20 September 2014

Saturday Poem

give your daughters difficult names. 
give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. 
my name makes you want to tell me the truth. 
my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right.

― Warsan Shire

18 September 2014

'the task in hand'

"She felt panic. She had with some pain cleared this small space and time to think in and now thought seemed impossible. She remembered from what now seemed the astonishing free and spacious days of her education the phenomenon of the first day's work on a task. One had to peel one's mind from its run of preoccupations: coffee to buy, am I in love, the yellow dress needs cleaning, Tim is unhappy, what is wrong with Marcus, how shall I live my life? It took time before the task in hand seemed possible, and more still before it became imperative and obsessive. There had to be a time before thought, a woolgathering time when nothing happened, a time of yawning, of wandering eyes and feet, of reluctance to do what would finally become delightful and energetic."

A.S. Byatt, Still Life.

Imperfect Detachment by James Balmforth

17 September 2014


(n.) (v.phr.) "to repair with gold"

I like Kintsugi's simple lesson, that it's possible to start over.

16 September 2014

"Females carry the marks, language and nuances of their culture more than the male. Anything that is desired or despised is always placed on the female body."

--Wangechi Mutu

Alison Saar

It made me very happy when I first came across the work of Alison Saar! Her work juggles themes of personal and cultural identity often in the form of the female body, which she presents in various sizes, as imperfect but beautiful, buyont with story and solid in stance. 
I have an art crush!

Here is a little more about her background...

"The work of Alison Saar addresses humanity in the broadest sense. Through the use of archetypal images, Saar reaches out to audiences from backgrounds as culturally and ethnically diverse as her own. Her mother, well-known artist Betye Saar, has European, Native American, and African American ancestors; her father, Richard Saar, painter turned conservator, is of German and Scottish origin. Fragments of lore, myth and legend as well as the practices of the everyday, rooted in these cultural backgrounds, are woven into Saar's powerful images, where contemporary expression enshrines centuries of man's spiritual evolution." 

(Text from phylliskindgallery.com. Photos from lalouver.com. View her work here.)

The Disintegration Loops

"The Disintegration Loops is a series of four albums by American avant-garde composer William Basinski released in 2002 and 2003. All albums are recorded in the same form of a tape loop which slowly deteriorates as it passes by the tape head, creating all the more noises and cracks in the music as the theme progresses. The recording coincided with the 9/11 attacks and the album covers and accompanying videos feature a still skyline of New York City with smoke and dust rising from the World Trade Center site."

(Text from Wiki)

15 September 2014

Native Lines

Hand woven wall tapestries from nativelines.com The designs are informed by Native American traditional Navajo tapestries depicting the natural world.

Spirit Lines

(Words by Nicole Varvitsiotes Photograph by Craig Johnson for Kinfolk Magazine)

Drawing from Navajo legend, the native weavers of Spider Rock have been incorporating purposeful imperfections into their designs for years. Intended as a way to keep their minds unattached and open to progress, this humble practice can teach us a lot about our own creative processes. 

High above the sun-punished floor of Canyon de Chelly in a sandstone spire known as Spider Rock, Spider Woman once wove on a loom that Spider Man made for her out of sunshine, lightning and rain. While the details of this Navajo folklore have become elusive with time, native weaver Emily Malone—whose family has created distinct Spider Rock designs for generations—explains how her people learned to weave:

“It’s only in winter that we tell the story about twin boys who made a journey to their father, the sun,” Emily says. “On the way they met Spider Woman, and she invited them into her house. It was a small home, and the boys asked her how they could fit in. Suddenly, a big opening appeared for them to go through, and inside were all different kinds of weavings. She told them to let their mother come and she would teach her how to weave.”

Through studying Spider Woman’s craft, the Navajo people learned to make blankets that brought warmth during harsh winters and offered new opportunities for trade. As a tribute to her, many weavers deliberately left a hole in the center of their blankets—one that mirrored the hole in the center of a spider web, and possibly the hole through which the twins entered Spider Woman’s home.

But over time, buyers started to see these holes as design flaws: imperfections on products that were otherwise perfect. Closing them would have meant opening the weavers up to potentially adverse spiritual consequences, so as a compromise, some weavers began to include what are now called “spirit lines” into their work instead. A non-structural variation of imperfection, spirit lines are created by using a contrasting thread in the same color as the background to add intentional breaks in a weaving’s geometric borders. Where they’re placed, their length and how many rows they claim are all matters of the weaver’s personal taste; the only common thread is the significance drawn from their intent.

