Posts from February 2023

the path

February 27, 2023

“Little kids, little problems –– big kids, big problems,” is what my father-in-law used to say when we fretted about a rough kid at the playground or a stubborn tooth that needed a root canal. It annoyed me no end because a pesky tooth is a pesky tooth, and bullies are a menace, no matter the age. Of course, now that our children are older, (and I am marginally saner) I am starting to understand, better yet, feel what he meant. The stakes are high when three children –– three hearts and thirty toes –– are out in the world. We’re still in the early stages of this next phase, but I can already tell that we’re in for a ride. “You never stop worrying,” my Mum said recently, “no matter how old they are.” It’s an overwhelming thought. Is it Croup? Did he sprain it? How many kids are at the party? Who is driving the car? “Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child,” was the advise that most resonated in early parenthood. I’m vulnerable to irrational thinking and so resisting the urge to place traffic cones at every (perceived) dangerous spot has taken great effort. Rationally, I know that my placing them there, along with bridges and booby traps, does all of us a disservice. My effort is best spent grounding myself so I can better listen, understand and guide. So that our children learn to work around the divots in the road, build their own bridges, and fend off foes with their own swords. It’s hard and painful. But the goal is to raise adults who deal with their problems.


February 22, 2023

Elisa Uberti‘s anthropomorphic sculptures are simple and soft and tactile and remind me of what a child might make if you handed her a lump of moulding putty. Only the little girl would paint her two-legged dog pink and green and cover it in sequins and sticky feathers. These are utterly restrained, and stunning in their simplicity. Uberti’s lamps look like creatures from another planet, and her chairs are thrones for aliens.

beginner’s luck

February 15, 2023

I’ve made seven large cylinders in the last few weeks, and none have turned out as well as the first. One collapsed, and three cracked straight down the middle. How to bring more of that first-time fresh, unbridled energy to a second or fifth attempt? I have to step away and work on something else. A bowl. A plate. This evening’s dinner. And then try again. And again. You’d think a cylinder would be easy but it’s often the simplest forms that are most unforgiving. As I am not a thrower, I know that my forms will never be as tight as they would be on a wheel, and nor do I want them to be. But cracks won’t do. ‘Practice makes good,’ is my new motto. And Julie Hirschfeld’s lovely pitchers are inspiring me.

water colour

February 13, 2023

Some of Emma Larsson’s compositions look like sea monsters or corals while others look cells under a microscope. Her love of nature is evident in everything she paints. Larsson grew up in the Swedish countryside and would often get lost in a nearby forest. To this day, she wonders into forests searching for inspiration. Watercolour, and the merging of colour and pattern, gives her work a fluid and organic feel. “Beauty is important, but it is subjective. For something to be beautiful, it doesn’t have to be pretty. Personally, I’m not drawn to the “obvious beauty” we’re told to admire in the pages of fancy magazines. There has to be some flaw for me to feel interested; it’s the imperfection or the awkwardness that attracts me.” I find her work exuberant, alien, beautiful and alive.

ma fleur

February 8, 2023

I’ve been making paper flowers again, and I came across some beautiful inspiration in the form of Leendert Blok‘s botanical images. Photographed over a century ago, his daffodils, hyacinths, dahlias, irises and gladiolas (to name a few) have an ethereal quality to them. Given how new colour photography was at the time, the richness of colour, texture and light really is astounding. It’s this blue parrot that took my breath away; wrinkled and fragile, snapped in an instant.

rock, paper, scissors

February 3, 2023

This time last year, I was doing so much collaging that I actually considered trading in clay for paper. Playing with paper, and all the flowers that sprang out of that time, was the diversion I needed from the laboriousness of clay. I am very much back in the mud now, and enjoying it, but I still want to keep paper arts in the mix. So, my goal for this winter, is to produce paper replicas of every vessel I make. We’ll see whether the paper vases inspire the clay ones, or the other way around. “The beautiful life,” scribbled my eight-year old on a piece of thick orange paper yesterday. “Let’s see what hapen’s.” Below are artist, Nadia Gallardo‘s 365 paper bottles.

baby, it’s cold outside

February 1, 2023

Here we are, a decade into 2023, awaiting a polar vortex that will feel like -50 with the wind chill. Given that my feet are my locomotive, I have to be prepared. Heated jacket, check. Balaclava, check. Gloves, snow pants, thermals, check. It’s all down to the armour. I learned this the hard way when I spent my first winter here permanently cold in designer Mukluks and a flimsy puffer. I remember going to the cinema to watch the Shipping News (how à-propos) and walking out to a blizzard worthy of a Pulitzer. It was such a shock. Two decades on, I’m ready for it. And if you’re ready for it, let’s meet at 9 a.m. for a walk?

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