What does art mean to you?

What is art? What does it mean to you? These are some of the thoughts I wrote down a few days ago when I was asked to reflect on these questions (by Anastasia Azure):

Art is making that expresses meaning and intention, questioning, exploration, attention. It does so by representing, by abstracting, by simply celebrating its own being. It can create or discern meaning, or even say that there is none. It springs from the longing of the artist to recreate in another way what is seen, heard, felt, thought, eaten, worn. It asks questions and sometimes suggests answers. It can break and mend your heart, transform your thoughts, make you want to dance or be still.

rusted groyne

A handmade bowl can be a beautiful vessel for soup in the mind of the cook and an expression of grief for the destruction of the oceans in the mind of the artist. Yet another person sees nothing but that it is beautiful and places it on a shelf to be gazed at. All these meanings are held, often in tension, in the art work.

I deeply believe that art is for everyone: that the way a person washes the dishes or makes the breakfast can be art; that art can be fleeting or solid, hidden or visible; that art not shared can still be art. I think that a child can make art; that imperfect art can be perfect, even that bad art can be good – perhaps it brings creative joy to the maker, perhaps we don’t need to judge.

I would love to know what art means to you…

Blessing prayer to begin a creative work

Arising from an online retreat, Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist, with Christine Valters Paintner at abbeyofthearts.com

coloured yarn

Jesus, born of dust, I seize the hem of your robe with fierce longing, bless my work.
Brigid, Sant Ffraid, your mantle heals the ground, brings forth growth, bless my work.
Foremothers, family, your creative spirits burn in my hearth, bless my work.
Madonna, black and beautiful, mother of God, bless my work.
Beloved writers, your words wrap me in rhythm, bless my work.
Dear friend, knit to my heart by all that we shared, all that is new, bless my work.

Blessing upon fibre and fabric, wool, silk, cherished cloth.
Blessing upon loom and shuttle, wheel and bobbin.
Blessing upon warp and weft and every knot.
Blessing upon pen and ink, paper and paint.
Blessing upon devices and machines and all intricate workings.
Blessing upon these hands, this body, this mind and heart.
Blessing upon the day, the hour, this now.
Blessing upon all small things that inspire, all glimpses of joy, all whispered beauty.

May what is hidden within me emerge, shine, make its slow bright way into the world.
May my making be gift and glow.

“Shouting quietly”

I know I’m not alone in finding self promotion difficult to practise, despite understanding how important it is. That’s why I’ve just crowdfunded Pete Mosley’s forthcoming book "The Art Of Shouting Quietly", subtitled "a guide to self-promotion for introverts and other quiet souls". If you’re one who feels reticent about mentioning your achievements and sharing your successes, this might be a good book to take a look at.

Promotion is rather easier when someone else does it for you, and I’ve been delighted and a bit overwhelmed this month to be featured in an art quilt magazine, Patchwork Professional. The magazine showcases a number of well-known textile artists producing beautiful work and I feel honoured to be included.

Patchwork Professional cover

The magazine is German and I only have a Google-translated idea of what the article says, but it looks lovely, with lots of images.

magazine pages

It’s a celebration of my work and the Isle of Tiree where I live, drawn from what I’ve posted here on the blog, and crafted into a coherent story by the editor of Patchwork Professional, Dorothee Crane. My thanks to Dorothee and her team for getting 2015 off to such an exciting start for me!

finding my way back

This blog sorely needs an overhaul – when I look at it and see how much there is to update, I quail. I could start by posting something, a few bits and pieces to get started again. Just do it, or whatever it is they say.

Soooo…. I’ve been printing a bit on fabric, just playing around with techniques, trying out different blocks and having fun. The Tiree Tapestry Group (which is astonishingly almost a year old) is holding a simple printing workshop next weekend in the cattle market, and it’s in preparation for that. Who knew that the calyx of a tomato would print a starfish?

printing on fabric

printing on fabric

What else? I’ve been enjoying reading about this collaboration/exchange between Jane McKeating and Jilly Morris; it’s a fascinating insight into their processes, ideas and self-awareness.

And I’ve been thinking a lot – about how to carve out time for making, about continuing to learn, being committed. Reflecting. Seeking balance.

beach reflections

since June…

I needed a blogging break after finishing my course but it grew rather longer than I intended. If anyone is still here reading, this is what I’ve been doing since then.

In July, I was given a couple of Tiree fleeces, a Jacob and a Suffolk, by a very kind crofter friend, and spent some time learning how to turn this

fibres

into this,

fibres

and then to this.

yarn

August brought visitors and walks by the sea.

birds

In September, we sadly said goodbye to Tansy, our darling companion of almost 17 years – this photo was taken in the spring. She loved to run on the beach and the machair right up to the week she died. I miss her so much.

Tibetan spaniel

In October I collected blues, yellows and greens together and made some little pieces of felt for the International Day of Felt. But I didn’t get myself organised in time to get other people involved as well – I will next year, I hope, when the colours will be Red-Purple-Blue.

felt

While all my flat surfaces were filled up with blues and yellows and greens…

fibre and fabric

I spun some of it too.

handspun yarn

In fact, I’ve been spinning a lot in the last few months. I’ve woven scarves with some of these yarns now, but the basket keeps filling up again.

handspun yarns

I think my birthday visit to the mainland deserves a post of its own, for another day. I don’t quite know how this blog will evolve without the focus of the OCA course. Mostly textiles still, of course, but maybe a bit more of life as well. I’ve tried keeping a separate blog for ‘other stuff’ but since it’s a challenge to keep one blog alive, let alone two, a more eclectic mix may be the way to go from now on.