TIF Challenge August 3

At last I’ve started to get somewhere with Sharon’s August challenge – balance. I was looking at some pendant lights a couple of weeks ago and they made me think about tying two pieces of cloth with the same thread or yarn, dyeing them and then partially unwrapping them to end up with something joined like this.

sketchbook page

I woke up this morning thinking I could use this idea to express balance – between the two pieces of cloth, maybe, and between the still wrapped and unwrapped sections. Leaving the cloth partially tied also says something to me about the halfway mark (July’s challenge) – the unwrapped cloth reveals certain kinds of beauty – open, vivid, colourful, accessible; yet the wrapped cloth has its own beauties – in the interaction of the thread and the fabric, dimensional, potential, hidden. Like the past and the future, somehow. In a roundabout kind of way… When I thought about the halfway mark some of the most potent images for me were of journeying as circular or almost circular, crossing the same points but in a different way, or spiralling, like these.


Which just looks like wrapping, after all.

This weekend will be taken up with helping one daughter to move, and then the other is starting uni next week, so I won’t manage anything material before the end of August, but at least I know now where to go with this.

If you get the chance, check out this delightful World Beach project stone sculpture by my friend Helen; from this link, search for Broch of Gurness.

TIF Challenge July 1 and August 1

“What is it to be at the half way mark?” That’s Sharon’s Take it Further Challenge for July. The short answer is – I don’t know – June’s challenge has got as far as being written about and July’s… is only now filtering into my brain. I’m thinking that in general the ‘way’ part is more important to me than the ‘mark’ part – I seem to be a process person rather than a goal person, and thinking about where I’ve got to or where I’m going doesn’t come naturally. Engaging with the process is a good thing, but the negative side of it is lacking direction, running round in circles, muddling along.

Well that’s as far as I’d got on a draft post about July’s challenge in July… and now there’s August too (and I only wrote about June’s, I never stitched it). I don’t know if this says I get to the half way mark and then stop! or just that I’m having an even busier summer than usual. I did jot some randomness about the half way mark into my notebook en route for Cornwall last week, and oddly enough some of it also relates to Sharon’s August challenge, which is

"What is balance to you? Do you maintain a balanced life? How do you balance aspects of your life? That is the challenge this month – balance."

So as I haven’t a hope of catching up, I’m thinking I should aim to combine June, July and August’s challenges in one piece or a couple of related pieces.

These were my jottings: some thoughts to start from…

half way mark – stamina – staying power
like a dog going for a walk – back and forth, exploring everything
"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons"
"When they were only halfway up they were neither up nor down"
"halfway down the stairs is a stair where I sit"
"it’s not at the bottom, it’s not at the top"
mediocre – medium – average – mean – median – half measures
point of no return
equal – balance
TS Eliot
"We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
turning point
"We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun"
middle – mid-point – centre – central – centred
sitting on the fence
midstream – mid-flow
halfway house
“Rest and Be Thankful”
relay race

And some images of Cornwall…

flowers near St Agnes apex of the roof of Sterts Theatre
rusty anchor chain light through trees

TIF Challenge June 1

I only started to think about Sharon’s June Take it Further Challenge a few days before the end of June. It’s about stashes, our collections of materials, the stuff of creation, how they comes with their own tales to tell, and how in using them we invest them with meanings old and new –  “stories that are and stories that are possible”.

I’ve always used the word material interchangeably with cloth, but I discovered recently that if you look up material in the O.E.D. cloth isn’t one of the definitions. Actually I read this in a post about material culture – textiles and technology on Alan’s blog, and didn’t believe it till I’d looked it up myself!

Stashes are made of things like cloth and fleece and thread and paper and buttons – and more – I loved reading Monika’s lyrical description, on her blog Red 2 White, of her stash that includes “nettle in the garden, gorse behind it … onion skins, shells from a beach”. 

And at the opposite extreme I’m remembering a phrase that has stayed with me since A level English Lit – “Extreme, material and the work of man” (Thom Gunn, writing about the city).

Stray thoughts… random snippets from my mental stash.

Material matters – I’d like to somehow celebrate the physicality of the stash, the embodiment of the story, the clothing of the idea in messy reality. All those little bits and pieces that make up our lives, collected here and there and spilling out of cupboards and boxes and jars, loved into order and relationship by the work of our hands and our heads and hearts.

And before the end of July, I hope!