Windy Sunday

16.58pm ( sitting at the table in the front room)

Naoise is watching How to train your dragon. P is chopping onions to make lentil dhal.

There are men on the train track, working by flood light, chopping trees and shifting soil with a digger. The train track men woke me around five this morning. I wondered why it was getting light so early. The moon was big but not that big. The light was from the work lights.

Its miserable weather. Wind gusting at 60 miles per hour. Rain rain rain rain. Floods of tears gushing down hillsides.

We never made it to Leeds to see the British Art Show, we got as far as Keighly and the council museum full of fossils and crystals and badly stuffed animals and freakish objects and ceramics resting on brown felt Notices saying do not run and turn off your mobile phone.

A heart wrapped in brown paper and punctured with nails found under floorboards.

A hen pecked husband society adult sized cradle resembling a coffin.

A two headed sheep.

A display of art work from the local art society, people and pet portraits, the Mona Lisa on a mobile phone, an idilic white cottage in a landscape, a ballet dancer drawn in pastel.

A Paul Nash painting with explantation and poem.

Portraits of upper class folk.

Above the taxidermy collection two paintings one of Adam, one of Eve completed in the 1970’s by a professional local artist of notoriety, he even painted the royals. The naked pair are hung far too high on the emerald green wall  to be properly admired. You would need a ladder to get a proper look. Perhaps a prudish curatorial decision or making a connection between the family of man and animals?  Yet the human is up high looking down, all powerful? Too powerful. There really should be no hierarchy.

Crystal, prehistoric bones, Egyptian mummy unnamed and x-rayed, a bird call, green and brown carpet. A security guard reading a book. A chandelier and a cornered off room in rope that you cannot enter. A family of four children running wild and playing hide and seek between the high glass cases.

A box of worn out pencil crayons in boxes, chair, round table but no paper to draw on. Long forgotten victorian museum, lacking in investment. Dusty beauty. Nostalgia.

P and Naoise slipped on the moss before we entered the museum. P cut his hand and his finger as he broke their falls. Naoise bumped his head and bruised his knee. He walked around the museum without his trousers on. P walked around the museum with toilet tissue stuck to bleeding flesh. There were no plasters in the first aid box, only large bandages and other useless stuff.

Traveling home over the high moor, I pulled over into a lay-by and we watched a kestral hunting, being blown around and battling the wind.

I have spent the day feeling sad and exhausted and dismal. I am just like the weather. I am sick of being like heavy weather. I am sick of eating chocolate to comfort the frustrations.

Syd is away at his dads. I am glad he is back tomorrow. I hate it when he is away.


Chris Shaw: ‘Art college was full of rich kids so I used my camera to speak to normal people, Sean O’Hagan, The Guardian, Sunday 27th November, 2015



Sour milk

20.51 pm ( sat on the sofa with Syd singing beside me and Naoise is making christmas cards)

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This moment is close to being a moment of joy.  I don’t want to talk to this screen. I don’t want to tell you about eating sour milk poured on cereal. I don’t want to tell you about getting stressed out about looking after my elderly friend. I do want to tell you that I have completed the commission for my friend. I managed to digitise the first five images, and I think they look totally beautiful and blue and small not big.

Mum I want you and me to make a card together. 

Mother demands. This is meaningless when my children want my attention. Better to mother now than regret not acting on the moment. Art can wait.

Syd sings Heavy weather, heavy weather 

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The bird wing.

19.59pm ( sat at the table in the front room at home)

The wings black feathers clung on to the spindly bone. A crows wing perhaps. A boy child found the remnants and walked hunched over clasping one boney fleshy bit between two sticks whilst calling to his mother to look look look what I found. You really wouldn’t want to handle it with your hands. I wondered who had killed the crow, its usually the crow that is seen picking of the carcass of others.

Naoise climbed right to the top of the frame and clung to the top. He kept annoying his friend by kicking his head. I turned my back. I cannot watch as he balances precariously. I cannot stand it when he winds up his friends. There is only so much chastising I can do. It is better to ignore the bad and praise the good.

The clouds shifted across the hills in puffy balls and red stripes and blue patches and grey. It wasn’t raining. Its warmer.

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I dropped Naoise off, just in time before the last bell. He walked in, fluffy hood up. He walked in slowly, slowly, slowly.

