Monthly Archives: October 2012

‘Home’ is hard to define

Home.  Cue the whistles from ‘Home‘ by Edward Sharpe & the Magnectic Zeroes.

Today was my day away from work.  On Fridays, I work at home.  For most of my last several batches of weeks I have been teaching or rather, learning lessons.  Yes.  Sure.  I stand at the front and show examples of artworks, try to generate discussions, but in the end, I’m stuck in a room of a gaggle of people that are stuck in that hellish limbo of feeling like they’re not children, not adults, both, neither.  Oh those teenage years.

As I was not having very much luck with my Stockbridge screens (a problem of ink.  No worries.  I’ll sort it) I was thinking about what ‘home’ means.  Home.  One syllable.  Said in a sigh when you’ve reached that destination after having walked far too long in the rain.  ‘Home,’ said in relief after too many days in an airport in some foreign country because of a mistake. ‘Home,’ said when someone asks you where your studio is located.  You know.  To keep the overheads down.  We’re all trying to keep our heads above water.  Am I right?! *high fives the air*

In the last ten years, I have had 9 different addresses, and no, I’m not in the witness protection programme.  That can really confuse a person.  After so many moves, so frequently, some places used as stop-overs whilst a house sale and buy didn’t exactly join up.  Then there was that place you lived on your own after leaving your own square footage of house, the house you helped to buy; the one that you can no longer call home because of a thing called ‘separation’ then ‘divorce’ and a whole lot of time and space between those two words.  Did I say ‘you’?  I probably meant ‘me’.

So.  What is home.  Is home the place you have bought for your little self and your possessions?  A place to hang your photos and artworks (the ones you’ve accumulated along the path of life) and tea towels and hand towels and the other myriad of towels one must have in order to keep sane and tidy?  Is home the place where you feel relaxed and comfortable and can reveal all the many fascinating facets of your personality and no matter what face you show, you know you will always feel welcomed.  Is home where you keep your pets?  (If ‘yes’ to the last question, then Sarah, you’ve nailed it).

I’m having difficulties feeling at home.  It took me nearly 6 months to make the flat I rented feel like home.  It took time for me to settle my pictures just how I liked them.  Set up my work space so that it functioned seamlessly.  Make sure my cushions on the borrowed sofa were in colours that made me feel happy.  I took visual advice from another friend by tacking up a long string and hanging postcards and cards that mattered greatly to me, had special meaning, made my smile happen.  There was even a polaroid snap of young me age 6 grinning whilst holding my Snoopy fishing poll with a fish attached.

But I’ve moved on.  Those things have been taken down.  And they are living in a box in a storage locker somewhere in Leith.

I think I can pin down my ‘home’ to a white table sitting under a window somewhere in Edinburgh.  It’s my work table.  My artmaking universe contained in a plane of white painted wood.  I write from here.  I think from here.  I own practically nothing but this. (Oh, and far too many clothes and shoes, but I’m talking about furniture here.)  Josey used to sit at my feet whilst I worked, until I unfortunately had to shove boxes of art materials and fabrics in her space.  She was only slightly rejected, looked about, then hopped onto the sofa and seemed much happier there anyway.

‘Home’ has changed so frequently, I am having difficulties defining it right now.  Defining my space.  Right now it measures 1 metre x 1 metre.  I see my work table and sigh because I feel that I have been walking far too long in the rain.

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Ghent: It’s in Belgium! Here are some photos!

Dig the colours. Dig the architecture.

Ghent.  Or Gent.  Depends where you’re standing and which sign you’re looking at.  It’s in Belgium – a fact that I learned hours before embarking on another adventure.  For some days I had thought Ghent lived in The Netherlands.  Oops.  My geography isn’t so good, which isn’t very surprising when you consider from which nation I originated.

