Are you becoming

Halfway through 6 weeks in Wakefield.

What is in a place? Does a place make you or do you make the place?

Moving out from where you have been for such a long time (12 years in London) does that undo you? Do you lose your sense of self when you lose all your routines and references? No turning back, no going back. No regaining the old job, retaking the old flat. All is new and all needs to be re-created. Finding the ground under your feet? I don’t think I am levitating, I think I am sinking. My feet have gone past the ground a while back. Knee deep.

Funny thing is I don’t long for the old life. I don’t miss London and very much do not want to be there.

I am actually floating. Knee deep. waters rising. I can let go and float in the current just for a little bit, calmness enveloping all my senses. Oh, wait, this is what I long for, not my reality.

I feel quite lost at the moment. Turns out that my thyroid has gone wild on me (I think as a result of the ongoing throat infection plus my old friend, Mr. Anxiety, who has been quite persistent in seating with me these last few weeks). Hyperthyroidism. Started meds yesterday. The all resistant, anti-meds person now hooked on a daily dose of carbimazole until the hormones go back to their regular level. Plus ongoing paracetamol for some 3 weeks now, just a little bit before bed so the neck pain does not wake me up.

Oh well, Mr. A sticks around and likes the ride, clearly fond of my company. Anyway, an uninvited guest to my party, better buckle up and hold tight as the ride just became bumpier! We are getting acquainted and learning to live with each other, so things should get easier as we get along…

Hopefully all the other issues will subside as we learn to enjoy each other’s company and make the most of our quirky ways?! Auto-immune? Exhaustion? Esophagitis? Acid-reflux? Now, those can go.

Settle down quiet, come for a tea now and then, but be a little bit quieter, Mr. A. Give me some room, it can’t all be about you, right?

It’s quite funny how Mr A. manifests itself. I mostly feel cool and collected, emotionally, whilst my body is going through somersaults and fireworks. A bit frazzled at times but definitely not quite as impacted as the rest of me. So, who is the I I refer to, and what is the rest of me? Discussion for another time…

The sacred trinity: mind, body, soul.

But my being lost actually comes from not having a job, not having a kitchen, not having a space that is mine to do as I want, to create, experiment, work in. I feel lost because we are here for Nick – and I come along on the ride, and I work with him, for him. But there’s not me in it as such? What do I want? What do I want to do with my life? What are my goals? What do I wish to achieve? At a personal level, not at the We level. What makes me tick? He’s got enough drive to drag us around the marry-go-round a hundred times, but at some point I want to go on my own ride as well?

Space, time. Space, time.

Read, write, think, nourish (body and mind, mine, others), discuss, collaborate, join heads and hearts and spit out amazing things to marvel all around.

 

If you just spoke a little slower…

Laura is a mother of 5 home-schooled children. She hails from Scotland but, having lived in Yorkshire for the last 10 years, she now finds it hard to understand the accent even of her nan when she goes to visit.

Barbara arrived with Pipa, a 9 year old gorgeous mutt with a little of collie in her and the sweetest temperament. Barbara is from Ireland but when she now visits her children back home, locals mistaken her of a tourist and ask if she’s enjoying her holiday in Ireland. She’s lived in England for some 20 years, where people seem to never miss out on her Irish accent. She recently got a kitten to keep Pipa company.

Andy has worked in a few countries around Europe and even picked up a little French. Nothing much, just enough to get by as long as no one speaks too fast. He feels strongly that everyone should be taught sign language at school so we could all communicate with each other anywhere in the world.

I was at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, washing my hands in one of the toilets, when the cleaning-lady started chatting. She was saying something… very fast… with a very thick Yorkshire accent. Cleaning and water splatters where involved, as well as the hand-dryers. She laughed, I laughed, we both smiled and everyone went away happy. (She smiled that I-now-know-you-and-we-had-a-bit-of-a-chat smile when I saw her on my way out of the building).

 

 

People will always need coal

A few weeks ago we met an ex-miner from the Wakefield region, Neil.

Neil had a lot of interesting stories and was a pleasure to talk to. However, what stuck with me the most was his reason to become a miner…

‘There was this advert on TV where you would see this miner going on ski-holidays…’
‘And did you ever get to go skiing, Neil?’
‘No.’

Juggling lives

Bread, Art, present, future, expectations versus actual, planning and executing. Dreams. time to think. Time to read. Time to stop. Time to feel, look, taste, experience.

Today has been a mixed one, exchanged on the contract, we are now technically homeless, those 25% of our little flat are ours no more (we never quite decided on what 25% we owned, I think mine shifted between the kitchen and the bedroom, Nick’s probably very stationary at the table where he is always working…).

ACE reply has come through and sadly we have not been granted the funding. Oddly enough, although quite gutted I didn’t feel in any way shocked or rattled. I think it’s like being 1K short of the finish line on a ultra-distance race and someone telling you that there’s no goody bag waiting for you. That’s fine, I’ve covered the miles, I can finish on my own.

