when i feel a little bit moody and out of character
i will team up with a no-nonsense full-stop
to make a hybrid statement
just for a giggle i sometimes apostrophise
and hope you notice when i shout with my hands around my mouth
“hey you giant, hellloooo, there’s something missing here!”
when i am my favourite kind of me
i am the comma that adores the space
that has to happen when i happen
it could be a spectacular pause,
a space to breathe,
or just room to change your mind if you feel like it.
Note: The idea behind this sketchbook project was to complete the sentence I am a [metaphor]. I made it for the Misty Mawn Make/Do Art Workshop. Also for me and my very lovely handmade book that I bought in Venice some years ago! I had two ideas. First, I am the pink thread that runs through a white dress passed on from one generation to the next. Kind of like a timeline. And second, I am a comma. The poem came so easy and then the painting just happened. I painted the girl as a comma next to the letter ‘e’. I thought that I could illustrate a comma best next to a letter. I decided to make that letter an ‘e’ because a lot of wonderful words end with an ‘e’. Words like love, hope, peace, believe and bee :)
When I go through the world, I notice that everything has its own pulse – the people, the plants, the trees, the animals, the birds – and if we get quiet enough we can hear each other’s drumbeat. If we keep listening we’ll move to the same rhythm.
Do you notice that?
In my art when I try to find this drumbeat, this pulse, this spirit – I try to find something that connects me to others, my culture to other cultures, my mind to my body. I mostly use an object that I can hold in my hand which I will then photograph and use in a collage repeat on canvas. As an example: I used a smoking pipe in my series “Pipes”.
The Sioux tribe believes that a smoking pipe, Calumet, represents Creation.
The Stem is a symbol for masculinity and the animal world. The Chamber stands for the femininity and the plant world. The smoke represents the prayers that go up to the gods. I then selected a calabash pipe to connect my world to the world of the Sioux tribe. The pipe pieces made for a beautiful collage and gave my series the heartbeat of creation and its beings. Sometimes, if a new painting in a different series would relate to the earth and its beings (a.k.a. have the same heartbeat), I would use the pipe as a foundation again like in this painting.
Other objects that I’ve used as collages to form a painting’s drumbeat include words, buttons, scissors, irons, labyrinths, knits, hands and even complete paintings of mine.
Have a look around you and spot the drumbeat that speaks to you.
The girl sat and stared out of the window. It was still early, night was still deciding whether or not to open the door to day. In the background the washing machine gently rolled the to-be-washed-alone shirt around and around. “What kind of a life is one that has to be lived in isolation?” the girl wondered.
Scribbling away in her notebook to leave evidence that there was in fact a life being lived between the edges of photographs, the girl started to ponder about borders / no borders. Which option is the freer option? Sometimes borders – emotional borders, country-set borders, bank account borders – are set as freedom protectors.
Pondering and pondering about questions like these for days, weeks, months – the girl decided to rely on the idea that made her feel happiest on the inside. “The idea that freedom lies within borders, tend to be driven by fear”, she thought and she decided that the idea of “My sky is your sky is her sky is his sky” felt much more bright-eyed, open-hearted, open-armed and definitely promoted hugging on a regular basis.
She felt relieved about her conclusion and pondered about it no longer.
In my work so far I’ve come to the conclusion that the first step to change is finding our connection to each other and to nature again. A clue that you are connecting is that you feel moved. On the X-factor, someone once said when asked how to write a great song: the song has to move people – either on the inside or on the outside.
In 2009 I married a wonderful German guy and in 2010 I joined him in Germany. In my eyes moving to another country isn’t exactly easy. As a part of the residency requirements I was lucky enough to attend German school, where I met some wonderful new people. We continued German classes at my house afterwards. Living in a new country where you only partially speak the language is quite intimidating; everything in your life feels insecure. At the time I was studying accountancy, but somehow I lost my way and my whole body seemed to rebel against it. You know how it is when you’re supposed to be studying, but you can’t pick yourself up from the couch, you just lie there miserably with ZERO motivation. This was quite a challenge for someone like me, who prides myself on never giving up… a very important lesson! Sometimes it’s okay to put something aside and sometimes it’s even acceptable to quit! Before I studied accountancy I studied art. I then started my own business in South Africa before the move to England. During the six years I lived in England I experienced the most devastating creative block ever which in my suspicion is how I ended up working as an accountant and studying accountancy.
Strangely enough my creative block seemed to slowly fade, with the time that I had on my hands, here in Germany.
New Year’s Eve 2010. Normally my sister and I would have a little ritual, where we would write down all our resolutions for the New Year and evaluate the one’s from the year before to celebrate or mourn its fruition. This year however, with my sister being in South Africa and my new German friends not being that interested, something else came along. In Germany, on New Year’s they play a game called Bleigießen (Molybdomancy in English). It is a game, where you melt a little tin/lead figure (e.g. a horse shoe) in a spoon over a candle and then you drop it into cold water to see what shapes it make. Mine formed a dung beetle with five balls of dung! I couldn’t wait to get home to Google the significance of dung beetles. I found that they do have quite an amount of followers. With its importance in nature and its sacred status among the ancient Egyptians, I decided that this wasn’t a bad sign at all, and there and then decided that each of the 5 “dung” balls would represent a project for the year. I keep this on my desk to constantly remind me of my goals.
Dung beetle and five balls of dung
I asked my husband, if he would like to join me in working through Julia Cameron’s “The Artist Way”, and to my surprise he agreed. This was so lucky for me, because though I am persistent, I am not always that consistent, which is what you need to be to write your morning pages for twelve weeks in a row. My husband has this super quality of just getting on with it and getting things done. (“Morning pages” consists of writing three full pages of ‘stream of consciousness writing’ first thing in the morning, every morning, for the whole 12 weeks of the program.)
I decided to ease back into my creativity slowly and made “One step at a time” my motto for the year. When I didn’t know what to write in my morning pages, I just kept writing “One step at a time, one step at a time”, until I had something to say again. By June I have completed twelve paintings and I held my first solo exhibition, my husband and I have partly completed a children’s book and I am in the process of designing a new illustration range. The books that absolutely supported me through the process so far are The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Living the Creative Life by Rice Freeman-Zachery. The first one helped me deal with my creative block and the latter kept me going. Super inspiring!
I am so excited that I am able to practice my first love as a full-time career…one step at a time…savouring the journey.