Studio Stories : January
January the 1st Tuesday
I had given myself over the Christmas period to enjoy ‘time off’ from work. I couldn’t of enjoyed it less if I had tried, I was so painfully bored. As much as my work has now turned into a full time business, it is also my hobby, my passion and biggest love, to switch off from it feels like switching off from myself. However not doing any admin I can switch off from that no problem.
I was once taken to a beach down in Dorset on New years, we drove at around 10 at night to arrive on the beach to watch the fireworks go off at midnight. And every-time the fireworks went off it would light up the sky and for a split second you would see the whole coastline. I have always felt quite connected to that beach, however I only visited it once after that night, and purely out of accident. I had been on a country walk, got lost and ended up at the same place. I believe life brings you to places at certain times to show you something, whether that is a fantastic shortcut, a beautiful sunset or to trigger something that sparks an idea. The day I arrived by accident I brought back a small boulder which now makes an excellent door stop at my studio. Was that the trigger to go to this beach to find the most perfect door stop?
This year I felt that pull to go back to this beach. The beach is behind a pub called smugglers in, you go through a gate which is perched on the top of the cliff, and climb down some hap hazard steps until you have to literally jump onto the beach as the rest of the steps have decayed.
What I like about this beach is that it is made up of huge boulders which feel like they have been there for centuries and have stories to tell. I have been wanting to make sculptures for years now, and the focus is around stones. I have always been fascinated by stones from the beach and why do we pick up certain stones over others? It ties into my curiosity into crystals why are we drawn to certain crystals and then we read about their meanings, there are buried secrets about what we are feeling or thinking linked to these crystals.
I tried setting an intention for my searching on the beach by holding a thought of my grandpa in my mind, to see what would come up. My grandpa is terminal with cancer and I wanted to make a piece of work for him, as he wanted to go to the beach himself but is to weak.
Hours went by picking up stones putting them down, none good enough for this intention of mine. I just had to let that idea go, today wasn’t that day. I did collect a few little stones to hold in the hand, as its a wonderful grounding feeling a stone in the pocket.
January 7th Monday
Today was my ‘official’ back to work day, but I was riddled with sadness as my grandpa passed away on Sunday night. I have never dealt with grief, others who had passed away in my family I was so young at the time, I knew others were sad but not me. The sky couldn’t of looked greyer today.
January 9th Wednesday
My grandpa used to call everyday, I would tell him what I had been up to he was a business man through and through and I have got a lot of my entrepreneurial spirit from him. He always thought outside the box and never took no as the final answer. Even the time I was sat with him while he had his blood transfusions in the hospital he would be cross questioning me on how I was going to make my business financially sustainable how will I have longevity. Even though at the time of hearing this it would make me squirm and question myself he was right, I do need to know these things.
I had popped round to my grandparents house to arrange the flowers that had been sent to my grandma but really just to see her. The cleaner was there who had said to me “ are you the grandchild whose the artist”. When people look at me and ask am I an artist, I wonder am I looking scruffy that day? Any-who, I said yes I am. She said “ I hope this doesn’t upset you but your grandfather always spoke about you he would tell me, every-time I came round what you had been up to how hard you worked and how proud he is.” Of course this set off the water works but I was so pleased to hear it. As I only ever had the cross questioning side of things, to hear how enthusiastically he spoke of me and my work was music to my ears.
My grandpa hated fuss, so there was no funeral. He was cremated and will be eventually buried under a cherry tree. There is a burial field where they plant trees instead of having gravestones. They choose a cherry tree as it has a visible life cycle, and I think we are waiting to do the memorial in the Spring when the blossom is out.
January the 17th Thursday
Good times to be self employed:
When you get to work from a hammock in the summer and know others are indoors.
Bad times to be self employed:
With a sickness virus, and dealing with grief. While driving up to London and getting stuck in traffic which adds 3 hours to your journey.
Luckily on the other side of the traffic are my friends Angela & Emily from Botany in Hackney. This is the third year I have exhibited there and its always a pleasure from start to finish. If all shows could be like this i.e run smoothly, clear communication, trust, shared costs, and kindness then I don’t think I would have much to complain about.
On my return journey I booked myself into Phil Cuttance’s evening workshop where you make vases using moulds and Jesmonite. I signed up to this as a way of avoiding rush hour but also to work with Jesmonite. I had previously been on a stone carving workshop to explore sculpture but it left me with a frozen shoulder and a trip to the osteopath.
Jesmonite is like working with sand and a bit of science. Easy to work with, easy to clean and doable from my studio, and no trips to the osteopath necessary.
January the 28th Monday
Now the show is set up and ticking along nicely, I am able to focus on my next block of work. I previously haven’t got on with January or winter in general feeling it is a tough time to paint as it is so dreary. I am trying to move past this and remain optimistic and look for what winter is like. I have actually managed to be really prolific mainly out of being more organised. I have collected some beech which are the only trees in my area that seem to retain their leaves and when the sun is out (maybe once a week) then I sketch out the shadows of those branches I have collected.
Again going back to why do we collect certain things? I am trying to look into why I go for certain branches over others and unpick that just as much as I am trying to understand the seasons better.