Facts are off-limits

fiction is a stand-in for the truth.

Listen via youtube HERE

Life feels really sweet and sour at the moment. The exquisite balance of gratitude and a shit storm of WTF. I haven’t written in a long, haven’t even rambled into a notebook, or dumped my brain into a video. Sure I do yoga, fortnightly therapy, and get into the studio as much as I can, I sketch regularly, but often just feel like I’m talking to myself. I haven’t done any big talking gigs for a while. It?that is mostly about what I’m not saying. Quite often, when talking live and doing Q&A I’m horrendously honest, I have to be careful, if you ask me a direct question I’m probably likely, in that setting to say the unfiltered truth, sometimes that can be unsafe and unfair on those who share my narrative.

Recently I was asked to talk at a mental health open mic night happening soon, it does well in Shoreditch, hopefully, it will do well in Norwich too. I didn’t want to talk about or present any visual work, I feel incredibly unable to talk about my lived experience of mental health, parenting and abuse at the moment, so at first, I was eager to get other creatives involved but, what the hell would I say?

 

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A poster for Mental Health Open Mic event. UNFILTERED, Norwich, Gonzo’s tearoom. 20th Feb, 6.30 sign up, 7pm start. Tickets £3.

The name of the event is UNFILTERED. I’m wearing a thick wet woollen coat of frustration. I would cherish the time and ears to be truly unfiltered, in the not too distant future I will, it’s just not safe to do so right now. There are some juicy details that effectively convey the part of my experience of mental health, the bits that connect people to understanding, I just can’t say them out loud right now. To tell the whole truth, would be so fricking validating. However, right now I’m not going to. The almost full story is enough. So a story is what I will produce. I have been working on pockets of narratives and visual meaning in painting and drawing for a long time, so this is going to be an enjoyable process.

Recently while discussing this frustration with a friend we looked at the ideas of truth, story and fiction. It made me think of the realisation I had some 4 years ago that NO ONE person will ever truly understand what has happened or how I feel. It’s a mind-bending universal truth. I could sit and discuss in detail a chain of real-life events, but I will never be able to get even one person to truly understand my truth. I had a hard time coming to terms with that at the time. It pissed me right off. I’d worked so hard to find my voice to find out it was never going to be able to do what I naively thought it would. I had changed my perspective enough to understand my own behaviour and emotions, I was able to create artwork that I actually understood, that I wasn’t asking an audience to decode for me. All of that felt useless in terms of my practice, in terms of saying anything out loud because what was the point of saying it out loud if everyone would interpret those words differently? I had grown up with this idea that words or text where facts, hidden inside thick books and paragraphs I struggled to read.  Art and image was something to interpret and guess about, something deliberately vague. Visual image and language was something I could do, so my dyslexic “slow coach” thought it had less value. (Which is total horse poop) I was the ripe age of 31 when at a zine fair a teacher friend reassured me that even if I miss read the words in a poem, the meaning gained from it was valid. Fuck the author. Nothing is really real, cheers Barthe, the author IS dead.

The interesting thing is, I can no longer tell THAT struggle in the same way, I have grown and evolved so much that that in its self is fiction. As I retell any given moment of my own truth, it becomes fiction. I could tell you about one moment or time frame and each time tell it more sympathetically to one of the key characters, in my understanding of how they might see and feel the environment and serries of events. Each one of those would be true, but also very much fiction.

For selfish and valid reasons, while I take up a little bit of space during UNFILTERED I will tell a tale of total fiction with so much emotional truth that it quenches that thirst to be heard and dries out the woolly coat of frustration.

WHY PAINT THAT?

A forgotten post, late to the show.

There have been fannies in what I do for decades, I dropped them while I ventured deeper into academic art establishment but it’s one of those things like the little kid in 6th sense, “I see genitals, all – the – time”. The vulva is in no way the everything about my practice, I mean, yawn, but there is something about the openings, or the thing on the inside, the space between, eyes, sockets, vulva, flesh, tissue, teeth and lips. these are a few of my favourite things….

Recently I went to a networking event where I was pointed out to someone as “the angry vagina lady”  which is fine for now. I’m there to build relationships to advance my knowledge about local business and shinanigans to further my general understanding of community and relationships in order to feed that back into the communities I’m involved in, art, parenting, education, LGBTQ+, trama informed, mental health, private and NHS, feminist, and all the cross overs in-between.

So being known as the angry vagina lady is an in, to a conversation starter, introductions and opportunities, but I will not get stuck with it because there is more to life than our bits.

