The hottest day of the year

22.41pm

Late. Writing Late. A good time to write. First thing or last thing. Dark now. Curtains drawn. Drinking damson wine. Fox gloves, ragwort, buttercup, geranium plucked from the allotment standing tall in my 1920’s vase.

The barbecue at the council site by the river was lovely. Its been so long since I have seen my friends. The studio rent crisis has preoccupied my mind. I have been searching for a solution but I cannot find a better cheaper space. I am a fighter. I always come back fighting. Things change and thats ok. Its coping with change thats hard.

I will learn to generate more income from my practice in order to fund the room that is my space. I will sort and tidy the space, I will sell work, offer personal tutorials, and workshops and courses, I am sure that I can make ends meet. I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. Bring it on. Beckon it in. Wrap your arms around a problem. If you can give birth if you can care for a young baby, you are strong you can do anything, you can be superwoman with super human powers.

My mum had a dream that I had a spare room in the house and I was growing vegetables in it.

foxgloves30:06:15

I went to the allotment to water the plants. Its not often in the pennines that you actually have to bother with this activity.

The plants were thirsty, especially the squashes. I filled the candy pink watering can again, and again. The soil soaked up the water as if a sponge.

The birds were calling. The sun dappled. The potatoes high. Fox gloves opening.

Naoise fell asleep to The Sleep Book by Doctor Seus. Syd grows more and more independent. He likes to be with friends more than family. Thats ok, but I still find the rejection hard. He did not want to come to the barbecue. I felt lonely without him. I love all of my family together, both boys accompanying me. Thats ok though, I will try to adjust. Adjust to change.

Naoise found a beautiful ebony beetle. His friend held it wriggling loose in his hand.

It is dark. It is dark. Cars on the road. I wish that I had gone swimming in the reservoir today or just playing out on the hills instead of the silly bitty jobs that I got done.

Art has been on hold. These last two weeks I have fallen out with my lover Art. Sometimes you need to have a wrestle with your lover. It makes you realise how much you love.

I will not part with my room of my own. I will hold it close and cherish it for as long as I can. I will make it work for me. I have no choice but too.

Cant write anymore, too tired, been awake since 5am and up since 6am.

 

 

Sorting

18.14pm

I am so sick and tired of sorting and tidying and throwing away. A fly zzzzzz’s around the front room. I am trying to sort out the house. I have just found three large bags of boys clothes 9-10, 10-11, 11-12. How on earth can I even envisage storing these in this slice of a cake house, there is barely room to move with just our bodies. Its either a friend or the charity shop. The seven year age gap is not that practical when it comes to hand me downs.

Little Naoise is sleeping on his bed, fully clothed. He had yet another tantrum when I refused to let him watch more than half and hour of TV. Its not too surprising that he has fallen asleep. Its hot. He hardly ate any dinner. Apparently he does not like fish fingers and peas any more. To me and Syd’s horror he ate a tomato sauce filled white roll, quite disgusting. He then requested some cheese but did not eat that as he was too busy having a tantrum.

My back aches and aches. I lifted a box of broken ceramic garden pots. I hope that its just one of those back aches that you get when you are stressed out.

I don’t have any solutions to the rent increase at the studio. I am realising that having a studio is probably not financially possible for me. I threw out lots of old notes and magazines today, that felt good. Its hard to get rid of things. Artists cling hold of possessions and information that may come in handy one day.

I will become a kitchen table artist again. I cannot afford to be a painter the materials are too expensive. I cannot afford to be an artist. I have had this realisation too slowly. I have eaten too many chocolate bars out of comfort. You cannot control life, especially when you have limited means. I glanced at a minimum wage job advertised at the co-op. I need to find out about it. I could manage to do 20 hours a weeks work. If I don’t continue with a studio then the money I save could at least fund some of Syd’s guitar lessons. He is far more talented than me, better to invest in his creativity.

I have failed. I have failed miserably, and now I am on panic mode of how to clear enough space in this tiny house to house art. Is it even art? Art that no one wants, that no one requires, that no one desires. That confronts and unsettles. Thats all well and good but why make more of it to just store it. I cannot afford the time nor the money to show the work, market the work, make the work have value, so consequently it has no value. Like myself it is redundant.

