Sunday, April 25, 2010

The past is a prophecy of now

The time has come to post my 'big' post, the one I've been tinkering with for nearly 2 weeks.

This post.

It contains no great transformative thing, but the gathered fruit of much thinking. In a way I suppose it is transformative. It's changed much since the time I started writing it. It's been mellow and well-paced. It's been frantic and emotional. It's been nothing but images and nothing but words. Now finally the balance has been set.

April has been a strange month for me. For the most of it I went away to the city, visiting my best and most supportive friends while I worked through what I thought was just a few days of shadow. Familiar readers to this blog know that I fight (I will not say suffer) depression and anxiety, and April's beginning contained an inordinate amount of the down days.

Rather than tread water alone I went to the city to stay with my 2 best friends (who also happen to be married- so handy!) who keep me distracted and entertained and generally energised to be able to fight the good fight. I hadn't expected it to last as long as it did, it has been some time since I've been so muddy of mind, but I was there for almost 2 weeks. I came back here expecting to 'get on with things' but that wasn't to be. I was still deep in thought. I updated the shop out of duty, but I felt no love for it.

I did quite a lot of thinking and assessing my work and my life -which tends to be my habit in these down times. Art should feed the spirit I thought, and the spirit should be fed by art. Yet I felt so low on fulfilment from the higher powers I was near dry. I will not mince words, my fellows- in those past weeks I've been near to giving the whole thing up. Sell all the fabric, all the buttons, all the beads. I felt the time had come to stop making jewelry.

I've always had two paths with my art- at least as far as my inner source is concerned. One is the kind this blog tries to focus on, what I call my Dickens dust- black and white and charcoal greys, dirty dingy and musty dusty things. The other path is what was featured in my shop The Dark Woods- my raggle-tag faery side with jewelled deep colours and natural themes.

While writing in my diary one night and thinking about these two paths, I suddenly drew a line down the middle of the page and wrote along the top 'how I feel when I do what I do.' One side was labelled 'dickens dust', the other 'faery rags'. Here's what came out:

For my Dickens work- " This work makes me tense and anxious after a time it drains me. I get distant and shut off from my friends both in the real world and online. I beat myself up trying to enforce a strict set of aesthetic guidelines, often failing and wanting more than I've achieved. No matter how much information I soak up I can never get my work to look right. All in all it's a world of constant exhausting mental work. When striving for the look I want I conjour up and soak myself in the emotions reflected in it- loneliness, cold, isolation."

For my faerywork I had written "When I work on faery stuff for two weeks, I open up inside. I feel grounded, contented. I think of my friends and make the effort to pay more attention to them. I make things that gives me pleasure when it's done, it's lovely to look at and serves no function for me other than being beautiful. The colours and textures make me feel rich in spirit and connected to the earth- relaxed and safe. When I conjour up the emotions needed to produce the work, it is warmth, contentment, strength of connection and the pleasure in beauty."

When I'd finished writing I looked over it. All this was stuff I'd noticed vaguely before, but seeing it there side by side on the paper, one so tense and anxious, the other so relaxed and calm, it was a bit of a shock. I never expected myself to write those words about my Dickens side, but the acknowledgement of it shook something inside like an earth tremor. Everything fell into place. I'm happy when I work on my faerywear. Of course I love my Dickens dust as well, but it's obvious that too much time working in it gives me a disquiet because it comes (without being too dramatic) from a wounded place in me.

Recently fancifuldevices (ever the one who without knowing it, holds a mirror up to me) did a post in her blog about my old work from the little brown sparrow shop. Scrolling through all those images of my past with her words in between, I was struck with a wave of what I could only call a sort of marriage between homesickness and heartache. I pulled up the folder on my hard drive and slid my eyes over the old images- how rich and vibrant everything was, how full of life. And I missed it all so terribly. And how wonderful my photos used to be, the textures and intensity of dirt, stone, wood. Shots in the garden, on old picture frames, on the cracked leather of a favourite chair...

This has led to some profound visions. I realised that I was split inside. I decided once and for all to choose a path and stick to it, knowing that every day I choose the wrong path is another day I have to back track and make up for it, and trying to hold on to two paths is like putting sugar in the creative gas tank- it just won't go.

I've spent my time re-arranging my art space, sorting through my treasures, de-stashing, tracking down a list of artists who's work makes my spirit sing, making treasuries that speak to the soul, re-decorating my bedroom and studio, watching films, reading, writing, thinking. Thinking thinking thinking. All one big slide puzzle, shifting bits from here to there.

As you may have guessed by the images illustrating this post, I have chosen the path of the faery rags. Ideally I'd like to produce what I did for the Dark Woods shop, with a bit of metalwork, soldering and wire-wrapping thrown in. Whatever the details hold there will always be raggedy bits of antique things, but there will be no more of the isolated and barren hearted, no more dreary ink-stain blacks and broken-spirit grey. There will be colour, and curving lines; hearts that shine and faces that smile.

To be quite truthful, I don't think I will make jewelry for much longer, at least not as a focus. What I'd love to do given the space and materials is printmaking and ceramics as well as metalwork jewellery -and maybe some doll-making too. I realise however that there's plenty of time for all that, but I've dreamed and schemed and planned and am making starts on path that gets me there.

So yes- that's where I've been hiding. I remember going through similar time during my future tribal period, but this has been much deeper, much more...archaic. But above all things it has been growth, and growth of any kind is always welcome.

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