There’s nothing new. But there is a new urgency I can’t ignore or discount – to do so would be futile, and frankly, cowardly.
It appears that I’ve come to a place of no return with critical parts of my life that have always been up for negotiation.
Like the movement of tectonic plates, a deep and radical shifting of my priorities.
I find myself, with some regularity these days, shaking with rage. I feel also, and at the same time a profound sense of deep and steady calm, no less intense and alive than the anger. The word Ferocious comes to mind.
I have somehow expanded my capacity to contain Ferocity.
It feels quite safe in a dangerous sort of way. I’m mindful of a need for care.
While I read for my masters. While I make buffalo stew. While I use my chainsaw to cut firewood, practise new bow technique on my cello. While I write, sew, draw, listen to Joni Mitchell and RVW Symphony number 9 for work and pleasure.
While I think about wise, strong people who have been denied a voice of their own for far, far too long.
It’s difficult to put my finger on the ‘why now’ of this. I think that doesn’t matter. It’s the thundercloud that matters.
I will do the things I do for better reasons. I’ll learn to do other things, because they need to be done.
I don’t want to know how many hours I’ve spent online trying to write through and responding to ‘stick with the brand’ thinking, or the conversations that possibly should have been more focused on personal issues.
At the beginning of each day I tear myself from Guardian articles and online debates about the pros and cons of strategic voting and move on to more immediate and practical things, like building the integrity and health of my meagre artist’s income: details about rehearsals and performances, venues and instruments, music part distribution, class schedules and coaching in schools, cello practise and pedagogical research about teaching; the development of a new art course about Line, Light and Colour in time for folks to make Christmas gifts; the development and manifestation of new functional art for the November Studio Tour; at home, gathering up fall bounty and cooking/freezing soups, stews, stock for the winter, putting Summer into the back shed…
To not attend to these things would be to exhibit a total lack of self respect. But I’m aware that the current reward at the end of each day is permission to engage wholeheartedly in the process of this election, which grows more and more like a comic book each day.
The personal is political. In this 2015 National Election Canada struggles to reclaim, rebuild and then manifest our Self Respect, while the world watches.
I fully intended to use these days in my studio to work on the #Water project, but this election has changed my mind.
The Massie Hall #Water show has been postponed until April 2016, when the ice cracks and the streams flow again after our long long freeze.
Instead of a Massie Hall show in November, I’m opening my studio to show new work, inspired by the election, by Canada, the state of the world, and by Leonard Cohen. That will be on November 28, we’re thinking (several artists will be involved), and you’ll hear more details from me soon.
I’m alarmed that we have come to this, in Canada, in my beautiful riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. I want to be represented regionally by a states-woman, who can articulate my concern to Ottawa, about Truth and Reconciliation with First Nations people, about the toxic distortion of human governance that is Bill C-51, about climate change and the development of clean energy sources, about access to our own locally grown food, about poverty and dignity and full support for the arts in this country. Our Beloved CBC under threat via TPP. Our Beloved lakes, streams and waterways sold to China through FIPA.
I’m painting ships bells that call all hands on deck. They will be hung at The Bean Cellar in Owen Sound the week after my studio tour, on December 4. I’ll be posting them here in process until then.
I stood grinning on a hill in the spring wind without the protection of my long winter coat and smelled the turning of the planet towards the sun.
This Titanic winter season has run amok of the inevitable. As did the Titans when banished to the underworld and the unsinkable ship when torn by an iceberg, even the strongest behemoth must surrender, eventually, to change. I can feel the chill through my window, yes. But it can no longer reach my bones, which glow golden.
In requiem to the five white months that are now passing I need to acknowledge my grief too, because I will miss it. This winter has tumbled and shaped me like a river-rock, exposed me like a quartz that had been encased in calloused grey stone – in the safe invisible of frozen white. It was as though all internal weather was played outside these windows – serenity, calm, beauty so sharp it hurt, but also rage, fury, sorrow, wilfulness. I’m different. A lot different.
I’ve just agreed to make twenty pieces of art, write, record and rehearse twenty minutes of music and – what the hell – twenty+ pages of a hand-made, limited edition book that will explore the idea of exposure and vulnerability, or “The Public Intimate”. It’s a true child of the winter that’s passing, this show. I’ve become deeply intrigued by what we do as humans and artists when we look at ourselves and make portraits, then publish them. Selfies – Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Munsch, Cohen, Joni, Camus, Anne Michaels… If all art is in some way autobiographical, then in fact, making and publishing ‘selfies’ are the job of artists. We hear a song, read a book, see a great self-portrait, and we are moved to tears. They are soul food. But self-publishing is also the work of every human, right? Even the duck-faced self-portraits published on facebook that are so vulnerable, awkward and exposed are expression of our human need … to be visible? Still working this out, as you can see.
My answers, for whatever they’re worth, will be published in a gallery in 13 weeks. You can bet you’ll be hearing more about it.