Sunday, 12 July 2015

conditioning ourselves for better results


The last few weeks have been about taking what I don't like, or find hard, and discovering 'new' ways to make things work.

I realise it's not always a new way, but quite possibly (actually, yes) an ongoing process of conditioning ourselves. A bit like re-progamming, and it's built one block at a time, but is most definitely an ongoing process. It does not happen over night and giving up is not an option!

Since asking for help with a life/social skills coach for my son I am glad to report that something (someone) very positive came back to me. Someone, ironically, I'd met through artistic circles and it turns out they are fully trained and teach ASD kids - the power of asking is one key strategy on the journey from getting to where we are to where we wish to be, for sure.

I've had a meeting and prospects and ideas seem exciting. With all the books I read, I keep returning to the same messages and ideas and teachings: everything is a reflection of our mind - but, and there's a but, there are things within that that can help us discover why the things that go through our minds lodge there and keep repeating. Okay yes, I've been listening to Anthony Robbins too ;) I need to know there are ways around, through, and over the obstacles that one faces in life otherwise it feels depressing (for me anyway). I can't change the fact that my son has ASD, but I can change responses and thoughts to it. I can teach him certain things and I can continue in my passion for discovering what makes human's work the way they do and apply some of that knowledge to change things for myself and those nearest and dearest to me creatively. Those I care about.

I have recently been reading Supercoach: 10 Secrets To Transform Anyone's Life by Michael Neill and he discusses three strategies that have been popular for the notion of getting what we want.

1. Acquisition based thinking

2. Attraction-based thinking

3. Creation-based thinking

The last really excites me because it's so very obviously tied in with my love of creativity and art. I'd love to share more, but really it's a whole book of interesting things.

Are we at a pivotal cross-roads in the development of the human psyche and what it's capable of? It's not just about getting or asking for, but creating.

It's an ongoing journey of discovery (or in spiritual terms: remembering). And another message that keeps rearing its head is the notion of giving being the way to getting (but not if you do it for that reason alone!)

I am coming out the other side of some stressful times and reading the books, applying what I've read and talking and learning which all help with these steep curves.

I found a secret moment to visit the Joseph Cornell show, Wanderlust at the Royal Academy - I loved it. I am going to do some more collages and build a structure in my life around this - maybe more to come on this idea ;) I love the section that talks about Cornell's commitment to Play & Experiment likening art and it's processes to being in a laboratory - let's go do that. A bit like 'life' again really; one big experiment to see what works given where we want to go.

The image is a piece of Jim Lambie's work at the RA too.

I hope you're having a good and creative time and finding ways through the rich tapestry of  this thing we call life.


Friday, 26 June 2015

keeping it up

Sometimes I wondered why some bloggers didn't post as often. In my early days I could blog all the time it felt. So much to say. Then there are times when a wall is hit and it's easy to feel like all has been said. And then there are personal times where so much is going on and it doesn't seem right or relevant to share - or maybe it's too painful.

I have been quiet because I care for a child with Asperger's Syndrome. It can be so shockingly hard at times. I guess I don't need to keep saying that, but there are periods when the all consuming entirety of it all leaves me with little or no time to do the other things that I'd like or want, or need to do.

I seek balm for my soul right now. We come to the end of the first year at Secondary School and whilst it started off well it seems that a life-long disability doesn't abate, it just changes. It feels so cruel at times and my heart feels like breaking at times and everything else in life just ebbs away in to insignificance.

I am still plotting and planning and reading my next book. I always have to have one to keep me going, reminding me about staying positive and how it's totally possible to chase and reach goals. In fact, on that note, I would like to ask if anyone has any ideas on where or how I might go about getting a social skills coach for my son? I would like to find a good expert who can work with us to coach my son through the tricky terrain of human social relations. Ideas most welcomed :)

I haven't disappeared but yes, I have been rather consumed by AS.


Monday, 15 June 2015

so where do we go next & how do we get there?

Image of works from two art workshops I ran last week with fellow artist Suzanne de Emmony

Dear Friends,

How are you? What is going on in your life at the moment?

I am spending some time thinking through, reading and researching how to progress on to the next 'stage' of things here in my little ole world.

I find I'm a person who loves change, innovation, creativity (of course!), problem solving and finding solutions. A people's person who loves engaging, learning and forging ahead with others.

What kind of person are you, and how long has it taken you to work out, or are you still working it out?

