The big reveal…..!

Last night was the private view of the exhibition at Jack House Gallery, Portsmouth and I have kept my largest piece under wraps (except some teasers on Instragram!) until now.  So here it is,  Heat Shield 458.

An armour-plated tunic made from the wrappers of HRT patches over the last two years, which took several weeks to sew. This represents every single patch I have used. HRT was a life saver for me, the hot flushes I experienced were intolerable.

 

One of the great things about this exhibition is it’s opened up the conversation about the menopause, I have had some very interesting chats and been able to educate people – men and women, about this huge event that we still don’t talk openly about enough.

See my menopause blog for more information!

 

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Not my body, not my mind

Imagine waking up one day and everything you thought you knew about yourself had changed. Going through the menopause recently was a frightening experience, nothing worked like it used to, my tastes changed, my mind changed, my body changed, everything was alien and to make things worse, I now also felt invisible to the wider world.

I decided to channel this experience into my art work and ‘Not my body, not my mind’ is an ongoing series that explores of the terror of waking up changed and the opportunities this brought.

Burning

Red, 2015

“Menopause is not a medical condition, it is an earthquake, shaking us to our deepest foundations, wiping out the edifices we’ve so carefully constructed on what we once imagined to be the solid ground of our life. Menopause hacks us open; it is the cleaving to end all cleaving.” Sharon Blackie. If Women Rose Rooted, 2016.

I remember clearly one day sitting on the kitchen floor just wondering who I was, there was nothing left I recognised.

Midnight Blue.
Today I don’t know what
I don’t know why
I don’t know who
Not knowing feels heavy
Midnight blue.
Ailsa Brims 2015

I thought, truly believed, that I would sail through menopause unscathed, I was totally unprepared.

I have now learnt that only 10-20% of women have the severe symptoms I experienced and perhaps there is nothing I could have done about that, but it came as a massive shock.

I was a stranger to myself” Tori Amos

Out of such massive catastrophic change comes opportunities. I could start again – be who I want to be, let go of the past. I have read a lot, experienced a lot of pain (some of which is expressed in my art) and grown immensely.

Yesterdays News2

Yellow 2017

Consequently, as I approach 55, I am stronger, more confident and calmer than I have ever been. I am sure of my talents and skills, confident that I am who I am. I have slowed down, become more mindful and become aware of what it is I want out of life. I am content.

My practice is focused on realising the somatic feelings and experiences of being a professional woman over 50. Due to the diverse nature of these feelings, I work intuitively with different media or genre depending on what I need to convey.

In the past I have explored the voids and liminal spaces in our minds that may feel uncomfortable. Liminal spaces, such as the menopause, are those that are neither one thing nor another, they are marginal, on the edge, and can be insecure and unstable. It can be uncomfortable and a dangerous place we are scared to cross, but crossing is transformative, we leave something behind and have a new start.

cof

Blue, 2018

I feel strongly that as a society we do not talk about menopause or understand the effect it has on the women going through it. This affects half the population and everyone can benefit from a clearer understanding of this time in a women’s life. During the preparation for this show I realised that I had never even discussed menopause with my own daughters! Our society seems to expect women to ‘suffer in silence’ and ‘be strong and carry on’ – and this thought perpetuates.

My work for this show came from real life events that I experienced recently:

  • ‘Heat Shield – 458 ’ 2018 – An armour-plated tunic made from the wrappers of HRT patches over the last two years, which took several weeks to sew. This represents every single patch I have used. HRT was a life saver for me, the hot flushes I experienced were intolerable.  See pictures here >>
  • ‘Yellow’ 2017 – Mixed media. I worked on this piece for many weeks before settling on this presentation. I started it the day I found out I had not even been given an interview for a job I was well qualified and able to do. The rejection was extremely painful (and came after other similar rejections) and so I felt completely invisible to the world of work once I turned 50.
  • ‘Red’ 2016 – Mixed media – making this work was therapeutic when I was experiencing some extreme symptoms of the menopause.
  • ‘Blue’ 2018 – Watercolour – I wrote this poem on a day in 2015 when I felt I had finally lost my mind.

The exhibition is on at Jack House Gallery, Old Portsmouth from 10th – 14th April 2018.

flyer-landscape2

You can find out more about my work at www.peppermintsea.com

A valentine…

To be with one another forever and to have no doubt
(Nor feel exhaustion at the prospect)
Is the goal of those who, like us,
Speak in whispers through the night,
Whose one fear is of how Eternity just might
Be too short a time,
And for whom the briefest separation is a crime.

Brian Patten (from Collected Love Poems) – a superb collection.

Inspiring women – who would you choose?

My daughter is helping to organise a conference as part of International Women’s Day in March and as part of that wants women to post pictures and details of women who inspire them.

They are asking anyone to send a photo of a woman who has inspired them at some point in their lives. This could be a family member, a colleague, a celebrity….. absolutely anyone and for any reason! Accompanying the photo, they’d like a description, short or long, of how this woman was inspirational.

Post them on Twitter with the hashtag ‪#‎inspiredbyher‬

So who to chose?    Florence Nightingale?   Aung Sang Suu Kyi?   Georgia O’Keeffe?   Marie Stopes?  Millicent Fawcett?  Vera Brittain?

I could write pages on any of these women and the incredible work they have done, the sacrifices they’ve made, the obstacles they’ve overcome.  The truth is that I am inspired by any woman who went before me and who struggled to have some freedom that I take for granted – education, voting, contraception, exploring the artwork I want to do… how ever I chose to live my life, there are dozens……hundreds of women who fought so that I could have those choices.