I bent over the tarmac to record the days images. A dad jokingly asks if I am looking for money on the ground. Then he asks what it is I am doing. I briefly explain. Its strange that I have been performing the same ritual for almost a year, but it is only now that people are starting to question what I am up too. Maybe no one really notices.

I admire the cat painting his son has made. He corrects me, not a cat a fox. 

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At home I sort through the piles or recycling and fill the car with stuff for the dump. Its a very dull and boring job. I call at the bank on the way. I get to the studio by late morning and manage to complete the drawings for my commission. One set is good enough. There are always little mistakes, a drawing that could be done better. A line that could be more subtle. A form that isn’t quite balanced. I am not a computer. I am a hand and an eye and a line tracing marks to suggest fictional bodies on paper.

I speak to my studio colleague about my failed job search. We talk about rejection and how I should not take it personally. I know this. I know, but its hard to lift the spirits again and again. Making, drawing, thinking visually helps. I can do. Just do.

Pleased that Naoise was awarded star of the day. Its lovely that his good has been noticed. I took him and his friend to football. Naoise did’nt want to play and explored the exercise bike and the drinks and chocolate machines instead.

Dropped off the shopping for my elderly friend, made myself a cup of tea and kept him company a while. He seems a little better today.

The walls of the house are paper thin. I hear the neighbour making a fuss of her dog. Naoise is being difficult. He is just getting out of the shower. Its far to late. Far too late. Naoise starts asking for screen time. I am sick of him being like Mike TV. He needs extracting from the screen.

Naoise and P are arguing with each other. Its horrid to hear. All calm again. I always have to sneak some writing time in, its hard when the family are up. I will be required to read the Moomins soon. We need to get through the November book before its December.


11.51am (in the studio at my desk)

I am trying to write. The studio is busy with students so trying to drown out the noise of polite talk with some music. Benjamin Clementine again. I will tire of his music if I end up over playing it, but with most things in my life I get a fascination with something then move onto the next. I will get sick of it. I love it so much.

Not a good morning. I feel so insecure about everything, it causes me great anxiety. The children are the greatest thing that I have in my life but its all about holding on and letting go. They will grow up and leave home. They will grow up and leave home and the challenges for them to do well in the world will become greater. I do not want them to suffer. I want them to be independent and resilient and confident and happy.

Syd told me to fuck off when I asked that he practice the work that his guitar teacher set. I am hitting my head against a brick wall with him. I want him to do well, I want to be encouraging and supportive but it hurts when you are told to fuck off by your own son. I am sure it is very common for teenagers to tell their parents where to stick it, but its still a shock.

I will try a new strategy. Ask him what help he needs. He wants to teach himself guitar. He tells me that lots of musicians in bands that are successful never had guitar lessons. I try to explain that some lessons are good as well then he would be able to acquire the skills that he needs to work as a session musician if he needs too. I am trying to make life easier for him. He resents my help. He says he has no time to practice. He is in year ten so maybe the school work is starting to get on top of him. Who knows. Who knows what is really going on. Who knows what is for the best. Maybe he has the answers. It is him that needs to take responsibility. I cannot always be there to polish his shoes and pack his sandwiches.

I need to read that book How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk. I need to suggest to P that he reads the book too. I need a tool kit of strategies to implement. I need parenting tools. I need to invest time and love and energy in my parenting. I can never keep up with them. There is always a something to have to try and sort. All this emotional work. It takes time. Time and patience and I don’t always feel patient. I want to scream. I want to scream back FUCK YOU too. But I try and stop and pause and breath and think. I am not shouting at him, I am shouting at the mess I have got myself into. The corner.

We keep making the mistake of shedding our anxieties upon him. Why shatter the dream. We need to encourage him. We need to shower him with love and support. I hope, hope, hope, hope, hope, that he gets to do what he wants in life, but I worry and worry and worry.

We manage to resolve the situation before S heads off for school. There are more angry outbursts and tears. I can see now that both myself and P were insensitive. It is hard to stay calm and level headed when a teen pushes the boundaries. I find it hard to swallow especially when money is involved. Especially when money is too tight to mention.

DSC_7732 DSC_7729

I am sad that I cannot be at the launch of the Project Procreate event in London. I was invited to speak on the panel. I would have loved to have been able too. Its so exciting to see another initiative supporting the practice of artists/parents rising to the fore, but it makes me sad that I am unable to participate, or support others practice. It is mainly down to lack of finances.

