Disquietude

dis-

word-forming element of Latin origin meaning 1. “lack of, not” (as in dishonest); 2. “opposite of, do the opposite of” (as in disallow); 3. “apart, away” (as in discard), from Old French des- or directly from Latin dis- “apart, asunder, in a different direction, between,” figuratively “not, un-,” also “exceedingly, utterly.”

quietude (n.)

“rest, repose, quiet, tranquility,” 1590s, from French quiétude (c. 1500) or directly from Late Latin quietudo, from Latin quietus “free; calm, resting” (from PIE root *kweie- “to rest, be quiet”).

Normally at this time, I choose a word for the coming year. However, a word for 2021 chose me a couple of days ago on my daily walk through the churchyard in the town where I live. I came across a flowering primrose.

Beautiful and one of my favorite flowers, but it should not be in bloom at the end of the year. This has been the warmest December on record and not only are many flowers blooming unseasonably but some animals are coming out of hibernation early.

This flower sums up and represents so much that has been making me feel disquieted – the Climate Crisis, Brexit, the increasingly corrupt and inhumane Tory government that currently has the UK gripped in its iron fist, the rise of populism and fascism in many countries across the globe, anti-vaxxers . . . . It’s hard for me to find my usually optimistic and hopeful outlook. This disquiets me almost as much as what is causing my disquiet.

I had a therapist a few years ago who gently reminded me to remember that I’m OK in this moment when I got anxious about things I have no control over or worried about the future/past. Good advice and it continues to help at times, but this feels different.

So rather than lifting my chin up and getting happy I’m letting myself be in this place of disquiet. Some feelings need to be felt, not ricocheted away from. I’m trusting that going through the disquiet will bring me to a different place.

And I will be back in a few days with my word for 2022.

A new beginning

I woke on November 1st to a beautiful dawn.

This is the first day of the new year according to the Celts. I felt cleaved in two and on the cusp of new beginnings.

I reread my journal from the past six months. Quandaries, musings, new directions . . .

This is a pivotal time. Time to be fleet of foot and to pivot away from what no longer serves me and towards my deepest desires and longings.

I took a deep breath. I remembered what Inspiraculum is all about: a place to breathe, dream, explore, be inspired, find yourself.

I booked 6 months of workshop space from January to June. This will be held creative space for people to come and find just that.

BIRTHRIGHT

I have work in BIRTHRIGHT: journeys of reconnection which gently opened at Rainmaker Gallery in Bristol UK yesterday.

All of the artwork is so beautifully hung. My textile work and Jasmine Coe‘s paintings speak to each other in different voices about similar stories. There is a very good interview/article in Bristol Magazine.

This is such an amazing opportunity to share my artwork with a wider audience. Those of you who have been reading my blog for the past several years will know that it has been quite a journey for me, not only to make my Mvskoke Journey body of artwork, but to find the courage to share it with the world.

There was a steady stream of visitors and l was able to talk and listen to 1-2 people at a time throughout the afternoon. A lot of my work is quiet and subtle and many-layered. People said they liked being able to hear the stories behind it.

I was so moved by the tears of a woman from Myanmar whose grandfather was Armenian. She was so interested in the symbolism of the gorgets and she saw the dance in the looped square.

Suncircle, machine embroidery & applique on linen, 52 x 52 cm

One paradox l have learned about becoming an artist is that the more personal my work is, the more deeply it touches and awakens the stories of others. Our stories are universal and l am grateful for the shared language of art and poetry.

I do hope that those of you in the UK will be able to visit the exhibition.

Take me to your lieder

Photo by Aron Visuals

An den Mond
Geuß, lieber Mond, geuß deine Silberflimmer
Durch dieses Buchengrün,
Wo Phantasien und Traumgestalten immer
Vor mir vorüberfliehn!

Enthülle dich, daß ich die Stätte finde,
Wo oft mein Mädchen saß,
Und oft, im Wehn des Buchbaums und der Linde,
Der goldnen Stadt vergaß!

Enthülle dich, daß ich des Strauchs mich freue,
Der Kühlung ihr gerauscht,
Und einen Kranz auf jeden Anger streue,
Wo sie den Bach belauscht!

