I have been thinking about the work I do, whether that is textiles, drawing, songwriting… and trying to pin down a little tighter the themes that drive me to make. Relationships, reactions, cause and effect, influence, family, similarity and difference… the space between people and the lines that connect them. The presence and the absence and the effects of that… it’s all a bit swimmy and I could really do with having a sentence or two that really expresses it clearly, to myself, and to others.

After making and showing Five, Six, Pick up Sticks, my thoughts are with the family group and that intimacy and closeness. I have started binding the individual twigs into family groups. 

Coincidentally, or possibly not at all coincidentally (can’t find the right word for that) I have just become a grandmother for the first time. My connection to this small baby is unbelievably strong. There’s a whole new level of love that I never knew existed. People tell you that grandchildren are special, but no one has really expressed this to me in a manner that tallies with what I am feeling. 

So having spent a week with the little one and his parents, I’m now back home, thinking about him. I am now very keen to get back to my large drawings, and to my twigs. I want to revisit those individual metaphorical children and bind them into family groups. I want to explore the closeness and the connections and lines.

I also feel an urge to revisit the lullaby I wrote during lockdown, with a view to rewriting the lyrics so they fit him.

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I know I have written about this before… but it was a long time ago and I can’t find it.

Ants… if there is a flood and they are alone, they drown. But if they are in the nest or in a group, they are able to join together to make a raft that floats on the water until they happen upon dry land or vegetation, at which point they let go and can walk alone again.

Remember those amazing months I had full of exhibitions and talks and funding etc? Remember how I said it couldn’t be sustained? (Neither by me nor the world I inhabit) Well here we are then… I found myself in the middle of the downturn where things aren’t going so well, I’ve had a few rejections and I am broke. I am contemplating whether I am too broke to enter the next thing, or whether I should just spend some time building up my strength again – physical and emotional.

I felt like an ant and I felt as if I was drowning… or at least spluttering and stumbling about.

But I am not alone. I reach out to fellow artists who are friends, and we cling together to make a raft. We share our experiences and frustrations, and remind each other of the joys. Before too long, we find we are planning again, bouncing ideas and creating sparks.

I don’t yet know how long it will be before I get going again, but I am feeling supported by my raft of allies and friends, my art ants.