Keirartworks's Blog

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Unplugged yet more connected

Story Cake first instalment is coming – never fear.  It has been delayed by some time-sensitive physical and academic tasks, which have taken precedence over all else:
I’ve been packing up the old and building the new.

To the point where I’ve got twenty days left here:


during which I find places for all this house-ness,

and incrementally move my work here:


Where I can collaborate with the lake, the trees, the critters, the rocks, and the folk who come to drink it all in.  There’s often wifi connection from across the water; I have some solar panels and a battery.  I have paint, paper, books and simple recording equipment.
What a great big enormous blessing.

It’s been a life-long dream, this.  Ever since I first read about Emily Carr and her cabin.

Postscript:  For the next three weeks some paintings from #Selfie and Five paintings at the River are available for a reduced price, fully instalment-negotiable.  Tomorrow I will post a list with sizes and suggested prices, and my contact information.


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A multitude of tasks and their stressor partners slow-dance around my house like dust motes in the sunlight; I am happily, if overwhelmingly engaged in the actions of living.


Every so often pressures collide with sensibilities and swirl the dust mote dancing into a frenzy. Through and over all of this a thin cicada song of anxiety – I’ve mostly learned to ignore this, like the writer who works beside a busy train track.  Some days are better than others.


I am doing my utter best to lay solid groundwork that will take me/us somewhere new, satisfying and truly relevant in these times.  To connect need to need in a way that can reveal surprising, intersected solutions.

To make functional use of art and music, in valuable and valued service.


Need to need, like bee to flower. Then honey, more flowers, a resplendent spring.

I seek nothing less than an active, challenging, collaborative peace.



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The white chair

The test for old chairs is in the sitting, and this one more than passes, happily. It’s an online auction chair, old and formal-ish in the picture that prompted me, upholstered outrageously  – in cream and white.  It looked comfortable in the photo, but this could have been wishful thinking.


Old White and formal-ish comes with a history I can only invent. I find myself doing so in collaboration – my back against hers, my body held softly but with just enough firmness, my lap at just the right height with feet on footstool.

It becomes the chair I write from in the mornings.  The chair claimed first by my visiting daughter.  The chair that lends lightness to the room, drinks in sunlight.

This chair beckons, but does not compel.


Old white was intended for the cabin, where comfortable things are welcome, though curiously it seems to want to stay here, in town.  I sit in its welcome, listeningly, and feel happiness.

Outside the window is springtime.  Conversational starlings and squirrels (both black and red), a carpet of scilla on the tiny back yard, humming with bees.

Yes, that’s what it is.  A simple, welcome, peaceful happiness.



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So much anxiety.


Even here, in this small town Shire-like piece of Ontario, we dutifully find our regular dose of Fox news or its equivalent so we can chew on our worry in a bizarrely informed way.


If not Fox or Sinclair and the suspicious smell of fascism, or the use of our tax dollars to bail out yet another oil pipeline through the wilderness project, then about Stan the heavy-bearded wanderer toasting muttered anarchy with Listerine; about the goose wandering alone for a month in the open field; the pencil thin young woman entering then leaving the methadone clinic to the profit of some private business person who would rather she stay addicted.


The young, ballcapped man, tight with sloppy rage, yanks an aging woman out of a broken down house, her shirt still open to a tan-coloured pushup bra.  Every window in the house is smashed.

Here in the shire, on my way to the store for cream.


We share our news in the bank lineup, the grocery store, the gas station like chatter over an undertow of unease… is any belief system, economic system, political system, educational system not showing signs of extreme erosion, even as others crumble?

It’s not just the climate that’s changing (…weather’s odd for this time of year, doesn’t feel right….).


Today a friend asked, “What do you know for certain?”.  About anything, she meant.  Gave me pause.

I said that I suspect I have a working theory about how things change, but certainly no certainly.

Whatever work I’ve been able to accomplish – internal and external – in these past few years has been a more or less messy mobius of intention, action, and reflection.  All three balanced and juggled like plates or knives, never still, never dropped.  But this is abstract.

Think.  Choose.  Do.  Think again.  Do differently, Think.  Choose again. et cetera.

My working theory is that, A) pivot points occur only in the doing. 

B) well-considered doing (not just ‘busy-ness’) is an effective antidote to worry.

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The hum beneath the noise

A sideways start to the day so my antennae have been awry.