I am sick of feeling outside of the adult world and outside of  the art world. I must remember that there are so many people like myself. I am lucky to have a studio. I am fortunate to have the time to think, reflect, make, to be able to articulate my feelings. To think how an emotions can feed arts practice. I am lucky to be sitting here writing this, I just get frustrated that I cannot progress, develop, I guess the crux of the situation is that unless an opportunity is paid it does make things difficult, especially if there is a geographical distance to cover.

I need to think of creative solutions around my problems. I need to research Skype. Skype conferencing. Through Skype its possible to be present anywhere in the world. I need to think about how to bring the world to me and my art and how to get my art and me out into the world. To have communication with anyone, anywhere. To hang my work on galleries elsewhere. OUTSIDE. Artists who are parents who have little money who have little time who have little energy find it hard to be PHYSICALLY PRESENT. Artists who are parents tend to live a localised existence. I draw a circle between me and the studio and my home and the school. My circle used to be far wider. My circle used to include two cities and my home and my studio and the school. Local really is ok, but I need to be able to get out. Get out of the Calder Valley. The hills are suffocating me and my practice and my sense of self. Stumble trip, Stumble trip. 

What is a local artist?

What is a national artist?

What is an international artist?

Is there a hierarchy between the three? I think so. Local is seen as small. Small minded? Local is seen as nice and landscape and still life. Local is seen as what can be sold in local galleries. I do not fit local. I do not fit commercial. I do not fit local audience. I fit edgy and challenging and asking questions. I am contemporary.

Local is seen as having less importance than international. The wider the wings are spread the more the art is validated. Art exists between cultures and societies. Art is a universal language. Art needs to be seen to exist.

I think that it is sad that local is seen as less than international. Perhaps parents who are artists are only able to be local, so what if local is landscape, and nice, what do you do then? What if you are not able to afford the fee for the competition or the money to print out work. Do you give up or find a way around the problem. Make work that is digital that does not involve buying materials. Work with found materials.

I have been working drawing on pieces of household paint colour sample paper. Its a great free resource. I look at the small drawings and wish that they were big bold oil paintings on canvas. Perhaps I need to tack some canvas to the wall of the studio and just start. Start painting. I have paint, canvas but no stretchers. You can stretch after painting . I must find a way around all these boundaries and obstacles. I can still make. I can. I will.

I draw, I make, I paint, I photograph, I write, I am. 

My elderly friend rang. He is unwell. There is another list of shopping to get. Care work has to take priority. Care for those we love. I now am trying to work out how I can get to go for a wellbeing walk and get to the supermarket before collecting Naoise from school. This one simple task has thrown my day out. I can’t be dragging N around the supermarket. I hate taking small children to the shops. Children hate shops too, especially when parents have to say no no no no no no no.

N went to school ok. We were super late. Even the lolly pop man had gone home. Its ok though, the benefits of being unemployed are that if we are late it does not really matter too much. I was pleased that I did not get stressed with N when he was slow, slow, slow. I had had one conflict this morning and I really did not need any more. There are only so many battles a mother can fight with her sons. I wish this parenting was less of a battle and more of a slow mindful stroll to school.

DSC_7720 DSC_7723


10.05am ( sat at my desk in the studio)

Its minging weather again. It rains and rains and rains. I prefer the frost and ice to the rain. I listened to Benjamin Clementine to lift my spirits. I have drunk far too much coffee. I woke at five managed to stay resting in bed till six. I am sick of waking early.

Far colder at night now, Naoise makes for a lovely hot water bottle. When I worry I draw his body closer and put my arm around him.

Last night I sat on the sofa with both boys. I called Syd down to have some family time. I think its normal for a teenage child to spend time alone in his room, but there has been too much alone recently. I missed him, I am trying to strike a balance between the demands of a six year old and a fourteen year old. The six year old demands a lot.

We watched David Attenborough’s Hunted documentary. We marvelled at blue whales and flying fish and a super pod of spinner dolphins.

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Naoise has sore lips, he applies some vaseline. I can see the red. His skin burnt by the cold. He will not put on his red school jumper or even a vest. I wish he would dress properly. He is very stubborn. I don’t know what to do. He already has a chesty cough. I can’t convince him that wrapping up warm is important. I ack the jumper in his book bag.

