Last year we stopped at Imber on the way to north Devon, as it was one of the village's annual open days - it's part of the army training grounds on Salisbury Plain. The church dates back to the 12th century and is now in the care of the Church Conservation Trust. The caretaker has beehives of a rare pure strain of bees, isolated by distance from contamination - honey was being sold. Also at the church was a display of the history of the village, and we chatted with a man who had been born in the village - the entire civilian population was evicted in 1943 to provide an exercise area for American troops preparing for the invasion of Europe.
In the church tower are these 17th century paintings of the changes of bells to be rung -
ringing the changes
The ring of six bells was installed in 2010; wonder how much use those ropes get? -
The things you find! The plans you had for them! And - what to do with them now?
The bits of old pottery obsessively collected from the foreshore and (surprisingly) Hampstead Heath -
I had an idea about drawing or painting them, a la early Lisa Milroy...
Collections of threads for some project or other -
They'll simply go back into the thread drawers, projects terminated.
"Pens to sort" - which of them still write, and ... who needs so many pens anyway???
A little project for a rainy day.
It's scraps that give me the greatest fabric pleasure - here, from a bag on the floor, we have some tulle, some wools (for rug hooking), and silks (for JQs and suchlike projects) -
They need to go in separate places, and though my smaller bits of fabric are organised in a haberdashers cabinet of glass-fronted drawers, these don't fit into the classification - and reorganising that cabinet isn't going to happen soon. Plus, the scrapbox is rather full and it's not going to get sorted just yet either.
One thing I've learned is - what to leave alone "for now".
And speaking of fabric -
Can one person use all this white fabric in what's left of a lifetime? The dream was once to start everything from white fabric, dyeing or painting it as needed. There was also "the all-white patchwork" project, which never really got off the ground. Ah well, move on!
More paper! -
It's not good to keep paper rolled up, especially thicker paper. This will be rehoused soon.
What about the "portable projects" in their pouches?
These little books made of various papers will come along on my next trip, to be stitched with linen threads -
Boxes ... who doesn't collect boxes, who can resist a pretty container ... but what's in them that needs to be decided about -
It gets really trivial - a collection of thread ends!! These are from hand-sewing at the table-under-the-window; they just mount up. I've used similar collections for sandwiching between net and machining, a satisfyingly brainless activity, and we all have moments when a brainless, satisfying activity is called for ... but it would be easy and practical to simply empty the jar occasionally! -
Finally, another small delight - a reorganised area, under the table -
The press won't stay there (I plan to use it for printmaking, in a rudimentary sort of way), but its new location is yet to be decided. Meanwhile, moving the drawers closer to where the chair is makes that catch-all top drawer more accessible. Also, taking things out and looking at them made me think about getting a new cover for the portable ironing board, about replacing the flooring with carpet tiles (red? orchid? not dark grey, not beige...), and about sorting out that sewing basket, bought in Oxford in 1982 ... last used last century!
With counter tops cleared, I'm ready to leave this alone for a while.
The rope is still on the tree. They'll be back again today, probably to reduce the 100-year-old chestnut to a stump. It's diseased, and the people with the patio have complained about the leaves.
Nothing we can do - it's all happening quickly. When I get back home this evening, it will be done with, and we'll adjust...
Squirrels had a route up the elder, jump onto a branch of the chestnut, go to the trunk and down into the ivy into their nest - they were disconcerted when their route had disappeared (much tail twitching) and one found its way to the shed roof, then an amazing jump to the tree trunk, and going up and up and up ... wonder where they'll go now.
The view from my table-under-the-window now includes six satellite dishes, the dustbins from the estate flats, lots of parked cars.
But let's be positive. The sky can be interesting, more light will come into the room, and some comings and goings to watch. And there are plenty of trees further along for the squirrels (who once got into the area above the bathroom ceiling and kept busy chewing the electrical wires, not good!).
It makes a big change. I'll miss seeing this green view from my bed -
Death by a thousand cuts
Another day with the whine of the chainsaw, and this result -
Half a day's work to get this -
At the end of Day 3, it looks like this, all the knobbly bits removed -
Much cleanup of sawdust in gardens has gone one, and the rope is still in place - more cutting to come.
It takes just one request to keep posting about this studio clear-up to encourage me to do so. If you're going through a studio reorganisation, or have vaguely thought you might do so one day, be aware that amid what seems like total chaos, many small triumphs are lurking, waiting to delight you.
Yesterday's Great Paper Pullout precipitated a bit of a rethink on paper storage (and I recycled some offcuts found on those shelves). What got put back was mostly the large sheets, and the large pads.
It's the middle two shelves that have been reorganised - they used to look as shaggy as the one below them (the tools above will probably stay there for a while). What's made for more space is moving the A4 sized pads to the shelves above the worktop -
By chance (or divine intervention?) I'd found some bookends in a charity shop the day before - very useful to hold the pads in place. This accessible paper storage is a major "small delight" ... but really, will I ever use all that tracing paper, cartridge paper, watercolour paper, layout paper? hmm, maybe - when you make experimental books, you do tend to use a lot of paper of all sorts ...
The smaller pads went up in the middle cupboard - there was just room in front of the unused sketchbooks. (Again - so many of those! In Round 2 of this sort-out, their number will be decimated.)
Also in the middle cupboard, above the box of acid dyes (will I really be using those again?) are folders of papers - notes from various courses, and leftovers from various manifestations of Travel Lines books ... a project that may be resurrected, you never know. The top shelf is untouched: let sleeping dogs lie ... till Round 2.
Another small delight, though it may not look it to anyone else, is this cupboard (oo, kinda grim to show the insides of cupboards!) -
Note the empty space, once filled by that bag of fabric for Travel Lines bag handles which is now on the top shelf - a space destined to be filled with lining fabrics for the bags. And note the labels, so useful for remembering what's at the back of the shelf - though these are post-it notes and likely to fall off; any ideas for better labelling, anyone?