I shouldn’t even be getting stressed about all this right now, I should be slowly and methodically getting ready to enjoy the summer holidays. Time speeds past. It does not wait for me. I am not good at managing the house. I am not good at managing the children. I am so exhausted with Naoise refusing to do as he is told, every little tiny thing has become a battle. My parenting perhaps is poor. I am loosing my patience for life.

The buzzer sounds 15 minutes.

 

Sunny Sunday

20.32pm

Drinking Cider. Paul Weller at Glastonbury rocking out of the laptop in the background. Syd watching whilst searching and dreaming about new acoustic guitars. There is always a better guitar to dream about.

Saw mum and dad. Always lovely to have them to visit. I spent the morning making homemade quiche and chocolate cake and lovely garlic roast potatoes and cleaning and sorting and tidying.

We went for a walk up to Gorpley. The woods are ancient and full of bird song and green. The fields high with buttercup and clover. Sun dappled light falling over hills and rocks and sheep.

There is little to say. There is little that I want to say. This is an end. An end of a thing. A thing. A time. A time of reflection and making and sharing. The room is being taken. The room is being claimed back. Property……

There are some clouds in the blue. The shadow of a tree hangs on the gable end of the house on the hill. All is ok really. All is ok. Almost drunk the whole bottle.

On the walk back down the road I saw a robin, dead, lying in the gully between pavement and road, so beautiful and peaceful, Syd wanted to take it home.

More tea and talk with mum and dad. Its so good to see them both. My parents are my home.

The Glastonbury noise is making it impossible to write and hey the buzzer has sounded anyhow.

 

Newt

18:18

We saw a newt. Bending over the pond we gazed into the water and  under the pond weed, between mud and sticks and large tadpoles there it was. I can’t remember the last time I saw a newt probably when I was a child, living in Derbyshire. I would climb over the willow tree into the allotment and play with newts. I would balance them on sticks and push them across the water trough. Me and my brother and sisters had races; whose newt would speed across the surface of the trough the quickest.

Naoise rushed to find his dad to share the newt discovery with him but it was all too late as when he returned to see the newt had crept back to the side of the pond. I found the newt once more but Patrick missed seeing it once more, even though it was directly in front of his face.

Syd has been out playing with friends all day. I miss him. I am uncertain about these teenage years. I like to hold my family close. Just have them each near to me.

Even men interrupt. Clueless to the need for a flow an ordering of words.

Its sunny. The river flows. Some music from the neighbours garden. Sitting in the yard, under the bay and the jasmine. All the plants look thirsty. I haven’t the energy to water them, no one else cares. They don’t think about what needs to be done. We are all of us staring at screens now. Naoise is tending to dragons, I think Patrick is reading the newspaper on his phone and Syd, he is probably watching glastonbury.

Sip the wine. I am so so hungry. I walked a long way up the track to the house with the open garden way on the tops at the same height as studley pike. What a view. Raised beds a meter tall to protect vegetables from the wind. Willow. Ash also building a border. Purple Kale. Huge Rhubarb.

Its raining baby.…the music plays. Its not raining though, not one drop. Its a perfect summers day sun, slight wind, its as best as it gets up here. Up North. How I long for the south and its milder climate, probably will always be a longing. I have given up with the idea of ever being able to make any life choices or decisions. Oh no the neighbours music is truly dreadful, some sort of Abba song but worse. It is Abba.

I give in. I cannot concentrate in others presence. I can’t be bothered with this. I am just hungry and want to be with my boys and not have to even think about this. I am falling out of love with this project. It no longer interests me. I am grinding to a halt.

 

 

Little thing

8.27am

I have never tried to write at this time previously during this project. Naoise seems so much more settled and is getting up earlier so things are much easier. He is lying on the sofa under the blue fleecy blanket watching the new version of The Clangers. Michael Palin’s narration is calm and gentle.

elderflowers

Its a non day. Wet and grey and no blue. The cars are speeding past on the road, rushing to work.