In my working life I've been in many roles from undertaking promotions - yes, this involved such as wearing boiler suits and running around football stadiums handing out freebies, I've run kitchen table businesses doing up furniture and making hand-made cards. I've sold second hand goods, trained myself and others in business start-up, spent 9 years writing CV's for those with 'barriers' to employment, I've undertaken research and administrative work in Art Departments and Training Centres, as well as participated in many art & craft fairs. I've qualified as a community workshop leader in the arts and run art-workshops in museum's, galleries, and universities I've raised children who have special needs and still run/juggle a crazy household - and I've managed to study, make art-work and exhibit. I've set up a blog and launched an e-course business as well set up and run a physical studios/gallery space in London.

And on average I read a book a week in my areas of interest - work, creativity, art, business, personal growth etc. What I learn from books/reading (this can of course include blogs and internet reading) is phenomenal. A wealth of information just waiting to be put in to action.

I have learnt SO much and still I am driven to move on to the next part of the (define-it-yourself) journey. And maybe this is the key: starting somewhere and daring to do, as learning out 'in the field' is the most exquisite learning experience - nothing quite like it in fact, as theory is often only ever that; theoretical and in one's head.

So, lately, I've been thinking about what I like, what I miss and where I'd like to go with all these skills next, whilst juggling the demands of parenting and running a household.

I enjoy sharing what I've learnt, supporting and mentoring others, engaging with others, seeing positive change and tangible results, I like reaching targets and fulfilling goals/dreams (my own and others) - it's such a rewarding feeling.

I am imagining some face to face work; some workshops, some sharing that encompasses the essence of what I set out to do with this blog: dare-to-do, learn, try, experiment (of course!) and discover. Evolve, set my own definition of work, business, play and quite simply live my passion/s. I've done that, I'm doing that and still I am learning about how to develop it. We never reach a stage of static fulfilment. And much of what I do is portfolio income. Different streams and strands that feed in to the whole, that allow me to work around a household and caring for children (and now elderly parents too).

I undertake techniques to combat overwhelm, exhaustion, burn out and frustration. I do the classics like eat well, exercise, be mindful, take supplements, monitor my thoughts - constant, constant, ongoing, never-ending work. I like holistic approaches, alternative techniques, complimentary medicine and creative belief structures I hope will serve not undermine - how easy is it to undermine ourselves with thoughts that don't serve? (super easy if you're in my world!).

When I am feeling philosophical then the work is exciting and part of an adventurous journey, yet at it's worst it can feel like a bus ride I simply want to get off of!

This is a pre-amble to some thoughts I'm having about a next stage that involves sharing practical tips with learnt experience (my own), and blending together all the skills, work experience and training I've ever had - all in a package I can share.

I have spent a while scheming up academy ideas, delivered the workbook series and as I look back over at these things and the areas of my life and desires that fire me up, I can see various strands that may well work blended together in a juicy mix for me to share with others - it is not immediate and this is where 'time' can be helpful (along with exercises, discussions, research and just general 'figuring out').

I like experimenting with art, creativity, business and lifestyle, at times they can seem so different to each, yet I can see links and the usefulness of their existence side by side. This is where my thoughts are travelling next. I'm undecided yet about what will occur. And minds and things change, but that is okay too.

This s-l-o-w time is useful for assimilation and for internal work to take place. The quiet internal work is just as important. I am teaching myself meditation at the moment :) That quiet 'free' space can be such a relief in my mind which is normally tumultuous and super active.

I will write more soon, but just to let you know this is where I am at currently. Re-assessing, re-defining, working on ideas and deciding on what form they will manifest. Re-exploring my values, my passions and the purposeful work I was born to do (and of course reading).

Here's to taking some time out too to decide where you would like to go next in your own journey.

I leave you with some tastey tid bits from Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite:

"When you look back there will be things you will regret. You made the wrong decision. Wrong. You made the right decision. Life is about decisions.

Whatever decision you make is the only one you could make. Otherwise you would make a different one.

Everything we do we choose. So what is there to regret? You are the person you choose to be." p. 31

"Ideas are a matter of taste.

What is a good idea to some is bad or boring to others.

A good idea is a clever solution to a problem, one that I have never seen before.

But if an idea is not taken up and used as a solution to a problem it has no value. It becomes a non-idea. Lying in a drawer it is useless. Worse than useless, it's a complete waste of space.

