Someone asked me yesterday “Why on earth are you doing an MA at your age?”

Once I had got over the urge to slap sharply across the face, I was forced to think about it and come up with an answer. Other people have asked me why I’m doing it, but not one of them associated the question with my age.

I was about to answer that my age was irrelevant, but actually, on reflection it’s crucial. I won’t reveal the actual, hideous, number here, but suffice it to say I have 2 grown up sons.

I don’t feel this old. And I don’t feel as old as I remember thinking my mother was when she was this age (if that sentence makes no sense, untangle it yourselves). One of the reasons I don’t feel this old is that I am squeezing every last brain cell on a daily (and nightly) basis. I am working with people who are, on the whole, 10-20 yrs younger than me. They tell me things I never knew. The reason I am doing the MA is that it makes my brain and body active, co-ordinated and stimulated.

The by-product of this is that I feel more active, co-ordinated and stimulated. It feeds itself. Education is addictive. Art is addictive. Art Education is seductive. It makes me feel valued, as an artist AND an educator. I’m hooked and evangelical, and I want everyone else to feel the same. So THAT’s why I’m doing an MA at my age.

I’m sure I will feel bereft when it is finished…



Evenin’ all!

It’s been a busy week.

The research project is going ok, except I’m now having to scrat around for childhood stories from people… so if you have any, let me know!
I have to present it to my peers and tutor in a couple of weeks. This, while daunting, is actually quite a useful process, as to present it ensures a coherence, a narrative rhythm of sorts, and tries out the functionality and performativity of the quilt… (apologies for the arty bollocks)

The embroidered liberty bodice is getting more intense… gaps between the embroidered text are being filled with flowers… I’m thinking of filling every little gap, restraint has never been my watchword!

I’ve been having ideas about song no 2, it has 2 titles at the moment, and I’m not sure either is right… but there are lots of bits of it whizzing around in my head. I’m hoping Dan will be able to sort it all out and find some sort of underlying structure… he’s good at that bit.

Also, starting to think about my selection of work for January practice assessment, at the moment, thinking about showing the baby clothes, hung up somehow, and the lullaby, but as a separate item. Don’t think the bodice will be finished by then.

Got lots to do. The pressure is on, but I feel in control at the moment. And happy about it all.

Coming up to Christmas in school, and I’m painting a mural of a pretend Bethlehem. Had a lovely morning, iPod, quiet, child-free art room, paint. Bit of a dance, out-of-tune headphone singing. Spotted through the window throwin some shapes. hahaha!


I clicked on the “add post” button with nothing in my head to write.

I’m not in a quandary.

I don’t have a complaint.

Nothing new to see here, move along.

Holding pattern…

I’ve been writing more words elsewhere, and still don’t know what to call them. They’re not really poems, as the structure is a bit well, haphazard at best, non-existent in places. But when i write them they have a sort of rhythm inside my head. They are not lyrics, until they start to have an accompaniment to that rhythm in my head. And when they get that, I usually have to rewrite them:

Make do and mend
Don’t throw it all away
Darn the holes they won’t offend
Please do just what I say

I find myself listening to songs I’ve loved for years with new ears, dissecting structure, to elucidate my own efforts:

Been climbing trees I’ve skinned my knees
My hands are black the sun is going down
She scruffs my hair in the kitchen steam
She’s listening to the dream I weaved today

(Guy Garvey, Elbow’s “Scattered Black and Whites”)

The obsessional stitching has reared its ugly head again. I have acquired a liberty bodice. Why these items ever had the title of Liberty I should probably find out… so the words of parents find their way onto it, the words that give us anything but liberty in our adult lives. The words that stick with us, whether we want them to or not.

You’re not going out like that are you?

The pockets of research wait for stories and anecdotes and memories to give them meat and meaning.

The panic of impending assessment hasn’t yet happened. That’ll probably be my next post, so feel free to skip it.


Listening: Ryan Adams, Dave Matthews, Lisa Hannigan’s new cd, Sizer Barker, REEEEALLLLY old Tom Waits. Cheerful huh?

Noticing: Botanical detail in my compost, fluidity (or not) of other people’s handwriting

Reading: Eavan Boland’s Night Feed, Lots of lyrics

Writing: Bloggery, adventures of my youth and other people’s, finding rhymes, lists.

Making: cake, embroidery and recording domesticity.


Hmmmm…… So……

having played with the small cabinet and the clothes and the music and presented it in a space to other artists several thoughts have emerged that I feel I have to address. I want to get some of these thoughts down straight away, and then let them sink in a little.

The presence of the drawers changed the viewers’ interpretation of both the music and lyrics of the lullaby and the clothes too, from what I was expecting. The drawers and their state of openness became a much bigger issue than anticipated, and there was less discussion about the obsessively stitched clothes, or the obsessive layering of lyrics and sounds, and no-one noticed how much I’d polished the wood.

I’ve come to the conclusion (as others have before me) that although these pieces are part of the same body of work, they are not part of the same piece of work. (Dis)played separately they are stronger. (Dis)played together, each weakens the standing of the other.

That took me long enough to work out didn’t it?

I now feel completely different about both pieces. But I think I’ve said before I’m very suggestible and need to let these thoughts settle before working out myself where I should go next with this work.

However, I feel refreshed, freed from the threads that brought me here, and somehow “Allowed” to go forward, but not necessarily along the path I had first thought.

I also feel giddily excited about recording my next piece of music.

That was yesterday: This is today:

Curiously, I do feel a sense of freedom. I’ve picked up work I’d not touched for weeks, I’ve drawn ideas in my sketch book. All in the space of a few hours. It’s as if me, the stitches and the lullaby were tied together. Now we’re not. My brain feels it can do what it likes, and I don’t have to justify the existence of any of these pieces, they are all part of me and my work, and I can choose what I do. There are no favourites among my children.