I’ve been picking up on things I wasn’t expecting to see or consider, so experiencing the odd sensation of living out two narratives at once:  the planned, artistic inquiry into functional art and the role of repetitive action in studio work, and the unplanned trundle through jumbled pieces of family story interaction/reaction have overlapped themselves.


I’m experiencing a kind of synesthesia in which my mother’s story about her conversation about social media, conspiracy theory, the deep south, Alberta and guns is intermingling –  with an image of a cotton plant’s blossom and fibre spun into threads then woven together make fabric.


I can see long long bolt of wet, hand-scrunched white cotton, and a handful of skilled Indonesian workers adding three sets of strong dye.  I can see them, precise and efficient, building the wax print.  Then more dye, more scrunching, more dye again, add sunlight, sprinkle setting compound from a bucket.  Remove the wax resist, then wash. Package and send from Indonesia to Canada, where I then buy two yards each of several bolts to make functional art with.


Thinking about how our notions of guns as a necessary protection is printed into us, just as racism and misogyny is. How for those of white, European descent, colonial privilege is dyed into our very nature.  How a wax print resist can protect part of an these old ideas from being erased by bleach.  How after the shock of change the small part not erased still holds, but differently – transformed into a beautiful repeated pattern, altered by the new colours around it.


Two complexities inform each other in my sideways day, and that’s just fine.

The videos below describe how old and incredible this process is in Indonesia;  it’s time for me to get back into the studio.


Chickens in the background in this modern batik making video from Java. Note:  this is not traditional Javanese batik – for a video description of this with beautiful gamelan soundtrack go here

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The Great Rise Above

A strategy emerges…

Frustrated, once again, by an intolerable situation I find myself yearning, once again, to be in a position of greater power.  A very wise, intensely intelligent friend gently reminds me that there is already enormous power is in what I do, what I make, and the way I offer this to the world.  I’m grateful for the reminder. It’s all too easy to forget my own resources when I’m staring at closed doors.


She is right about it.  I do feel this power each time I gather the time, the focus and the funding to weave thought together with art and music, dig into the deeper meanings of experience to produce and present a show, a book, a well-turned blog or a song.  In those moments I live at the epicentre of my own authorship, which is the most powerful place anyone can speak from.

When I am there, especially when collaborating with others who work from a place of integrity, I can embrace diversity and rise above petty manipulations with ease. I can use my strength (and the humility that goes with it) to connect, include, direct attention to, propose solution for, mentor, encourage and inspire others to find this place for and in themselves.

This is real power- the kind that empowers others, who then empower more others, and others so that positive empowerment extends throughout the entire complex ecosystem of this planet. It includes, connects, relates, nourishes, and directly addresses disparity.


I can’t always be in that place. When I’m out gathering experience, sharpening insight, building resources and connections for production, I often bump into my own triggers, stumble upon long-smoldering fires that light up when poked. It is a place of questioning I go to, and many times those questions lead to more closed doors.  No matter how fiercely I glare, I cannot burn a hole in them; they will not open to let the healthy air through.

Behind most of these doors is the place where our five-thousand-year-old patriarchy still thrives in self-perpetuating, ever spiralling madness.



But things are changing.  Doors are becoming less opaque, so we can begin to discern the goings-on behind them.  No matter how benignly they’ve learned to present themselves, the active players appear in increasing contrast to the determined inclusivity of the marginalized voices we hear and join, in global women’s marches, Time’s Up, Black Lives Matter, March for our Lives, and so many more.  I’m relieved by this, even in the midst of my abhorrence of the willful damage that continues to be done.  It’s better to have names and faces to represent patriarchic culture than rail against the blank wall of systemic misogyny and racism.

It was in this context of frustration that I watched the footage and photographs, read the written responses to the March for our Lives movement two mornings ago.  As I did, I cried.  Tears of gratitude.


The Rise Above is important because it fosters clarity and wastes no energy on diversionary tactics.  I saw real rage, real grief transformed through integrity into the clear, directed action of millions upon millions of people – led by youth.  They will not stop, and nor will I.

There’s a reason that Tolkien’s work endures.  The ring of power melts in the very fires that forged it – our own European industrial revolution, run terribly, horribly amok.

Things are changing. We’ve all had far more than enough.


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After a year of howls, gifts.

Not sure I can articulate this, yet.


Harness has become a listening blanket.


Rage has become discernment,

patient, like a well-fed shark

constantly in motion.



Pain has become beauty,

complex, like music.

like sky and lake.


There is time.

I am grateful for this, since it will take some time to make a new story.


I can feel the new story coming

from across the lake.