Sunday, 22 May 2016

Reflections, politics, protests, life ... and Dennis

My reflective mood has continued this week.I have cause for concern. I am bored with the Euro in or out referendum already and might be losing the ability to tell the difference between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump! However it will be very interesting on 24th June watching the Tories pretend they all are still best friends whatever the outcome. And what future for Dodgy Dave?

I have for sometime been noting the political stance of the BBC which I thought was supposed to be neutral. With their existence and funding dependent on the whims of the present government it could be argued that they are playing it safe and presenting what seems to me to be at the least an uncritical stance on the present government together with a strongly critical stance on the leader of the opposition. Madam Miaow has commented on this in her blog and to my delight has described Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC's new political editor as the "BBC hit-woman for Cameron.." I refer to her as the dreaded Kuenssberg! I wonder if she is invited to country suppers with Dave, Sam Cam and their neighbours Rebecca and Charlie in the constituency home?  38 degrees who are usually impartial had a petition - "Sack Laura Kuenssberg" -  started by Joe who aimed at making the world a better place. 35,000 people signed this and the number could have been higher but the petition was taken down due to sexist trolling. Both Jeremy and dodgy Dave condemned the trolling. Sadly this online abuse has weakened the point of the petition.

Another protest which caught my attention was reported in The Guardian on Friday. In a coastal town near Boston Massachusetts, for twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, a group of parishioners has maintained a vigil inside the building to prevent its sale to help to pay the enormous bill relating to the Roman Catholic church's history of child sexual abuse. They point out that the church is not exactly hard up! The US supreme court has declined to hear an appeal against an earlier ruling and the parishioners will hold a final service at the end of May. But this group is not giving up. They are determined to re-energise disenfranchised Catholics who no longer trust the church. They have been raising funds for the fight, sewing quilts, holding services and fighting court battles. The archdiocese seems to place more value on property than on people.Their vigil - saying people matter - has lasted 4,222 days.

I watched the State Opening of Parliament and enjoyed watching Dodgy Dave walking side by side with Jeremy trying to make polite conversation with him. Jeremy looked straight ahead and remained silent as a potential republican would do. I thought JC dealt with this award situation rather well. I was also delighted when the Beast of Bolsover made his usual protest by remaining in the House of Commons and then quipped "Hands off the BBC!"

I also listened to Jeremy Vine talking with Dennis the Beast on his Radio 2 programme. Dennis explained he visits care homes in his constituency and sings with the residents who have dementia. There is lots of evidence that singing helps and that the memories of the music of youth remains. I do remember one lady in the home where my mother, who had dementia, was resident would stay close to the radio and sing and dance. She had what has been described as contented dementia - she seemed happy. Dennis' mother and sister had dementia. I wonder how many other MPs take the time to visit those who may no longer remember which party they voted for or be able to put a cross against a name. Can you see Dodgy Dave doing this? Well yes - but only accompanied by a television crew and the the dreaded Kuenssberg -  and for as short a visit as needed for the photo op! PR rules! Along with fiddling election expenses. His Eton education has not been wasted.

I was overjoyed by the appointment of the new ITV economics editor, Noreena Hertz. She has already come in for criticism for her lack of news reporting experience and for having "leftie" political views. She has been criticised by no less than the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph! The Mail devoted a whole page to her. Her comment so far? She wishes to focus on the job and does not intend to listen to attacks in the right wing press. Are the right wing press disappointed that their aim for UK domination has had a set back? No doubt we will find out.

And to conclude with Donovan life ... we were able to enjoy time with Merlin Porter, the son of an artist,  Jago Stone, who my husband is researching, when he and his girlfriend Bethany visited St Ives. We had a meal with them in The Sloop and while we were there he created this wonderful painting of us and in the background on a shelf are Peter Ted who was Rob's companion throughout his childhood and Sally Ann who was mine. They met Merlin - and are now immortalised!

Sloop Inn Interior - Merlin Porter - 2016

Friday, 13 May 2016

What does a textile artist do all day? Part 1

This is not the first consideration of this question but I thought I would also give it some attention.

To begin with let me share a story from this week. On Monday I got out my graph paper, coloured pencils, paints, rulers and fabrics as I thought I had an idea.Then my mind went completely blank, dead .. and in the end I gave up. All creative thought had just disappeared. I was not happy about this and life in the Donovan home for a short time was...

I did not understand this loss of creative planning as it has never happened to me before – perhaps I am very lucky.  I have made plans, have even cut out and started sewing and then realised it was not working and rejected the work but never before not been able to make a start. I looked for reasons as to why this was happening.

At the end of June I retire from my work for the Open University. Originally I had planned to retire at the end of June 2018. It is my choice to retire now but I realise that I am saying good bye to work with a large organisation which has been part of my life since the late 80s when I became an Open University student.  The Open University has changed in this time and is no longer the same as the one I was a student in – posting hand written assignments, regular tutorials and being part of a group of students, going to residential summer schools. I realise now this next step is coming with more mixed emotion than I had taken on board.  On the plus side there will no longer be the marking deadlines which interfere with creative life, the forums to monitor, the students who need extra support or the few who are unhappy – but there will also not be the lovely colleagues who have shared all this as well as the joys and successes – there have been so many of those. The wonderful times team teaching, the students who had the light bulb moment, seeing their leaps of progress and hearing from a few what their future held. I have got used to planning my creative life around all this – what will happen when these other activities are no longer there?  I am ready to go – it is the right time for me - but I also now know that I need to make more sense of and reflect further on this major stage in my life.

So what did I decide to do? Fortunately I have ongoing projects – Any Dream is nearing completion, Amish Abstraction is turned to from time to time and there is also a piece in the same pattern as Guantanamo but in a totally different colour scheme waiting to be quilted. As I quilt, peace descends and I know that the creative drive is so much part of me – it has not died.

In the meantime I have been really enjoying watching the series of reports on Channel 4 news from Michael Crick as he has exposed the dodgy Conservatives dodgy election expenses!

So what does this textile artist do all day? One answer is she muddles through with the help of trainee perfect quilters companion and reminders of the ball game!

Other answers to follow ... !