We just settle into our normal routines at a new location – juggling lives. Part-time-making-money-jobs, part-time-following-the-hear-work.

Let’s go.

 

Touching light

Anthony McCall: Solid Light Works exhibition at the Hepworth gallery in Wakefield is a beautiful experience. Being touched by light, feeling the softest of shifts in the mist that plays in the dark… Awakening the senses to the delicate play at work in the room, all the loud external feeds that usually overwellm us quiet for a brief time.

A Manifesto for a New Wakefield

This year and for the first time in its history, the Long Division Festival, taking place in Wakefield over the 1st weekend of June, created a seed fund for artistic work to be developed in tandem with their music festival: The Seed Fund Programme falls under our project entitled “A Manifesto For A New Wakefield” and this is the theme we are looking for in the work. It does not need to be about Wakefield directly, but your work should have a proud Wakefield accent. What would a manifesto for the future look like in our city? What message would you add to it? You can reference the past and talk about where we are now but with an eye to the ideals of a New Wakefield.

I came across the brief a few weeks back, and was immediately taken by the idea behind it and how interesting it would be to be involved in it. Nick and I spent a few weekends working on our concept and proposal for the call out:

Life has a tendency not to follow plans, respect ideas or care much for goals. One day we wake up and realize that that teenager planning to travel the world was replaced by a middle-aged individual, caring for an elderly relative, or by a 20-something with an 8-year-old, or someone stricken by a disability. The sports centre is now in decay, abandoned, the swimming pool empty of the slightest drop of water. The pits closed and a whole way of life died away.  

One day we wake up and the life that is has crept by without our awareness.  

“Are we becoming who we thought we were going to be?” 

With this work we seek to invite people to become aware. Without judgement, to take notice of where they are in the present. As individuals, as a city. A little shake of consciences. Welcoming and embracing who they have become. Growing comfortably into their skin. Adjusting. Reframing for the future. Achieving their potential. 

 

 

We are very happy to have been selected and given the chance to materialise our concept.

Long Division Seed Fund

Finding a new job, moving to a new town, meeting new people…
I guess that is the way most people usually approach this kind of thing.
I can’t stop having this back of the mind feeling that we are setting out into not much chartered waters here, flipping common sense on its head and not following the script.

We’ve met, by now, quite a lot of Wakefieldians (I am sticking with this word). A lot of these meetings were in person and quite a few, so far, only online.
I have to say that our impressions of people from and based in Wakefield could not be any better, Yorkshire is doing a great job in making us feel welcome.

We are moving in 5 weeks time. We have sorted out accommodation, which was quite serendipitous, as we met some lovely people looking for lodgers and will be renting a room in a beautiful house.

We will be fully embracing freelancing, artist lives and part-time income sources. We are focusing all our time and energy into creating, making, thinking, playing, exploring.

At the start of this crazy Wakefield adventure we set out to complete a very ambitious art project, which seems to be sprouting it’s own branches: we are ever so happy and proud to have had our proposal selected for this year’s Long Division Seed fund and to be given a chance to bring to light a concept that was great fun to develop – cue rest day-trip to Brighton that ended up being a full on brainstorming. Can’t complain of a work day by the sea.

A steak and ale pie

This weekend one of my best friend’s is visiting with her mother. I thought that Steak & Ale (Landlord, if you are curious) pie would be a great way to acquaint her mum to quintessential British cousin. Also, this was a great way to distract me from the looming of the moving date, the downsizing (am I trying to sell some of the furniture or do I just give it away? How many books can I take with me? What clothes will make the spring clean?), packing, storing, looking for work, looking for funding, depressing over the lack of both… hoping the plunge won’t be onto too cold a water.

On the plus side I sent out an email to an institution in Wakefield who I hope will point me in the right direction to organise Community groups baking activities and I have called a Man with a Van for a quote in driving us and our bits and bobs up north.

Moving back to pie… I made mine by stir-frying some thinly shopped shallots, adding some garlic and some braising steak. After a few minutes a good half bottle of Landlord, followed by tomato paste, chicken stock cube, fresh thyme, diced mushrooms and carrot. All cooked until the meat was tender.
For pastry I am using Smitten Kitchen’s delicious flacky pastry lid. If you have never made your pastry with sour cream you don’t know what you have been missing!


 

An artistic rendition of Durham Gala Banners coming to Wakefield…

Last weekend’s chat to Nicholas Vaughan on his Wakefield project Grassy Slag Heaps also looked at his choice of imagery. A great part of the work he will be developing and creating is inspired by the Durham Gala Banners. Work will be produced in the style of, but bringing new elements and techniques to it, exploring the image to convey a new message looking at intriguing and challenging audiences.

You can hear an excerpt of the talk below.

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