So. I’m a bit late to the new year party but Malaysian dreams and jetlag and back-to-school all complied with and I’m back in my studio and looking forward to a full year.
The world outside my studio is scary and desperate. Poverty of healthcare, education, basic dignities of living, and currently social cohesion or leadership - the B word I can’t utter, and the perfectly titled windbag in the Whitehouse all set I hope to unravel in the months ahead. Years seem so short, and yet hours so long waiting for us, and the US, to be brought in hand…
So I focus on what I can affect, and effect - I will be showing at two open houses during Brighton festival in May for the first time, which is exciting, and also - hopefully - will have two solo shows, one in Brighton at the end of the year, and the other in Co. Clare in Autumn.
Along with colour and poetry, as usual, my obsessions this year look likely to be washing lines and jungle (see below - where my two obsessions meet).
To me, washing lines are such a great doorway into what unites us and I love painting them. Wherever, whoever and whatever we are, we all have to wash and hang our clothes. It is hard to hang washing in a hurry, and so this domestic imperative forces us to slow down, pause, concentrate on shaking out creases and pegging up, finding creative places to dry, be it in or between trees, on balconies, between posts or tables, or strung between buildings. Talking to people about washing always elicits memories and stories - of moments with dead grandmothers, out in gardens, passing up pegs; of warming still-damp vests on oven doors, to send you off toasty to school; of tears over sheets… a relentless fact of life, but part of the comfort of domestic rhythms, too.
I’m nervous I might scupper myself or lecture others with ‘a message’ when it comes to representing what I saw in Borneo over Christmas - or rather, what I didn’t see. Through miles and miles of palm oil plantations, my children and I played ‘spot the jungle’, accidental and incidental conservation of the lungs of the planet and the wildlife I was brought up to wonder at, surrounded by crops of palm trees grown in lines, home to goats, monitor lizards and the occasional water buffalo (seeing that lone animal among the irrigation channels still seems like a dream).
But I feel too impacted by what I saw, and anyway, I live in the world the same as the rest of us and we look away too easily. The people who once lived in jungle and whose ramshackled homes are now surrounded by cash crops can’t look away. So. This is where I’m going I think.
I hope you’ll join me for the - man, it’s so hard not to say ‘journey’… is there another way of saying this?!