Some of my paintings practice has vulva, white, some with teeth. It’s a fucking mess, it’s a process, it’s where I’m at with it right now. I got scared by the thought of using my own body as a reference, so I went with it, to play with that vulnerability, what it lead me to was a wave of almost irrational anger towards cis white male artists using in majority cis white female bodies in their work. THAT’S NOT YOURS! Bore off is my general reaction to those practices. Go paint your own body, your own veiny thighs and the delicate hairy curve of your buttocks. I’d be far more interested if you conveyed your emotions or thinking about the world with a detailed painting of your own razor burnt scrotum.

I have been legit scared of using POC flesh in my paintings practice because it’s not mine,  because I vilifying the cis white bodies I create because in the details of the private narratives of these are hideous fucking narcissistic monsters and even in the victim/survivor its all cyclical loop, intertwined. POC flesh isn’t mine……..

3 years ago I was scared of drawing halos because they aren’t mine, so I leaned into that because the 6 year old me who had to say a prayer at school every afternoon part of me decided I should. I love finding icons with their faces scratched out in corners of medieval churches on the various faux pilgrimages my most spiritual friend and I take to a most hold pilgrimage village in Norfolk. the defaced paintings showing the anger towards someone less idea, we drive each other to do peculiar things, particularly in the name of our chosen gods.  I love icon paintings because they are traditional and unchanged, stories about spectacular humans painted by humans. It was around this time I read FEMEN, I didn’t agree with a lot of what they did but I learned about Oksana Shackko @oksanashachko trained from a very early age in iconography, made a living from it by 12, left it alone for a while during her activist days but went back to it with new meaning before her death at the age of 32 last year. That smarted a bit.

 

originally this post was about “it’s a bit religious isn’t it?”

It’s not as simple as just popping a halo on them and they tell stories of humans made saints.

I’ve had mixed feelings about organised religion but love of stories, love of people now finding and voices of women and stories of women and people left only as someone’s wife or anon, too poor of status and money.

I’m telling stories, mine mostly, if my work doesn’t make you feel YEAH or EEW, that’s uncomfortable then it’s not for you, jog on.

I moved away from installations and into painting four years ago, I feel like it a lot of catch up so things like flesh painting flesh, my own was scary, I started with way too much pink. I was scared of religion too. But it been a few years and I have to practice a few things.

Here I am, mid baby said painting period, heading back to detached fleshy parts inside organs and the line between the inside and outside the vulnerability and bravery. fear and rage, saints and sinners, monsters and heroes. parents and children.

since writing this post, and leaving it for dead, not posting it, I have painted a lot of flesh, not just mine, but just for me. Don’t @ me.

 

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Uncomfortable : watercolour shapes

I still have so much to learn with oil paint, I’m considering some YouTube tutorial afternoons. It’s a different game with watercolour, a material that does prodominently what I want when I want, the only thing that’s lacking it perhaps depth, on paper, characters and form are often held in the space if the page. Where as when I paint in board or canvas, I make the canvas or board just less visible. I actually kinda hate canvas, I don’t enjoy seeing it as part of the shape or surface of my work, I like there to be a lot of paint, which can sometimes prohibiting and I need to move around that.

2019 has been alarmingly positive, which is actually strangely uncomfortable. It just takes more practice than I have had to make positive choices and get positive results.

Which maybe why I spent many evenings painting the fleshy ring shapes and going over 3 abandoned drawings and adding colour.

Love it or hate it it’s here!

December.
There’s so many reasons this time of year is difficult. Check in your strong friends. Make plans with people and do activities that make you feel wholesome.
Make exit plans.
Drink water.

🖤

Got out of my Comfort Zone

Artists Ben Bell & Dan Bown created an exhibition in Studio 20, the private view was well attended as was the exhibition and happening the next day. They organised a group painting session, like musical chairs but less energetic. Of the painters in attendance 3 have exhibited with Imprudent Collective.

Lucid Nonsense

Long long ago I had a space in an open plan studio, I don’t think i made anything in there, it never felt comfortable. Turned out I have huge anxiety around making in front of other people, it’s almost as bad as being asked to read something aloud I’ve never read before. CRINGE. I see our city dotted with the talented open-air painters and I’m always blown away by how they do it, not the practicality of it, but taking up space and being seen?/Vulnerable? nope, not for me, I reckon I’d get s*at on by a massive gull or I’d pack up if random blokes (# not all men) tried to talk at me while I painted. 5 different types of nope.

