Tuesday 19 September 2017

Failures, typos and discovering I may have a few too many pencil cases.

During the week I failed to type "Thursday" correctly. Instead Thursday became "Thrudsay" and hilarity ensued. Resulting in an illustration of Queen Thrud and her Caveman love - and yes that is a 'turd' on her head serving as her crown due to a friend misreading my typo.
Queen Thrud
Prior to completing Queen Thrud I spent the week cleaning my studio - thanks to the ever inspiring Tania McCartney who posted a lovely blog about her studio spring clean. Mine was more like a spring overhaul. You know. . . turning a small mess into a bigger mess in order to achieve some semblance of order (in the process I discovered I may have an unhealthy obsession with pencil cases).

I also bravely shared a photo to my Facebook page of my mess during the tidy up. Truth be told, it was not a photo of the true mess but a partway-through-said-overhaul-photo that I was a little more comfortable sharing. Which made me question why am I embarrassed by my failure to maintain a perfectly clean studio 100% of the time? Why do I feel the need to live up to some unspoken rule about the way I should maintain my work space? Is it because I have been conditioned by society to expect nothing less than perfection from myself and those around me? So I am declaring I will allow myself to relish my failures. I will allow myself to fail and fail happily. To shrug my shoulders, admit it's not working, dust myself off and try again. So what if I make a mistake. We are taught to feel guilt, and shame, and remorse (which is fair enough if what you've done has a direct negative repercussion of huge proportions on other members of society) but what if you made a mistake that effects only you? Why is it not okay to say 'I failed, this obviously wasn't the best idea - lets try it another way and see if that succeeds'. If the saying goes 'we learn from our mistakes' why do we not celebrate these lessons learnt in moments of failure. As I tell my art students: There is no FAIL - only a First Attempt In Learning. And if I hadn't failed to type Thursday correctly Queen Thrud would not exist and the world would be a sadder place because of perfection.

I wonder what you call a collection of pencil cases?

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Books and Storage (and not enough of either)

Just a few favourites

I am writing this from a position of privilege. My house is full of books! Cases with books stacked in stacks. The shelves no longer capable of displaying them neatly with their spines all in a row, neatly arranged by colour and size. All sorts of books. Books about fairytales, adventure stories, whimsical picture books. Soulful, gut wrenching, heartbreaking, life lessons. Mysteries, magic, murder. Classic tales retold. Books that I have read and read again. I very rarely part with a book once I've read it, and I must admit I am not a book lender. I am a great believer in re-reading books at different stages throughout life. It reveals a lot about how the heart grows and opinions change. I think writers are magicians. The way they create whole worlds of other thinking, feeling beings for us to learn from, criticise and fall in love with astounds me. Pages and pages of words all interlocking to create meaning and, in a way, life. I was never particularly social at school and I delighted in filling up my library card but nothing can truly explain the joy I feel when I buy a book to add to my ever growing trove. I am fickle, I do like a good cover but ultimately the deciding factor is the voice of the story itself. I always flip through a book randomly before purchasing and read the first paragraph on whatever page happens to open before me. If that holds my attention then it belongs to me. I very rudely and very rarely read a book based on a recommendation. There are three exceptions to that rule. The first are two books that were my Mother's and it wasn't so much a recommendation but that I grew up with them and they grew me. The third is a book gifted to me by my Mother-in-law. 

The first is 'The Little Green Road To Fairy Land' by Author and Illustrator Ida Rental Outhwaite. A tale of a fairy who decides to become a human girl to heal a mothers broken heart. 

The second is 'The Golden Book of Fairy Tales' Translated by Marie Ponsot and Illustrated by Adrienne Segur. A classic compendium of traditional stories from Russia, Germany, France, and Japan. 

And finally - one of the most precious books I have ever read - 'The Lady of the Chimney Corner' by Alexander Irvine. As the author so eloquently writes in his foreword 

"This book is the torn manuscript of the most beautiful life I ever knew. I
 have merely pieced and patched it together, and hove not even changed
 or disguised the names of the little group of neighbours who lived with us, 
at "the bottom of the world". 

I adore books and hope in the future to have one sitting amongst my shelves that I have written. One to join the chaos of our small house with shelves that are full to bursting with books just waiting to tell me their story one more time.