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It’s not lost on me that I bemoan the lot of the Middle Aged Woman, and her state of invisibility, whilst I feel more visible than I ever have!


I am a walking paradox. It’s like I’m saying, oh no not me, I am not saying this is ME! And yet it is.


So I grapple then with why?

I have woken up shouting, protesting my invisibility! In a peculiar way, that’s all it took. It appears invisibility is a state of mind.


Everything about this event screams my middle aged femininity! What I find revolutionary is my rejoicing in it.


For a while there, a few years back, I thought I had to change myself in order to be an artist. I did, but not in the way I thought.

I thought I might have to be a painter. Nope.

I thought I might have to understand all that French philosophy. Nope.

Turns out its both easier and harder than that….

I just have to be who I am, and talk about and work about the things that matter to me. Easy right? Nope.


That’s the hard bit.

This open studio event exposes me for exactly who and what I am.

A Middle Aged Woman.

I have new underwear, naturally.

I have bought some new clothes to make sure I feel nice.

I make sure I put my lippy on.

I’ve made cake. Lots of it.

This is what I am.

My work is shouting it.

It’s about love and loss. Light and dark. Overt and covert resentment.

It’s about sex and death. About conformity. About saying “sod it!” About acceptance. It’s about being and having a child and a parent.


I am proud that a few interesting people are interested, wanting them to look closely….

Whilst hoping they don’t, just in case they see something that’s too much of me that I hope will go unnoticed. Or, God forbid, see something of me that I have inadvertently exposed for all to see: that my new posh frock is tucked into the back of my knickers and I’m the only one not to see it.



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I can be a bit of a liability if truth be known…

This afternoon I had an interview about nine women on a local radio station.
I was witty and erudite I’m sure… I was told I had a great radio voice…. Better than being told I’ve got a great radio face that’s for sure!
All was going well, I’d introduced myself, said where I was from and a little bit about the music…

“So, Elena, I hear your project involves ladies’ underwear?”

The correct answer to this question is, “yes, Trev!”

The answer to this question, at 3:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, when all the kiddies are listening on their way home from school is definitely NOT

“All the best things do, Trev!”
(as I listen back, I swear I hear a cheeky wink and Sid James laughing)

Oh gawwwwddddd…….
I slapped my hand over my mouth and glared in horror at Trev, too late. It was out there.
No hole opened up below me, however fervently I wished for it. I apologised. I don’t know if that just made it worse. Trev said not to worry about it.

I don’t know what came over me.
Actually I do… It’s just me isn’t it? I say stuff I think will be funny, I say stuff just for the giggle. However inappropriate. Before my brain has got into gear. Most of the time in my life, especially these days when I’m no longer spending hours with young children, I just blurt.

Oh well… I also mentioned the cake… Maybe a few people will turn up for the rude jokes, and some will turn up for the cake. What is it they say about no such thing as bad publicity?

Despite all of that, as I listen to myself, I think it’s ok… It’s not bollocksy, I think it is accessible to people. I think there’s plenty in it for people to relate to, and enough to make people curious about how the hell it will all sit together perhaps.

Deep breath, onto the next thing!
I would just love it to bits if some of my blog readers turned up… Did I happen to mention there will be cake?

The interview is now online… But not sure how long for…

Thank you for listening!

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In my last post, I wrote of the state of flow… The ultimate creative state.

In this post I write of the least creative, the most frustrating and yet the other end of the duties the artist must do, in order to get the work seen and heard (at least the artist as low down the pecking order as me… Higher up the ladder there are agents, curators and technicians I hear!)
I am getting the room ready. The seemingly granite walls these shops were constructed with in the 1970s are impossible to hang from, so I have enlisted the help of volunteers to construct the false wall art schools are so enamoured of… Plywood, gum strip and litres and litres of white emulsion.

It’s not great, but given the gallery is of the pop-up shop variety, it will do the job. The opposite internal, plasterboard wall is also painted white. By July, for the great big posh exhibition, I intend all the walls will be fresh and white, but for this launch, and showing of the germs of ideas and works in progress, two walls of white are fine for now. The windows are filthy. I have cleaned the inside, and hopefully the window cleaner will be round before the end of the week to do the upstairs ones in addition to the downstairs ones he always does. The carpet has paint on it from a previous exhibition…tut… It won’t come off, so I am actually considering painting it again, to match the surrounding fibres. Or I might come to my senses and let it go. This space is not going to be a pristine white cube. It was never such, and never will be. It is not realistic to invest that sort of money in this space. It is therefore a constant balancing act of what I am prepared to put up with, and what I’m not, what I can afford to put right, and what I cannot. My work will go up for the open studio, and stay up for a couple of weeks after I suppose (so if you miss the event, get in touch and you can call in anyway, there might not be cake though). But after that, and before July, I would like it to be used for other artists. I have a few in mind. So I am also conscious of them and their needs. Whatever I do in this space should be adaptable for others, as they will be using it after my event.

My focus then, seems to have fallen into the categories of clean and practical. The boards are functional. The place is clean. Total eyesores will be disguised and minimised. Little things will have to be let go. I can’t do it all. My theory is, that once the work is in the space, that is what people will look at, not the wall finish, or the carpet stains. If people look as if they are bothered by the state of the place I will loudly shout “Cake!” And point in the other direction.

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We decided to slot in an extra session as we were both suddenly free.