We got to school on time this morning. Its easiest when we both scooter. The leaves are slippy. We take extra care, but still speed along the pavement. We narrowly miss a car completely soaking us as it turns the corner of the road.

The lolly pop man comments on the size of my scooter. We are early. We are waiting. Naoise wonders why everyone waits in a que near the door. I tell him that its because the children are keen to get into school. I reassure him that its ok that we can take it slow. There is no rush. I kiss him goodbye. He walks lost in his coat and hood up with fluffy fake fur around the rim.

He wants to buy a school photograph. I will find the money from somewhere. I hate this time of year. Santa is meant to come, but we can barely pay our house bills. Santa will come from somewhere. We will magic him up. Will will magic money up. We always just manage to get by. I am not sure there is much magic left.

I keep thinking again and again of the care work that always seems available. I am resistant to taking on care work, I struggle to care for my own family let alone others too. I am all out of ideas. I will agree to the voluntary work but I don’t know where this will lead either.

The lollypop man questions why I am taking photographs of the playground floor. I say that I am recording thoughts about being a mother about my time with and without my children. About tarmac and skin. I tell him that I have been writing all year, that my project even mentions him. He talks to me about watching the children grow, seeing them move from primary to secondary school. The lolly pop man is much more than a man that crosses children safely from one side of the road to another. He is a watcher of life. He jolly us on. He always smiles and has something to say. He is a sort of yoda. All knowledgeable.

I spoke with the lovely woman from Sure Start. How can I resist some training. Its a reason to meet others. Its a reason to meet others from different backgrounds. There isn’t much diversity in Todmorden. There is always something to be learnt from others. If nothing else I am the taxi service to help two other mums. I am the one who can help. The befriending starts from day one. It will be a challenge to get to halifax by 9.30am. I can’t afford childcare there is nothing in the pot for an opportunity. There is only money for childcare if there is paid work. So the circle of childcare continues.

Skin. Pale. Translucent. White almost blue.

Tarmac. Hard. Black. Heavy.

Skin breathing. Covering. Skin growing.

Tarmac dependable, strong, stopping nature growing from the soil.

Skin ageing, marks, sores, cracks, pores.

Tarmac holding puddles of water, ice, snow.

Skin changing with the sun, freckles forming,

Tarmac reflecting back light and holding heat in,

Skin burning red,

Tarmac with lines drawn with hot chalk, straight, curvy, patterns, numbers,

Skin sweating, salt, water,

Tarmac providing a surface to play on,

Skin continually renewing,

Tarmac hard to fall on, causing bruises and cuts and breaks to bones,

Skin holding all of the human in,

Tarmac holding all of nature out,

Skin protecting,

Tarmac oily, sticky, stoney, clinging to soil,

Skin wrinkling,

Tarmac even,

Skin moles, scars, lines, a print of the self,

Tarmac rolled out and pressed firmly down,

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Sitting in the entrance of the sure start centre


Sitting in the entrance of the sure start centre, waiting for the Friendship Group to begin.

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To get Naoise to eat his breakfast this morning, I needed to sit him on my knee and feed him like a baby. I posted shredded wheat pillows into his mouth. Mother Bird. I will literally do anything to get him to eat before school. I manage to slip about five pieces of cereal  into him. He refused the rest. He asks for pancakes. I toast one. He refuses the first as its covered in butter. I eat it. I have ben developing bad habits around food again. I have been a bin to sweet stuff and eating over sized portions and drinking too much alcohol.

He eats the second pancake. Puts on his car without asking but teases me with to brush or not brush his teeth.

I am bored of writing this.

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Sat on the sofa watching the mercury awards with Syd. The youngest musician nominated was 19, she began writing her first album at 14. The music business is full of youth, I cannot remember the last time that I managed to spend some tine with Syd. Its good to think I have.

The leaves are suited with frost and there is ice in the puddles.

Cold. Helped older friend to hoover his bedroom, and fetch his shopping Concerned about older friend especially now that the cold weather has dug in.

Thinking that this writing is like a shopping list. Thinking of Ceal Foyer Monochrome Till Receipt White, 1999.

Eating sweets. BAD. Change. I can. I want. I do. Except.

Confidence and resilience

Thinking I should just get a care job. Any job will do. What am I waiting for. The perfect job does not exist.

I need to make money.

