The Sound of a Wave

(From Diary entry 30.4.2007)

We spent Saturday on Camber Sands beach. It’s a childhood summer haunt of mine, but Leo and Delia’s first visit. It was sunny and blissful, being on a vast expanse of sand – in England!. Dunes behind us, sea far ahead in front. We had a windbreak and a picnic and felt like a real little family growing, my belly ripening under the sun.
The sea was miles out so we took a long walk to meet it and splashed around in the cool shallow water, squinting our eyes and mashing the sand between our toes.

I got hit by pregnancy fatigue and decided to walk back, leaving Leo and Delia to paddle and run through the waves. A few minutes later, with my back turned to them, and the thunderous sound of the wind in my ears, I had a deja vue and felt panic. The sound of the wind could have been the sound of a wave and I turned to check they were still there. I think the fact that there had been an earthquake just along this coast in Folkestone the day before had some influence! I suddenly got – to a small degree – what it must have been like for Reg to have seen Mum for the last time on that beach in Phuket and then turn and never see her again. I started to shake, then reminded myself it wasn’t real, and walked away from the past back to the shore.


Grief, Textile and The Creative Process

I was up in Manchester for meetings about work current and future the last few days. I went to the Craft Design Centre, looked in on my work and had lunch with Kate (Direcrot) /Kaylee (Exhibitions) and heard that, shock horror, the comments book got stolen last week!. Strange thing to lift, I hope whoever has it will read and enjoy, luckily Kaylee had transcribed a lot of it, but some responses will be lost. And of course there will be many responses I will never know anything about, which is both a comforting and disconcerting aspect of having your work in public. Sometimes they come back years later, from random meetings with people who have contributed to or seen the work – this happened quite a few times with The Gifts at unexpected moments.

They had also just finished editing the Artist Talk: Grief, Textile and the Creative process that I gave on the opening day, now up on vimeo. The edited version is 18 minutes long. It was probably the most personal talk I have ever given or will ever on my work, and I realise that the whole process of this show and blog is another form of staged ‘closure’, another level of trying to complete the incompletable… This was underlined by the presence of my family in the room, my mirrors and also my rock.


I want…pomegranates and rosewater

Journal extract from 4.10.2007


It’s autumn now…and I am almost fully pregnant with my second child…we planted a pomegranate tree in the front garden, it was like planting my mother as i have such strong associations with her and that fruit. Her story of picking them from their orchard in Namin, (their village near Ardabil, North West Iran), throwing one against the wall to soften it and then piercing it to suck out the juice, feeling it hit the back of the neck..delicious…

A ritual i try to pass on whenever i can..(the method of eating, rather than the picking of course..we don’t expect actual fruit from ours..)

On Saturday there was a Birth Blessing Circle for me here with about 20 of my female friends,(mainly local) facilitated by my closest friend Maria. We began by drinking pomegranate and rosewater.

I had never heard of Birth blessings (or Blessingways as they are called in the US) but I knew I needed to be encircled by a loving community of women, as mum is not here this time around to encircle me like she did in 2004.

It was an extraordinary experience and enabled me to let go of my last birth experience, acknowledge my mother and my ancestors as present in the process, create a way of being for this birth – abandon and acceptance!

And, while being pampered and sung to by everyone, open up to the support and love of a warm gathering of great women from all eras of my life. It took place in the front room, where i will be labouring, which now feels like a very powerful and ready space. We feasted afterwards together with the men and children who joined us and I had made salmon with dill and rice, the dish mum used to make at large gatherings. It will soon be three years since she left this world and Delia arrived. 

Notes, looking back: I managed to birth Moses in that very room and we buried the placenta underneath the pomegranate tree – much to the alarm of some of my family…

More on: ‘I want’ (2012), which I posted up last time and which is on show in Manchester at the moment, is a small piece consisting of a wrapped pair of childs shoes. This edition is a personal one – they are Moses’ – first shoes and they are bound with an extract from a poem that I pulled out at random after wrapping, from Sufi poet Rumi (good old bibliomancy), entitled ‘Moses and The Shepherd’ (!), challenging notions that there is a ‘right’ way to address or worship the ‘divine’. A poem about service to a beloved other, from which I took:

(Moses heard a shepherd on the road praying, “God,
where are you?) I want to help You, to fix Your shoes and comb your hair. I want to wash Your clothes, and pick the lice off. I want to bring You milk, to kiss Your little hands and feet when it’s time, for You to go to bed. I want to sweep Your room and keep it neat. God, my sheep and my goats are Yours. All I can say, remembering You, is ayyyyyyy and ahhhhhhhh.”

Looking up this text online I found Coleman Barks (my favourite translator of Rumi) doing an accompanied reading of the whole poem, here. I love: ‘Burn up your thinking, Moses!’


Snow Falling in an Empty House: Diary extract from 22.3.2005

‘Dear Delia,

Today we drove (you, I, your dad, our friend Brianne who has come from France to be with us) to Papa Jaaan (my mothers) house for the first time since she died .

It was strange, everything was just as it was before she left, except for the piles of mail, the Christmas cards still on the mantelpiece and the cold – no heating. 
As I sat and breastfed you on the sofa, feeling sad she was not there, (though it felt like she might walk in the doorway any moment), it started to snow. Looking through the panoramic bay windows in front of me, beautiful, huge snowflakes swirling around outside against the green. It was almost spring! I felt it was HER – in the snowflakes, visiting us for 10 minutes in a burst of energy, true to style. Fleeting, but reassuring.


Note, looking back: I remember going through my mothers draws to smell her clothes – the scent of her perfume was still there. I brought the perfume bottle home and still occasionally (it used to be frequent over the first year) I take it out, spray it on my skin and inhale ..her, in some form. A feral memory.