I haven’t been updating my blog as often as I probably should be, but then… I have never been great at maintaining regular communications.
(NB: if you want to skip the rambling, scroll down until you see an image and pick up from there)
I have a few friends (well, two, really) who are not on social media (this now includes me, at least in the sense that I stopped using Facebook last September). One of them, M, writes me these long, sweeping, long-form “letters” that are worthy of having been written on paper rather than sent via email.
I received my last letter from M in the autumn, and I was in the middle of writing a response when I was hit with a massive wave of vertigo. I never finished writing my response, and he hasn’t written again. I want to write a reply, but my replies always involve an apology for not writing sooner, and I think I am beginning to develop a bit of a guilt complex about how awful I am at keeping in touch with people, which in turn, keeps me trapped in what seems to be a self-perpetuating situation where I never end up responding and feeling bad as a result.
We (my husband, Bryon, and I) have a habit of watching period drama soap opera shows like, Outlander and Poldark. We almost always make fun of ourselves the entire time we are watching them because we are a bit embarrassed by our viewing choices (Outlander = 50 Shades of Tartan, etc). I spent the entire time we watched Poldark saying that the story was awful, but the costumes and the cinematography are great, whilst, meanwhile, I pondered the plot and brought it up in conversations.
One of the things that stood out to me while we were watching Poldark, and which I brought up several times with Bryon, was the amount of letter writing that people undertook. The number of scenes where people are seen writing letters makes me wonder how much time people set aside each day for correspondence.
All of these letter writing scenes mean that I often wonder if I would have been better at keeping in touch with people in pre-internet days? I think, if it had been post-telephone, I would have just used the phone, charges be damned, but if it were pre-telephone, I might have written more, or I like to think that I would have.
Wow… Talk about a long-winded, and entirely unneeded apology for not updating as often as I feel I ought. After all, I doubt anyone actually reads this, and my lack of communication isn’t even why I decided to post an update.
The reason I popped into my blog to write an update was to post the short film I made for my Contemporary Artistic Research class, and the weird little vidlets I have been making the last few days.
Firstly, here is the short film that I made for my presentation (My YouTube disclaimer workaround: if you click on the images, it will bring you to the videos):
…and here are the other little videlets that I have been making over the last few days (it might look like just another ego project, and maybe it is? but mostly, I think it’s just me working with what I have access to, which is mainly… me):
In order of creation date:
Saturday, 13 February 2021 ~ I had a rather terrifying experience at my vaccination appointment today…
I intended to write more. I meant to talk about what I am working on, what I am researching (memory, death, funerary rites, etc) but side effects of this vaccine is really hitting me hard. I feel like I was in a train wreck. That, and I am really hungry, which probably means my blood sugar is plummeting, hence my inability to focus for long at the moment.
On the plus side, I think I’ve at least gotten this post to a point where I can hit the ‘publish’ button and not feel completely mortified by its content.
…and on that note…
My world is 667 square feet big. I have a window in the front that looks out upon a shuttered pub and another window in the back that looks out upon a carpark, some houses, and in the very tippy toppy distance: the sea.
I have been outside 6 times in 271 days. Wait… let me write it out longhand for emphasis:
As with many other things in my life, my artistic practice has changed significantly as a result of the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic. My world–which has never a paragon of tranquillity (lest I give the accidental impression that it ever was)–has become a cacophony of cooking and laundry, of online grocery orders and of doing everything within my ken to keep my ever-present anxiety at a level that still allows me to function, at least a little.
“Even before the pandemic, it was estimated women were doing about three quarters of the 16 billion hours of unpaid work that are done each day around the world (Lungumbu & Butterly, 2020).” In late November of this year, the UN published the results of 38 surveys conducted across the globe. According to the results, that number has “at least doubled (ibid).”
So, like women all over the world, Covid-19 has impacted my life in a very domestic way. Although somewhat bewildering a position to find myself in–particularly when it comes to issues of gender equality–my ability to take up the reins of domesticity has served as an unwished for, but much needed, safety blanket (Kim, 2020).
In addition to domestic tasks, I use my ears to escape onto spaceships where I travel to Mars and exoplanets that are still only named scientific gibberish today, and to periods of human history when the last pandemic was the black plague (Alcott, 1886)–that being said, I did read, Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis (Willis, 2008) in September, so consequently I have also escaped TO the Black Plague, so perhaps that is not a very good example. Semantics aside, my only escape from this pandemic prison (safe haven?) is audiobooks.
