It’s the immersion that’s the key I think.
To totally surround yourself with something and work with nothing but that. For me at the moment it is the ever increasing pile of twigs. I’ve collected them; arranged them on a range of surfaces; stitched them to canvas; taken photographs of them, drawn them with ink, painted with watercolour; wrapped them in muslin bandaging, white cotton sheeting, blue linen, printed cotton lawn and silk. I’m grouping them in families and trying to find sympathetic collections and arrangements. They are in groups of five/six/seven… then in groups of three: parents and child.
I think the wrapping is interesting, particularly. The fragility and brittleness of the dry winter twigs and their crumbling lichens finds a place in my heart. Metaphor is strong in me, I always search for the analogy and the “what if this was like this?” “What if this twig was like this person?” Our elderly neighbour has recently moved into residential care, and we watch as his family remove his beloved and well sharpened and oiled woodworking tools and dismantle his workshop and the collection of Very Useful Items from his garage. I find a bent and brittle twig and wrap him up. I see families ripped from their homes in Ukraine by fire. So I collect the family of twigs and wrap them up in blue and lay them straight.
This activity of course, in practical terms is all useless, but it does help me to process. I see the small child swinging from her parents’ arms in the park and whooping with joy. I have a bendy fresh twig with a little tiny bud trying to open… Does everyone see this or is it just me? To hold close something manageable, then find something within it that echoes the world. I can’t cope with the world, but I can manage this box of twigs.