Harbours and Havens
December was a time of reflection and of looking forward to 2022. Becky Morse-Brown (Art Therapist) and I have been preparing an online ‘Creative Quiet Morning’ titled ‘Harbours and Havens’ for Spiritual Companions, Accompaniers and Directors in the Diocese of Derby. The morning, which will take place in late January, is inspired by the life and work of the artist Alfred Wallis and will include a visual introduction, time for practical art making and opportunities for sharing. Alfred Wallis went to sea as a young man, became a marine supplier and then, in his seventies, started painting ‘for company’. Wallis is now recognised as one of the most original British artists of the twentieth century. His harbour, lighthouse and voyaging themes will provide starting points for our own creative response and spiritual journeying on the day.
A journey by post to Myanmar
Some of the people who have ordered Do the Little Things boats have got in touch to share the stories behind their boat’s journey with me. With their permission, I am sharing a message that I received recently by someone who sent a boat to a friend in Myanmar.
“In 2006 a friend and I were invited to travel to Myanmar (Burma) to train people living around Lake Inle who had no provision for education or teachers because they had been displaced by the military junta. With the help of a young man called Tun Shwe we travelled around the villages in boats that are uncannily similar to your golden boats. For the next 10 years we retuned for a month at a time, working with students to develop their teaching and English language skills. Sadly, we haven’t been able to go to Myanmar for the past few years, due to the pandemic. We really wanted to send a boat to Tun Shwe, but parcels sent in the past have always ‘disappeared’. To our delight and amazement, your beautiful little boat arrived safely, and Tun Shwe has taken it to show our friends in Myanmar. This is so symbolic to us and is equally symbolic to our Burmese friends to know that it has come from England and know that they have not been
forgotten during this very difficult time. It’s truly a miracle boat - thank you!”
‘Do the Little Things’ enters its final phase
Starting in November 2020, ‘Do the Little Things’ has been running continuously for over a year. Around 350 boats have been made by me and sent by participants all over the globe, from Canada to Cairo, New York to New Zealand. Many people have found this to be a rich and meaningful form of connection with loved ones who they have missed seeing in person during the pandemic. This phase of the project will finish at the end of 2021. I will then chart all the journeys that the boats have made on a map of the world, drawing it by hand to show the starting point and destination of each boat. So, if you would still like to order a boat, please do so by ordering from our shop by the end of December and if you have sent boats already, do let me know the starting point and destination by contacting me here. Once the map has been completed, I will contact participants who will be invited to purchase a copy of the map from our shop.
Last month Ink, Sweat and Tears featured ’Shine’, a poem by Rosie Miles, written in dialogue with my painted collage of the same title ’Shine’ (The painted collage is featured below and Rosie’s poem ‘Shine’ can be seen on the Ink, Sweat and Tears website here).
Ink, Sweat and Tears is a UK based webzine which publishes and reviews poetry, prose, prose-poetry, word and image pieces and everything in between. Their tastes are eclectic and magpie-like and they aim to publish something new every day.
Rosie Miles is based in Birmingham, and widely published in poetry magazines. Her debut collection ‘CUTS’ (HappenStance, 2015) and her poem ‘You enter’ is etched into King’s Heath urban village square. She was selected for the first cohort of ACE/Nine Arches Press Dynamo Mentees in 2017.
I am continuing preparations for our Lever Arts Open Studio Weekend on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th November. (If you would like more details or would like to book a place please contact Lever Arts).
At the end of October Jake and I spent a lovely slow week in a cottage in a remote part of North Devon. I loved walking in the wild wet woodland, making colour studies and reading.
This quote on beauty is from Valerie Kaur’s book See No Stranger - a Memoir and Manifesto of revolutionary love’, a wonderful book that I read on the trip. It underscores the value of art making at this time of so much breathless suffering.
”When we see something beautiful we call it breathtaking, but we should really call it breathgiving”... Because when suffering constricts the heart, it stretches it back out, making us more compassionate, more loving, more present.’
Setting up a temporary studio in a cave-like thatched cottage, I have been continuing to experiment with painting over blue cyanotypes, a practice I started in the summer. I worked directly into these with wax crayons and layers of paint, scraping back to excavate imagery and experiment with mark making, transparency and colour. Whilst these images do not depict nature in a literal sense, they are rooted in my experience of it, honouring the mysterious harmony, unity and interconnectedness felt in the wild.