Though not overtly present visually in my work, audiobooks have kept me company whilst I cook and do laundry, as I rearrange the furniture for the twelfth time, and especially, as I create artworks. In her book, My Year of Meats, Ruth Ozeki’s main character states:
“I bought a People magazine at the airport and read it very carefully on the plane, cover to cover, every word of it; I cannot recall a single story I read during the five-hour flight, but I cannot remember having a single thought of my own, either, and that was the point (Ozeki, 2006).”
I used to think that was why I read–to protect myself from my own thoughts–but recently I have discovered that the themes and stories I listen to very often seep into my work in strange and unexpected ways. I have come to realise that, through reading, I am searching both the fictional past and the dystopic future for a way to make sense of the present (Goodreads, 2020). At the same time, I am also seeking out the truth in the stories of the women in my family, of the epigenetically inherited emotional trauma I was born with (Daskalakis, et al., 2018) and how my own early childhood trauma has forever transformed my life (Curry, 2019).
In my summative statement for Artistic Research: Themes and Methods, I wrote that “my usual modus operandi is to scream desperate messages of need and longing beneath a guise of humour (Adamson, 2020).” Although these quilted woodgrain pieces are more of a whisper–a quiet plea to be understood, perhaps–they are filled with longing and desperation, nonetheless.
I have been using textiles to explore my own fragility, to investigate my anger and pain and confusion… to traverse my struggles and make public the naked, vulnerable truth of my existence, whatever that might be.
I want to find the beauty in the mundane, to find worth in what I do… in who I am.
The last 271 days have found me hiding from the world beneath a repurposed duvet that has become covered in the poorly quilted landscape of my psyche; ridges and furrows and torn threads lay waste to a field of broken sewing machine needles.
As I pace around my 667 square feet, I want people to know that I am here… I want to scream out of my window to the people walking by on their way to the discount grocery store across the road that this pile of laundry and discarded sourdough starter do not encapsulate my identity.
But instead, like my foremothers, I will quietly sew (on Mars).
Adamson, J. L., 2020. Artistic Research -Themes and Methods. Musselburgh: Edinburgh College of Art / University of Edinburgh. Unpublished Essay.
Alcott, L. M., 1886/2011. Jo’s Boys. eAudiobook ed. Baltimore: Narrated by Barbara Caruso. Recorded Books by Blackstone Audio.
BBC, 2020. Coronavirus pandemic: Women are now doing even more unpaid work. [Online]
Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08zq921
[Accessed 26 Nov 2020].
Curry, A., 2019. Parents’ emotional trauma may change their children’s biology. Studies in mice show how.. [Online]
Available at: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/parents-emotional-trauma-may-change-their-children-s-biology-studies-mice-show-how
[Accessed 13 10 2020 ].
Daskalakis, N. P. et al., 2018. Recent Genetics and Epigenetics Approaches to PTSD. Current psychiatry reports, 20(5), pp. 1-12.
Goodreads, 2020. Jillian’s Bookshelves: Read. [Online]
Available at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/7774015-jillian?shelf=read
[Accessed 10 Dec 2020].
Kim, J. M., 2020. Understanding the Therapeutic Appeal of Domestic Hobbies: Why have cooking, gardening, etc. become the go-to pandemic coping mechanisms?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/culture-shrink/202008/understanding-the-therapeutic-appeal-domestic-hobbies
[Accessed 27 Nov 2020].
Lungumbu, S. & Butterly, A., 2020. Coronavirus and gender: More chores for women set back gains in equality. [Online]
Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-55016842
[Accessed 26 Nov 2020].
Ozeki, R. & Fields, A., 2006. My Year of Meats. eAudiobook ed. Ashland: Blackstone Audio.
Willis, C. & Sterlin, J., 2008. Doomsday Book. eAudiobook ed. Landover: Recorded Books.
“Greta has a simple philosophy of life—You Believe What You Do.
Make a list of what you believe in. The top ten most important things to you. Like . . . justice, equality, diversity, sustainability, whatever your politics or religion or morality. Sit down and bullet-point it out. This is what I believe in.