I got well out of my comfort zone then found it again with teeth. It was great to be a guest, it wasn’t my exhibition soi didn’t have the organiser head-on- except definitely got restless and wanted to move on perhaps more quickly than anyone else. I’t was strange, to paint around and possibly over someone else’s marks, while we all sat around a table in the middle of an exhibition, listening to chilled out tunes and chatting about the power of getting out and seeing people for the maintenance of wellbeing.

10/10 would do again.

Get Trauma Responsive Norfolk

Here is something I’m so proud to be part of.

Thank you to everyone so far who has shared and filled in this form, Im going to extend the deadline past the 24th August and keep it open for longer because this information, your experiences and voice is important and it will be incredibly valuable to the delivery of this service if the bid is successful and what happens after that.

5 minute Questionaire

5 minute Questionaire

Just click this link to fill in the form. I have been told it’s easier if you access it on anything other than Apple products like iPhones and iPads.

5 minute Questionaire

here is the link one last time

❔Why though❔

There is a video in the questionaire explaining what this is for and I also read the questions too.

Let me know if you think I have a future in ASMR recording.

🖤

My Take on the Mental Health Conference July 2019

A beautiful round up of the day 💛

Living With Mental Health

My Take on the Mental Health Conference July 2019

Hello everyone, hope you are all well today. i thought i would share with you, my thoughts about the mental health conference that took place in July this year.

I took part this time. standing up and speaking about my own personal experiences of mental health. The other speakers are what i want to talk about today.

The first speaker was Vincent Harrison. his talk was original and entertaining and very informative. He ‘rapped’ about his struggles with life , his mental health and his past experiences of life. i have never seen a talk done this way, but you could relate to his story. i found him quite inspirational to be honest.

I was the next speaker, which was quite daunting, considering who i had to follow. but i stood up and just let it flow. my talk was done…

View original post 754 more words

BIT RELIGIOUS ISN’T IT…

if you’d prefer to listen youtube

CREATIVE UPDATE-painting progression

3 years ago I was scared of drawing halos because they aren’t mine, so I leaned into that because the 6-year-old me who had to say a prayer at school every afternoon part of me decided I should. I love finding icons with their faces scratched out in corners of medieval churches on the various mini expeditions my most spiritual friend and I take to the holiest pilgrimage village in Norfolk. the defaced paintings showing the anger towards someone else’s ideas, we drive each other to do peculiar things, particularly in the name of our chosen gods.  I love icon paintings because they are traditional and unchanged, stories about spectacular humans painted by humans. It was around this time I read FEMEN, I didn’t agree with some of what they did, the polarised thoughts around women covering their heads being oppressed(choice is key) but I learned about Oksana Shackko a Ukrainian artist; trained from a very early age in iconography, made a living from it by 12, left it alone for a while during her activist days but went back to it with new meaning before her death at the age of 31 last year. In fact a year ago on the 23 July, this week.   That smarted a bit. artnet news  

Recently there has been more ambiguity in the halo, it could indeed be a sun, with rays shining out of it, I’ve moved away from whole figures again and back to the pattern and shape making of body parts and the blurring of boundaries between physically internal and external.

 

When showing people these most recent images the response is often a coy mention of how they are so religious in appearance. I could get existential, talk about spirituality, energy, the big nothing and the end of the world. Humans are resilient and totally fragile, our lives are little blips in time. We want so much freedom as well as needing the comfort of containment. Mostly what I’m expressing is the human struggle,  the utter fear of existing and the joy of just being.  A whole bunch of feels is in here about the phrase ” babies having babies” usually a sad derogatory term for teenage pregnancy, honestly, though, no one is ever ready, it’s hard even if your life is quite easy, parenting is HARD, 100% not doing that whole baby thing again!

No one really knows what they are doing, and that’s ok.

 

A big collaboration

This morning me and 10 peices of work spanning from 2016-18 spent some time with the year 8s of Norwich High in the beautiful Norwich Cathedral.

I’m used to getting the responses from grown ups, from people accessing MH services, Mentalhealth professionals, other artists, and clinical psychologist 3rd years.

It was an honour and a please to listen to the reflection and analysis of each peice by these young people. Total winner’s 🖤

Loneliness & Social Isolation

This time next week (6th June) I’ll be speaking at a mentalhealth conference in Norwich.

One of my favourite parts of the day is listening to others stories and how they’re similar to my own. Survival and love stories 💛 there’s something about humans, a little electric ZING, we shine when we get to see one another 🌟

Tickets are FREE

Eventbrite

OPEN event info

Facebook Event Page