When mother says its bed time its bed time and thats that.

Down they all go.

Yes its bedtime for everyone even baby soup dragons.

Good night Clangers, sleep tight. 

Listening to the Iron Chicken is making me want to go back to bed.

foxgloves

I walked out last night. I actually walked out alone on the tops, its been a few weeks since the illness has prevented me from any serious exercise. It was a beautiful evening not at all blue but warm and humid and quiet.

The grass is growing long. The elderflower is out in full bloom. The trumpets of the foxgloves are blooming, all clutching to the hillsides. I met no one on my walk apart from sheep and fat lambs and crows and rabbits darling out of my way.

The fields are full of buttercup and clover and the long grass.

haymeadowatnight

Naoise is smiling and sucking his thumb. All is peaceful in this little house. The front of the car is covered in large rain drops. The school year is coming to an end, just three weeks left now. I am glad that it is at an end, I am looking forward to the structureless summer, to playing and not rushing and having some fun.

It must be time for the school run. I cannot settle to writing ten minutes before leaving the house, its not suiting me.

The buzzer is set but I will stop now and listen to the Lullaby on the Clangers and wish that I was a child again with my mother always present.

Mum is coming back today from her home in Scotland so hopefully I will see her soon.

 

Full to the brim

6.47am

Awake since 6am. Cannot settle at all. Weighed myself, not surprisingly I have put on a little weight if you eat cheese and cake and bread and drink alcohol and you don’t exercise this is to be expected. I had a day of comfort feasting. When the mind is famished I turn to food and alcohol for comfort.

When I woke, I turned to Naoise who was lying beside me sucking his thumb, drawing in breath, moving saliva around his thumb with his tongue.

Drink coffee.

I don’t want to speak to anyone first thing. Its good to slip into consciousness. I requested that Patrick remain sleeping in bed and that he did not come downstairs and do the washing up as I needed some time on my own. I needed to complete this task. All this writing itself can feel like a burden. It interferes in the practical goings on of the day. It creates a stop as well as a start.

Yesterday I looked at a new studio space, but it was taken before I could organise the place for myself and friends. It was a perfect light space by the canal, within walking distance of home. Never mind. I will find a new place to be. Maybe that place is here at home at this dinning table. My worry is all the stuff that I have and the restrictions that not having a studio places on the artist. If I loose my work space, then  I will only be able to work small, make drawings, write, take photographs. This house is a squash and a squeeze,  full to the brim with bikes and toys and books and belongings. There is no spare space, no spare room, theres only just enough room for us. There is no room for art in this house.

I have invented new strategies and ways of working without a studio. The whole home becomes a place of making. A domestic studio. Home= Studio. Studio not in the traditional sense. Its about re-ordering how I make. Back to the family as material for arts practice. Back to how to deal with no studio space as a creative problematic for making. How to think about the home as an extension of my body, of me.

There can be a small desk space where the cot is. The cot that is piled high with Syd’s out grown clothes. Bags of clothes that cannot remain stored in this little house as there isn’t a cupboard to place them. We are full. There isn’t a nook or cranny left to place anything.  Absolutely crammed in.

You can bounce a ball in the yard but no kicking less the ball falls over the wall into the river below.

Make small discrete movements, walk carefully down the tight enclosed stairwell.

Beep beep beep beep

I am glad for the sound of the oven clock…….telling me its time to stop this writing and to start the day.

Shadows

12.41pm

In the studio, I have just destroyed a spiders nest from the spine of my Sophie Calle Appointment with Sigmund Freud book. A perfect silken egg sack and mother spider guarding it. I tried to remove it carefully with a kitchen knife, the mother spider looking on. I did feel very bad. She jumped with fright after I sliced off the egg sack. I was trying to save mother and babies, it probably didn’t work, but who knows they may survive. They may.

There are shadows. The sun casts long shadows on our bodies in the morning light. We haven’t walked to school, I bundled a tired you in and out of the car. Your tired from sports day and gardening last night and perpetually battling with the inability to settle down to sleep in the evenings. Maybe you are just a night owl. A morning snoozer and an evening party maker.