Or sell what I can. Maybe that is enough for now. What can I sell next? Cot sold. Cot that hardly got used. Naoise spent most of his baby years in bed with me. Still does. Co-sleeping easier for nighttime breastfeeds.

Need to advertise open studios. Send out invites.


‘Conscious cruelty’: Ken Loach’s shock at benefit sanctions and food banks, Diane Taylor, The Guardian, 23rd November 2015

Middle class people dominate arts, survey finds, Hannah Ellis-Petersen, The Guardian, 23rd November 2015


19.16pm (sat on the sofa with Naoise asleep)

Back from YSP and a visit to see Bill Viola. Eaten too many liquorice allsorts. Arrived late in the afternoon but managed an hour in the galleries then a moon lit walk. The park at night is a tranquil place when emptied of people.  Me and Naoise sat on a bench drinking hot chocolate talking of the magical dark. Naoise was afraid of the dark, he was going to run ahead and find P and S but decided to hold my hand instead he lost me.

Don’t be afraid of the dark, the dark is beautiful, the dark is quiet, the dark is blue velvet and owls screeching. The dark is a moon and stars and clearness. Eyes grow used to the dark. Dark is an adventure. 

All is just ok. Its Sunday. Potatoes and Pies in the oven. Slumbering children. A quiet road.

Yawning. Don’t have the energy or imagination or thought for this screen work.

Bill Viola
Bill Viola

Today was one of those days that I would rather forget.


Today has been one of those days that I would rather forget. It began at 4am in the morning. Snow on the skylight woke me. The first snow. I went downstairs and looked out of the window. Everyone asleep. Thin snow on car roofs. Glad I had seen it, as I thought that this smattering would be gone by dawn.

I turned on the heating.

A day of tantrums and frustrations and anger. Each other blaming each other. For being wrong. Tears and chocolate and stubbornness and  wishful thinking. Confiscation of iPads and guitars and amps and not getting to the swimming pool.

Going to the engagement party and the crazy man in the bungalow complaining about my parking, Sober, waiting for the pick up man to sort out the car which I thought had had its lock tampered with. In fact the lock was simply frozen.

Snow falling a cold room and sky Children playing darts and pool. Cheese and wine and adults talking and wanting to go home but waiting for recovery.


Feeling like a Fillyjonk

11.50am ( at the table in the front room)

P has gone back to work, his only real concern was how to keep his support stocking from falling down. He took a crutch and imagined that he would be hitching it up as he walked along the road. I suggested a suspender belt might help and giggled insensitively.

Syd posted a photograph of his head and bare shoulders on Facebook. P was concerned that perhaps he shouldn’t be representing himself like this, but I thought it was rather lovely that he was celebrating his burgeoning sensuality and celebrating his body. I understood P’s  perspective; we do live in a body obsessed society. We do objectify the male form. The whole person is just as important as the body. Still, I am pleased that he is confident about his physicality. I was a timid teenager, that felt very ashamed about my body, I am glad that he hasn’t picked up on my neurosis. I am glad that I did’nt grow up having to negotiate the complexities of social media. Is it robbing our children of their childhoods?

The washing machine is drying some tea towels, its sound is gentle and reassuring. Outside it has stopped hail stoning and there is some blue in the sky. It will change again soon though, the grey and wet will return.

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I went for a walk. A daydream plodding walk. I needed a day off from thinking and the studio and being anxious. The walk was interrupted by a call about some training and a volunteering opportunity with the sure start centre. I am not sure though; its in Halifax. I am not sure about anything. least still what I am actually being offered. I will wait for the email. If I have to volunteer to get a job, I will volunteer. I have severe reservations though. I am not convinced it will lead to a job, but maybe it will get me out, get me thinking of something other. Stop me from feeling STUCK, keep me occupied, make me more confident. Broaden my horizons.

 Time passed and the rain went on falling. There had never been an autumn when it rained so much. The valleys along the coast sank under the weight of all this water that was streaming down the hillsides and the ground rotted away instead of just withering. Suddenly summer seemed so far away that it might just as well have never been and the distances between the houses seems greater and everyone crept inside.

Moominvalley in November, Page 15, Tove Jansson

I completed reading Naoise Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the new Moomin books have arrived so we are back in the fantasy world of Finland. I am much happier in the cozy Moomin Valley with all the lovely characters that live there. I would rather search out Moominmama than sift through the dark of Dahl.

