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Over the last few days I’ve come to ask myself what is the difference between work and play? Much of my work stems from play: with materials, ideas, words, the happy accident.

What has made me think more seriously about this is the song. I have had so much fun with it. Producing sound has made me rethink the whole display possibilities of my visual work. Mostly I have items of clothing, household textiles and all of them embroidered, many with text… or potential lyrics. How will it fit together, how will it be seen and heard? It feels like an integral part of my art practice, it has grown from it. The collaborative element has allowed me to do things I would not have been able to do alone. The words may have been written, then stitched, perhaps even spoken. They would not have been sung, there wouldn’t be music. They would have been a little bit “up themselves” and pretentious and I may well have discarded them as “Arty Bollocks”

So I find myself looking at Play. With a capital P. I have played with my own toys, by myself, imaginatively. Now I’m starting to look in other people’s toy boxes and play socially. I wonder where Piaget would put that in the scheme of things?


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Collaboration: I have a new definition for Nicola ( www.a-n.co.uk/p/641894/ ) if she’s interested…

How about…

“Stealing someone else’s talent and expertise to make you look/sound better than you are” ?

I’ve had an amazing day with Dan Whitehouse (www.dan-whitehouse.com) who I feel privileged to call my friend. We’ve been recording my lullaby.

The words I had written, I was moderately pleased with. But now they have been given bones to help them to stand up. I’ve been attempting to explain to Dan in very un-musical terms, punctuated with ums and ers, how I’d like this lullaby to feel: lilting, low, a little sinister perhaps.

I started the day with a mixture of trepidation and excitement, wobbly knees and probably a wobbly voice. Dan encouraged, telling me which bits were good, ignoring the mistakes, just suggesting I sing it again. (I’m not sure he knows how good a teacher he is) By the end of the afternoon he was able to say (and more to the point I felt able to take it) “No, you can do that better, do it again (brutal!)

I have learned (and that will no doubt continue as I absorb the details of the day) so much from this process – not least a new found respect for the minutiae of the recording process, and the accuracy demanded.

Dan has taken my ill-expressed thoughts and projected them back to me with his guitar and his voice. My words have become a song. Not a pretend one, a real one!

The process is akin to collage: Do the bits that are the same, or similar at the same time, put them down, add to them, step back and look at it. Re-do bits, stick it together, accentuate parts, fade bits back, bring other bits forward, re-draw the lines, paint in a counterpoint, check the light and dark tones, add texture. In many ways it is the same. In many ways it is totally different.

So thank you Dan, for your time, your talent and skill. It was a great, creative day in the middle of Birmingham city centre, springing out after the destruction of the last few days.

It feels good to be an artist.


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I’ve at last got my new pinboards up, which means I can get my accumulated research out of the carrier bags and up on the wall where I can gradually add to it and move it around as I see fit.

It’s a blanket, with pockets pinned to it. Each pocket has a label with a topic title, such as guilt, fear, play, parents, childhood, nanny state or even Deleuze… each pocket represents the Deleuzian representative rhizome… a little bit of knowledge/experience (hand written on envelopes and such, as I come across them) that all adds up to a whole, any bit can connect to others, spark new ideas and new connections.

I was originally intending to make it into a quilt, but the reading has led me to think that perhaps I won’t, I shall leave these pockets in a state of flux, a contested space. If I sew them together, they lose the potential for change.

I do expect that other people would put the bits of writing in different pockets to me, and that will help with the new connections a great deal.

My challenge will be to get it to hang together enough to be “read” by others. I’ve got a long way to go.


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I think I now know why I’ve felt unsettled. I spent a few hours alone in my shed with a pot of tea and my sketchbook, worked through a few ideas and threw a few out too.

I came to the conclusion that I’d spent so long thinking about how I’m thinking that I’d forgotten what I’m supposed to be thinking about. The work had become a little disjointed and was flailing about a bit.

So… I’ve put away the Deleuze and the Cixous for a while and will concentrate on making things and thinking about that instead.

So… I’m back to thinking about these clothes, these items of household textiles I’ve collected about me, and why I’m tied to them, why they make me feel safe. Similarly, why are we obsessed with keeping our children about us, safe at the cost of their independence?

So… I shall hopefully find my sense of humour in my work again, I think Deleuze took it away temporarily.

So… My reading is now Bachelard’s “The Poetics of Space”… appropriate for my shed.

Sew… I’m content with the obsessive domesticity of embroidery and as a consequence I’ve found found solace, contentment and inspiration in my iPod again…

Thank you Elliot Smith, Lisa Hannigan and Joan as Policewoman!


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