The Slump is a large dark sludgy green seven legged and nine armed creature, with three eyes on the end of stalks rather like a snail’s. It has a large spiny tail, which is leaves straggling out all over the place – it just cannot be bothered with tucking it out of the way. You’ll only fall over it anyway, so why bother.
Hugging itself tightly in the corner, the Slump looks big and scary and slimy. Its not. Not if you don’t let it be so…
The Slump is a miserable old friend that visits immediately after an exhibition. After a deadline has been worked towards, and all stops pulled out. After the ‘phew, we did it’ and the momentary self congratulation; then comes the Slump. And here it is, fully formed, hogging my studio, with several of its legs and its tail flopping down the wobbly ladder right into the rest of the house. There is no avoiding it.
Pushing past it this morning to grab items for an ‘activity bag’ as I’m looking after my friend’s studio/gallery, I stood there and huffed at my half made creations. The urgency has gone. Maybe I’ll just eat all day and jab at Instagram, and look at all the wonderful things other people are making, and feel even more miserable: this is how the Slump works.
So instead, I’m naming and shaming the Slump. Ok, so I’m on my third bag of crisps, but I’m keeping the Slump at bay. I’m sharing my snacks with it, and offering it a part in one of my stories. Its not so bad really, its actually quite cuddly. Maybe it can keep an eye on the gallery while I forage for some more food.
To some it must seem a dreadful idea: opening your house to Joe Public (and their dog). Why would you? Surely lots of the visitors are just being nosey?
Well yes, and I don’t really mind. I’m pretty nosey too. I once hurt myself falling off a very high curb because I was busy looking into someones well-lit front room. It was a large house, rather grand, most tasteful; and then the pavement vanished.
But I digress. The benefits of taking part in an artists’ Open House are plentiful: and not just the obvious one of being a great opportunity to sell your own work.
For one, the house actually gets cleaned. Or rather, the whole house is getting cleaned this time as we have friends staying too, otherwise the big front bedroom becomes the dumping ground for everything. Oh yes, and my studio, up in the loft, accessed by a ladder that deters most people – that, well, that tends to look as though someone picked it up, shook it upside down, and then plonked it back down. Like a shaken snow globe left laying on its side. My studio is most definitely Not Open.
Secondly, ‘Things’ and ‘Stuff’ get processed. Things and stuff frequently make their way into our house, and consequently our front room is not our living room. It is the bike park, and the things coming in and going out room – the guitar amps (heavy); the spare pair of doors for Nobby the van (heavy) which are destined to go on our bedroom wall, as Nobby doesn’t currently required new doors. Not just yet anyway. And then I shall probably hang mermaids off them. The Big Dolls and prints and baskets of mermaids – these come and go. Although tend not to spend too much time in our reception area, as it can get a bit grubby. Nobby’s engine parts have mostly been stored here over the last two years as he chewed his way through five engine rebuilds. Fingers crossed on this last one – it is the compensation engine block from a very good company, provided by the company we purchased the Very Bad engine through. That is a whole story on its own – but if you wish to know who NOT to have a VW engine built by, message me and I shall tell you. Now, where was I? ah yes, engines. Well, there are the five or so boat engines, the recumbent trike, the water jacket for our wood burner (we haven’t sorted the plumbing yet), and several other implausibly heavy lumps of metal and a couple of guitars in various stages of rebuild, and our spare door collection. If you know me at all, you will notice this list never really seems to change much. It seems both the Engineer and myself have a habit of not finishing one thing before starting another.
Third; Artists Open House are a fantastic deadline. I do a stock check on what I have made and look at the things that I still haven’t finished. I think about a possible theme for this Open House – which depends on who I might be sharing with. This Open House I am sharing with Helene Williams, and she is bringing her beautiful delicate watercolour paintings, which she has this time reworked through digital processing. She aims to capture the mysticism of Nature, and that just about fits perfectly with my fairy tale world.
Fourth: inspiration gets a kick up the you know where. This week I have cleared the decks of paid work. This is something I really cannot do very often, but its so dry that the gardens I care for really are best left alone – or at least, thats what I am telling myself; and so I have glorious stretches of studio time. Studio time with a deadline is a wonderful thing. Unfinished objects become finished. Things lurking in the studio corner see daylight. Vague ideas take form. Things are started, tangents are gone off at, discoveries made and ideas for future projects take shape.
And lastly, the visitors. You never know who is going to come through the door or what their response might be. They may tell a fantastic story, share the work of an artist I hadn’t heard of, or give us more stuff and things to use (this happens a lot) which they no longer want to keep, but cannot throw away. Conversations flow, stories grow: questions are asked and in coming up with the answers, I find myself developing the tales I’m telling. Its sort of like a workshop for myself – having to explain why I have nothing better to do…
And of course, if I am very lucky, the visitors like what I do well enough to want to take some home with them. And that is very very satisfying indeed.