I am like the Fillyjonk;  I have shelves of pretty china and plates, surplus to requirements.  I am anxious and nervous and clumsy. I enjoyed reading the story about the Fillyjonk, balancing on her roof and struggling to clean her windows.

I speak to my mum on the phone, she sounds very fed up, they are waiting for the roof on their house to be replaced. The bad weather has stalled the building work and they are dealing with large leaks and emptying bucket upon bucket of water.

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Naoise friends are coming to play this evening. I need to get on, finish up with this; its been good to take life slow, to enjoy the space of the house to myself.

This project is almost done, and I think I am glad as it is taking its toll and I don’t always want to be honest and share and  I think I am over analysing and it is taking away from the creativity rather than aiding it. Creativity does not need to be explained, its not a formula. Some things cannot be rationed out. Some times its best not to explore emotions. Some times its best not to try and fix things, to change the narrative. Some times its best just to get on with and let the day go by and the next become another.


18 Habits of Highly Creative People, Caroline Gregorie, 11/15/2015, The Huffington Post

Numb Head

6.48am (sat on the sofa)

I cleaned the grim from the screen and out of the crevices of my keyboard.

I tidied a kitchen cupboard so that I could put away a stash of plastic bottles and tupperware.

I put the washing machine on.

I tidied Syd’s school bag, signed his journal. Noted the one formal warning to discuss at breakfast time.

I cleared up the dishes.

I lay clothes to dry on the radiator.

I thought about how pointless the meeting with the business advisor would be.

I tried not to feel angry.

I woke up and five and felt the need to get up and got all of these things done. P’s dad and sister are coming today and I don’t want to spend the day at home cleaning and tidying for their arrival. I have done enough. I have cleaned the bathroom, the kitchen and the front room, its not perfect but its not an embarrassing shambles. Its good enough.

I am concerned about waking up so early each day. I am concerned that I feel so tired that I fall asleep clutching Naoise. I am all black. I am all angry and bitter and eaten up inside. I am fed up with disappointments. I am trying to walk it off, draw it off. Calm myself down. Virginia Woolf walked for at least two hours each day, sometimes in the pitch black of night.

I have almost completed the commission for my friend. Tiny bodies etched in black ink. Breasts shooting out milk. Full, fertile. The images are over the top, overt. The lines are drawn on household paint colour paper. Each body becomes a hieroglyphic. The drawing begins as words from left to right. A narrative in lines emerges. A rhythm. White ink spilt on the paper as bubbles suggest eggs and milk spills. The white interferes with the fluidity of the line. All on blue. Blue sea, sky, veins, eyes. Blue the water carrying the baby inside the mothers womb.

I felt the warmth of the soles of his feet touching the inside of my legs. Occasionally his toe nails scratch. We turn over and hug each other. Arm over, Arm over. 

Almost completed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Last night I read the chapter about the squirrels that turn rogue and attack Veruca Salts and push her, her mum and dad down the garbage shoot. Dahl is at his best when he is describing a disturbance.

I feel impatient. The sky is turning from black to the blue of day. Its seven. I need to end this and ensure that our Syd is getting up, and getting ready for school. Today will be arduous. I am not very good at entertaining, it stresses me out, but I am pleased that P’s family are coming to see him. He did almost die. If it was my child, I think I would want to check in on them. Feel their pulse and presence.

The hail stones battered the sky light and the thunder and lightening roared. The weather was violent and unpredictable. The hail stones crashed so loudly onto the glass it sounded as if they might break through. Apparently snow is forecast for this weekend.

I promised that I would try and be honest about my experiences, so I am back staring at the screen. I have just about managed to stop crying and do something proactive. I am writing sadness out of my system. 

The school run became a drive. Naoise couldn’t face the cold and the bitter rain. I eventually managed to get him to wear a coat after suggesting three possibilities;  the right size but damp option, the dry but  too small option and the waterproof but not warm enough option. He put on the dry but too small option but then changed into the wet option.

The rain is perpetual.

Naoise fussiness is driving me insane. He does not listen to mothers advice. I have to just let him learn the hard way.

I am in the studio. I went to the business meeting. The man in a suit was friendly, and he was  kind when I cried and felt embarrassed and told him I was desperate. He told me that he had been unemployed himself many times, that he has helped ex convicts, asylum seekers, refugees, and me, a white over educated, moaning mother of two.

I see now how silly I must of sounded as I dismissed again his suggestions of voluntary work.