But Greta thinks—bullshit. Make another list. A list of what you did today. It doesn’t matter what day it is, weekday, weekend, holiday, birthday, the calendar date is irrelevant. Write down all the things that occupied your time on a given day. Woke up, ate breakfast, hit the gym, went to work, surfed the Internet, had a coffee with a colleague, did some work, ate some lunch, did some more work, slipped out to buy new sneakers, clicked around on social media sites, went home, called a parent, watched TV, ate dinner, changed outfits, met someone for a drink, made out with them on a street corner, caught a taxi home, read a book, went to sleep.
That’s what you believe in. According to Greta, your belief system is how you actually spend your time every day. She doesn’t mean that to be judgemental. She wants people to be more self-aware. Fundamentally, she believes in action. If you believe in a bunch of stuff but never act on those beliefs, they don’t matter. She wants people to better know themselves so they can better be themselves.”
-Elan Mastai, excerpt from “All Our Wrong Todays”
This is easily the tenth or eleventh iteration of my studio space. As I cannot really leave, I have been trying to work in a ‘Green Space’ aspect into my world… I even bought a crazy, light of a billion suns lamp for my plants the other day and categorised it as an ‘art supply.’
My new sewing machine has arrived, but I am struggling to finish the written elements of my work, so haven’t had much opportunity to make anything.
To say that I am feeling a bit discombobulated would be accurate. I have found myself floundering and losing track of the days, and cannot seem to keep up with things.
The sewing and computer corners
Close up of my garden
The fabric stash
Well, can it?
I’ll write more on this later… maybe.
Or maybe I’ll forget.
I will probably forget.
There are things you can’t do when you are dealing with a bout of vertigo, and then there are things you can do when any movement of your head sends the world spinning (or rather you spinning whilst the world stands still)…
It turns out that when I can’t move, but want to research the history of quilt-making, I turn to YouTube.
Unfortunately for reasons I will explain below, one of the documentaries I watched was, “Quilt Fever,” a 2020 SXSW Documentary Short directed by Olivia Loomis Merrion.
Quilt Fever is, essentially, a mildly engaging short travelogue about a world-famous quilting competition in Paducah, Kentucky that has long been regarded as the “The Academy Awards of quilting” to the quilting enthusiasts of the world.
This SXSW write-up about the short states that quilting is an, “underappreciated artform that requires creativity, skill, and dedication, yet is marked by a lack of pretension.”
Whilst I do agree with the first part about quilting being an underappreciated artform, etcetera, I do find that I disagree with the last bit about the lack of pretension. One of the things that always kept me from being able to get into sewing or handicrafts in general, was the amount of pretentiousness the women (because in rural America, you will be hard-pressed to find a man who sews) in my life who did things like quilting had for those who did not.
As such, quilting has long been something that I poo-pooed for the very reason that I found the people who did it not only filled with an overblown opinion of their hobbies, but severely lacking in taste as well. My childhood notions of quilting were cranky old women who hated children sewing blankets in shades of forest green and *shudder* peach (easily the WORST of the pastels, IMHO).
So, to think now that I am actually embarking upon at least a year of hardcore research into a medium for which I hold such an ingrained scorn is, to say the least, very surprising, but also strangely exciting (?).
This foray into quilting is going to push my preconceived notions I have for a ‘craft’ that I have long considered uncreative and twee at best.
It should be interesting…
I have been trying to come up with a way to make my workspace (which is also our lounge) a more I’m-not-the-only-person-living-here-friendly place.
At the moment, if I want to work on the computer, I need to dismantle my entire creative workspace, and vice versa. I need to come up with something practical before
Ideas that I have been looking at:
Materials ordered so far:
Other things I need to do to get going:
Supply ordering aside, I have been doing a lot of research into process (Procion Dyes and Quilting, mainly). I have done some cursory research into the history of quilting, craftivism and textiles as a form of communication, but not as much as I would like to have done yet due to trying to sort out the practical side of things.
This is a test of the Emergency Blogging System. This student is conducting a test of the universities’ WordPress Blogging System. This is only a test.
If this had been an actual blog post, you would have been instructed to tune to one of the broadcast stations in your area.
…it is also the sound of the first Wednesday of every month of my existence until I moved to the UK in 2012 (click on the gif).