Dann, lieber Mond, dann nimm den Schleier wieder,
Und traur’ um deinen Freund,
Und weine durch den Wolkenflor hernieder,
Wie [dein] Verlaßner weint!

To the Moon
Pour, dear moon, pour your silver glitter
down through the greenery of beeches,
where phantasms and dream-shapes
are always floating before me!

Reveal yourself, that I may find the place
where my darling often sat,
and often forgot, in the wind of beech and linden trees,
the golden city.

Reveal yourself, that I may enjoy the bushes
which swept coolness to her,
and that I may lay a wreath upon that pasture
where she listened to the brook.

Then, dear moon, then take up your veil again,
and mourn your friend,
and weep through the clouds
as one abandoned weeps!

Poet – Ludwig Heinrich Christoph Hölty
Composer – Franz Peter Schubert

Translation © Richard Wigmore, author of Schubert: The Complete Song Texts, published by Schirmer Books,
provided courtesy of Oxford Lieder (www.oxfordlieder.co.uk)

Mending

Mending is about the journey travelled, not reinstating the impossible perfection of the new.”

― Jessica Smulders-Cohen, TOAST

I’ve recently finished mending our bed quilt again. I began making this quilt in 1996 when I first discovered quilting in Southern California. I finished making it in 2002 a few years after I had moved to Scotland.

In 2017, the fabric at the top where we pull it up around our necks at night began to wear through from many, many nights of sleeping beneath it. At that time, I made some repairs using my sewing machine.

This year I noticed some tears in the fabric on the underside of the quilt. Since last summer I have been teaching, and discovering, slow stich so I decided to make the next round of repairs by hand.

I was inspired by Boro patchwork. Boro is derived from the Japanese boroboro, meaning something tattered or repaired. 

Traditional boro kimono | Image via Gerrie Congdon


Boro refers to the practice of reworking and repairing textiles (often clothes or bedding) through piecing, patching and stitching, in order to extend their use.  This accidental art form was born of necessity in Northern Japan. Peasants started making Boro repairs during the Edo period (1603-1868).

I cut and stitched together squares and triangles of fabric and turned their edges under with an iron. As I slowly stitched each piece over the damaged fabric, I reflected on how much I love Home and the comfort of my bedroom and the many thousands of hours that I have sheltered and cuddled beneath this quilt.

I have been on such a long jouney since 1996, both in my textile art making and in the making of my life. This quilt has been with me through moves to two different countries and seven different abodes.

Devon, 2006

Now when I lie beneath it I can feel the textured stitches from my recent mends. They remind me that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect. As a person with tendencies toward impossible perfection, there is such comfort to be found in this concept.

little & often

Since I began co-tutoring an online Slow Stitch for Wellbeing course last June, I have re-discovered the joy and pleasure of hand sewing.

As a textile artist, most of my work over the past 25 or so years has been by machine. Which I love, but there is something special about slowing down and picking up a needle and thread. I did crewel embroidery kits as a young girl, then had a brief foray into cross stitch in my mid-20s. Since then, I didn’t do much sewing at all by hand.

During our 6 session course, each week, I speak about a different topic such as the History and Manifesto of the Slow Stitch Movement, wabi-sabi (the Japanese aesthetic of embracing imperfection), the Psychology of Colour and using Stitch as a Meditative Practice. My teaching partner demonstrates some stitches and we all sew together for the remainder of the session. At the end of the course, we show how to sew all of our sampler pieces of fabric into a Book of Stitches.

I find that when I teach, I don’t always have the time to actually do the coursework, but I think that after nearly a year of teaching Slow Stitch I may just have enough fabric pages to assemble a book!

In January I chose ‘pause‘ for my word for 2021.

My current manta is ‘little and often’. This counteracts my tendency to be ‘All of Nothing’ which uses up tons of energy and often sets me up for failure.

My fabric ‘page’ shows Threaded Running & Whip Stitch, Fly Stitch, Straight Stitch, Satin Stitch, Feather Stitch, French Knot, Couching, Back Stitch & Bullion Stitch.

I would also like to apply this practice of ‘little and <more> often’ to writing blog posts. 🙂