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‘Hello Neighbour’ – three venues

‘Hello Neighbour’ travelling art exhibit is slowly approaching, as first venue dates are not until June. I’m way ahead of schedule as far as artworks are concerned so have put the breaks on. There is also the thought of leaving space for Spring and Summer inspired works so am waiting for more green and less cold.

Curiouser on Bruntsfield Place will be showing the work in their front window June-July (specific dates yet to be confirmed).

Daisy Cheynes in Stockbridge have booked in for August.

Hula in the Grassmarket have asked for Sept-Oct. 

In total, this project will require 50-60 original artworks of which 30+ have already been made. My plan is to surpass that number so I can weed out the less impressive ones and hopefully have a good lookin’ little show on the go.

‘Hello Neighbour’ was a project which developed out of a 100 Days of Something project – an attempt to practice as well as gain some sort of inspiration for The Next Big Project. After a few weeks of making small postcard sized artworks, I realised these could be The Next Big Project.

I’m not sure if any of the above dates will hop off with an opening party or if it will just appear out of the blue with almost no fanfare. So many things yet to be decided.


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The distance between the life you want to live and the reality 

Above artwork by Ciara Philips.

This weekend I had the great pleasure of seeing a mesmerising, beautifully shot, interesting and fabulous movie. Marguerite is the retelling of a true story of the worbling socialite circa 1920. Florence Foster Jenkins lived in New York, and sang for the delight of herself and the bemusement of others. Horrible, off-key screeching that she heard as beautiful and everyone else not so much. It’s an exquisite movie and you’re so tender hearted towards her you just want to protect her from the truth. 

And this got my friend and I into talking about how you imagine yourself to be and what is the ‘reality.’ This then got me into thinking how you imagine the life you want to live and how things currently stand. Maybe it’s more about authenticity and living out the ideals and dreams and plans in a world that sometimes fights against all those things and sometimes helps you along your way.

I once lived in a gorgeous house with big beautiful rooms and a stairwell papered with William Morris botanical designs. My windows looked out onto the water and I could see the train glide across the horizon. Not too many years before that it was suburbia and identical housing. And a few years before that amber waves of grain as far as the eye could see.

In each one of those ways of life, what I felt in the inside did not match the type of life I was living. In my musings today I realised that how I live now is how I imagined my life to be – it resonates with something within my character and it all feels just right.

Secretly I think this is what most of us are looking for and if you find it, it leaves you feeling like you are where you’re supposed to be at just the right time.

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Expand and contract

A friend of mine tells me she thinks this church in Bruntsfield looks like a rocket. I’m likely to agree with her. 

On my Sunday afternoons, I am given two hours to myself. These are gifted to me by way of Little One’s dad taking her to his for some necessary Daddy Daughter time. Always, always, I’m at a loss as to what to do with these two hours. So, as it was a tremendously beautiful day today, and as I was feeling my four walls pressing in on me, I went out for a walk and let my mind roam with me.

Over the past week, life has put me in contact with people at the edge of things. One girl at the edge of dropping off into the scary Unknown. A couple other ladies at the edge of something dark they’ve had to crawl out of, fingers, nails, clawing at the dirt to try to get some air. 

The first one is facing imminent separation and there are kids involved. From where she stands, I’m sure the loneliness, emptiness, uncertainty and their other friends Worry, Anxiety, and How Am I Going To Survive This are looming large in her life. The thing is, as the months pass, all of these things will cease to block her vision. They will contract and allow some light in. Then slowly Contentment and Peace will appear at the door and hopefully within a few years new routines will help to form a life that is less complicated and more her. New friendships will form, old ones solidify. But now, at the edge, it’s a frightening place for her to be. Last year I’m sure I looked and felt as broken as she was a few days ago.

The other night was a rare thing for me as I went out with friends. A couple of our number have been dealing with some pretty extreme grief. I’m giving nothing away here and will only speak briefly, as it’s their story to tell, not mine. As they talked of their experience, you could sense that the all encompassing sadness had started make room for something lighter. Some joy in different forms had found its way in. And I possibly drank too much that night and thought too much on my way home.

And on my walk today I thought of how my daughter, that one small life, has expanded into something quite large in my own life. At this age she needs all of me: my attention, my love, my guidance, my patience. But when she gets older, that need will contract and then what? I guess I will find new ways to fill the space. More me? Less me but something else? Who knows. Life is a crazy thing.

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Social media faux pas. Discuss.

This is a tea set I saw at a shop called Home at Six. It has nothing to do with this post. I’m just sharing as I think it’s pretty, would like to own it, but do not live the life where this can be safely displayed. Cue toddler whirling like a dervish whilst flinging a ball.

This week has been my week of embarrassments. Embarrassments of the social media variety. It has become painfully obvious that my small town Midwestern upbringing did not prepare me for the social media revolution. In the land of my childhood and almost make believe, our doors remained unlocked, our arms waving vigorously to neighbours, our conversation frequent as we talked to anyone within earshot. I was known as so-and-so’s grand daughter, and daughter of the guy that owned the local furniture store. It was like walking around with my geneology secured to the lapel of my Little House on the Prairie dress.