While spirit lines may still be perceived as purposeful mistakes to some, Emily describes them as beautiful. In her culture, they’re referred to as shih nih bi-teen, which translates to “my mind’s road.” Her family believes that spirit lines are intentionally placed pathways meant to release their minds from their handiwork, preventing their creativity from being trapped in the weaving forever. “Spirit lines are important to us,” she says. “They keep your mind open for your next project. Without them, you enclose your designs in one rug and won’t be able to think of the next one.”

Spirit lines are a means of releasing energy, a doorway to the future, a pathway that connects a weaver’s first rug to her last using creative momentum to propel her designs forward. Without that contrasting line, the weaver’s design may appear aesthetically perfect, but reaching perfection has its consequences: If it’s attained, there’s nowhere left to go, no work left to be done.

If a spirit line is a visual reminder to push creative boundaries, then it’s a symbol that can extend beyond the Navajo nation. It can live in paintings or pastries, songs or sculptures. How it takes shape is at the will of the artist, but to those who make art or food or photographs, incorporating tangible evidence of a beautifully imperfect journey offers the mind a road to betterment.

(Second image of a 1940's weaving from navajorug.com)

I Am Imperfect

“Wholehearted living is about engaging with our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

― Bren√© Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

13 September 2014

Saturday Poem

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

11 September 2014

“Suddenly I came out of my thoughts to notice everything around me again-the catkins on the willows, the lapping of the water, the leafy patterns of the shadows across the path. And then myself, walking with the alignment that only comes after miles, the loose diagonal rhythm of arms swinging in synchronization with legs in a body that felt long and stretched out, almost as sinuous as a snake…when you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.”

― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

10 September 2014

Lourdes Cabrera

Work by Lourdes Carbrera via artbookstore

Hello Again

 Goodness gracious me, I've been gone a long time, my holiday was bliss; time stood still, I made pots, spent time alone, got the wrong train back from the coast, visited inspiring places, went swimming everyday, forgot my passport in a hotel room, bought some fake gemstones from a dude who's sole job seemed to be to get tourists high (fun times) and now I'm heading back to London where I'll be getting back to Yoga teaching, taking part in a feminist art fair (details to follow...) and moving into a new shared art studio. I can't wait to begin! 

12 August 2014


I am taking a break for the rest of the summer so won't be posting for some time, but I will be back in with all manor of inspiring things i've found, heard and made come September.

In the mean time I leave you with some things that caught my attention this week... a poem, a picture and some beautiful music...


‘I don’t know what you’ve got in mind,’ said Pippi, ‘but I’m not the sort to lie around. I’m a thing-searcher, you see. And that means I never have a moment to spare.’
‘What did you say you were?’ asked Annika.
‘A thing-searcher.’
‘What’s that?’ asked Tommy.
‘Someone who goes searching for things, of course! What else would it be?’ said Pippi as she swept all the flour into a little pile. ‘The whole world is full of things, which means there’s a real need for someone to go searching for them. And that’s exactly what a thing-searcher does.’
‘What kind of things?’ asked Annika.
‘Oh, all kinds,’ said Pippi. ‘Gold nuggets and ostrich feathers and dead mice and tiny little nuts and bolts and things like that.’

--Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking. Recalled to mind thanks to things magazine.

9 August 2014

Saturday Poem

It's like living in a light bulb, with the leaves
Like filaments and the sky a shell of thin, transparent glass
Enclosing the late heaven of a summer day, a canopy
Of incandescent blue above the dappled sunlight golden on the grass.
From 'Sally's Hair' by John Koethe.

Photo found here.

8 August 2014

Still from Yves Klein's La Revolution Bleue,


Roger Hiorns explains his blue crystal wonder, Seizure, created in a condemned London flat.
One of the most beautiful pieces of art I've ever seen!

(Source: The Guardian)

6 August 2014

Adam Fuss

Works from My Ghost by Adam Fuss.
Daguerreotypes and unique photograms made from smoke and light.

Blue Mythologies: Reflections on a Colour

I highly recommend taking a look at this book by Carol Mavor.

Here's the back of the book blurb... 

"The sea, the sky, the veins of your hands, the earth when photographed from space—blue sometimes seems to overwhelm all the other shades of our world in its all-encompassing presence. 

