DAD ARTISTS AT HOME
Like many people I have been on the Coronacoaster! Days when I can work and days of angsty fuzzy nothingness. When lockdown first happened I began a series of small obsessive ‘samplers’. I could work on them at home, in the odd quiet times around home schooling and domesticity. They helped keep me sane. Time became an odd fluid thing; unpredictable and fickle. I started cutting up Proust’s ‘In search of Lost time’ and ‘Time regained’ and stitching with the strips of text directly onto canvas, using the stretchers like embroidery rings. Countless cups of tea marked my days. I used the tea to paint with. I enjoyed the aggressive act of stabbing into canvas making slits for my stitches. Marking hours, days, minutes. Trying not to feel resentful. Trying to appreciate the positive. Up and down.
Later I adjusted; learned to bring my small family into my work. We were all acutely aware of each other. Our words rattled around the house creating a web of influence; good and bad. I cut up some of my father’s poetry and stitched them onto an old skirt I made years ago from fabric my mother sent me. I gave the work to my son to play with. Much of my creativity went into playdough chess sets, nonsense poem writing, cooking with basics, growing veg. I tried not to sift the words that came through the media; they felt duplicitous, fallible, as jumbled as my invented games.
Of all of it, the lasting positive has been discovering the beauty of what we have right here in this coastal landscape. Long walks up in the downs, through hop fields, across shingle and marsh. It was meant simply to break up the monotony. But I have felt the landscape getting into my bones. I now walk more slowly. I see white pages in the chalk cliffs, lines of text in the ploughed land and washed in lines of pebbles on the beach. I see stories woven into the rocks of our harbour wall and histories boxed up with the apple crates.
Detail from the harbour wall at Folkestone
One of the lucky ones, I got a grant and, strangely, paid work still trickles in. I continue to weave and embroider with words. And to battle with moods and time and balance. But for some reason I feel richer. I know my family better. And this place. And I know we all have reserves of strength to ride the months to come.
Hop lines ready for the crop. Up on the Downs
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