He tells me he is not interested in my artwork. This is hard. I had wanted to discuss some of my ideas and what I could do. He cuts me off. He doesn’t even like artwork. He hates it in fact. He can’t even draw himself.

This isn’t very helpful but I can see that the only thing he can do is listen and offer me the advice that he can give. His advice feels dull and lifeless.  He tells me about local business networks and breakfasts. I fantasise that the breakfasts might include free food. He gives me the details of someone who knows about how to set up social enterprises.

50 % of small businesses fail in the first year. I wonder what I am even doing here in this glass room box in the library. I tell him that I don’t even know what I am doing here. I have no money to invest in a business or create a new business. I am skint.

I tell him about how I have struggled to even do any business locally. That there is very little work for artists. That my sector has been cut drastically. That I feel really angry and that my skills are completely under-utilised. That I feel undervalued.

I  tell him that I am still am annoyed about the person that complained about me running a life drawing class from my own studio. They suggested that I couldn’t run a life drawing class when someone else was doing so as well. How dare they tell me what I can and cannot do.How dare they try and stop me from making a living. I am still hurt by this. Their  words hurt me. I am still angry. I need to let go of anger.

I did run the class and the other class did not falter. So there worries and words were unfounded. There words only caused harm. It hurt me more than them. I am a fragile, sensitive, vulnerable person. I take words to heart. I let feelings get the better of me. I try not too. I try to reason out the world.


The market here is flooded with creativity and services and alternative therapies and hairdressers and cafes.  Perhaps there is no space for me and my artwork here. Perhaps I just don’t fit. Its hard. All things start small, all ideas need nurturing. Locality is important.

Am I located in the wrong place? Do I need to be in a city? Do I need to be  South where there are more jobs and opportunities and sunshine?

I ring P. I am crying. I can tell he finds me frustrating. His voice is impatient. He has heard it all before. He is bored of me and my unemployment story. I am completely stuck. He thinks I should re-do my GCSE Maths online. I try to tell him that I can’t understand maths that I need a teacher to help me, that I can’t do it on my own, I need some guidance. He tells me that I need to decide on something and go for it. Teaching, PhD, Mental Health & Parenting work. Ideally I would do them all. Perhaps I can.  I stop talking to P its not helping. Instead I am here talking to this screen.

The screen does not interrupt, its a good listener.

I write emails to organise potential voluntary work and to ask of advice. I write to a friend and ask if there are any teaching opportunities at her university. I miss teaching. I miss the world of academia. Of learning and knowledge.

I need to get some advice about applying for some funding from the arts council. Ideally I want to create a participatory arts project around the maternal and mental health. Or do a residency at a hospital or a sure start centre, or both. I fill in an online form.

I wait and I wait. It rains and it rains.

The hail batters the glass of the skylight and I am stuck and stuck and stuck inside.

I enquire about the workshop about Loss and Change at Healthy minds. Perhaps that will help.


Cathartic Power of Art: Motherhood as a rite of passage, Ana Alvarez-Errecaldeon Nov 9, 2015, Elephant

Selfish Mother

Wet Wednesday

7.01 am ( sat slumped on the sofa)

I am confused. Ever feel overwhelmed by what work there is to do? I have made a massive project M(other) Stories, it is full to the brim of words  and thoughts and ideas and images. A proliferation of images. So how do I tackle that, how do I develop it, what do I do with this container?  Does it become a kilner jar on a kitchen shelf, gathering dust and filled with a grain or a cereal that hardly gets used. We have loads of lentils in jars that sit worthy but uneaten.

Syd is just out the shower, I heard his heavy steps come down the stairs then back up. I have polished his shoes and his brothers. There was love in my shine. Its still dark outside, wet and miserable. This time of year is about hibernating and escaping into the imagination as the reality of the damp is depressing.


I am going to spend a day reading from my M(other) Stories. Come and listen if you want it will be on Sunday 6th December 11am-4pm, The Linden Art Studio, Linden Mill, Hebden Bridge. I thought that would be a start in thinking about what to do next. I would get the opinion of others. I need some feedback. I need some listeners and responders. Art needs an audience.

I still haven’t read To the lighthouse, or done something with that pram. I keep thinking of the scene from the Suffragettes movie of the pram full of stones that were used to smash windows on Oxford Street in London. I keep thinking of the scene in Battleship Potemkin where the pram with the baby in it is launched down the steep steps. I keep thinking of pushing an empty pram full of potatoes up the buttress road towards Sylvia and her grave in Heptonstall.