And so.  The days went splendidly.  They mostly circled around jaunts up and down cobbled streets, drinking Bavik, eating Frituurs of many sauces supplied by Josef, sifting through indie clothes stores, and eating Belgium chocolate.  Is there really anything else worth doing when one is surrounded by all these pleasant things?

Breakfast of champions. A well-balanced glass full of lovin’.

Necessary chocolate binge

Although Ghent in itself is super fabulous to visit, our journey took us to the Brooderie, where Jimmy’s pop up exhibition was coming to a close.  The tale of how this exhibition came about is a wonderful story; one which I’m not going to tell here as I feel it is up to the artist to weave his/her own interesting tales.  This is the artist’s display on the fine walls of that splendid establishment:

Jimmy Steel’s exhibition at the Brooderie

Our visit happily coincided (without plan and love it when that happens) with the Ghent Film Festival.  The strand of many days and nights showing films galore ended with ‘The Sound of Belgium,’ a short trailor of which you can see by clicking on the word: technofabulous.

The story unfolded with a very concise history-of-s0rts of Belgium and its changing names and borders throughout the years before it finally latched onto its current name and dimensions in 18, uhm, 30-something.  A European country younger than the states?!  I’m astonished.  *Note – I barely passed History, so if there are several more countries of this description, please just pass over the previous statement and pretend it never happened.

The video was screened in the Vooruit, which is this gorgeous monster of a building, standing tall on a hill, looking down at the side streets and shops and possibly thinking ‘Yeah, whatevers.  I’m so much cooler than you.’ The Vooruit is also within striking range of the Book Tower.  Look on and be amazed!

Book Tower

So many things have happened here.

As for our digs, we stayed in a furniture store.  This wasn’t just any furniture store – this was a furniture store with a difference.  Big, broad wooden floorboards lead into three different levels.  The banister must have been hundreds of years old as it felt smooth and warn and was at one point braced for stability with the use of a medal rod.  The offerings in-store were of a sought after vintage variety.  Popping red upholstery on beautifully made wooden chairs.  Massive posters in frames.  Lamps for floors and ceilings.  It was brilliant.  I was taken back to my childhood as I grew up in my parents’ furniture store.  My fondest memories involve me drawing inside a refrigerator box.  Said boxes are massive when you are ten and have crayons and time on your hands.

not just any furniture store…

There is so much more to say and show.  I think it is certainly worth exploring for yourself.

This is your happy little travel guide signing off.

Dress bought at Ghent fashion emporium.

Better than a box of chocolates

Chris Ware? Right here!

Knowing a good deal when you see one is not necessary a talent of mine.  In fact, I’ve grown accustomed to getting screwed over with ever increasing frequency.  Too much trust perhaps, or lack of a saavy.  I’m working on improving that.  Anyway, when something spectacular and brilliant happens, it lights me up for quite sometime and I want to share the joy.

The other day whilst reading the paper, I saw an amazing offer for Guardian readers to purchase for themselves the latest Chris Ware creation.  For those of you who don’t know about Chris Ware, have a nosey here.  Note:  He was born in Nebraska.  Booya.  Good things do come from Nebraska.  (And not just Penny from the Big Bang Theory).

Another note to note:  You should purchase for yourselves the box set of delightments that is ‘Building Stories’ because I tell you, it is glorious.   Hard bound books, pamphlets, newspapers, small booklets of various shapes and sizes make up this collection of lives in one tenement in some big city in the states.  Possibly Chicago as Mr Ware has resided there.  I have only worked my way through half of the stories and I can’t help but think that Mr Ware is very aware (okay, I’ll stop now) of the complexities of lives.  The backstories of those people peopling the windows and streets of all those many many flats and houses.  It’s like he somehow crawled into their minds and lived their stories, captured it in illustration and writing, exposing the threads that connect us and tie us down to our surroundings.  And although the illustrations of people are simple, he beautifully captures the slump of the shoulders, the stretching movement of the cat and the heavy gait of someone with the weight of the world hanging onto them.