Ideas have to be applied before they are recognized as good ideas.

Even a bad idea executed is better than a good idea undone.

The longer it is used the better the idea is considered to be.

That is why the wheel is considered to be the best idea ever." p. 90

Take from it what you will!

I aim to be back here soon.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

the go-giver

It's sunny here in London, UK. So nice. Being s-l-o-w seems to be the word of the year for sure :) What word do you have for this year? Is it coming to fruition?

It's time to mull, plan, consider the next phase here. My new working desk (above) as I prepare to leave ArtLacuna studios.

And a quote to consider too:

"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."

- Maya Angelou

As always, I find books I would love to have next - my next two waiting to be read at some point:

The Wizard of Us

The Go-Giver

So many things I would like to do in this life-time. It's all about wending a way and constant reminders of values, values, values - what are your values? Are you living them?


Sunday, 10 May 2015

how (and why) to take it s-l-o-w

cheering me on - pink flowers in a birthday present jar from RSG

I am deep in the centre of s-l-o-w-i-n-g down purely because I can't run around like I normally do. This is what a knee operation can do.

The fertile ground, where I can 'run around', becomes my mind and little pockets of my home.

Ideas are brewing, the garden is blossoming and I am having to take one step at a time.

So being slow allows:

- mindfulness (I am present in each moment as I simply can't rush on to the next thing)

- time to notice what's around me - nature is so very inspiring (but you knew that already right?) ;)

- books are amazing vessels of information, the following are being read or on my wish list:

The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere

Our Only World

How to Change the World

- clearing out is good and a brilliant energiser - small areas of my home are being transformed. Years of old papers cleared out. Would I normally do this one paper at a time? No, not really. But it does feel good afterwards

- hours on Pinterest planning my garden, my home, my studio - for when I can scurry once more

- plotting a sustainable, independent, re-imagined future for me and the planet. How can I fuse the work I love doing, the environment I feel passionate about, and health (I have learnt that unless a body is looked after it will begin to crumble....)? I am working on this whilst being s-l-o-w

- I have discovered the healing power of herbs. Thanks to Neals Yard Remedies I am sipping on Comfrey & Chamomile Tea each evening - apparently they're the herbs used to knit warriors bones back together - I want to re-train in herbalism (I'm always blown away by my latest discovery/interest and immediately want to become a practitioner in that!!) without my (or one's) health, other things don't take on as much interest as it's hard to appreciate them if not operating properly

- de-cluttering. Always good. Space for the new. Some things have been sold on ebay and others are listed on Amazon - I have enjoyed short trips to the post office to post things off in to the world

I am brewing more ideas and intend to be back again soon. What is going on in the world out there? What are you up to? Do tell me some stories as I feel a little hemmed in right now :)


PS. thank you so much for the well-wishes - very appreciated :)

Friday, 24 April 2015

studio news | knee op | design & ideas

Image by Leslie Williamson from here, of artist Kay Sekimachi's studio 

Dear friends,

It has been quiet here because on this particular week's Tuesday I had a long awaited knee operation (that was how creative it got (not), out cold on a hospital bed - argh!).

I knew it was coming. I've had issues with it since I dislocated it at 13 (yawn), getting older and wiser has meant a few more twinges here and there so an op to ascertain and repair was in order.

I am now holed up in bed with PINTEREST. Yes, pinterest is keeping me company whilst I decide the future of 'me' for when I can walk again properly.

ArtLacuna studio news:

In major studio news I've decided it's time to walk away from my art-baby venture ARTLACUNA. I have co-directed and run it for 2 years now. An end of Fine Art MA dream that I have COMPLETED. I intended to open a visible, public space to create art and engage with the public - can I tick that one off now? With four of us directing it our dreams and visions were a little different, converging at times and diverging at others. It has been a wholly interesting and fantastic experience.

However, at this stage in my life, I am TOTALLY clear that I no longer wish to administrate and facilitate a gallery/project space organising other artists. I need (and my intuition is guiding me) that any voluntary time needs to go in to my own creative/art projects and this, dear blog-friends, is what I am going to do. Like always, dreams move on, develop, morph and grow - that's good.

So, in a couple of months I will be rounding up and saying goodbye - not forever of course, I have good friends who I started ArtLacuna with and still intend to be involved with, I will be down there, visit, do projects - who knows, I may even end up spending more time down there when not in a position of facilitator/organiser/director. 

