Sunday, 29 January 2017

HOPE AND DESPAIR - MY PATMOS PROJECT AND DONALD TRUMP

My Patmos Project progresses. Hora by Night is finished ...




and Hora by Day progresses ...





But there has been a bureaucratic delay.  This is due to the need to make phone calls to Patmos about the application forms for the exhibition in the Cultural Centre. It is a very strange speaking to someone over the phone who lives and works on this wonderful Island. It would help no end if I had learnt to speak Greek and I am 


Sunday, 18 December 2016

THE PATMOS PROJECT

I am sometimes asked about my 'creative process' - the process of designing and then working on my pieces and I never really know how to respond. I have been thinking about this issue again as I work on my Patmos project. It still remains a mystery!

My starting point is people. As I often say - People Matter. All people, not just - as in the line in the song 'Colours of the Wind' - those "who look and think like you". I have then found further inspiration from what I know of the person or people I am making the piece for - or, as in 'Guantanamo', the people working on behalf of those being held in such inhuman conditions, such as Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve.

.'Guantanamo' by Louise Donovan (2014)

From those points of inspiration there then comes the graph paper, pens, rulers

Thursday, 1 December 2016

PATMOS PRELUDE

The small island of Patmos is one of the most sacred places in the Christian world. A place of bewitching power where people come for a brief summer visit and end up returning year after year - as we have. We've travelled there by various routes. The first time via Kos and Kalymnos on small ferry boats. Then during the 90s via Samos, again on small ferry boats that looked ready for retirement. There was one memorable trip when we met a group of young troubadours and jugglers on the quayside who continued to entertain with song, dance and juggling on the boat.


Now a swift modern ferry takes us direct from Piraeus, the port of Athens. But whichever way we


Sunday, 13 November 2016

REFLECTIONS ON THE PAST WEEK AND BEING TRUMPED

I had intended this blog to be the start of a series with the title of a book that I discovered in 2002 just after it was published called 'The Way of the Dream Catcher'. Written by S.T. Georgio, this is his account of spirit lessons with Robert Lax, a minimalist poet and close friend of Thomas Merton. I wanted to focus on this as Lax spent much of his life on the Greek island of Patmos where we escape to as often as we can. I am at the moment working on a series of Patmos inspired pieces of textile art and intended to blog about this too. And then Donald Trump became President of the United States.


The president-elect


I had followed the campaign and was far from impressed by him. I found his attitude to women unacceptable not least the clip shown of him taking about women as fodder for his own lust -  and the stories from those who had been abused. The televised debates were gripping but did not impress. I am not a Hilary Clinton fan but compared to Donald .... However, just as before our UK Brexit vote when I just knew that the results would be Leave I could sense that Donald was somehow going to  achieve the impossible. I understand the degree of alienation that explains why the UK voted for 

Saturday, 22 October 2016

SUPPORTING NORWICH CITY FC - AND VOTING FOR ED BALLS ON STRICTLY

Since January 2013 and our move to St Ives from East Anglia I have been the St Ives branch of the Norwich City supporters club (unofficially).  Supporting Norwich is never boring. There is the constant concern about Ipswich, the local rivals - might they end up higher in the Championship, even gain promotion into the Premiership? (All is well at present - we are 2nd and they are nowhere.) I do not envy the police at the East Anglian Derbys!

I have been married to a Manchester United supporter for over 40 years. So my original interest in football was Man U - especially during Cantona's short reign. However the take over by the Glazers and my contact with Norwich City while working as an Open University Advisor in Norwich have changed all that. However if anyone wants to watch a great Ken Loach film I can highly recommend Looking for Cantona - Eric makes a magic appearance in it.



Eric wearing the number 7 shirt he made his own.


The Education Advisor at Norwich City FC came to see me when I was working as an Open University advisor in Norwich. His job involved helping players achieve qualifications for life post football - not all would be able to achieve  the ambition of managing a team. He thought the option of distance learning with the Open University could be a solution. So followed a spell of Norwich City players coming to see me. One was the captain at that time,

Friday, 7 October 2016

Patmos - A Place of Healing for The Soul

This blog has the same title as a book written by Peter France, an inspirational writer who has a home on Patmos. One of his other books, Hermits, I referenced in my Masters' dissertation.

