Friday, 17 June 2016

Deep Breaths and the Waking of the Ones Who Inhabit the Depths

This is a post I’ve been putting off for a long time, a change I have been tucking away in a dusty, cobwebbed box in my mind. A “soon” a “not yet”, “the time isn’t right” whispered deep into my bones and soothed with promises of “one day…”. 

Hidden deep under the leaves of those whispered promises, beneath tangles of words and plans sketched and scribbled in notebooks and on scraps of paper, something slept. A something sleeping snugly, comfortably, confident in it’s own power. A tiny creature, I imagine we all know well, one that is capable of growing to mythical proportions with only the slightest encouragement or provocation. 

It comes in many forms, some I have raged at, spat in the face of, others I have tricked, some cajoled, slowly eroding their foundations, drop by microscopic drop. There are those, however, that I tiptoe around lest I awaken them from their slumber, limiting my movement and expression. Tiptoeing in ever decreasing circles until, at last, I am frozen, unable to move at all. It’s absurd, it’s soul destroying and worst of all, it’s self inflicted.

This is a difficult post to write, after a few words I decide that yes,  I do need that 75th cup of tea, to look out of the window, read or research something. I begin to walk around the room and lose my thread. What better reason to stop and put this off for yet another day. 

The creature has been roused, yawning she displays her fangs and glances at me, a sideways glance, through one bleary eye, as if to say “ Go on, I dare you, you will soon see what becomes of this…”

A deep breath.

Carefully, I sit back down so as not to elicit so much as a creak from the chair. 
Slowly, gently, I allow my pen to glide over the starkness of the paper.
All the while, my breath grows shallower…

A deep breath.

Not quiet enough. Roused once more and mood growing foul, she hisses. I shrink. I pause and as I do a cold creeps into my bones…

I have been writing this for weeks. No. Months. For a time, in my own head and then as  notes, scribbled in haste in stolen moments, on scraps of paper. Never typed. For that would lend itself too easily to a copy and paste and the clattering of keys would require nerves of steel! The pen is far kinder in it’s rhythm and it’s forms are more easily silenced inside a book, inside a drawer. The effort and determination in order for those words to appear on a screen allows for boundless excuses of “not today” “no time” “ I need some fresh air first and then, perhaps”


“Time for tea!”

This time, getting wise to her gentler distractions,  I make a pot, no need to get up and make another cup…

I sit. Tea cup growing cold in my hands. How to write this, which words to choose…

I would rather have my hands on clay, or be  listening to my pencil sketching, shading a fragile emergence of an idea. Rather be out walking the hills or woods, searching for bones among the roots, or tangled in long grass. Anything but sitting here and writing this, facing up to my deepest fears. The fear of asking, or more accurately the fear of receiving.

Some of us, we do this… we excuse why we are posting our work with  “This is just a little post/note to say”  “ Sorry for spamming but…”  as  if there is something so profoundly abhorrent in saying “I need your support. Without it my creativity will slip into the abyss of unrealised dreams and may never see the light of day again.” 

I do this.

“Why?” I ask myself.

 Do we not deserve to live a life of passion, of work infused with love, with the fibres of our being? Must we play small? Self limiting because we believe we are not worthy to receive, be seen, heard, read. Must we apologise, creep around and hide and attempt everything in isolation.

Do I?
Must I?

To those who ask, who receive gracefully and with gratitude, you have my respect. To those who are able, it is something so simple. But for those of us whose stomach churns at the thought of it, it’s akin standing on the edge of a boat preparing to  jump into the ocean at it’s deepest point, unable to swim and hoping, that eventually, instinct will kick in and keep one afloat.

Here I am. On the edge of that boat. The worn wood feels warm and familiar under my bare feet, the stillness of the ocean below me seems deep, dark, cold and foreboding and I know that “She”  the creature, lurks just below the surface.

Deep breath.

First another word, sentence, paragraph and then, I promise myself, I will jump.

I am neither materialistic, nor overly ambitious and I am not criticising those who are. It’s just that money is not my motivation nor  my inspiration to create. Creating is the air that I breathe, it’s what nourishes and connects me, brings me joy and keeps me sane.  I think like many artists be they dancers, writers, musicians, bards, chefs… I have a desire to reach out and connect with others. My hope is that I create forms and stories that speak to another soul, light a spark, or even rekindle a glowing ember of something put aside or long since forgotten.

In order to do this, I have finally had to admit that I do need an element of financial abundance. There are materials to purchase, not only forage. Techniques to learn, experiments in expression to widen and yes, bills still to pay. By fearing and refusing to ask for what I need, I am effectively, cutting myself off from my source of nourishment and I am starving my soul amid justifications of why I can’t ask.

My sketchbooks are bursting with inspirations and ideas not yet brought into being through a lack of resources. Fear of  receiving has been restricting me from stepping up and playing an active part in my place in the world. In doing so I deny myself, I deny others, I deny those who wish to encourage and give support. I hide away from being seen, shuffling the edges and making do. 

