Love is in the air……

As it is Valentines day, I had a romantic notion that today I would go on a photowalk and look for hearts.  I figured that today of all days, the lichen would form itself into hearts, that heart shaped pebbles would litter the beach and that the planes approaching Gatwick would carve hearts in their contrails in the sky…..

It didn’t take long to realise I wasn’t going to find any hearts!   So instead I thought about love and just took pictures that are mainly soft and ethereal.  The sun had just burnt through the fog, but everywhere was still soaked in dew…..

As I returned, I saw a grandfather walking with his toddler grandson, and I thought their holding hands perfectly encapsulated love.

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An early morning autumn walk….

So glad I got up early and went out whist the sun was rising, we are due another storm this afternoon!  Moody skies and crepuscular rays over Portsmouth Harbour and lots and lots of wet leaves!

Click through for larger versions.

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!

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Finding Peace – an exhibition of contemplative images

We live in a hectic world and sometimes it feels impossible to find any peace.   A photography exhibition at Portsmouth Cathedral aims to show how we can all find some peace in our minds. The work displayed at the Cathedral in October will encompass abstract and contemplative photography, plus an interactive electronic installation which shows the participant what it feels like to be still and calm.

The exhibition, by artist Ailsa Brims, will take place in the foyer and Ambulatory of the Cathedral from Monday 16th October to Sunday 29th October during normal opening hours. The Cathedral is both modern and historic.  It is a religious building but also a vibrant public space where a wide range of activities take place.

There will also be two free half day workshops to explore and practice contemplative photography, a style that is not about technique or equipment but about learning to slow down and take pictures that really resonate with how you are feeling.  More about what contemplative photography is here >>.

Ailsa has spent the year visiting Portsmouth Cathedral regularly in an attempt to capture the feel of the building.

“I quickly realised that my normal street style was not appropriate here and I have been developing other, more ethereal styles which better capture the wonderful space and light in the Cathedral.”  Ailsa said.

“Everyone at the Cathedral have been very supportive and encouraging with this exhibition and are really excited to see the results of my work.   Plus I have Arts Council funding the free workshops so people can learn more about my contemplative style of photography”.

“We live in such a hectic world, I hope I can show how it feels to be really present and find some peace with my exhibition.”

The workshops are on Saturday 21st October 9.00 am – 12.00 noon or Saturday 28th October 9.00 am – 12.00 noon at the Cathedral. Refreshments provided. Places are limited and booking is essential via Eventbrite – links and more information on the website – www.peppermintsea.com or find Ailsa on Twitter /AilsaBrims   Facebook /AilsaBrimsArt or Instragram /AilsaBrims

Creativity sometimes requires pain and sacrifice….

It’s interesting how ideas form. I had a very clear idea of a large artwork for the Cathedral Exhibition and have spent several months working towards it. In my mind it was superb, in the mock up it was superb but in reality it just wasn’t working. I tried several things and spent quite a lot on test prints but last Sunday I had to admit that it wasn’t good enough and I would have to pull it from the art pieces I would be showing.
 
It took my total acceptance that this piece was dead for an astonishing thing to happen. On Wednesday evening, a fully formed new idea came to me – just popped into my head and I spent that evening researching if it was even possible.
 
By Thursday I had found a company that could do what I envisaged and sent an order – it was pretty costly so it was a huge leap of faith.
 
This morning, less than 48hrs since I put in the order, my new piece was delivered and I LOVE it! 🙂 Not sure what it’s called yet but it is the perfect piece for the cathedral and to say how I feel about the space there.
 
If I hadn’t gone through the anguish of giving up on the piece I intended to show, I never would have had this idea.
 
I now have to work out how to hang it!
 
I am really excited to show it alongside my other photographs and installations – do come along and see!
 
Plus some places still available on the FREE workshops 🙂
www.peppermintsea.com for more information and

It’s all about attention to detail…

I have been quiet on my blog recently, mainly because I am working hard towards a large exhibition in October but also because I also have a day job to pay the bills!

Each art project I do teaches me so much and I learn and grow a great deal.  This growth is hard, frustrating and painful but it is so important to be open to change and learning new things.   I emerge from each experience a different artist to the one who started.

One of my hardest lessons has been having an attention to detail – in being very very strict about what artwork is good enough.  This is also required for the organisation of an exhibition and workshops – but since that is my day job, I find that easier! Interestingly, my work is about attention to detail and contemplative photography as well.

I am organising an exhibition which is largely photographs.   However I am keen to add my own slant to an often photographed subject (Portsmouth Cathedral) and I have had to work hard to produce the type of work that I feel is saying what I want to say about the wonderful building and space within.   I have taken 100’s of shots (and will be there again tomorrow, taking more).

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The choir practice on a stormy sunday evening

This has not been easy,  I have had to be very critical of my work and reject 99/100 of the pictures I have taken.     This week I realised that my camera equipment was holding me back, I had an entry level camera which has served me well, but recently I realised that some of my frustration was in fact limitations of my camera, I’d outgrown it.   So now I am the proud owner of a Fujifilm XPro1 – not a new camera by any means but a huge step up and it has given me the ability to take pictures that are a new level in quality and ones I am very excited to show in October.

But then there is the other side of an exhibition – I find that producing a body of artwork to show is mostly about organisation and very little about art!  This is also frustrating as really I would just like to be painting and producing all day, but there is marketing do do, websites to design, presentations to write and a lot of things to buy in order for my exhibition to kick off successfully on October 16th.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

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More beautiful detail from Portsmouth Cathedral

Finding Peace will open at Portsmouth Cathedral on October 16th 2017 and include two free workshops to practice contemplative photography.   More details soon!

Framed…..

A collage of the life drawing I did this week.   The media was permanent marker and water-based crayon, but they’ve been digitally manipulated since then!

I liked the poses with the frame, it was interesting to draw the model in respect of the frame around her.

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Framed, Mixed media, digital. 2017.