Appliqué and re-imagining shirts

It is strange how everything has it's time. I started to re-imagine shirts from charity shops 20 years ago, in response to the Seditionaries shirts Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren designed for the Sex Pistols. I had just enough money to afford one as a student and was unlucky enough to loose it, or I suspect to have it stolen from my wash basket in the launderette. It featured the obligatory image of Karl Marx and various slogans and anarchist signs. Loosing it made me hanker for it's charm and DIY ethic all the more. A ready supply of Saville row shirts seemed to appear in my local charity shop, and I set about adorning them with fabric paint and anything I could find that was vaguely incongruous or radical in some obscure way.

Last week I was asked by a member of Dië Spieglë (local Penzance punk band) to make a shirt for him, and now I seem to be making them for others in the band and a local shop too. The skills and techniques are coming back to me and I am using stencils and iron on transfers that I must have had lying around or in my memory for 20 years.


Wild animals and the people who work for the

My partner and I just got back from a walk along Penzance promenade to Newlyn. There were 3 people swimming in the unusually calm high tide that lapped the shingle beach under a rather leaden sky. We had seen a seal surfacing, further along, just meters off the beach, and waited for it to re surface, which it did, but 100 yards along the beach. As we passed the trio of swimmers larking about they went to swim further out and then they all screamed, and quickly headed out of the surf, we heard them say 'What was that?' and 'It was a seal!" They stood in the shallows talking excitedly about their very brief encounter with the inquisitive dogs of the sea (my name for them) I never tire of seeing seals their noses pointing up out of the sea (bottling as the locals call it) as they rest between dives, or playing in the waves off Portheras or Sennen.

Tonight, I found that there is an on-line publication called Zoomoorphic magazine, dedicated to giving voice to the wild animals that our species has not yet managed to edge into extinction. What an impoverished and unimaginable world it would be without wild animals, they so enrich our lives. Perhaps we are entering a time when, as a species, we are starting to take responsibility for our actions.







Walking, drugs and skylarks.

The 3rd of June was the first night I slept through the night without the aide of Ibuprophen. As a vegan I have to acknowledge that animals have been experimented on in the process of developing the drugs I take. I give money to the Dr Hadwen Trust which campaigns and carries out non animal based research and drug development, this is all I can do to change the future of animal experimentation.


There isn't much we do in life which doesn't have some effect on some other being, I try to remember this and live accordingly.

Walking has been a miracle cure for me, I have started to walk longer and longer distances. They have acted as a gentle massage to my scar tissue and left shoulder. Without this my lungs would also not have got back to some where near how they were before the pneumonia. My most frequent walk out to to the end of the harbour arm at Newlyn, has been accompanied by a pair of skylarks, who play and display above the stinking trawlers and rope sheds. Their song is a magical addition to the therapy of walking.


The animal world of pain

What follows is not scientific, backed up by experiment or entirely factual.

I have had a mild and so far short experience of another world, the place we call pain. That particular sensation that can stop us short, make us quiet and loose us sleep. I have always associated pain with animals, I have no idea why, but maybe the hours of TV I watched as a child hold the answer. I remember a particular public information film a bout rabies which featured stock film from a foreign country of a dog frothing and writhing in pain in a cage. Just maybe this was my time of awareness of the possibility of pain within me and felt universally by animals and humans alike.

I don't claim any kind of early analysis for it took me another 10 years at least to make the connection between my diet and the suffering of animals. But that information film sticks in my mind and that is where I will hang the idea of pain.

I have been managing the pain with Paracetamol, Ibuprofen and at the extremes codeine, all these substances have their effects on us. The codeine particularly speeded and reinforced my emotional responses to any triggers. When I first got home from hospital I cried at the sight of close friends, any moving Facebook post and any show of love towards me.

As someone who felt that in the past I had a lack of emotional response to life this was both a contrast and a welcome chance to let it all out. Here I think also I feel that this is a more animal way to behave, less guarded than our human restraint and decorum.


Maybe also I have learnt to listen better to others, to stay quiet and to really take in not just what a person is saying, but how they are expressing themselves. Why an experience of pain should do this I do not know, but as I said at the start this is an emotional gut reaction to how I am feeling.













Pneumonia and playing

Well I have had an adventure. I managed to get pneumonia via a chest infection, which at the time I was doing my best to ignore. After refusing antibiotics I had a chest X-Ray which rather shocked the radiologist as my entire left lung was white. Since then I have been in and out of hospital, both Treliske and Derriford (big boys and girls hospital in Plymouth) and had an operation from which I am still sore.

It has been horrible, but people go through much worse and I am on the mend now. However I will take this opportunity to thank all the NHS staff, whom I had dealings with, for their unfailing good humour and professionalism. From the cleaners to the consultants they did their jobs with a laugh and a smile. One particular nurse held me as I sobbed after a particularly painful procedure, to her I am eternally grateful.

What has this brush with illness done to me?

I have decided to let go. I am very clingy with the past, and the vast time you get to think in hospital helps you to realise that the present is so important. We are are made of memories, without a past we would be a strange empty vessel but, I need to let go of things in order to have room to play. 

I have re-named my studio 'The sand pit' after the play space I had as a child. It was an area surrounded by a wicker fence and filled with sand. Everyday it was a blank canvas and I would charge down there as soon as I was allowed to, and play all day. My studio I realised was full of stuff, memories, important stuff, but stuff that left no room for what I want to do now. So I am in the process of sweeping away paper, prints, stuff, cassettes, tapes that take up space in which I could be painting, drawing or making a collage. This all in the hope that I will feel as creative and excited everyday I come in here.

It seems obvious to say but if you have no room in which to make, you can't make. I had let this simple truth slip away under the onslaught of everyday life.