I keep making magical pilgrimages with my pram.

With my pram we walk through the streets of Berlin, we walk from east to west, past the remnants of the wall. With my pram I walk to Jerusalem and the wailing wall and my baby and me push a rolled up piece of paper containing our prayers and wishes in a crevice . With my pram I walk the Great Wall of China and contemplate how small me and my baby are and how big nature is. Yet how amazing mankind is and that the wall can be seen from space.

With my pram I get onto a boat and we travel into the congo and the Heart of Darkness. With my pram I walk the entire boggy length of the Pennine Way calling into pubs on the way and drinking ale. With my pram I walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and I see all the sites of New York and push around the helter skelter of the Guggenheim museum. With my pram I walk the streets of Kings Cross in London and trace the steps that I made with Syd when I lived there. My pram takes me to all the places that I have been and want to go.

Me, my pram and my imaginary new born baby.

The baby is my daughter. My imaginary daughter. Who is my imaginary daughter? I will concur her up. She is strong. She can climb trees and sew and kick a ball and draw neat lines with coloured felt tips. She can cuddle you close and she can  get very frustrated and bad tempered and shout at you. She pushes her feet inside my shoes. She is fascinated with my lipstick and green eye shadow. She wheres a dress and crazy coloured patterned tights and twirls around and around like a dervish. She pushes small blue flowers into dirty brown mud pies. She breaks off branches from a willow tree and carves a bow and arrow with a pen knife. She makes a fire and toasts fallen walnuts on it. She races newts across the surface of a water trough. She swims through deep water. She tumbles a somersault in the air and balances on a beam. She swings from a tyre on a branch.

Its time I made sure that Syd was coming down stairs in his uniform, he has been an age upstairs and sandwiches need to be made and breakfast eaten.

Today will be another studio day, I have decided to escape into my imagination this week and pretend that I don’t need to panic and look for a job and that the world is all just fine………..


Rain and Resilience

6.45am at the table in the front room ( I have been awake since 5.30am)

You don’t go to church or a psychotherapist – you go for a walk and feel better.


I woke up completely dressed, the cotton fishnet tights making for a sweaty nights sleep. I am totally exhausted from care work and tidying work and battling against depression work.

I drew and sorted and walked my way out of black. I walked the path in the woods near to Ted Hughes home. You could see that there had been a deluge of rain, the ground was sodden and covered in piles of leaves and stones that had been washed downhill by temporary rivers.

lichen wiltering

There are still a few leaves clinging in the trees catching the sunshine. I very almost stood on a frog that crossed my path. I didn’t kiss it. I didn’t become a princess and it kept jumping overtime I pressed focus on my camera.

I saw a black rabbit, and a pheasant jumped up with a screech. Earlier this morning I heard the owl calling behind the house.

Its not always possible to do all the things that keep me sane. Walking, breathing, drawing, holding Naoise hand. Its not always possible to be sane in this violent world. Do we hide behind a rock or do we engage with life ? Do we live in fantasy or face reality? Do we hide or do we seek? (lullaby, rocking child to sleep, breastfeeding)


I read Judith Butlers article about mourning becoming law in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, the  the restriction of liberty, the upsurge of  fascism, misunderstandings. She states that these are;

Horrific, sad, and foreboding times, but hopefully we can still think and speak and act in the midst of it.

Slowly we can make sense of things. Slow is good. Slowness and healing take time.

I have been up since the crack of dawn, yet I still can’t articulate my thoughts. I wanted to write something about rain, crying, mourning, and resilience, but for now I have to wake the house and dress children and ensure that they have all they need to go to school. Small actions of love and care make the world turn around.

Walking to fetch water. Walking to give birth. Walking to calm a baby in a pram. Walking to stay sane. Walking to find inspiration. Walking to buy food from the shops. Walking to drop my son off at school.



Special delivery: proud new mothers in the world’s poorest country, Tom Seymour, Monday 16th November, The Guardian

“Mourning becomes the law”—Judith Butler from Paris, Sarah Shin, Monday 16th November, Verso Books

 Bjork on Iceland: ‘We don’t go to church, we go for a walk‘, Laura Barton, Tuesday 17th November, The Guardian