I am a huge fan to rotation in life. I think this fascination with the concept began when I played school netball and we were taught to pivot. Instead of finding it restricting as some players did I found it liberating and all powerful. There is something about planting one foot firmly on the ground to anchor the rest of you that is powerful. The liberation is the ability to draw on that power with the rest of your body to move in any direction you wish. In these moments I understood the freedom and wisdom of being able to rotate. I have used the skill all my life and I would be lost without it. The premise of the rotating netball skill still applies as I do feel it vital to stay ground by planting one metaphoric foot in the earth as my anchor. For me that is my family as they are my anchor. They all contribute to that anchor in different ways and I hope that I help to support their anchors. Being grounded beyond my family relies on a symbiotic relationship with Mother Earth. Remaining in the lived moment affords a wonderful relationship with the changing seasons and the influences they each bring.
With my anchor in place I reflect on my rotational journeys. Life has a way of throwing curve balls at us just as we feel that everything in running to plan. In meeting the curve balls we need to rotate in anticipation of the impact these occurrences will have on us. Being able to rotate keeps us more flexible than if we do not develop this essential life tool. I like to think of the curved balls as the netballs that I can catch, place down my anchor and then spend some time deciding where to put that ball while maintaining some kind of control of the ball itself.
Control is an important part of my rotating strategy as I rarely hand control over to anyone else. Those that know me well know me to be fiercely independent with a deep desire to tread my own path through life. With control comes choices and as I reflect on the curve ball that has presented its own challenge I create time to think where to go next. As a Buddhist I think all these smaller skills are inherent in a faith that rests on the need to be a reflective soul. I am currently responding to a curve ball that I wish had not made its presence known but I cannot control these things and nor should I. How dull would life be if we knew everything in advance?
Living in the moment is sacred to me and I protect that fiercely in life. I see people every day that have not discovered that essence of happiness as they constantly strive for something more and attempt to live in their own future. We all know people like that and they can be quite influential if we are not careful. My rotational skills allow me to hold my own agenda tight just like the body protecting the caught ball in netball.
An ex-boss of mine once said to me that ‘it is as if you see the whole chess game from start to finish move by move.’ The irony of this observation is that I don’t play chess but his point is familiar to me. I do seem to have a natural ability to see happenings through to their natural conclusions and I have a real skill in being able to prioritise and lead projects. This has been very useful in every aspect of both my professional and personal lives but there is a potential contradiction. Surely to have these skills means that I am mapping into the future? I am, of that there is no doubt, but what my boss really meant is where the truth lies. I can map into the future but in doing so I can also consider all the variables or curve balls that might de-rail any project and have contingency plans; rotating skills. I have worked with a lot of people that can project manage very well but come unstuck when the wheels start coming off. In essence they lack rotational skills.
lovely early flowers
I live a much quieter life now but I draw on my rotational skills just as much as I ever did. I support my children into the adult world by staying one step ahead of them and advising them accordingly. In my writing work I keep my personal journey tight and well protected and nowhere is this less important than Scottish island mum. I keep that brand very tight and controlled and free from external influences.
In my creative world I study trends within an inch of their life as this helps me predict new trends and place my creativity and outcomes accordingly.
In rotating I feel the excitement of the challenge as well as the grounding of the anchor so when people ask me how I stay so positive despite a very deliberating illness this is the long answer!
It has been more than a little while since I wrote on my blog and I am not absolutely sure why. Time has a habit of trundling on and every so often something captivates my imagination and I lose all sense of duration. I apologize to all the loyal readers who are used to regular updates. This girl must do better.
The focus of my preoccupation has been my ongoing brush with the art world where I have substituted the paintbrush with my trust sewing machine and she has not let me down. She has withstood hours of work and acres of threads and still she delivers. My world would be a far less exciting place without her. Free motion embroidery remains my complete fascination but now I am trying to make every practice stitch count. I have managed the outline of one aspect of my first exhibition piece but I have spent the week back in stitch rehearsal mode while making some fabric jewellery pieces. Not everyone can afford to purchase art but if they like the large pieces they may like a small piece of my work in the form of a piece of jewellery or another accessory. Here lies the plan, at least.
