Having no idea of what to expect from the island, I was very happy to discover a land of heat, olive trees, vultures, lush gorges and delicious local food. The sun bakes the growing herbs and the smell carries through the air.
The sun bakes the ground as well, meaning that rocks and thorny low-growing plants flourish. As do the goats. Is their a word for something which you can smell before you see or heat it? There should be.
Ah, even the evenings were warm, meaning that during the day even I could get in the sea.
We saw actual living fish swimming in the ocean. I realised I've probably not been snorkeling since I was in Australia, which must has been have been at least 6 years ago. I'd like to kid myself that I would go snorkeling in England if I lived anywhere near the sea, but I fear it is only warm enough here twice a year.
The routine of our days involved mini adventures, swimming and then eating in one of the many taverna's. Our favourite was a small family run place which looked out over the ocean.
We ate octopus, herb flavoured chips, tiny fried fishes, prawns in a sublime tomato sauce and, my favourite, dakos - crisp bread topped with olive oil, tomato puree, soft white cheese and herbs.
But that was weeks ago.
Since being home, I have been ill and it has been cold.
I'm not training aerial at the moment, so I'm intending to turn my focus more steadfastly towards art. My intentions have been somewhat thwarted by being sick, but soon! Soon.
In the meantime, I have been asked by some Oxford organisers to design a poster for a gig which will be happening in December.
The name of the night is 'The Jack of Diamonds Cabaret'. I have tried to image a Jack Diamond sort of character, drawn here before all the text and info is added...
It's good to have something to focus on other than feeling rough and sadly remembering being on holiday.
Whilst in the heated overflow of new love and obsession (see my previous post concerning artists books), I have found myself inundated with ideas. This is both exciting and exhausting. I do not yet have the skills or the time to physically make the books my brain is busily creating, but that doesn't stop me from doing a spot of research.
Whilst online, and then in the cosy stomach of the Bodleian library, I came across Shame Masks.
I've not been able to find much information yet, save that they seem to originate in Medieval Germany and consist of metal crafted, punitive masks.
As far as I can make out, the various characters of the masks represent different crimes. So the long tongued mask is to be worn by a gossip, as punishment for that activity.
I'd never thought of masks as a form of punishment before.
It is actually a powerful idea; instead of manifesting a character for theatre or ritual, or disguising ones identity, these masks expose identity. They illustrate the most shameful aspects of a person, removing any chance of anonymity.
As a person who loves to be no one in a crowd, a watcher in a cafe, or all alone outside, I find that idea vaguely horrifying. It leaves me wondering - what is my crime, and what mask would I wear to show it?
One of the best thing for me about the Arvon course was having my own little space in which to think and work.
With a hill to walk up...
And a vegetable patch to look out over.
I worked on new drawings, on combining text with my images in various ways and eating large dinners at an ancient looking wooden table.
Sadly, the course did not inspire or hold me in quite the way I had hope for...Partly due to my own needs and lack of experience. I left feeling sad and unseen. The best thing for me was meeting a woman who makes artists books. These tiny treasures are exquisite pieces of work, combining my favourite things; drawings, photographs, found text and objects, story and poetry. So, in the end I did leave inspired and with a new mission:
Today I went on a bookbinding course run by Lucie. She sells her beautiful handmade books out of the Albion Beatnik Bookshop on Walton street in Oxford. She showed me a simple version of Coptic binding, which leaves the spine and stitching exposed.
I used a photocopy of one of my drawings as the cover...
And some photocopies of old botanical drawings for some of the leaves inside.
Lucie showed us all of this in three hours, sat in the basement of the bookshop whilst feeding us tea and biscuits. Perfect.
I really appreciate handmade crafts in general, and am now massively excited about never having to buy a diary from a chain shop ever again. It occurs to me that I can also now bind my own short story or picture books...Gratifying that in only three hours I have acquired the basics for a skill I can play with and perfect for the rest of my life! Assuming of course that I can remember the intricacies of the stitched binding (Lucie gave us each a very clear instructions sheet, but I always learn better by mimicry).
Maybe I should start on follow up volume at once...Excuse me...
Playing about with my new training buddy, I created a new loop to play in. I love finding shapes which are new- to me, at least...
I'm holding the tension on with my toe in this shape. I think there could be some really nice sequences in this loop...
"...Helix knew Sun and Moon and how, when the world was new and everything was fresh with dew, the clattered and crashed together like tumbling rocks, fighting over which of them should rule the heavens, until, his head pounding, the Maker cried 'Enough!' and split Day from Night and finally got some sleep..."
I've begun illustrating a story which Andy wrote a while ago.
It's a project designed to prompt unusual imagery, as well as to let me go through the process of laying out a book.
Which will involve finding specialised software...does anyone have any ideas on that score?!
Here are some hipstermatic pics of the first drawings. More soon...