A better use for post-it labels is in the sorting area: one reads "what to do with these?". Plastic boxes are for things that have found a home (though one is "pens to sort"), cardboard boxes are for items on the move -
I'm delighted to have some compartmentalisation going on here. And to still have space on the shelves.
Finally, the table under the window, where I love to sit in winter (though with tree-cutting going on outside, the view will be rather different from now on). After clearing it yesterday, I found great delight in being able to open and clean the window. Some items have migrated back onto the table already, though if this is the most crowded it gets, I'll be very happy -
To keep the table from being overcrowded, I cleared a drawer to hold the sewing and glueing and note-writing things that were in frequent use, grouped into smaller boxes to be lifted out and used for the project underway. Meanwhile, the table is a sorting space.
A few things under the table need dealing with, too. Photos are relentless ... they show you things that you'd rather ignore. Also - they show progress!
Word Factory is a group of Glasgow poets who have prepared an exhibition - and a video of poems and quilts - on the subject of fire, broken down into its elements (spark, fuel, ember, smoke, ash, etc). The quilts are by Wrapped-Up, textile artists from southeast England - Debbie Hammond, Jacquie Hardcastle, Amelia Leigh and Janis Parle.
The result of this collaboration is an exhibition of fire-inspired textiles and poetry at the Covanhill Library, Glasgow, from September 24th to October 10th. This will include two Open Mic dates: September 24th and October 10th between 2-4 pm. Everyone is welcome!
If you're too far away from Glasgow, watch the video to read excerpts from the poems and see the quilts.
Last week I bit off more than I seem to be able to chew. It started with the work surface in the studio - an impulse to brighten, lighten it up with a coat of paint - and a week later, three coats of paint and much sorting later, the chaos continues.
There was a moment when a glorious expanse of white stretched unblemished and unadorned - to recap, this was that moment -
After smiling every time I looked at it, I started work on the shelves - mission: they should hold tools in constant use, and projects in current development.
Here, 9 of the 12 shelves have been emptied, ready for repopulation -
Some items have been put in new homes, including those sorted into lovely new plastic boxes (paints, marker pens, inks, linen threads, etc). There is a (transitional, cardboard) box for "things that need thinking about", another for "things that need to be matched up", and probably several others along those lines - I really should label them...
What you don't see is the state of the floor - covered with heaps! - and the accumulation on the table under the window. Feeling very overwhelmed, I gave myself a talking to and started making lists, not just of what needs doing in the studio but in All Of Life. (This is a remarkably soothing displacement activity, don't you find?) These lists are helping me decide what constitutes a Current Project ... and where to put those that don't fit on the narrow shelves.
But what was really needed was a strategy for clearing table and floor. The workspace was getting more and more crowded, too. It didn't help to have this spanner thrown into the works, a bit of reciprocity with my son doing some small tasks -
... one of the dreaded Brown Drawers, which contain my pre-digital collections of magazine cuttings, dating back to 1992 and perhaps earlier ... things I liked the look of then and still find interesting. Pieces of paper are very flat and you can fit hundreds if not thousands into a stack of repurposed kitchen drawers. They need to go, and I've made a small start. But the drawer is back in place ... in a place that's needed for something else. (One day soon it will be done...)
So I resolved to start at the left of the table and work around the room. A simple strategy. A little at a time. Set the timer for 15 minutes ... you can do anything for 15 minutes.
This morning the table under the window was completely clear, and received a good sanding, ready for a lick of paint. I also took the opportunity to clean the window, a job previously impossible because of the many spools of thread and other tiny items arranged in front of it -
Then came another spanner in the works, a domestic problem requiring a search through my pads and sheets and shelves of paper for some Japanese mending tissue (found it!) -
...leaving the papers in a sorry state. Much sorting is needed. Drawing paper is "too good to throw away" if the other side can still be used (but will I use it??) - it can be returned to the shelves, which are wide and deep. To store the pads, it would make sense to clear a space in one of the overhead cupboards ... which means something else will need either a new home or a Decision To Discard.
So much muddle!
One step at a time...
Thanks for the comments on my previous post. Encouragement is a good motivator! Something that's been triggered is whether this is happening because I'm between projects ... or have nothing to go on to; is it displacement activity, something to fill a void? Also it may be that this is just the first round of elimination: knowing what you have no further use for is a very grey area! True, there are some projects you never go back to - "one door closes so another can open". Carpet tiles are a great idea, once the floor is visible again. I'm sure it will all be worth it, and all that's needed is a bit of ruthlessness and a lot of resolve.
Following the crowds to Greenwich on Sunday to see the tall ships ... only to find that it was the smaller ships at Greenwich and the taller ones at Woolwich, downriver.
Crowds of people everywhere, though, and helpful signage -
A jam-packed riverside -
On the way outta here, we heard a few sea chanties being sung and watched a sail being unfurled on the Cutty Sark (it made me dizzy to even think of being up there - and just imagine doing it at sea, with wind and weather, the boat pitching and roiling) -
The mind's eye, as pictured in Robert Fludd's treatise of 1619.
In Fludd's time, imagination did not denote intellectual freedom and creativity, as it does today; it could also be associated with frustrating mental confinement. The purpose of imagination was not to interpret or embroider on the prosaic reality communicated to it by the five senses, but to integrate sensations into images and pass them along to the mid-brain. There reason... took over, considering and judging those images, filing them into memory for eventual retrieval. (via)
Cedar stump house, Edgcombe, Washington, 1901 (via)
Dazzle camouflage makes it difficult to estimate where a target is and how fast it's travelling.
Picasso claimed cubists had invented it.