to get them in the right order once cut up and sewn together. Some of the poems have coloured illustrations, all individually drawn. To do something like that now, I would probably do it all digitally – perhaps scanning hand drawn illustrations, but not doing them individually.

I have produced a book of my Christmas poems (which I’ve added to our Christmas cards for years), but I did it online, and used photos for illustrations. Is that lazy? I do remember that working out how to make a book and then doing it was pretty exciting at the time: but then, so is designing a photo book of poems.

The photo at the top I took in Ararat, under a blooming bottlebrush, which was alive with Little Lorrikeets enjoying the nectar. I’m not sure if was them or their much larger cousins, the White Cockies, who snipped off the flowers.

Creativity: Art Away From Home III

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This is my mini-studio right now! I’ve been doing some small pen and wash type water colours when I get a moment. The family are moving to a new house on Monday, so I’ve been helping fill boxes, as well as spending time playing with young Juniper. Playing with a toddler is a lesson in creativity all by itself, of course. Watching her patiently repeating some task over and over and over should remind me that sometimes I need to do that, too!

I bought the card with a New Zealand artists work on it, and a red frame for it, for 50 cents each in an op shop/thrift store. there are a couple of swatches of kimono fabric stuck on the wall, too, as inspiration, but I’ll have to take them down again soon…

I’m having an obsession with paeonies at the moment, collecting images from magazines (look through home decorator mags, and count the paeonies! It’s not just me…). I’ve used one of those as model for the pale pink blooms, the deeper pink from a modern Japanese fabric print, and a piece of vintage kimono fabric inspired the other floral painting. It’s only 10 x 6 cm . I tend to work small, but not always that tiny.

The last image is of a page in the artist scrapbook I’m making, titled “Make Art Not Craft”, for which I am collecting artist’s quotes on creativity generally, and the difference (if any) between “art” and “craft”.

Click on an image for a better look!

Creativity: Art Away From Home

I’m going to be away from home for nearly three weeks, visiting my daughter, her partner, and now-2-year -old Juniper. Hopefully a change of scenery will give me some creative impetus as well as an opportunity to hang out with the family and play with Juni. So I’m figuring out what I can pack that will be versatile as heck and also not too bulky/heavy when it comes to the long trip home by coach and train…IMG_5912 (Large)

I’ll be taking some handmade books and pens and paints, with the intention of adding content, including the controversially titled “Make Art not Craft”. So far I’ve copied out dictionary definitions of “Art” and Craft”, and written a few paragraphs on the dichotomy (real or imagined) between the two). I’ll be looking for illuminating quotes and images to add.

 

 

 

I made this very tiny album last time I was in Canberra (with the option of boxes full of supplies), and I’ll take it back this time in hopes of finding some more (small)”happy” images to stick on the pages. Mostly the pictures are of peonies, but I’m not limiting it to the King of Flowers.

I’m also taking some yarn and a crochet hook, so I can make more leaves for the yarn bomb I’m making as part of the Public Art efforts of our tiny Moyston Arts Inc. The Primary school kids will be helping – more on that later!