My interview for the Whitley Bay Carnival Lockdown Art Market.
I am lucky, very lucky. My workroom, where I make my textile art and plan my workshops, is in my house. As with most textile artists, I have a ‘stash’ of materials that probably counts as dangerous hoarding in non- makers eyes 🙂
My kids are creative and independent enough to keep busy, plus the Circus school they attended back in ‘Real’ life (I know, right!) has switched classes online so they are having daily fixes of Circus activity AND seeing their circus friends on screen which really helps with their (and my) health and well being! And my CP has occasional days at out at work (he’s a teacher) but otherwise is doing the cooking, reading and online courses.
So my creative work continues, the only (big) difference is that there are no paid workshops going on in the real world at the moment and government aid for the self employed seems a little slow to arrive. However, some of my regular hosts are honouring payments for workshops that should have been held now, with the promise that we will be able to run them later. Plus, some events I was booked into are going online too – so I am becoming quite the twenty first century artist!
The carnival art market has an upper price limit of £200, so I am making some new, small pieces especially for this event. I have been taking inspiration from my daily dog walks.
Thank you Bobby dog for enabling me to notice daily changes in plantlife in and around our local park. Bobby is not my dog, I am walking him for a friend who is isolating. We go to the local park almost every morning. It has been wonderful to notice the different plants flowering in turn, the trees blossoming and then moving onto producing fruit. All in a park that was once a brickworks.
The park is providing more inspiration for my urban wildflower pieces and I am collecting rusty items from the pavements as we meander along the quiet streets.
I love the bright colour and tenacious quality of ragwort. Apparently it arrived in Britain in the 17th century from Sicily. It was grown in the Oxford Botanic garden but escaped and by the 18th century was growing freely on the walls of Oxford colleges. Then as the railways were introduced it naturalised on the clinker beds at the side of the rails and spread along the tracks around the country!
Ivy leaved toadflax is another Italian immigrant growing in this country since the 17th century – this one escaped from the Chelsea Botanic garden, it loves to grow on walls and in nooks and crannies. Richard Mabey, author of Weeds, talks of this tenacious little plant arriving from Italy via seeds packed in with marble statues being imported, once again, to Oxford. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9522524-weeds
John Ruskin loved it having spotted it growing on the steps of a Venetian church and then seeing it in a painting inside the church! In Italy it is called erba della Madonna, here it is sometimes known as Mother of Thousands or Travelling Sailor. I like the way such a tiny plant is so enduring and so colourful, with those egglike centres, lilac petals and red tipped leaves.
When we get into the park – this sometimes takes a while depending on how energetic Bobby is feeling – the wildflowers are everywhere and ever changing. Back in March we started with wood anenomes and dandelions at ground level, trees starting to regreen and the blackthorn coating itself in bright white, lacey blossom.
April brought blue – bluebells and forget-me-nots in shelted shady spots, then purple as honesty shot up underneath the froth of cherry blossom. By the reed filled pond, king cups glinted golden in the spring sunshine.
So my sketchbook is getting filled with flowers and my knowledge of plants is growing stronger, Lady’s Smock is common but I didn’t know it until this springtime, such a delicate pale pink. It is blooming all over the park now and the vetch is just starting to show its more vibrant pink blooms. Catching up with the potent pink crab apple. And on the way to the park now, the lilac is looking and smelling beautiful.
Daily walks are helping with inspiration and mood, although sunny days definitely help me to feel brighter than grey – and days when I don’t watch the news or Twitter are the best of all!