I can just about survive there.

I wash the dishes…

The creature, though wary, begins to settle back down “Know your place!” She sneers.

And, through writing this I do, though not in the way She would like me to….

I resist making another pot of tea…

My heart pounds as I begin to write this last part and I chuckle that perhaps I have imbibed far too much caffeine, but here we go. These are the askings I need to share with you all.

First, is for the understanding that I  do need to increase my prices to reflect the amount of time and energy I spend in creating my pieces. I pay myself the fairest amount for my tiniest of dolls but that is still slightly less than a minimum wage. As as result I spend most of my time on these in order to eke out a basic living and either put off working on larger pieces or underprice them telling myself that I can’t possibly ask for what they are worth to me. 

Thanks to a link shared from a dear friend, I am also in the process of setting up a page at to ask for support from those who wish to help me create and grow on a regular basis, other than by purchasing dolls or books.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the site, it’s a tiered system of patronage with various “rewards” depending on the level of commitment. There can be as little as a $1 monthly investment, which will be as gratefully received and just as important to me as a larger amount.
I also need help promoting my work until I get the hang of it.

If anyone knows of opportunities for, or is able to offer exhibition space, interviews, or an artist’s residency, I would be very grateful and fantastically happy.

I am looking for a film maker with a dark aesthetic to work with for an upcoming project or three…

I’m also looking for advice and/or help  promoting my book “The Shady Tale of Persephone de Grimoire” as I would love to be able to publish more of my tales of the Governessa and her Stolen Ones. At this point in time I have a cacophony of over seventy of them waiting to be published.

I respect the time and energy of anyone who wishes to contribute and offer in return amongst other things, my heartfelt thanks, exclusive work in progress previews, pre-booking on all art created, videos, tutorials, sketches, prints, books,  artwork, a peek into my process and limited number of one on one updates/discussions via Skype. More in depth information will be available via my Patreon page as soon as it goes live.

The creature rises and in various forms I feel her growing, her cold breath seeps within me, red eyes glowering, her words drip poison and as they do I cough and my hands tremble.

Deep breath...

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Unfoldings and a Steaming Pot of Red Cabbage

Sometimes a slow unfolding is required

This be-horned one has lain on my table for over a year, somehow I lost her along the way

But over the past few weeks, I have heard a whispering, though somewhat indistinct at first.

Whispers of a tale unravelling....

I sensed she was a shy one and so I stole away, ears straining hard lest I miss her murmurings and inspired to try dyeing with red cabbage, I filled a pot.

After simmering and steeping in the vat, I poured some of the dye bath into a jar and left fabric overnight, to steep further.

A little dyer's alchemy and the remaining vat turned a beautiful shade of teal (accompanied by a squeal of delight...)

The initial dip in the bicarbonate of soda and red cabbage vat yielded a subtle pale aqua

Then both vats decanted, I waited and prodded and waited....

The first three from the left were from the dye bath with bicarb added and two on the right were from the initial red cabbage only vat.

I love the subtlety and the variety of shades produced from the two dye baths.

 I offer her the bundle and wait...

Friday, 17 April 2015


"Now the king had a daughter, who was just as beautiful as her mother, and had the same golden hair. And when she was grown up, the king looked at her and saw that she was just like this late queen: then he said to his courtiers, ’May I not marry my daughter? She is the very image of my dead wife: unless I have her, I shall not find any bride upon the whole earth, and you say there must be a queen.’ When the courtiers heard this they were shocked, and said, ’Heaven forbid that a father should marry his daughter! Out of so great a sin no good can come.’ And his daughter was also shocked, but hoped the king would soon give up such thoughts; so she said to him, ’Before I marry anyone I must have three dresses: one must be of gold, like the sun; another must be of shining silver, like the moon; and a third must be dazzling as the stars: besides this, I want a mantle of a thousand different kinds of fur put together, to which every beast in the kingdom must give a part of his skin.’ And thus she though he would think of the matter no more. But the king made the most skilful workmen in his kingdom weave the three dresses: one golden, like the sun; another silvery, like the moon; and a third sparkling, like the stars: and his hunters were told to hunt out all the beasts in his kingdom, and to take the finest fur out of their skins: and thus a mantle of a thousand furs was made.
When all were ready, the king sent them to her; but she got up in the night when all were asleep, and took three of her trinkets, a golden ring, a golden necklace, and a golden brooch, and packed the three dresses–of the sun, the moon, and the stars–up in a nutshell, and wrapped herself up in the mantle made of all sorts of fur, and besmeared her face and hands with soot. Then she threw herself upon Heaven for help in her need, and went away, and journeyed on the whole night, till at last she came to a large wood."   
Excerpt from Cat-Skin - Brothers Grimm