And then I got a letter …

This week I have found myself cleaning! 

When I have reached the end of a block of work in the studio, and it has been delivered to a gallery, packed for a craft fair – or whatever the event is. I always spend the next few days cleaning and sorting out my studio.

It is a pause, a breath, a moment, before I delve into the next project is.  I have always thought of it as giving myself breathing space, but now I wonder if it has another, deeper meaning.

I have not got on particularly well in the studio, my drawings of boats and starfish have been scrappy and not very useful. So, I decided to clean my bedroom, and not just a quick hoover and dust! Everything came out, every stick of furniture, pile of books all the “stuff” that can accumulate when you are not looking – it was all put in a spare room, I moved into another room.

The whole week was then spent washing and hoovering, sorting and discarding, cleaning and storing. The room is nearly finished, the drawers are immaculate, the books are organized, the place is sparkling, and I feel more settled.

I was, I realize trying to create order out of chaos. At some level, I was reacting to the chaos that abounds in our world at the moment, I can do nothing about it, I cannot help, I cannot make it better for anyone. I turn to cleaning and organising within my own life, so that I feel that I have some semblance of order, there is something I can clean, organize and make better, even if it is only the bedroom. I had some sense of achievement in the house, and then I got THE letter.

I knew I was vulnerable and at risk. I was social distancing and self-isolating before it was mandatory. I wasn’t comfortable doing this, I am not great at asking people to do things for me and I felt a bit of a fraud because in my own mind I am not ill, not ill at all.  And I am not ill, but I am an asthmatic and now have COPD. 

For the past 10 days Shedman has also gone down the self-isolation route with me, that is easier than trying to keep to the government guidelines involving separate everything.

A strange week then, a looking glass world, the days have blurred a bit, and Shedman and I do seem to check in with each other often “What day is it?” Being the most common question! The pre covid-19 commitments have gone, and there is little to define and punctuate the week. There is a weird sensation of not having enough time to do things, because the days have been filled with wonderful phone calls to and from friends and family, the challenge of organising our food, planning exercise, washing everything that enters the house and keeping up with various online groups. The News? …. Not watching that so much this week.

Self-Isolation, but very little Art

It’s strange, since setting up the new website I have dithered about the “blog” should I blog, If so – how often? Is blogging dead? The usual jumble of thoughts that can chase a monkey mind!

A few days ago, I saw a comment from a garden blogging friend Victoria;- I first met her many years ago when a gaggle of garden bloggers and a collection of textile artists published their blogs regularly. There are a few people who I met through the internet at that time and they have become very dear friends, (You know who you are, Michelle and Elizabeth)

As world events are rushing on at a ghastly pace, with Covid-19 and the fact that we are now confined to home, blogging again seemed like a thing to do, but it has proved harder than I thought.

Initially when the UK government said the vulnerable will have to self-isolate for three months, I thought whoo-hoo – I am an artist, wonderful, 3 months of uninterrupted studio time, and part of me still feels like that, but the truth is that I have struggled in the studio.

The exhibitions and fairs that I thought I would be part of, may or may not happen. The ones early in the year won’t happen – the ones later in the year might happen. I always work better with the slight pressure of a deadline, and so to some extent the uncertainty of what the future holds has pulled the rug out from under me.

What is unexpected is that instead of free days to peruse my creative muse – the logistics of self-isolation seem to take up so much time! Checking in with the groups I belong to, (and the news) bookmarking sites that may give my creativity a prod, even though I know deep down I will never return to them, getting calls from friends I haven’t seen in ages, which is a delightful treat. Checking in on (the news) my Mother daily – by phone – as she is also in the vulnerable group and lives on her own. Worrying about my adult children and my grandchildren. Asking neighbours who can still shop to pick things up for me, trying to get a slot for online food shopping, requesting a volunteer to get my prescriptions, and phoning some elderly friends who I know live alone. Oh, and let’s not forget my daily walk! (And the news). When written down, these things are small, not mind blowing, the minutiae of everyday living. But it’s the thinking about and organizing them that I find fills my mind.

Leaving all that aside, what have I been working on? I was invited to put some of my notebooks in an exhibition entitled Costal and Maritime. The covers for these books are made from hand-made fabric paper, which is painted, stamped, stencilled, cut and pieced to create a textured and unique cover for each book. 

I always do a little research when I am working in my own sketchbooks, I didn’t know that crabs had 10 legs or that their blood was blue … but I do now

Fabric-Paper note book covers