And what does this do to the adult this child grows into? You think everyone wants to be your friend. So you go out into the world with your big shiny doe eyes, talking to anyone with a pulse.

This has not always helped me in life and it certainly hasn’t helped me this week.

Social media is a very weird thing to navigate. People want to be liked and followed in Internetland. Heart my food choice. Like my photo of a pink sunset. Give me emojis that tell me how rad my shoes are. Here’s a photo of me with my cat/dog/boyfriend/hedgehog. Love me please please please. 

So, you bombard yourself with these interactions. You begin feeling connected with the world in a way. But what happens when you stumble across that person in real life?!

Example 1: The girl with the kids and the Corgi. I have liked her dog photos. I have laughed at her sense of humour by way of putting a smily face under a comment. On my way to taking L to nursery, I saw her and her entourage. A look of recognition from both of us. Then hesitation. Do I ignore this person? Do I smile? Do I look at my feet and pretend I didn’t see them so I won’t have to decide. We exchanged small hesitant smiles. Phew! Well played.

Example 2: The art historian with all the nice pictures of art. I’m a fan of art history and delight in a well curated feed of paintings, sculpture, sketches, mixed media, whatever, not that fussy. Whilst going about my business I nearly walked smack into Art History Guy. At first I thought it was someone I knew in real life. However, just as I was about to acknowledge, the look of fear? Annoyance? Despair? crossed AHG’s face and he practically threw himself in front of a bus to get out of the situation.

Example 3: Coffee Shop Girl. First Rule of Social Media Club: Do not EVER acknowledge an Instagram Follower or Followee. Ever. Whilst looking through my feed, I saw that someone I follow happened to be at the same coffee shop the same time I was there. Oh my God, exciting! Right?! Wrong. Do not send them the following message: ‘Hey! Looks like you were at Coffeeland Coffeebeans the same time I was! Neato!’ Because that, my friends, makes you look creepy. And creepy is best avoided if possible.

So in conclusion, social media is weird. What are the rules again? Oh right. Pretend the other person doesn’t exist.

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Not everyone will be celebrating on Mother’s Day

I have two moms. A birth mom and a step mom. Or, as I called it when I was eight, a Real Mom and a Fake Mom. Ouch. Kids can be so harsh with their word choice without meaning to be. With that said, my step mom was a shining example of motherhood and I’m so thankful life found a way of bringing us together. My birth mom and I are friends, too, so it all worked out somehow.

When I was shy of three, however, it was my Dad that was both mother and father to me. One of my first memories is that of me and my dad sitting in front of the tv with aluminium foil TV dinners resting before us on folding trays. This was the early 80s so you can imagine most of that was hardly food content. I know that he was working full time as well as raising me. And I know my grandparents took me on as their responsibility, too. Perhaps I should have also sent my Dad a card, thanking him for his time of solo parenting me.

There were many years when I didn’t think I would earn my Mother’s Day card. Soon after I married, we tried to start a family. Life didn’t work out as we had hoped and after the second devastation of failed IVF, we gave up on the struggle. Every year, when Mother’s Day showed itself on the calendar, I would retreat into myself and experience all shades of sadness. For anyone struggling with fertility issues, it’s a battle no one could possibly understand unless they’ve experienced it for themselves. The longing and shame (some feel) the hope then devastating disappointment can crush a person. Or, a relationship, which is what happened to us.

Then there are those people that look at this date with dread because they have lost their own mothers. How to pass the day? Do you mark it somehow or bury your head and pretend it isn’t happening. And what about all those signs on the shops ‘Don’t forget to buy your mother a card!’ You wish you could, but you can’t so fuck off. Right? 

And then there is us. And here we are, L and I and the happy surprise she will always be to me. As I haven’t a partner to do something cute like sign a card on her behalf, I bought my own card and will let her draw big sheep with 8 legs and a dozen eyes on the front, back, inside, then all over her hand and probably on her face. 

Our day won’t be that ideal Hallmark Day but it will be another day for an excuse to have an adventure with someone I love. And to also be thankful for both of my mothers who did what was necessary to bring me out into the world and raised me to be the crazy weird thing that I am today.

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Artists and their spaces

Today I modelled for an artist and friend. The experience was more than I had thought it would be. Not sure what I expected. Me sitting mute, not twitching or blinking and long periods of silence? What transpired was a lot of honest talking, laughing, almost tears at one point at the absurdity of life. Having my portrait drawn felt more invasive than I realised. I’ve signed up for another session.

The quote at the top is the quote she’s tacked onto her studio door. As much as I would love to share the photo of the work and of her workspace, I don’t feel I should. Perhaps I’ll ask her permission at another time, but for now I’ll leave her to her peace. Entering an artist’s space feels like treading on sacred ground. They fully inhabit those walls, that window, the canvases stacked against the sides. It’s like being invited into their sacred space and it is an honour to even walk through the door. 

Oddly, I don’t feel like this about my own workspace. I’m happy for anyone to see my work desk and the mess of watercolours, acrylics, brushes, papers, doodles, written ideas, mistakes, cast offs, detritus of a creative vocation. Maybe it’s the difference between working from home and having all of the rest of my life spill into my work space vs having a studio containing all that creativity, which fills the space like water.