Obviously, I am a fan.  Especially of the bee going through some sort of existential dilemma.

‘Emporium of Rad’ and other sightings

‘Chevron and On’ and more on etsy

Housekeeping.  Urgh.  The very thought and sound and saying of that word makes me want to a) groan from boredom and b) procrastinate and do something more interesting.

When it comes to my own housekeeping, the web-presence sort, it makes me want to a) groan from boredom and b) procrastinate and do something more interesting like go and walk my dog in the park or make jam or make coffee or faff around on the internet.  Unfortunately, my on-line street cred (which there isn’t much of) isn’t going to improve unless I align all my little bloggings and website and shops.

My first step in the direction of hoping to seem less directionless, I have updated my etsy site, Emporium of Rad, with my latest giclee print offerings.  Please give it a visit and a wave or a ‘Like’ at EmporiumofRad.  Most of the prints are of the power station variety.  I  can’t help myself.  I just love the hard lines and bold colours and if I could while away my days making all these funny little big power stations, I would.  Unfortunately, power stations only pay part of my bills and alas, I do have to carry on with other work.  There aren’t any originals on that site as I tend to whisk them away to the shops upon completion.  Speaking of shops, I think there are a few of you awaiting new arrivals at Curiouser and Curiouser.  Sorry for the delay.  I’ve been busy teaching kids about the Fauves.

Other things I have done to on-line housekeep:  Updated my website here.  Look at the shiny new teal skyline.  Ooooh.  Ahhh.  Ok.  You’ve seen it before.  Moving along…

There is of course the recent update to my blog.  I’ve added a CV page and taken down the Urban Outfitters and Hula exhibition pages as they are both over.  Selah and big sigh.  Those were such a lot of fun.  I will soon add a new page that will be chalk full of information about an upcoming exhibition featuring Mr Jimmy Steel and Ms Cassandra Harrison.

So, as I try to look busy here in my art studio corner, I am being spoiled by oatcakes topped with butter and the bramble jelly boyfriend and cooked up last weekend.  Hm.  Perhaps there are perks to this housekeeping on-line.  I’ll continue to pretend to look busy whilst I scroll around on Asos looking for a swooshy skirt to go with my charity shop bought jacket.

What’s up with what’s going down

The first person to comment and guess correctly the name of the song for my post title and the band who sang the line will win a print of the artwork used for this flyer:

Urban Outfitters exhibition invitation

My Monday saw me agonising over the fact of having caught yet another Edinburgh cold (they seem to roll in one right after the other) as well as taking down both of my summer exhibition.

All those crazy, busy months of planning, making, freaking out, making some more, freaking out again – it was a loop I was getting used to repeating.  Even though it was hectic and stressful, I actually really miss that buzz.  I miss the opportunity to throw myself whole heartedly into a new body of work, find new ways of making new things, exploring new materials and seeing what I could make happen.  Creating pieces based on brutalist architecture in Edinburgh was refreshing as, although I love that old town feel, I needed something new to grapple with.

And so.  Here we are.  You are catching me mid-week in my current supply teaching post.  Last week was my first week on the job and I tell you what, it nearly did me in.  This week has been easier as we are all getting used to the new teacher on the block, however, I absolutely miss making my own work.

If I am to carry on with this working-in-class lark, I need to come up with a plan to give me space to create my own pieces.  Hm.  Shall I cut out sleep?  That doesn’t seem likely.  Time is only so malleable.  I will somehow have to figure out how to bend around it as I don’t think it is going to bend around me.

There are a few projects in the pipeline.  Jimmy and I have been discussing our joint venture, which is popping up in Old Town in just a couple of months.  Subject matter was discussed.  As were all the pretty colours.  I have also received a commission to create a beautiful circus (the Royal Circus in New Town) for a lovely lady who contacted me via one of the shops selling my work.

I am pleased that I have these two lovely ventures to look forward to.  But what else?  There must be something new I can sink my teeth in to.