It comes in Waves, and each wave is a new teacher. Is this Grief? In any case, these are deeply teachable moments for me.

For weeks now I’ve experienced a considerable amount of pain in my left shoulder, especially intense as I lie down to sleep. Tendonosis, I’m told, by the physiotherapist. My tendons have distorted themselves after too much data entry work last year (on this new website) – a six month process back to full motion. At the moment it’s difficult to sleep for more than 2 hours at a go, an insomnia that tinges my waking hours with a sense of surreality. I’m aware that not all is as it seems, which includes (among other things) the gathering of people who protest in Ottawa – more going on there than is apparent to the eye, and not all of it terrible, though some images I’m seeing are indeed disturbing. As with my shoulder pain – feels more like deep healing than crisis, however disruptive.

Studio practice is a balm and a joy. From curious articulate people like Tim McLaughlin (MAIWA, Vancouver) I learn the scientific and historic significance of bugs, trees and plants, then with a makeshift studio lab I heat, grind, mull, scrape and coax a rainbow of inks into little bottles and jars. It’s as though there’s a garden in my studio, full of sunlight, wind and loam, that is also an apotheca of paints.

I have another teacher in the UK, one Flora Arbuthnot, who knows all there is to know about this new earthy chemical language of colour from nature: scours, mordants, tannins, cellulose, protein, Calx, acids… all work together as does sunlight, soil and rain, a complexity of wonders. I’m delighted to be back at school, discovering and building a new series of pieces from this rich soil of old knowledge, for the spring.

The teaching waves of Fran come in between and during; a thought here, a memory, photos and stories sent via email, messenger, text, mail. A poem discovered, a clipping tucked into a book. Margin notes, little wonderings. I loved that about her mind, the quest and the travel, the curiosity. The delight she found in ridiculousness, when all the heavy falls away. 

I have many many letters to write in response to the rich, thoughtful support that has been coming through since Mom died. Please know that I am warmed and comforted by your letters and memories, and deeply grateful for your care and thoughtfulness. I will answer every one, with warmth. 

Donations in love and memory of Fran McArthur: Fran walked four to ten kilometres a day through the fields and hills of North Sydenham and the Bruce Trail. On these walks her heart sang with joy. She was instrumental in establishing Hibou Park between Owen Sound and Leith, and did a great deal of work throughout her life to protect land and natural habitat from development. My sister and I have set up a donation fund with Bruce Trail Conservation, who will use your funds to purchase property in the Sydenham section of the trail in her name.

Here’s the link: please specify ‘In Memory of Fran McArthur’:

  Gift in Memory | Bruce Trail Conservancy – Bruce Trail Conservancy  If you wish to mail in your donation, please specify it is In memory of Fran McArthur.

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