Syd was grumpy and moody and teenage this morning, but then he is a teenager. Almost fourteen now. Fourteen years of him and me. Twelve  years of him, me and Patrick. Six years of him, me, Patrick and Naoise. We are family. A perfectly modern family. Two sons. Two dads. One failed relationship, one on-going one. A mother and a step parent, muddling by, doing our best, making it up as we go along.

There are shadows. There are shadows of the past that creep into the present. There are insecurities. There is the insecurity of work. The insecurity of a threatened work place. There  are unknowns. There are many unknowns. There is a summer that I feel I haven’t grasped a hold of yet. There are hills to run on, lambs that have become fat. There is grass that grows long in the summer heat and light. The nettles and weeds crawl up to meet the height of the sun.

sofasnoozing

There are beginnings and endings. There is always being a mother. There is never a clock in and a clock out. There was always this and there always will be. Birth, Death and in-between in the crevices of the stone walls the plants grow the people live, love and connect to each with a hand or with the roots to the soil.

There are shadows in my mind that make me scream. There are memories that hold fast, others that are pushed under and creep behind me. There is a dog barking. I open the window to let life in. The sounds of the street, people talking. Then nothing, Nothing but the sound of a car door opening or closing.

There are shadows. There are swallows swooping low to catch midges on the wing. I imagine a picnic at The Bridestones, watching the sun coming down, drinking sparkling wine, the children playing and happy. This is now. This could be now. Maybe Friday. Or a barbecue on the allotment. Time moves, it never stops. I feel the summer slipping through my hands. Slipping through my sorting and tidying and chucking away.

I havent a plan for the open studios. I have an empty pram. I need to print out some images, something of what I have been doing NOW. I wonder if I should just write, write on the wall, on big bits of paper, just spill out what is in my mind. A durational performance. Perhaps this would be most suited. I need to push the pram up the hill to Heptonstall, I need to visit Sylvia’s bones.

I love this space. This light, airy, uplifting space. A studio that I call home. Could this room be anywhere?

Patrick phone call: Nice to hear his thoughts, but flow interrupted.

I have not been able to concentrate, to settle at any one thing. I should have done so much more. Could of should have. Wanted to. I need to write lists, tick things off. I need short term and long term goals. I need to stop dilly dallying. What is the point of all this? What is the point of art? Art to sustain the self. Art to sort our and tidy up life. Art to make life manageable. Art to find the joy in the unexpected. Art. There is Art. Art is not simply a commodity. If art is not for sale then how is it manageable. What is it that I need to sell.  Why am I not comfortable with the transaction. The transaction of production= commodity. Its no good to fight it when this is the system that you have been given. There is labour. There is work. There is a measurement of time. There is a life. Perhaps this is simply egotistical naval gazing. How is this my lifes work? Art/Motherhood. Womanhood.

The buzzer on my mobile phone sounds.

Tidying, Sorting, Throwing out

22.04pm

I doubt that I will get to write much. Its late both children still up. Naoise just out of the shower, Syd in the shower. Me and Naoise spent an evening cutting grass and weeding the allotment. Syd and Patrick went out for a bike ride.

I am not sure that I am really writing anything of consequence or importance. I have lost my flow. I am spending days tidying, sorting and throwing out. I may have decide to move out of my studio. Its hard as there is so much work to be done. The weeks are speeding away towards the summer holidays and our annual trip to Cornwall. It will be good to see the sea.

I am struggling to write. My hands are aching. Maybe for now I will just give in. Its ok to have times when creativity dries up. I just can’t concentrate or settle on any one thing.

weedsinthesun

All was beautiful today, the sun shone and there was blue and I watched Naoise sports day, a lame affair of throwing bean bags skipping and bouncing balls. There is no grass only tarmac at his school which is rather limiting.

Syd is singing in the shower, I have a splinter in the end of my finger, its sore.

The shower comes to a stop, but the singing continues.

 

MIdsummer

19.58pm

Midsummer. I thought that I would be walking the hills. I thought that it would be blazing sunshine. I thought that it would be more.

