stare and stare at these paintings, make a choice to add paint, increase opacity, move a line, stare again and question and re-form my understanding of the work and my own approach to collaboration – what is changing? why and how the change? How can I follow – willingly submit to change myself, when I cannot see the future?
Always another voice that insists on clear answers, ‘What am I trying for here? Does this work resonate outside of my little world? What is my statement? If challenged, could I defend the value of this piece? I don’t know. I’m only sometimes clear with my thinking.
Discernment = Self respect. There is no other way to choose well than from a position of strength and humility, which is perhaps the greatest form of strength. Always the painting is stronger, more alive than I. Always it wants something I can barely imagine to happen. My response is to simplify. Simplify again.
I look up after pause moments (knitting a scarf with cables so I need to count: perl three, knit three, perl three, four rows, then knit one, perl three, knit three. It’s four feet long now…), and I notice that there is a pattern also in the drawings on each canvas. The bells are progressively getting louder, their mouths wider…
We shall see where change takes us. I go willingly.
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.
These days the greater part of my awareness is below the ground amid the roots of plants I’ve put there – encouraging them to reach down, to spread through the warm rich mix of compost, loam and peat moss I’ve made for them – drink drink, feed, grow.
Above ground the signs are good – everyone is standing up tall and strong, producing flowering buds (some for the first time in years) and spreading out as far as possible to catch the sun.
These plants are themselves the meeting point of earth and sun – where miracles occur. No matter how often I witness this burst of spring growth I’m still astonished by it.
What a will to live and be huge! What tenacity! – to come out from under three feet of snow and in two short weeks grow from dormancy to golden green and glorious and sweet sweet scent and bloom!
We exist in partnership, these plants and I. They cannot choose where they will grow, are entirely reliant upon my attention for this. Some feel aversion to others and demand to be moved elsewhere. Some need more space, some need more sun, others less, some more water, some want their roots exposed, other need them deeply covered – I can hear them telling me if I listen properly. Once they’re settled where they want to be though – the miracles happen – Ah! What joy.
I believe it is also this way with music education.
Here in this small small town that has witnessed so many big musical triumphs by it’s young musicians, we are in need of a soil change and some enlightened educational planning. There are very young players who have no access to decent instruments (soil), positive and consistent guidance into proper technique and a regular place to play together (sun). Very few schools offer string programs now, save for two exceptionally strong programs to the east. Strings are the heart of any orchestra – without them you can’t play the beautiful classics that so inspire kids to make the world a better place.
OSCVI is a highschool 150 + years old with a rich musical tradition that I am and so many others are a product of – this year the orchestra program at OSCVI was cancelled, for lack of string players. For me, and for so many others who were enriched by the music from OSCVI, this feels like a sucker punch.
This is not acceptable, to have no school orchestra in this town.
I don’t believe it – that kids don’t want to play stringed instruments anymore.
They are there – the kids who want to play. They are there, the parents who will support them. They’re just not getting any sunlight.
We need to change this. We really really do. Music allows kids to blossom in a way that academic achievement never will. In fact, learning to play an instrument well, and in concert with others can only support academic achievement – but this is a by-product.
The real benefit of playing music with your peers is that you learn step into your confidence, accept who you are, respect yourself and others, and learn how to love learning.