30 August 2012

a sad story...... of love and war

since the beginning of my exhibition i've been on a bit of an adrenaline rush. in just one week there was a radio interview, a private view,  a newspaper article, and non-stop talking to lots of friends, family and new people everyday. it's all been amazing. i'm tired, my voice is going but it's exciting. today i came crashing back down to earth.

i was on my way to my studio and waiting for a train at the station. a youngish guy came up and sat next to me. he was agitated and shaky and asked me, his voice full of urgency, when the next train was coming and how long it would take to get to truro. i reassured him that it was soon and would only take twenty minutes. he told me he'd just found out that his girlfriend was in treliske hospital, that she'd taken an overdose and had "tubes rammed down her neck". he said he was meant to be in afganistan today but had missed his flight.

we chatted. he is a soldier from redruth but based near oxford and has been living there for the last 5 years (when he's not in afganistan or iraq). i put him in his early twenties and his girlfriend still lives in redruth. he comes back to see her at weekends when he's not away. and when he is, he can only contact her through facebook once every four weeks. i looked shocked and he said, "trust". he'd left his wallet with her as he has no use for english money out there. i gave him the train fare realising very quickly that this wasn't a scam. also he didn't mention it. 

i asked him what had happened. he said that he was due back in afganistan today and they were going to create a "hornet's nest". he explained that a road needed to be built so they were going to "stir shit up", cause a diversion so the taliban would fire directly at them. he spoke with a crazed energy constantly tapping his hand on his thigh. he was excited, couldn't wait to get out there. he was going for six months and after that they were going "through the back entrance" to iraq to do the same again. with a gleam of pride in his eye he announced that last time they returned with 2 dead and 3 injured. apparently he'd kept the "hornet's nest" bit quiet but one of his troop started bragging about it on facebook last night, his girlfriend read it and took an overdose.

i asked him if he was scared. in the same wide-eyed frenzied manner he replied, no, that it was exciting, that he couldn't wait, that he loved the adrenaline high. but his girlfriend was terrified. he said he liked the architecture, the way people live in huts. the previous time he was out there he was filming and a bullet came whizzing through the air narrowly missing his head. it was caught on camera and when he  came home all his friends were round watching it. but his girlfriend walked in and saw it. i said i wasn't surprised she was in treliske.

he was totally removed. totally shut down. he just kept saying, "i've got to get out there, i've got to get out there". i asked if he was in trouble for missing his flight. he said it was fine, they'd booked him another for a few days time. i got the sense that he felt he was missing out on the action. his girlfriend was in hospital but he was so pumped up to fight that he was in another world. he spoke with such a   fierce obsession, it was frightening. in his head he was already out there. he bragged about living in osama bin laden's hut, the most dangerous place to be stationed as obviously it infuriated the taliban. but  he loved it. "i love the buzz".

we got to my stop. i said i hoped his girlfriend would be ok and that he would be ok too. he thanked me for the money. the train trundelled off and that was that.

five minutes later i was in the studio wrapping and packing pictures. i felt so sad for his girlfriend, so sad for him and so incredibly lucky to be doing what i was doing.

25 August 2012

pictures to come soon!

my poor blog has been sadly neglected and is also sadly pictureless at the moment..... never have i had more i'd like to write but absolutely no time in which to do it. there is one more day of my exhibition to go (monday) and tomorrow is my first proper day off for the last 3 months. all week there has been a mixed forecast for falmouth but sunday has consistently had a reassuring yellow sun..... until this evening when it became a grey cloud....

i feel as if nature has been with me throughout this exhibition. i wrote earlier about finding the dead blue tit outside my studio the week i started painting. well, just half an hour after hanging the show i found a dead but perfect kingfisher near my studio-  dazzling turquoise feathers with exquisite markings and a pair of vivid orange feet. i don't know if finding dead blue birds is exactly fortunate but i've certainly never found any in cornwall before so it's all a little strange. i've been lacking a blue pigment so maybe there is some clue to something here.

and while it feels that nature has been with me, i feel that technology has conspired against me! my internet connection is only half working and won't upload any photos, and strangely none of my text messages had been coming through. after turning my phone off to watch a play when i turned it on again about 30 messages that must have been stuck out there in the ether came through all at once! many lovely messages from far flung friends wishing me well for my private view and others from people trying to organise payment for my work.......all so frustating wondering why people hadn't got back to me when actually they had.....

once the exhibition is down i will be able to sort these things out, finish photographing the pictures and finally get them up online.....and then i will be happy! i don't like to write posts without pictures.....

(technological break through! so here are some pictures....)

09 August 2012

'100 birds' synopsis

“100 birds” is an exhibition of one hundred small paintings of birds, using pigments sourced from local beaches. It captures my emotional response to my walks, observations and interactions with the Falmouth coastline.

I'm drawn to the fragile beauty found in the tiny details of the beach; the subtle colours of the rocks, shells, sand and earth; the delicate patterns and markings on a crab shell; flaking paint layered on driftwood and the salt encrusted rust on discarded metal. 

Some of these colours are used literally as I take pieces of shale, slate, clay and earth from the cliffs and grind them into coloured dust. Others form collections of carefully selected objects; driftwood, seaweed and pebbles, which are brought back to the studio for reference. All of these natural materials are changed by the sea; worn, smoothed, faded and graded over time. The colour of the water, the light in the sky and the feel of the day are carried back as memories.

For me these objects represent a frail beauty, the embodiment of passing time and impermanence. Tiny pebbles are fragments of larger rocks worn smaller and smoother with every tide, empty shells are reminders of their long gone inhabitants, and the sea erodes the land exposing layers of colour and time once hidden deep.

I love watching flocks of birds wading, diving and gliding around me; flashes of white as the sun dapples their backs, or misty shapes barely discernible. I've always felt that birds symbolise a freedom of spirit. They are often experienced as a flash of colour or form, fleeting and transient. Few of the sea and coastal birds I see live here permanently but visit for a season or pass through on their migratory route. They are our feathered tourists. Over 100 different species have been spotted in Cornwall since 1950. Some travel many thousands of miles and in doing so connect Cornwall to the wider world. Many of them are increasingly rare and rely on a delicately balanced environment for their survival. 

Observing these things brings me into myself and to a place of serenity. It reminds me who I am; both absorbed in the present and connected to the past.

“For whatever we lose (a you or a me)
its always ourselves we find in the sea”.

(E.E. Cummings)