And so, like I say, it is whilst I am having to be s-l-o-w and still that I am spending time realising how VALUABLE planning is. Planning what I'd like my future to look like (I don't always know; some things I do, somethings I don't), and also what a new creative work-space should look like. My feeling is a more permanent workstation needs to exist at home. I spend much time at home and also feel very comfortable working at home. 

I know we are all different as I have spoken to some artist friends recently who feel it's paramount to have a designated studio space to work in outside the house. I feel at home at home, it's where I live, eat, sleep, dream and there seems to be an energy conducive to my creativity in general that goes on at home.

So I share with you my latest Pinterest board in case you too are looking for inspiration too: 

or maybe you're not looking for inspiration but you might find some anyway. New ideas to add to what you have, a bit of design fun, a bit of storage fun :)

I hope to be back in the creative groove soon but in the mean time, I am searching, building, dreaming, scheming and always trying to just stay on top of things!

If it wasn't for art, I'm sure I'd be crazy by now.

Hope you're all well,


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

researching in a 'feminine' way

Is that possible?

I didn't post up a #creativetuesday yesterday as my creativity has been an intense period of research this week.

I love researching, reading, ideas and books as much as making art.

Doing the art collaboration with Evy Jokhova later this year - who's practice is different to mine - is making me look at alternative things. How architecture (3D habitable art?) affects human beings, and how that level of identity-making isn't something I'd thought of in terms of my own practice as I work mainly with images, however both are deeply intertwined.

As a result, I started re-reading some of my trusty books (The Story of Art) and some new books, and got curious about the history of images. It's loaded. From a Western and Eastern point of view it differs of course. Early propaganda? Serving ultimately religious purposes from the Middle Ages in Western culture? Images (and words) are 'important means of preserving cultural memory' I learn. I would also add they are important means of creating culture too.

And then I was reminded of Helene Cixous who proposed that for women to 'enter' language/culture in a system created by men/partriachy they need to develop their own way of writing. This is interesting, as another strand of research precipitated by this book; The Book of the City of Ladies (image at top) - taught me that Nicostrata was meant to be the original creator of letters - why didn't they tell me at school that it was a woman???? I mainly learnt about men! See more here.

I am fascinated by history, the place from which I come, but equally the places we may create and therefore go to.

I'm sure it was no 'coincidence' then that I walked in to my father's studio at this time to see a single book facing out at me: African Nomadic Architecture: Space, Place and Gender. I love 'coincidences' like this. I have only read the introduction, but such fascinating thoughts on transient (and original) architecture built with the land and nature. Nomadic structures are not cast in stone and penetrating the earth, to then be valued, heralded, fought over and staked as a 'possession' - is this type of sedentary architecture a more 'masculine' route? The book discusses this. Invisible, transient labour (associated with the domestic sphere and interior spaces) cannot be commodified in the same way - therefore do we need a different value system?

I felt a bit sad as I think about what we do to this planet, how we could live in harmony with it more. Equally I'm thinking about what ways do women or 'the feminine' have that differs from men, or masculinity? (I know have to be so careful with terms of sexes or genders, but I hope you know where I am coming from.) Could there be, or is there a different way to do things that has been diminished over time, lost even? Is it about trying to re-member or find, or is it about creating as Cixous suggest? Is there a masculine way and is there a feminine way?

The book on Nomadic structures discusses also, the way in which arts and crafts were divided as male and female - and I bet you can guess which goes with which? But if you diminish or subordinate an art/craft associated with a sex then you do the same to the whole sex?

If culture is about writing and recording (and creating) then we know - and also considering nomadic and transient concepts - that there is a whole history that has gone un-recorded and unrecognised and that might be the other language that I find myself sometimes searching for. I find as a woman and mother that something does not sit right with me in regards to the culture I live in. I can't always put my finger on it, but I use art to seek maybe.....

On a more contemporary note, this is definitely something I think about: can we all have it all? Another good TEDs talk.

I am starting a separate blog to chart my research in to this collaborative project with Evy Jokhova. I will share the link once I get it sorted. Maybe it will be interesting (for me as much as anyone else!), to see how the process of an art project and resulting work unfolds and goes hand in hand with research. Maybe today is #researchwednesday instead of #creativetuesday this week :)

I hope you are having a creative time wherever you are in the world.