The blues of Blue Mythologies include those present in the world’s religions, eggs, science, slavery, gender, sex, art, the literary past, and contemporary film. Carol Mavor’s engaging and elegiac readings in this beautifully illustrated book takes the reader from the blue of a newborn baby’s eyes to Giotto’s frescoes at Padua, and from the films of Derek Jarman and Krzysztof Ki√©slowski to the islands of Venice and Aran. In each example Mavor unpicks meaning both above and below the surface of culture. In an echo of Roland Barthes’ essays in Mythologies, blue is unleashed as our most familiar and most paradoxical color. At once historical, sociological, literary, and visual, Blue Mythologies gives us a fresh and contemplative look into the traditions, tales, and connotations of those somethings blue"

5 August 2014

"My body is made up of saltwater and wishes, and a thousand star fish that try to mimic the constellations."

-- Megan Madgwick 

1. via seulray
2.  Gil Prates - Rio de Janeiro, 1980 via horsesatelier
3. Star Map found via seulray 

4 August 2014

Fracoise Morellet

terrible blue infinities

"In the dark blue sky, a few yards away, the luminous half-moon looked suspiciously precise, as if it had been carefully separated from its missing half along a perforation. A nearby star, twinkling for all it was worth, resembled a flickering dot in a faulty neon sign. I reflected, not for the first time, upon the exaggerated reputation of the trite night sky, so empty of mysteries, so smug and small, in comparison with the terrible blue infinities of a blazing summer noon."

Steven Millhauser, Edwin Mullhouse.

2 August 2014

Saturday Poem


The biggest (native) moth in North America lives for
two weeks. I’ve seen one spend one of its mornings
against a brick wall, preternaturally alive, folding mass
into the same amount of mass, collating. Its wings,
as you might expect, have eyes. It has no digestive
system, as such, no mouth; it thrives on its own stuff, as
acorns do. Consider, if you will, and please, you have
to, that night, clouded. The moth uses the moon, so
some contend. Everything’s dateless, but everything’s
Virginia, that is, original. A Great Horned Owl
intercepts the Cecropia Moth. These are my terms, and
these are my names.

-- Chris Hunt Griggs

31 July 2014

The Gold Field

"L.A. 1990. Ross and I spent every Saturday afternoon visiting galleries, museums, thrift shops, and going on long, very long drives all around L.A., enjoying the "magic hour" when the light makes everything gold and magical in that city. It was the best and worst of times. Ross was dying right in front of my eyes. Leaving me. It was the first time in my life when I knew for sure where the money for rent was coming from. It was a time of desperation, yet of growth too.
1990, L.A. The Gold Field. How can I deal with the Gold Field? I don't quite know. But the Gold Field was there. Ross and I entered the Museum of Contemporary Art, and without knowing the work of Roni Horn we were blown away by the heroic, gentle and horizontal presence of this gift. There it was, in a white room, all by itself, it didn't need company, it didn't need anything. Sitting on the floor, ever so lightly. A new landscape, a possible horizon, a place of rest and absolute beauty. Waiting for the right viewer willing and needing to be moved to a place of the imagination. This piece is nothing more than a thin layer of gold. It is everything a good poem by Wallace Stevens is: precise, with no baggage, nothing extra. A poem that feels secure and dares to unravel itself, to become naked, to be enjoyed in a tactile manner, but beyond that, in an intellectual way too. Ross and I were lifted. That gesture was all we needed to rest, to think about the possibility of change. This showed the innate ability of an artist proposing to make this place a better place. How truly revolutionary.

This work was needed. This was an undiscovered ocean for us. It was impossible, yet it was real, we saw this landscape. Like no other landscape. We felt it. We traveled together to countless sunsets. But where did this object come from? Who produced this piece that risked itself by being so fragile, just laying on the floor, no base, no plexiglass box on top of it…. A place to dream, to regain energy, to dare. Ross and I always talked about this work, how much it affected us. After that any sunset became "The Gold Field." Roni had named something that had always been there. Now we saw it through her eyes, her imagination."

--  excerpt from "1990: L.A., "The Gold Field", by Felix Gonzalez-Torres from Earths Grow Thick, Wexner Center for the Arts Roni Horn exhibition catalogue, 1996

So moving! This is why art is so valuable and so neede. It can touch places and emotions we can't reach with words and can unite others in that understanding.  I think the same of movement (I'm a yoga teacher, I don't think i've ever mentioned that here!) and music.

1. Roni Horn, Gold Field, 1982
2. Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Roni Horn, April 2005