Saturday, 30 July 2011

Self portrait #2, Chagfood, Stones, and Love

At last a new artwork to share with you. Bigger and, as ever, a new approach. My new favourite. I didn't set out to do a self portrait, but as it grew I was telling stories of myself with it, empathising with the different parts and how they met.Right from the start, when I had just drawn the moon, hearts and the first leaves, I regretted the hearts. Too predictable, too naive, too obvious. But that's me. I am frequently not the impressive or stylish or confident one. But I am true and I am loving. Many times I have regretted putting my heart out in the world, but often, as with this piece, when I can see the bigger picture I am so glad I dared and I resolve to go on daring. Because why else?

Self portrait #2
Brush pen on canvas board
10" x 12"

And so to love of an edible kind. We've started getting a veg box from Chagfood and every week it's such a delight to unpack it. The colours, textures, smells, are so good. When we go to the pick-up point, Pickle leans out of her buggy, gesturing for treats. So the produce in the following photos is a few tomatoes and some mange tout short of the full box. (Like me, some days.) It's not a normal veg box scheme. Members buy a share in the produce - a much more stable way for small, organic growers to operate. If you want to know more, have a look at this.

Chagfood Bounty (small box)

Romanesco: Architectural masterpiece

Two-toned turnips

Flat-leaf parsley, red and green basil

Sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes 

Perfect, crunchy carrots just waiting for houmous

Big bowl of salad; Pickle loves eating the flowers

And a bonus bunch of flowers for the table

Naked under the sun

Naked under the sun,
my girl takes me by the hand,
walks me down the lane.
Friends stop to admire her;
she to study them.
A car crawls towards us
and we press back into hedge.
One, four, many wasps.
My friend shouts and darts away.
Shouts again.
Now they are pouring out.
I lift my skirt to cover my child
and walk steadily away.
She, delighted,
buzzes in my arms.


hot, hot
on the lawn,
slowly filling canvas,
I am grateful the internet
has taken a holiday.

Wool wash

So concerned
at my family's absence,
I did a wool wash.

Canvas children

I have called more
canvas children in,
to shape and nurture,
set boundaries for
and learn from,
but mostly to watch
as they grow.

And finally, love given liberty. This brought a tear to my eye:

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Various stones of knickers and music

I've been away at Chagstock (foolishly taking no photos) for a few days of outdoors family jollity. It was Pickle's first festival (although she's an old hand at camping) and she loved the big puppets, the hula hooping, the noise, the lights and best of all was learning to 'Aaaarrr' every time she saw a pirate (which happened a lot as that was the theme). In fact, she got so good at it, and currently has such piratical teeth (few, not black) that a soft-hearted stallholder gave her a pirate flag which she delighted in waving in my face for the rest of the day. I truly love the rhythm of my everyday life, but it's so refreshing to drop routines sometimes. There were challenges (try taking a toddler into a portaloo and preventing them from touching the sides), but my fear that she'd crawl out of our beloved bell tent in the night proved unfounded - of course she just crawled onto my chest.
So, sleep-deprived, sun-kissed and happy, I have for you  a whole clutch of stones to sort through and feel the shapes of. I hope you find one that fits your palm.

That first time
As she staggers -
bump - up -
staggers over the field, 
young buzzards
take tiny loops of -
dip - swoop -
loops of flight from the hedge.
We mothers hover, cheering -
cautioning - congratulating -
cheering them on.

The Band
The band pours all over us.
Pensioners abandon stick-stools
and leap and clap and yell.
Teenagers waiting for a different sound
play cards at the back of the tent.
Babies in ear defenders
slump on shoulders
or sleep in scattered stars
across the trampled grass.

Keep your sunsets
A happy, sleeping child.
You can keep your sunsets;
I could gaze all night.

Knickers and Lego
My husband dreamed he was buying me knickers
but got distracted by free Lego.
Then he awoke in a house with
more Lego than decent knickers.

And at last the sun
And at last the sun
highlights my heart.

And then I remember
And then I remember
I make the rules for myself.
And in breaking them
I am offered new patterns.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

I rock

I rock

I rock my girl in the crook of my arms.
A rook, wild, rocks on the branch.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

I jump, catch eggs and break stuff

I jump

I jump a jigged line
to the ring
of a baffled bird
meeting solid air.

An illness, an artwork and several poems ago, our family and some friends went to Belstone Village Fair. It was a typical Dartmoor example of stunning scenery, slightly odd activities and a Heath Robinson approach to organisation.

Plenty of green space to run about in left the adults free to explore the wonders of the stalls:

and, most importantly, the tea tent:

(Free kudos to anyone who can spot an Ent.)

Announcements were made by microphone, amplified by speakers which only worked if you started the car:

All generations joined in for the chaos and hilarious mess of the egg-catching (or not) game, presided over by two very strict but sadly inaudible ladies:

A pair of older gentlemen who took the 'sport' aspect rather seriously ended up sharing the prize with a pair of young girls who said, every time the lines stepped back, 'But I can't throw that far.' We all had a little chuckle. And then pretended not to laugh as a group of boys started smashing eggs over each other's heads.

In an unusual display of inhibition, no adult allowed themselves the wanton fun of smashing crockery:

There's no point; no game - just paying for the pleasure of being allowed to break stuff. The noise alone was a tonic.

And in the universal spirit of a day out, one would normally bury one's father in the sand. However, this being Dartmoor, we used the stocks. Then legged it:

And if ever proof was needed that, even on such a jolly day as this, we have reason to fear our inlaws, this is it:

A more lucid and folklore-based account of the day is here, along with a bunch of other strange but true stuff you have no need of knowing, but will be unable to keep to yourself once you do know.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Almost a rockery


The gods
drop crumbs
from their table.
I eat them.
I am lost.


