Some time between about 4.30 and 5.00pm this afternoon it suddenly struck me, and now I know what I want to make.  It came as something of a surprise – quite unbidden  – as I was tidying Tim’s studio after a day of alterations on the costumes for Mamma Mia The Party.  The image in my head is a little too new for it to be described here and now but it feel good and right!  How exciting to have something new weaving its way through my thoughts!  And what a fitting way to start the new year.

There are several things that I want to continue with – the doors and the puzzles for example – and this new thing is not entirely without heritage though it takes things in a somewhat different direction while referring to existing pieces.  In other words it feels like a natural progression that acknowledges previous work and extends it forward.  What a brilliant way to finish the week!

This week we (Tim and I) we joined by another costume maker and sewing machine ace – Christian.  He popped back to Stockholm one evening to sign a contract on his first studio.  Up until now he was always worked for people in their studio, now he is going to set up on his own.  It was wonderful to hear how excited, and both professional and energetic, he was about taking on premises and being his own boss.  It made me realise that I too want to a proper studio and that I need to be professional not only about how I do it but also how I make it sustainable.  It is not enough for it to be somewhere that I can make things for my own entertainment, it needs to be somewhere that I can develop and show what I am capable of artistically, culturally, academically, and even commercially.  It feels rather precious to claim “I simple cannot be an artist without my studio”.  And yet at the same time I need to acknowledge that, much as I love my home, the room that should be the bedroom does not really work as a studio.  Despite earlier announcements to the contrary it has never felt like a studio.  I can came up with all kinds of reasons for this, they are irrelevant though really, the important thing is to realise that I want to have somewhere else to work – not least so that I have literal (as well as critical) distance from my practice.

Tomorrow I take the train to Stockholm not only to see a preview of Mamma Mia The Party but also to see Olafur Eliasson’s show at Moderna and Utopian Bodies at Liljevachs konsthall.  If I have time and energy I would also like to do a round of the commercial galleries in the Hudikvallsgatan district as many had new shows opening yesterday and it feels good to start the new year with a look at what’s new in the art world.  This year I am determined to make it to Stockholm at least once a month.  It is important that I keep up my (fledgling) friendships there and not to simple disappear and drop off the radar now that I live beyond the city limits!

Yesterday afternoon I finished early as Tim and Christian drove in to Stockholm with all the costumes in time for the dress rehearsal.  On my way home through the beautiful snowy countryside I spotted a dark clump in a field not too far from the road.  I stopped and reversed back to it.  It was a pheasant, male, just lying there.  I got out and went over to it.  He looked so peaceful lying there with his head to one side and eyes closed, his wings were folded close to his body and his feet tucked up behind him.  Without really thinking I scooped him up and put him in the boot of my car.  I found him not at all far from where I found the pheasant hen last summer.  Now I have Mr and Mrs, winter and summer, pheasants waiting for me to ‘pluck up’ courage to pluck them and do something great with their feathers.


Do not ask me why but after my last blog entry I became quite anxious about the possibility that someone who started an ‘a-n blog’ before me (but stopped posting some time ago) while take it up again and knock me off the ‘longest standing blogger’ spot.  I can honestly say that I have no idea why this crossed my mind, nor why I had such a sense of disappointment at the mere thought of it.  Thankfully the feeling passed quickly, though it is interesting for me to wonder about whether I too easily become distracted by insignificant things while missing the bigger picture.  Length of service is no guarantee of quality!

I want to give myself the chance to be the best artist that I can be … and that takes (to appropriate a word so strongly associated with the late Roy Castle) dedication – a good word for the start of a year!



The puzzle is lying pretty much as it was before Christmas, I have sorted out a lot of the edge pieces and even got some good runs started, though somehow I am not finding/making time for it.  Actually I am not finding time for much else than costumes for Mamma Mia the Party!  The good thing is that I know that I have time in February when I can concentrate on my own work – I really never thought that being an assistant plume maker would keep me this busy!  In truth Tim’s practice goes far beyond plume making, what we doing now is pure costume work.

When things quieten I am going to get myself some feather and play with them!  I am fascinated by them as a material and want to see what they can, and can not, do.  Will that be “artistic research”?  The nature of my work for Tim is teaching me a huge amount, and it is also awakening a lot of questions that will only be answered by experimentation.  I want to do things that have never been done before!  Or at least things that I can not find evidence of … which by definition must make it “research”!  Where or not it is research (artistic or otherwise) is not the really the point.  The point is that I am discovering a material that is new to me and as much as I want to learn its history and understand its heritage I also want to see what else it can do.  I want to spend time in the ‘feather laboratory’!

Reading Thor Hanson’s fascinating and absorbing “Feathers: the evolution of a natural miracle” has been great.  It is a quite remarkable book charting their evolution as both a biological development and cultural (western European) ornament.  When he writes about plucking a small ‘roadkill’ wren  – to understand the different types of feathers found on a single bird – with nothing more than a copy of the ‘Joy of Cooking’ I simultaneously smiled and winced remembering that there is a peasant-hen waiting for me in Tim’s freezer.

The costumes that we are working on are almost completely featherless – yesterday afternoon I prepared a length of ostrich boa that will feature on three outfits.  Sequins are the order of the day – blue, gold, and white sequins!  I am becoming more confident on the (domestic) sewing machine and I am beginning to understand a little more about how to sew garments together.

The long working days will end soon, and then I will have time and money to get on with my things …