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...


Mandy Jordan said...

❤️ You are worthy. Your work is worthy. ❤️

Debbie said...

THis must have been a difficult post to write. I would have thought some of the galleries around you would be interested in your work but I guess they charge huge commissions. There is always Blurb for publishing and you might be interested in the Bristol Art Books exhibition, its a very well attended event, I think the next one will be in 2017 at the Arnofini, there is a list of the previous exhibitors on the web, some of them are small publishers they might be able to help.
Does North East Somerset have an Arts Week, its a good way of meeting other artists and showing off your work.
I am probably not the best to advise seeing as I sell very little of my own work but I do hope you can find a way to continue making your beautiful dolls and sustain an income.

JJ Beazley said...

I know this isn't at all helpful to your dilemma, but reading the post had me musing on two questions:

1. What is this thing about being uncomfortable with receiving? I'm the same.

2. I have the impression that if you go back far enough - before the concept of statehood became the means of defining collective identity, and maybe even later than that - people lived in small, self-reliant communities, and the role of artists, storytellers and so on was accepted as a valid contribution to that community. As such, it entitled them to share in the collective wealth produced by the labourers, the wheelwrights, the millers and so on. Now we live in a culture so consumption-obsessed that everybody's first priority must be to earn a living either by getting a job or producing something commercially viable. I and a few others understand where you're coming from. We sympathise fully and want you to succeed, but the system generally doesn't. Even the charitable funders are so hidebound by aims, targets, projected outcomes etc, etc, that a person driven solely by creativity is lost before they're half way through the application form.

I know how tough your struggle is, Mel, and I truly wish you success in finding a way through it. What's more, I admire your fortitude in persevering through the years I've known you. You're one of a small minority, but you're a special member of an alien fraternity and you're not alone.

It was good to see you in my reading list again.

Anthropomorphica said...

Thank you, Mandy x

Anthropomorphica said...

Thank you, Deborah. I think one of the issues has been that I've been able to sell quite well through Etsy, until this past year and have found myself getting caught in that cycle of trying to create specifically for the shop, putting more involved projects aside. Knowing that, I've felt somewhat lacking in confidence when approaching galleries. I'm at a point where feel like I need to start from scratch again and reappraise everything, so your advice is gratefully accepted.

Anthropomorphica said...

Actually, Jeff, that was really helpful to read! As I wrote to Deborah, I've fallen into that trap with my dolls recently which has left me conflicted about the way I'm working. Your comment has strengthened my resolve to push forward with the crowdfunding and looking at it from the historical perspective you shared, I begin to feel less anxious about asking for support.

As far as receptivity goes, I wonder if it's partly because we are used to working in isolation and struggling against cultural norms and I think in some ways it creates a certain defensiveness. I feel that learning to receive means I need to drop defences, stop fighting and trust. It scares me, but I have to take that leap.

It's lovely to hear from you again, thank you for the support and laughs you given me over the years.

Vintage Muse der Fülle said...

Dear Melanie,
As I have encountered you today, is like a miracle. I do not know why I went to Mr. Finch's blog today and stayed there longer. And why I read the comments?
A wonder! So it had to be, because there are questions that move me this year, as never before. What am I worth? Why do not I guess what I deserve? And how much power has the fear of me?
And it is about the transformation. To the transformation of fears to something great and miraculous. To the transformation of fears to a self-awareness. When I left your words, I was speechless and had goose bumps, because you spoke to me from the soul!
Your wives, your art is wonderful, awesome, whimsical, full of pain and poetry !!!
I love your art and I love to read your words. Thank you!
I will return here many times to read enough!
Because there are worlds behind it.
Wish you all the best and I am glad that I follow you now.
Greetings from Hamburg, the Grażyna