I have been steadily increasing the variety of colours and hues of the threads available to me and I am enjoying the creativity that comes along with that. Colour is such a stimulating focus but when you begin to unpack individual colours into different shades and hues the magic starts to happen. A simple outline sketch in a black thread quickly comes alive as soon as you inject a bit of colour and then explore that colour to its maximum place.
This is my challenge going forward. I don’t just want people to look at my work and see high quality stitching I want them to consider and enjoy the wider aesthetics of the piece and colour plays a large role in this. My art work focuses on the need to reuse and not waste resources and old fabrics are a real passion. I think this began when I was given some vintage silk that my Grandmother once owned. She was a professional seamstress and I could almost feel her hands working on the cloth. Now I collect old fabrics and spend hours designing new work inspired by them. My large exhibition pieces are going to focus on the relationship between the natural world and human intervention. As a race we are not good at treading lightly and a throw away culture is the result. I am experimenting with sketches that deal with the consequences of our actions on the natural world in the hope that the pieces may provoke some debate. It is a bold strategy but then I need to challenge myself; it is in my DNA. I blame my late father.
So, I hope that you might forgive my longer than usual absence and as my work develops I hope to be more diligent when it comes to my writing. When I was a professional choreographer in an earlier life I used to see movement everywhere. I sometimes struggled to sleep as my mind was literally a living, breathing and movement piece. When I was working on a specific piece I soon realised that every time I sneezed, and momentarily shut my eyes, a single movement would flash before me and that often became the design motif for the whole work. Now it is stitching that appears before me in flashes of imaginative thought and I rush to my sketchbook to record it before I forget it. So, I know that I am instinctively tuned into my preoccupation and I am satisfied that it will deliver what it needs to – whatever that might be.
I have been involved with crafts for many years and more recently I have really focused on sewn goods. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to do machine embroidery but never seemed to find the time to learn it. This has all changed in the last few weeks as I finally came to grips with how to set up my machine to tackle this art form and then get the practice underway. In less than two weeks I have gone from a complete novice to being able to write words with the machine needle. I have, however, done many hours of sewing! Years of using a sewing machine have come in most useful.
What I love most love about this new skill is that it moves between art and craft effortlessly. I can use it to make my new range of ‘gifts in a bag’ for With Love from Arran for the coming season but it is also going to be employed in my art exhibition pieces. In August I will be exhibiting for the first time as part of the Open Studio event on the island in August and I have three pieces planned already. Using reclaimed textiles I have designed pieces that speak about the juxtaposition between the natural world and human impact. The first piece, Weeping Willow, is using vintage Liberty fabric with many pieces designed by the Collier-Campbell design studio. Sadly Susan Collier died in 2011 but her sister, Sarah Campbell, is still designing. It has put me in mind of designing my own fabric one day…..
The second piece is unnamed at the moment but includes seed heads drowning in rising tides and I am currently researching vintage tweed as a possible way forward. My third piece feels impossible at the moment as I would really like to work with silk but this fabric and machine sewing is a nightmare. By using fabric stabilizers I am hoping to be able to produce the two feathers in the piece entitled ‘the lightest touch’. The feathers are drifting to earth catching seed heads in their twisting shapes. I originally trained as a silk painter so I am hoping to feature those skills in this piece as well.
So, my sewing machine is incredibly busy and earning its keep. I am having to manage my craft and art work around my writing so there have been some very late nights. I am tracking my practice work with little sewn journals to accompany the art work and also thinking about associated craft work such as cushions and messenger bags to sit alongside the art pieces.
This is all possible as I am taking this season off on the smallholding. If I am honest I am not well enough at the moment to manage the physical work so I am leaving this work to Pete and the boys. We have modest development plans this year anyway as Pete is hand building a vintage kitchen and this is just the start of his list. My writing is mainly focused on a collective project which is in research and development phase for most of this year so everything slots in somewhere.
I am extending my online presence in sales with a new shop with Remade Britain by producing one off, unique pieces using reclaimed vintage and retro fabrics. I have the front of a cushion made ready to finish and I love the fact that it is unique. Over time I am hoping to open up a commission book so that I can make bespoke pieces for special occasions. I think reclaiming fabrics that mean something to people is a journey that I am going to enjoy.
All of this new work was part of the plans for the year that I put together in January. I always thought it was an ambitious year but so very exciting. 2015 is going to be busy.