If it was only
other people
who told me lies,
I would barely
mind at all.


Rain worms through my dreads.
Carefully, I split my skin,
clavicle to pubis,
opening so the water worms
can make compost of my history
and I can start afresh.


for something worth stating


As I sculpt words and colour
to call magic into our home,
my husband simply
builds a door for it to enter.


If you are lucky,
the patience of the healthy
is in a negative correlation
to the health of the patient.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Teething, Air, Fire and Park Life


Sweaty, sick, sore.
Chewing everything,
eating nothing.
Face flushed and
wet with weeping.
My milk and sleep
the only routes to respite.
If I could do this for you,
I would,
a hundred times.

As well as writing a little poem stone each day (which I am loving and heartily recommend you try), I have  completed the elements set of pennings. Do take a click trip to visit Earth and Water if you haven't already.

Here is Air. I nearly lost my (somewhat tenuous to start with) grip on reality creating this. It took hours and hours and when I looked up I could still see the pattern of it superimposed on everything else. My husband asked me why I kept blinking and staring. I have since been reassured by the information that if you can draw a perfect circle, you're mad. So there must be some sanity left.

Brush pen on canvas
5" x 7"

Fire was a more soothing process and is the most literal depiction in the set:

Brush pen on canvas
5" x 7"

I don't know what's coming next, which is how I like it. I do need to prime some more canvasses and, judging by my performance last time, that could take a while. I'll try to set a personal best.

Meanwhile, I have spent many sunny hours at the local park, being terrorised by Ickle Pickle's fearless antics.

She climbs up the big kids' slide or the rope ladder (despite not yet being able to walk on the flat without help!), then has a great time spangling across the rope net and the wobbly plank bridge and just being higher than sweating, pulse-racing me.
"Aren't you high up? Well done. Oopsie, caught you. Oh, you want to do it again? Great! Hold on tight..." - all delivered in a slightly shrill cheerful voice whilst wearing a fixed grin. I just keep reminding myself it's best she learns while I'm there to catch her.

Despite my anxiety for her safety, I am so proud of my little girl's confidence in her body and her growing skills, and she always comes back to her Mama :o).

Which reminds me that the wheel of bureaucracy has clunked around and I am now officially a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter. Feel free to email me direct of you think I may be able to help you and you don't want to talk on this public forum.

New teeth, new words, new art, new climbing skills, new role... exciting stuff :o).

Monday, 11 July 2011

In Menstrual Mood and Note to Self

In menstrual mood, I say,
I'm sorry I'm such a dreadful old woman.
You're hardly an old woman,
says my husband.
Or dreadful.
Too late.
Way too late.

Note to Self

To make art
is to be an artist.
To write
is to be a writer.
Nothing else,
no external confirmation,
is required.
All the rest
is just paying the bills.

Saturday, 9 July 2011


As I lie in bed,
A tickle crosses my belly.
And the trained response:
That is very unlikely.
I try to sleep
and fail.
I turn back the covers.

Friday, 8 July 2011

The 21st Century and A Band of Sun

My mornings include
breastfeeding and strength training.
My husband's evenings include
cooking and knitting.
The 21st century
is a good place to be.

A band of sun
trails gold satin across the land.
I lean in
to its Midas kiss.

When he's not cooking or knitting, Ent can be found in our woods, making wonders such as these pixie doors.

Stern Green Man Pixie Door
4.75 " x 2"

And I'm so pleased to have got my blog all dressed up fancy. It may never have happened without much technical help from Rima of The Hermitage fame.  If you haven't yet discovered her blog, do follow the link - you're in for an inspirational treat.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Cows and Laundry

made skittish by dogs,
bar my path.
made skittish by cows,
turn back.

I discover the laundry basket
has a bottom.
'Well done',
tweets my sister.
'We have seven baskets.'
I gasp
in horror and awe
as I contemplate
Being a mummy
four times over.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


My husband has a damaged leg.
He needs new boots
to support it, ease it.
He comes home with
mini dragon wellies
for our girl.
I try to scold and fail.

Monday, 4 July 2011


After spiked words,
We pause.
A hand on my shoulder
As I make two cups of tea.
Marriage is all in the recovery.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Stones, Earth, Water and A Message From My Daughter

I've been busy. This is Earth, the next piece for my current collection. Stylistically, it is a close sibling of Yes!, but also it is the start of an elements set. Didn't plan to create a set for this exhibition, but that's what's happening.

Brush pen on canvas
5" x 7"

Here's a sidelong glance at its edges (well, one of them) and some background stuff which I liked too much to crop away.

This is the second in the set, Water. I've got the colours as close to real life as I could but you can see the complex flow of it. My eyes were rebelling by the end. By my next post I will hopefully have finished Air and you'll see why my mind has been addled by looking at it for too long.

Brush pen on canvas
5" x 7"

A River of Stones has launched its second challenge to fully notice, then write, one small moment/stone every day for a month. Here are my first two stones:

From my window
All is bees on roses,
A buzzard in blue,
And green and green and green.
If this isn't heaven,
I don't want to go.

This Morning's Adventure

Tottering in first shoes, I see
A blackbird puffed with death,
A wiggly worm on the road.
We wave our shadow hands.
My legs buckle,
I swing by one arm.
I am carried home,
Telling it all in my own tongue.

And finally, a message from my daughter:


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