We have a certain amount of sessions booked, with a couple of extras as a contingency. I am fairly flexible, this project being pretty much the thing I am doing at the moment. Dan of course is much busier, so it seems sensible to grab opportunities when we can, just in case later on he has other opportunities and commitments.

So… in addition to the songs which require other musicians, there are two or three in my head that require just me and Dan, so on this occasion, that’s what we did. I have in my head that these songs will be varied in production, some very produced – manipulated, overlaid, filtered… many instruments and many players. Others will be less so, and one, that we recorded the other evening, is basically just me, unaccompanied. We got together at about 5pm, and worked through till after 11, pausing for a sandwich, coffee, and a packet of hobnobs, while we listened to what we had done.


Right at the beginning, Dan said he had an alternative idea for one of the songs… the one that I see almost as the theme for the project: “Invisibility is not a Super-Power” so he took it and ran… there was talk of Yoko, we had train sounds, my washing machine spin cycle. He played his guitar with a spoon… as one does…


He had that look in his eyes as I watched… you know, the one where you are totally engrossed, have stopped having any awareness of your surroundings, other than the thing you are doing. Flow… The spoon was drawn up and down the strings as his guitar lay in his lap. Some of the noises were sweet, some were not… it went from sweet to ugly in a breath. I had no idea where he was headed, and I don’t know that he did either. This was true play… imaginative, absorbed… wonderful to see in someone else, and great when you do it yourself. I think it is the first time I have seen it before my very eyes though since leaving my school job. I very very rarely see it in an adult. I wanted a photo of him, the guitar and the spoon, but didn’t want to break the spell.


I love that this work is free enough to allow for this to happen.

The joy of life is not in the STUFF, but in the way you live it.


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Today seems to be a not-making day so far.
Today is a facilitating the making sort of day.

I was woken by my phone, I was bleary and incoherent, the Travis Perkins man asked
“Where am ya? I got yer wood ‘ere ay I!”
I was in bed. I had asked for an afternoon delivery. I told him, somewhat optimistically, that I could be there in an hour. From horizontal to Dudley in an hour is a stretch, but before I could revise my estimate, he seized upon it, declared:
“Am gooin’ up Sedgely wi’ this sand, an arl be back!”
It has snowed overnight, which doubled my travel to studio time. So I gulped down half a cup of tea, dressed in yesterday’s clothes, didn’t do anything to my hair other than rake my fingers through it ( to be honest, I don’t do much more than this anyway, but it serves the narrative).
I picked my way slowly to the car park, having arrived ten minutes later than the agreed time, then waited another half hour in the shop/gallery for the man and the truck and the boards for my gallery wall. The hugest articulated truck in the world arrived. It won’t fit round the back of the shop, and he was unable to drive onto the pedestrian area at the front of the shop. So he manoeuvred into Farmfoods delivery area, and I pleaded with him, glad that I haven’t had time to put on make up so I looked old and helpless, glad that my knee is sore, the combination of that and my boots limping through the icy pavements forced him to take pity on me. Instead of being able to mechanically hoist the palette into the “site” he split the load, and carried each 4’x8′ board the fifty yards into the shop all by himself. I thanked him profusely, signed the delivery note, refrained from adding kisses, and waved him off to argue with the manager of Farmfoods.

I’m now home, warm and nursing the knee that twisted on the rough icy surface of the car park. My walking is hesitant and frankly, terrified. The thought of injuring this joint further scares me. So I walk stiffly, worried that the next step will leave me disabled and bitter. I’ve got too much to do!

The next job I tackle are the accounts. I’m notoriously bad with numbers. When I go out with my group of friends, when the bill arrives, I thrust my purse at them and scurry off to the loo till the whole traumatic episode is over.

I am convinced that ACE will remove my funding because my adding up is wrong. I have a wonderful “financial advisor” ( my husband Mike) who has managed to keep me solvent for the last 34 years. So I now have a simple system that allows me to keep track of the running total of the whole amount, and for each section of my budget. I use the calculator for the simplest sums, and he checks them anyway. I feel in control, and calm…. Now…. Having had him help me work out the initial budget, and set it out clearly, it isn’t too arduous a task to just keep running totals. So if anyone from ACE is reading this, please be assured all is going smoothly!

My next task is slightly more creative, but not actual making still.
I’ve had a couple of ideas for the bras, but not had time to record them or work them out. So I need to spend a little time with my sketchbook, jotting them down and making notes.

I also need to look at the next couple of songs we will be recording.
As Dan keeps calling me “Boss” I’d better take charge!
This is a new thing too.
The last couple of things I recorded with him, they were my projects, but I was still hesitant about taking charge as Dan was the one that knew what he was doing, I think I deferred to his opinion more than I am inclined to for this. I might not know what I’m doing – or rather how to do it – but I do know what I want. I am more confident about saying no… And more confident in my descriptions of what I do want, even if I have no idea how to achieve it! I think part of this new found confidence and power lies in that money – again that is the thing that has made a difference. I am paying Dan to do this job for me, so I have to tell him what is to be done. Also, Dan is very professional in the way he goes about these things, so I have stepped up my game. Before each session in the studio, I spend some time reading and listening to the song we are going to work on, and build a chart clearly laying out improvements, comments, notes, questions. I post it to whoever we will be working with, to give them time for thought and practice and so on. This hopefully saves studio time.
So. Having done the bits I don’t like, and having got the delivery out of the way, for which I’m now grateful was the morning rather than afternoon, I can put the kettle on and settle down with paper and pen and pencil.

Much better.