Friday, 25 December 2020
Tuesday, 22 December 2020
I thought I would do the couch to 5k, bake bread, garden and start patchwork quilting!
My husband also asked me to sort out the numerous clothes in our bedroom which needed to be sorted into piles to put away, give away or cut up for quilting. ‘Of course, I said’.
At the second lockdown, he offered me a £100 to sort them.
Like I started baking Sour Dough bread. It was lovely! I made about 4-5 loaves.
Like I started the couch to 5 k, I almost completed it. (I’ve still got the last run on the last week to do!)
For the Star, I decided to do patchwork.
Despite having 3 weeks to do it, I left it to 2 days before it was due to start it.
So my reflections on these strange times is that I don’t change even if the circumstances have changed. I still leave things until the last minute, needing the deadline to work towards.
(Maybe in order to finish the pile of clothing, he needed to offer me a deadline to get the £100! However I know what to get him for Christmas, a tidy room!)
On a bright note, my daughter has asked me to do the couch to 5 k with her in 2021, so I may get that finished!
Monday, 21 December 2020
Like many people, part of what’s getting me through this strange and difficult time is a range of indoor exercise options, and adventures in cooking.
The unusual thing that’s been keeping me going, though, is breastfeeding. Not doing it myself, but helping others. My children are in their late teens, so those years are long gone. But I volunteer on the National Breastfeeding Helpline (and work, sometimes, training other women to volunteer on the helpline, and supporting them in their volunteering).
Women call the helpline with a wide range of issues, and in a wide range of situations. Particularly in the early days of the lockdown, when women couldn’t get their usual support from the NHS, and when they couldn’t see their extended family. Lots of volunteers stepped up, and in March and April we took more calls than we had ever taken before.
Why? Many volunteers were stuck in their houses with school-age children underfoot. Lots of us had unusual stresses about health and jobs. But, when you’re having a hard time, one thing that can really help, is helping someone else. It makes you feel powerful, and it makes you feel connected. Our training focusses on listening skills – we have to be able to listen effectively, to help women over the phone. We have to be careful to get all the relevant details, so we can give women appropriate information and support. Those listening skills include empathising with the people who call us – and that connection, during a dark and difficult time, was uplifting. When you’re having a bad day, helping someone else can really improve your mood.
Sometimes, on the phone, it feels like a weird sort of sleepover. Just me and another woman (most of the callers are mums) talking in the dark. Ok, there’s more crying than I remember from sleepovers. But it’s a sort of intimacy, a contact. Each call is a leap in the dark – you don’t know what you’ll get. You don’t know if you’ll be able to help. But you know you’ll do your best.
Sunday, 20 December 2020
Saturday, 19 December 2020
The installation some how felt a little, slightly, rebelliously naughty. Any way l just wanted to make a brief statement about my star but l don't know how to do it but how about...
A star of hope & a prayer of light for the approaching year ahead 2021.
Tuesday, 15 December 2020
Monday, 14 December 2020
Quinn, my daughter of 21 months, and I had a bit more time on our hands when Corona hit. Instead of whisking her away to exhibitions or playdates we spent a lot more time pushing our own creative boundaries in my studio. We started designing into everything we could find and pouring over artistic books from our shelves. Old clothes, scraps of paper, things destined for the landfill, all was our treasure to explore and rework. After a while I realized some of the clothes we were upcycling could be used to solve a serious problem that had been bothering me for ages. Before I had her I worked in the 2nd worst polluting industry in the world, Fashion. It sickened me that my creativity was feeding a machine that was eating up her future. I loved to create but I wanted to be part of solutions that she would be proud of and want to follow. Lockdown gave us the extra time to discover the magic of upcycling clothing and inspired me to start a book. I wanted to teach others simple tricks to make their wardrobe incredible. Why consume more or discard something that can keep being revived through your own expression. Even better I wanted to teach others how to bring their child into the making process and let them design their own wardrobe. What better way to combat fast fashion then to show the next generation the value of clothing and the power of their own creativity. The first chapter is on painting into our clothes so I drew from the Lascaux Caves, our species first recorded artistic beginnings. There is something unspeakably beautiful about the simple repeated shapes of our hands outlined in pigment blown through hollow bones. There is one theory that these caves were painted by pregnant women who might have been the only members of the tribe with enough time resting indoors to reach for something deeper than just survival. When I showed Quinn books of these works she reacted excitedly exclaiming, “Hand! Hand!” She loves to make handprints in any medium, a simple connection with the material and an identifier both universal and all her own. We tried replicating the Lascaux Caves with spray bottles of paint into fabrics and paper. The idea that these ancient mothers were reaching through time and still inspiring the youngest of minds today filled me with gratitude for the healing nature of art. It may have been a hard year with many setbacks but my daughter’s burgeoning mind and my ability to give back through sustainable teaching kept us feeling light and full of possibility. It’s incredible how loss of freedom can open up so much and how slowing and looking back for inspiration can bring the newest change.
If you are interested in learning to upcycle clothing or want to teach the small ones in your life to upcycle please find us at https://www.instagram.com/genupcycle/
Sunday, 13 December 2020
This year I have acutely felt among the lucky ones. Anne and I could work from home. We weren’t furloughed or made redundant. No one in the house caught the virus (that we know of). None of our family back in the US caught it either – until recently, but in that case with a swift recovery.
Of course, there were losses on a lesser scale – no theatre, no museums, no live music. Cancelled visits and cancelled trips. No going to the pub after work.
But then again, we made the most of what we could do. A week in the Peak District. Meeting colleagues for a picnic in the park. Chatting with friends on Chatsworth Road.
And let’s be honest, London in lockdown was wonderful, in a way. Clean air, quiet streets, empty skies. Every few days I would cycle around the city, over London Bridge and then back across Blackfriars Bridge, stopping to marvel at the sight of Fleet Street or Old Street with not a soul in view. Cycling changed from being a way of commuting to being a way to catch an hour of freedom.
This autumn, as the days grew shorter and the news became ever grimmer, I discovered – or rediscovered – the pleasure of lap swimming. When I was younger, I swam for play or I swam to compete. This time around, swimming has become meditation. From the moment I enter the pool and drop under the water, thoughts fall away and I can only and simply be in the moment: Pull, kick, breathe. Pull, kick, breathe. Pull, kick, breathe.