Come and visit House No.10 on the Made in Whitstable: Arts, Craft & Vintage Trail this Oyster Festival weekend 21st and 22nd July, 2018. Open from 10.30am to 4pm.
The box of tubes of watercolour is a mixture of those purchased new by me, those left over from the paint box I inherited from Granny (Auntie Vera’s sister) who took up watercolour painting late in life, and some from Lidls my parents gave me for a recent Christmas.
They know when you have a plan. I don’t know how, but they know. And they enoying nothing more than awry-ing them. Slatibardfast knew a thing or two about that.
Almost as soon as I came up with the idea of writing, or at least adding a picture, to this blog every day for thirty days, it became increasingly difficult to do so. I was rather surprised this happened, even though I would have expected some retaliation from the Inconvenience Bureau for even having a plan, but seeing as I had been posting an image daily on Instagam daily for ages, and that does require more time and effort than you might think, it didn’t seem too drastic a measure, one that chaos would instantly see as a challenge. But no, instead of a longer post on the Blog – the Instagram activity ceased too. All creativity was sucked into the whirl of FTB: Far Too Busy.
Now I’m beginning to see the other side of the ftb bubble, and the Whitstable Biennale is well underway, with so much that is interesting, thoughtful, or challenging – some that is challenging to get your head around, but isn’t that the point? I’m enjoying very much a soundscape from the church tower which I can hear from home. Can’t get much lazier about engaging with art than that, can you? Most entertaining was Patric Cole’s Restaurant – the icing on the cake being that it was held at the Labour Club and watched with a nice pint of beer in hand, and then in belly. Anyway, all of this makes it sound like I have been enjoying myself and not working – which is not the case. The enjoying has been squeeeeeeeezed in, and then the working has had to take place at strange times. Enjoyment however is necessary.
The Whitstable Satellite has much to offer too – with last weekend’s Shamanic Mirrors performance being a highlight (and finishing at the Neptune – you are spotting my modus operandi now aren’t you?) and of course the Assembly Group show. I did manage to finish my piece and hang it, but have yet to see the whole exhibition, and am hoping to get to the private view tonight. However that pesky Profanity Embroidery Group has been eating up my time and more than its fair share of my attention, and we are hanging the LadyGardens tonight. It is going to look brilliant – do come and visit the blue and white beach hut on the Sea Wall to the harbour side of the Oyster Stores between 11am and 6pm this weekend, 9th and 10th June.
Oh yes, and somewhere over this weekend I am finishing a piece of work for the New Kent Art Gallery in Broadstairs for their illustration and print show, which hangs on Monday 11th June and opens on the 12th. So why am I messing around here? no idea, I’m off…
Time for a bad pun – actually did manage to get in the studio today. Rattled away on the sewing machine, and made some progress. Five leaves painted and preliminary layer of stitching.
Machine stitching is all fun and games. Focus, focus. Invite to pub. Resist. Run out of thread. Toddle to our brilliant Fabric Shop and buy more, stopping en route for various natters. Invite to pub. Resist. Start sewing again. Bobbin runs out. Refuel bobbin, start again. Invite to pub. Resist. Continue sewing, bobbins and threads and suchlike. Friends leave pub and invite to bbq in their garden.
Well, what would you do?
The clock is bonging away the hour. Eleven. How can it be eleven already. Even the Cat That Isn’t Ours has toddled off out into the sunshine…. oh no – speak of the Devil, here he is!
There is a theory I have read, and I quite forget in which book, that the balance of the world is actually dependent upon the amount of cats sleeping at any one time. You or I may think they are just sleeping; the ‘just’ is the important word here. Yes, sleeping, but doing important work.
He’s gone off to look out of the back bedroom window, to survey his kingdom. We went out last night whilst the Cat That Isn’t Ours sat in our front window, watching us go. I’m beginning to realise that the Cat That Isn’t Ours actually thinks this is his house, his bed, his windows to view from. I wonder what he thinks we are? “The People”, or whatever cats consider us to be (do they even consider us?) The People That Are Not Mine? Entertainment? Incidental?
The Cat That Isn’t Ours is asleep. Balance restored. And I am relieved to have had, for the first time in a week, time to contemplate what might or might not be going on in that furry brain. The Engineer and I are also discussing the contents of our fridge, which as he says ‘has become anomolous’. Before I go up into my studio today, I shall clear out the things that are green that shouldn’t be, and the things that used to be green but are not; and go and find us some proper food. Yesterday I only ate biscuits. Not good. Especially as the only reason the biscuits were there to be eaten was that they were not very nice ones in the first place. Biscuits in general have a very short lifespan around here.
All of which means that I am of course avoiding the inevitable of ‘getting on with it’, ie getting back in the studio. Random thoughts are go, but creativity not awake yet. Might go and mow the lawn.