I went to an online Arts Catalyst workshop last week called Listening to the Fern Owl: Poetry as Field Recording. It was hosted by Nastassja Simensky and Mina Gorji who created a warm, welcoming and inquisitive space on a chilly evening. We were encouraged to consider the art of listening, through writing. We listened to a number of sound recordings, including the Fern Owl and wrote about what we heard. We also wrote about what we could hear around us that evening. With participants from all over the world it was a very evocative exercise to share. It has given me a new insight into the sensory elements of my writing.
After the workshop I looked up Mina Gorji’s work and promptly bought two of her collections and some of her recommendations from the wonderful World of Books. I was absolutely thrilled to come across Charango which shares my interest in carapaces.
I subscribe to far too many newsletters, more than I can reasonably read. I do try to break up computer time by taking a moment to read ones that catch my eye and I’m so glad I read the latest post from Freya Rohn of The Ariadne Archive this morning.
“The yellow ochre amber leaves have left with the wind in the space of a couple of days. The tundra on the mountains turns more crimson with each hour it seems, lichens exposed in the higher altitudes lining the contrast. The chickadees, boreal chickadees, nuthatches, Steller’s jays, magpies, woodpeckers, and a squirrel are busier than usual, collecting the nuts I’ve laid out for them. The chickadees, looking like small feathered blooms on the ends of the now bare branches as they wait their turn to dive.“
Freya describes deciding to split the feelings they’re experiencing into two newsletters this week and I admired that. This post celebrates gratitude and beauty whilst acknowledging there are rage fuelled feelings present too. I can be very total in observing my feelings – it is all bad, unpleasant and difficult or it isn’t. This post reminded me of what I’m trying to practice of recognising feelings pass and also to have the strength to read about difficult things and the importance of bearing witness to them. Thank you Freya.
I’m developing a body of work called Carapace, they’re going to be armours, skins, husks… wearable hopefully. For this I’m experimenting with paper clay, how thin can I make it, what qualities can I make the most of. I’m also re-organising this site to ensure images of my work are more prominent.
I took part in my first silent writing hour courtesy of Substack yesterday. I loved it, there’s been so much fatigue for online remote anything but this felt appropriate, different and effective. I met amazing writers from all over the world and put pen to paper properly for the first time in weeks. My main Substack is Rough Hewn. I’m yet to integrate it here but I’ll figure this workflow out eventually.
Earlier this month I wrote a blog post for the Independent Cinema Office on Dial F for Freelancer’s work and a recent industry event I hosted. Trying to summarise the discussion that was densely packed with specialist detail and impassioned concern for freelancers was a challenge. I hoped to convey the spirit of the event and how high feelings were running amongst attendees, colleagues and speakers alike.
How can we communicate clearly, loudly and persuasively about a situation that is nuanced, niche and ultimately experienced on an unsupported and underrepresented individual basis?
Looking back on my posts, they coalesce around this time in the month. The fact this didn’t fret me into thinking I must do more is evidence of feeling resolved. I’ve been working towards a monthly production cycle for a while. A week isn’t long enough and results in unfinished lists. A while back Morvern Cunningham, a fellow freelancer, and I had a couple of conversations about organising time from a creative pursuits point of view. I’d love to have this conversation again in an online event format. I think we touched on interesting concerns.
I unloaded my kiln this morning and then cracked open a couple of saggar pots that had been fired with wood ash, banana skins and all manner of organic matter. I’d also been anticipating some plinth like slabs to seat my smaller sculptures. The pieces came together in such a pleasing satisfying way. I can always tell when I’’m really happy with work because I photograph it endlessly. I’ve tried to edit a couple of sets as follows.
I wrote about feeling crustaceous here. The idea of forming a crust, skin or protective shell is very familiar territory for my work. With these I love how briny they look.
I love the idea of having a hardened exterior. I definitely don’t permanently but it is a good feeling to be finding your shell again. This word also relates to new work on which a longer piece will follow. I did the sketch below after loading but before unloading my kiln and I was so pleased to see the same shapes emerging.
of, relating to, having, or forming a crust or shell