I smell of smoke from the fire, from toasting marshmallows.

I am in the house on my own. Syd at his dads, Patrick on the way back home with Naoise from a day out with his brother and sister.

I thought that I would have more than ten minutes in the house on my own, but I don’t. I only have this time.

It is midsummer. The sun came up at 4.45am. Its the longest day.

The day began dismally. I feel ok now. What will I do this week ? Sort, tidy, look, maybe make some artwork. Throw out. Need to sort and throw out. Minimise on stuff, maximise on space.

Look. I will look. I will look at the foxgloves and find a swift or a swallow. I will listen to the birds early in the morning walking on the roof. I will wake and take Naoise to school.

Still not enough energy to run. Frustrating not to have energy.

I made a lemon drizzle cake. It was good. I tasted nettle soup.

I hope that Syd will go to school each day this week. I hope that he will be happy.

I hope that I will get to see the Louise Bourgeois at the Artsmill Gallery space.

My right eye hurts. Need the glasses. Need to be able to see. Perhaps it hurts because it is a sty in my eye.

Naoise will be tired. I am tired and I have no energy to think about reading to him or settling him down to sleep.

All I want to do is sit on my own and watch TV. A TV programme of my choice. The house seems big and expansive when it is just me in it.

Beep beep beep beep the oven buzzer sounds.

 

 

Too ill to write much

Written on Sunday June as I had meant to write this last night but instead fell fast asleep. Not a good day, too ill to write much. Too sad and upset. All I had wanted to record was the anxiety that Syd felt before departing to his dads on Saturday morning and the steam engine that happened to break down at the end of our road. It was Syd who first noticed the steam between the drizzle of rain. Syd did not want me to stand outside and watch it. He did not like that my attention was split between the spectacle of steam and him. He got annoyed with me. The steam engine was on its way to the Todmorden Agricultural Show. The wheel of the vehicle almost fell off. Some emergency welding repairs were made. Syd went to his dads, I haven’t heard from him, no text messages as promised. I tried not to let it make me feel too sad. I made the team of drivers some tea and bought it out to them on a tray.

Before I went to sleep I read the anti-austerity articles in the newspaper. I wished that I had been there. I am sick of illness and lack of finances and lack of confidence from preventing me from what I want to do. I am sick of my own excuses. I am sick of feeling lame.

Today

16.23pm

Today it is cold and it is grey and it is nothing.

Today I feel much relived that I no longer have to write till my eyes and brain hurt.

Today I am pleased that I can just be with the children and adopt an I don’t care attitude, because its Friday.

Today I spoke to my mum who is trying to fix the roof of her house before the summers end. It will get done.

Today the bleach blonde haired woman who works in the supermarket, who is very slim walked at speed past the house  in her lycra sport wear and with her yorkshire terrier pulling at the lead.

Today the water board dug up my neighbours yard and our water supply was temporarily stopped. Syd woke up to the digging and banging and then he was thirsty and annoyed that there was no water to drink.

Today is mundane.

Today whilst walking to collect Naoise from school I saw a heron sitting in the field on the hill just above the canal path. I watched him for a while. I love herons, they remind me of flying dinosaurs.

Today I spoke to my cousin.

Today Naoise is sat on the stool in the kitchen playing some game on my phone, I said he could, though I wanted to draw or paint or play a game.

Today my nose is still running.

Today  it is almost midsummer and the clothes are not on the line they are drying in the tumble. I can hear them spinning around.

Today Syd seems better and we even got to sit together on the sofa and watch some TV.

Today I was very lazy.

laburnam

Today I accomplished nothing, but looking after Syd and shopping and cooking and walking and dropping off and collecting Naoise.

Today I made a flask of coffee and drank it through the duration of the day.

Today I am drinking the last cup of coffee and I had to add hot water to it to warm it up and dilute its tar consistency.

Today I am fed up of children looking at screens.

Today I don’t want to be looking at this screen either.

Today I am not sure that I have anything particularly inspiring or meaningful to say.

Today is just Today and it feels like a very grey and boring day.