Last night I sat down to watch ‘Anselm Kiefer/ Imagining the Future’, part of the ‘Imagine’ series for the BBC. I knew a little about Kiefer’s work and have discussed him in brief with students over the past few years. However, the programme brought home to me the sheer ferocity of one man’s creative spirit. Painter, sculptor and installation artist, Kiefer has filled his world with paintings like churches, caves, caverns and tunnels deep beneath green French fields; life-size planes crashing into fields of dead sunflowers and swimming pools filled with mysterious floating continents.
A Kiefer painting for me is rather like a patch of land. He adds and adds to its surface, encrusting it with paint, dirt, sand, lead, scrap metal, ash, straw and clay; then he takes away, digging back into it as if he were uncovering the past and the traces left behind by time and experience.
Sometimes I feel my own creative energy inside myself – sometimes it feels like it won’t fit and it’s uncomfortable and I have to find ways to disperse it – it has to fit around my life, my life shapes it. As I was watching, my little boy H escaped from bed. He asked me what the programme was about. I told him it was about an artist just like him and he cuddled closer to watch. I told him the gentlemen we were watching was like him too in that he is unable to stop making. Every day H brings home from school bags of paper filled with drawings and sculptures, visual representations of the stories going off like fireworks in his head. I posed him the question that in 65 years’ time would he like Kiefer, still unable to stop? Would H’s creativity continue as a force to shape his life, would his life shape it or would it melt away like his childhood? The Kiefer film left me in awe, it left me quiet and thoughtful, but mostly it left me reassured. Our creativity, however it manifests itself, is a force just like gravity. When it moves inside me, it’s OK: there is nothing to fear.
I am now the proud owner of this beautiful painting by Mary Jane Orley. There are few objects that I’ve bought that have seemed such a thoroughly good idea and that have ended up giving me so much pleasure. The painting is called ‘Encounter’ and formed part of Mary Jane’s beautiful show at The Gate House Gallery in Guernsey last month. It is now hanging in my front room above a rarely used television and it shines out across the room and throughout the house, a beacon of the positive and beautiful, a shimmering blast of colour and energy; it quite simply uplifts me. It felt good buying it. I am often saddened when so many people sniff at actually putting their hand in their pocket and buying art. There is at times a mistrust towards what artists do and many feel that spending a few hundred pounds on a piece of art that will last a lifetime and beyond is a huge expenditure whilst feeling quite comfortable paying thousands for a television that will be obsolete in a few short years.
This summer our television goes away but the painting stays put. It will share my lifetime and no doubt many others. I can look into it and see anything I want – it takes me on a journey beneath the sea and through the clouds. I can actually go there. There are few television sets that can boast the same. This painting is a Mary Jane Orley energy injection and I am so very, very glad I get to enjoy it every day.
A badly developed pinhole negative. It may be grey and lacking real contrast but I love this. I love it almost as much as I loved watching it appear before my eyes in the darkroom. Making images with a small black box is actually making magic. I am a witch and the light is at my command.
I love the immediacy of this image from a series I took of my daughter on her birthday. Her beauty takes my breath away.
My husband and I were thrilled to be part of the incredible ‘Fact and Fable’ night for the Guernsey Literary Festival held at Castle Cornet on Friday 16th May. We performed a shadow play of Magnus’s new story ‘The Invasion of the Wavelets’ in the bottom of the Gunners’ Tower. It was damp, dark and echoing – the perfect place to tell this folktale set on Guernsey’s south-west coast. Drums beat, darkness surrounded us and magic slipped in for a minute. Now work starts on putting the book of the tale together as I pick up my paint brushes to illustrate it.
The Ghost of Me
Belle Vue no longer
It carries another name,
Houses another family.
I sit in my hire car
Watching the ghost of me,
Standing at my bedroom window,
Sunshine catches the house.
Shadow dad opens the garage doors,
Smiles in my direction.
Cut flowers in the front room window.
Bunches flowers Somewhere deep inside my history.
She would have closed all the curtains for a funeral.
I drive away
From the ghost of me
And shadow dad Starts to scythe the hedge.
I have been totally thrilled to be involved in the Guernsey Literary Festival’s Illustration project this month. I chose Marlene Morris’ haunting “The Ghost of Me” to illustrate from a selection of winning entries in the festival’s open poetry competition. I live in the house where I spent much of my teenage years, every day the ghost of me confronts me as I do the washing up, look out across our garden or read to my children. Our house grows, evolves, transforms and remains. I am very proud to show my work along side Year 10 students with whom I taught two Saturday morning workshops and artists Hugh Rose and Darren Cramner. The exhibition runs at the Gatehouse Gallery for the rest of the May – please pop by and take a look.
Hands, we all have them. We use them every day, they do all the hard work, pull, scrub, twist, push, touch, caress, and yet we take them for granted. They almost appear like automatic objects on the end of our arms. As I get older, I notice my own hands and those of loved ones more and more. I watch my hands age, I watch them hold my children, wield my paint brush, put the bins out, brush my daughter’s hair. They’re certainly not pretty but they are possibly the most me part of me. My children’s hands say so much about them too and their whole personalities are bond up in them for me. H’s hand are like my dad’s, short-fingered, with wide flat finger nails. He’ll carry his grand father in his hands every day of his life, every thing he does will be touched by generations gone by. H’s dirty, hard little hands carry a world gone by, a world right here, right now and a world yet to come.
Raw, spellbinding, elegant: this book is a fairytale enthusiast’s dream. Based on the Tinderbox by Hans Christian Anderson, it leads us down dark corridors and through secret mazes to a place between waking and sleeping. I loved it so and the bright red cherries on the cake are the wonderful illustrations by David Roberts.