Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm? Observations, actions and connection points through art.

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In Christmas

It’s the 18th of December, one week before Christmas day.  I’ve rehearsed and planned and delivered and engaged, I’ve painted and written and talked and sang and posted, I’ve cooked and sorted and laundered and cared-for and now all of a sudden on the eve of my first day off in what feels like centuries I’m hearing the call that maybe only dogs can hear, that no other human around me seems to acknowledge but nevertheless has got my full attention in this moment…

…. stop.

Not sure why this image. Something to do with Christmas I think.

This feels correct to the moment just previous to the moment I turned off my Christmas engines.

Basil Johnson once said to me, “Simple, and good – that’s all you need.”  We’d been talking about art, and what makes it resonate with human culture in the short, medium and long term.  As I remember, I’d been talkative and keen then – about socioeconomic indicators of health and growth, artists in the workplace and some utopian ideas around the political value of the arts as a generator of individual authenticity.  In 2004 I was Cultural Capitals Coordinator for my town of 22,000, doing my best to imagine and then somehow impossibly manifest a bridge between national and local, micrososm and macrocosm, embracing all issues visible and audible under the sun. I’d been given my rein, was impossibly curious, – a single artist-mom on the eve of a lifelong marriage that would only last a decade. I was provocative, insistent and intense, flailing.

“What kind of painting do you do?”, he asked, in a pause I’d left open.

again, no articulate explanation for this choice

My answer was long and exhausting.  He listened and gave me two words in exchange.

I heard them enough through all that noise in my head to swallow them whole and keep them alive in my belly.  They sing to me now.


I love these ladies with all my heart. This was a gig we played at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery six days ago.

I love these ladies with all my heart. This was a gig we played at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery six days ago.

The planet, the politics, the migrations of people and animals; conviction, passion, intensity, art and music; friendship, hurt, joy and the passage of time….  our response can be simple.  And good.

It’s a choice, to live and work that way.



I choose therefore to fill my tomorrow with simple rituals.  Instead of a phone, a computer, a list of errands, I will make a breakfast, a burning, a giving-away, a silence.  I will listen to what lies under all the Christmas noise.

This is good.  Thanks, Basil.  I can feel you smiling.


When the thunder rolls…

It’s easy to forget that lists are just the paper they’re written on.

Sometimes they need to be gathered in a big pile, taken to a place far away from schedule, and burned.


What a relief.

It’s a feeling akin to sorting through boxes and boxes of things you’ve been storing in case you need them, sorting and finding out who you were then, sorting and wondering why you kept that, sorting, re-filing and righteously enduring it all, sorting more and filing more and getting frustrated then finally giving up and just pitching the whole world of old stored things, newly filed or not.

In the lightness of being that follows is a freedom that’s easy to forget the taste of.


Cheryl Strayed (who is “Dear Sugar” on the website Rumpus) writes this and many other soul-jewels in answer to a 22-year-old’s request for advice that Cheryl would give to her younger self,

Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.

and also this,

Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

I love Cheryl Strayed as much as I love Annie Dillard.  If you want to follow a good path into the former, go here.

My current favourite Annie Dillard quote is, ironically, about schedule – you can find it on the “Grist for the Mill” page on this site, in among other chewables…


Things repeat, like this wave.  It’s a beautiful repetition, water answering and caressing the shape of the rocks beneath, over and over again.  I watched and listened to this for hours.  Next time I come the water and a strong wind will have shifted the rocks, and this wave will be gone.  But of course there will be another just like it somewhere.

I’m back in the studio now, eschewing lists in favour of hunting love and surprise with my Curious, which is the only way to get anywhere at all, really.  It’s a great deal easier, now, to say to my various rages, “Go lie down & sleep while I work.  Stay.”

So many lights came back on while I lay there like a walrus that I get exactly where I’m going, which is right here and nowhere else.


On the second morning I woke to thunder.  It rumbled into my chest like laughter and stirred up all the trees in anticipation of storm.  The kingfishers whipped past, the seagulls coughed and cried CHANGE COMING and rose high into the clouds, surfing crazy wind. Black and bruised clouds sat heavy and crashing on the southwest horizon, and in the twenty minutes it took for them to hit the Bothy, I had tucked myself, peaceful and still sun-warm, inside.