But if I have to chose one, I will chose Georgia O’Keeffe the artist.     I loved her art the first moment I came across it many years ago – there is something very visceral and free about her work that I admire – all the more when you consider the reaction it must have had in the first part of last century.    Her works show emotion and power by abstracting objects and she took her inspiration from the natural world.   I have stayed at Ghost Ranch, one of her homes in New Mexico twice and it was very moving to stand where she stood and see the wonderful wilderness that she painted so often.   I have also been to the museum of her works in Santa Fe and was very excited to hear that Tate Modern are having an exhibition of her work in the summer of 2016.

Georgia O’Keeffe used many mediums to express her work and grew and changed as she aged.   She was a pioneer in the art world and did what she wanted to do.   I admire the way she followed her heart.

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

“I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at – not copy it.”

Learn more about her work here.

 

 

It’s official….. I’m an artist!

Well, I am not sure how it happened but the uni have accepted me to study an MA Fine Arts in September.

I am still in shock about it.    When I was made redundant in January and decided to take a few months to find my creative side (see the beginning of this blog) I had NO idea that this is where I would be a mere 5 months later.

So, now I have to accept that I am an artist.

And do some art.

Real art, meaningful art, art that moves me.

Yup, still in shock…….

Early morning trip to see the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the sunshine and frost

Whoa it’s big 🙂

The USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier is currently moored in the Solent just off the peninsular where I live because it is far too big to fit into Portsmouth Harbour!   It is colossal!

I got up early this morning and it was sunny with a heavy frost.   My hands ached with cold as I walked along the beach at 7am but it was worth it, I beat most of the dog walkers and had the beach, and the view to myself.   I took a few pictures I am pleased with.  It took me a while to get one of the aircraft carrier that I was pleased with because I didn’t want to just take the usual pic of it in the sea (although it is very scenic with the Isle of Wight behind).    On my way back along the beach, I spotted this fence and rope at a cafe and chose to use them as the foreground.   I am pleased with the result!

Yesterday it was raining (actually it was hailing until it looked like snow!) so I stayed in and practiced some painting – I had a lot of fun, I bought some extra colours to compliment the ones I had and spent a happy afternoon doing finger paintings on rough paper.   I will use one of them for Free Art Friday again this week, not sure what my text will be though!

More soon!

Daily photograph – Day 12 – Spring has sprung in Hampshire!

OK, first off, I have an admission to make.  I can’t do the one picture a day challenge!  There are just too many pictures out there to take and it is such a beautiful day!    I went out today for a long walk around town and found several things that I wanted to capture – so I did.  I am not going to let a self imposed challenge stop me from taking the pictures I want to take.

But I have learned a lesson from the exercise – I have learned to take my time before snapping, to think and really let the picture come to you rather than searching too hard.     And I think I have come to value the shots much more highly, to treasure the good ones more – so it is not wasted.    And I will still post a picture a day for the 30 days that I intended.

It’s a glorious day here and this is some pussy willow against the blue sky.

I have continued to practice my painting and I am having a lot of fun experimenting and learning about using acrylics.   I have used watercolour and gouache a lot in the past but for some reason I have not tried acrylics before.   I love the way they mix and the way I can move them across the surface with my fingers.  Below is a practice version – I love the colours!  They really make my heart sing.

2015-03-17 14.20.03

I feel like last Thursday was a real breakthrough – as if I had been shown a whole new room of creativity and ideas that I didn’t know was there and I am having so much fun exploring the room and realising there are so many more things I could do.  And this is why I took time off between jobs, it’s taken a while to bubble to the surface 🙂

Photo challenge Day 11 – oops, I missed a few!

I have been busy with other stuff…. and I realised just now that I hadn’t picked up my camera for a few days.   So what’s going on?!   The weather has been lousy and I think I am so obsessed with light and shadows that on a dull day I just don’t see anything that makes me think “Quick!! I have to take a picture!” – so I haven’t (I really feel strongly that you cannot force these things, it will come or it won’t).   Also, since starting to paint seriously again after a few years of pfaffing around, I guess my creativity is split at the moment!

Anyway, today is gloriously (and unexpectedly) sunny and I was in the middle of upholstering the chairs when I looked out of the window and these shadows really called to me.    I love the mix of shapes on the fence, and then the texture of the fence behind.

I also love black and white in photographs – my art work is always extremely colourful but with a camera  I think I prefer the simplification that black and white brings.   It strips everything back to shape and texture.

I feel like I am really in the groove at the moment with having ideas and trying them out.   I am saddened that it has taken two months off work before the fog really started to clear but happy that it has – I knew it would come back at some point!

More tomorrow…. 🙂

One a day photo challenge Day 8 – tulips

I feel torn creatively now, obviously I am excited about my photography and all my ideas of what I can do with it, but now I have the painting ideas too!   I was so absorbed in painting today, it was a while before I picked up my camera.   The sun was just peaking through the window (on what was otherwise a pretty drab day) and the tulips looked gorgeous.  So here you are!

I took this time from work so that I could exercise my creativity muscle and it is certainly working so far!

Did I mention I am also upholstering two chairs at the moment?!   Maybe some pics of them soon too.

No-one has taken my free art friday pic yet!   Not sure if I am pleased it is still there or sad that no-one has claimed it!