Patmos has been an important part of our life since 1988 when we first visited - it is a magic and healing place and we return as often as we can. It is worth the 48 hour journey. Every year we arrive in the middle of the night and get a warm greeting and smile from the same man who is on night duty in the Hotel Scala where we stay. The morning brings another greeting with a hug from the same lady who lays out the self service breakfast. We then take our trays out to eat on the terrace under the same bougainvillea. We are creatures of habit! Our first eccentricity is to walk to the beach at Agriolivado just over 4 kilometres away. There we rest under the same tamarisk trees, have the same lunch in the taverna there, now run by the great nephew of the man we first met selling grapes from the verandah of his home. Back then in 1988 the taverna food came from a very basic kitchen and was served on tables on the beach itself. Now there is a much more stylish taverna bar and restaurant. The evenings are spent eating at family-run tavernas we have come to favour - now run by the children we have watched growing up. Time passes, patterns of living stay much the same.

The island is dominated by the monastery, an important one in the Greek Orthodox Church. Its spirituality does seem to impact on my thoughts and the sense I make of my life. This year we returned with a gift from the owner of the hotel where we stay - a painting of the view from the hotel up to Hora and the monastery which was part of a series that used to hang in the hotel before its revamp.


Looking up to Hora and the monastery from Skala



There is a story I heard many years ago which reflects what I feel I reconnect with in Patmos - a reminder of what is important.

A Patmosian bay


My story:

Once there was an American businessman who spent his working life building up a successful enterprise, providing for his family and employment for many. His wife and children, however, would have liked him to work less hard, to have seen him more, and to have had holidays with him. He promised his wife that when he retired he would take her on a long trip to visit all the place she wanted to see. And this he did - they set off on their journey of dreams. Yet being the businessman he researched the work and employment of all the places they were visiting. They finally came to a small fishing village on the Mediterranean - the place his wife had most wanted to go. One morning he went for a walk along the coast where he found a fisherman asleep in his boat. He woke him and asked what he was doing to which he was told, resting. So he asked why he was not out catching fish - the reply came "I have done that". The businessman knew that the conditions were favourable for a good catch - so asked why he was not out catching more - and the fisherman replied why would he do that - he had caught what he needed and after his rest he was going to meet his friends to play boules, then go home for lunch and play with his children.

The businessman was unsatisfied. But he could make more money if he continued fishing which would mean he could get a bigger and better boat. Again the fisherman posed the question why would I want to do that?
So you could go out further and catch more.
Why would I want to do that?
Then you could buy more boats and employ others. And then you could build a fish processing plant on the shore and employ even more people ..

To all of his suggestions the fisherman replied why would he want to do that. Then the businessman delivered his final clinching argument:

When you have done all this, you can sell your business at a big profit and retire. Then you can buy a boat and find a good view by the shore, spend time with your wife, children and friends, and play boules ...

For me this story and my time on Patmos remind me of what is important in life and leave me determined to live true to that core. For me that means living my creative life. This year I have returned with the hope of my own exhibition in the Cultural Centre in Scala and work on Patmos-inspired pieces has now started. More news on that later ...

Monday, 1 August 2016

WE BECOME WHAT WE DREAM

The first time I started to think about this subject was many years ago when I overheard two fathers talking. One had young school age children and he asked the father whose children were all now grown up and away from home a question.

"If one of your children had a dream you thought they could never achieve what would you advise?"

I immediately butted in:

"To follow their dream.." 

Neither of them paid any attention to me and they continued seamlessly with their very grown up discussion on the subject. Their agreed conclusion was that the parent had a duty to protect his or her child from the likely consequences of an immature and ill-judged ambition. 

It is not that I don't understand the desire to protect from hurt and disappointment but it left me thoughtful. How do we know what someone else's journey through life should and needs to be? What are these adult rights and wisdom that can legitimately trump the rights of the youngster to explore his or her own meaning and destiny in life? We can not offer total protection from disappointment but we can be there to listen to the pain. We can show how we cope with loss and hurt - and give the message that disappointment will not destroy and there are people around to care and help. 

I was able - in the end - to follow my dreams and am fortunate. They have mostly worked out. The purpose of my life - anyone's life - is to grow emotionally, psychologically and spiritually and my way has been to follow my dreams. There is risk. I might have followed a dream and then found it had all been a waste of time. I might have had to make sense of a major disappointment, deal with a sense of unfairness. But those set-backs would all have been part of my life journey, enabling my growth - a growth that I hope continues until the end of my days. 

One Christmas in the early1990s I watched a film called Salt Water Moose - I even recorded it and was so moved that I suggested that Rob should watch it. At the end he asked how many stars the Radio Times had given it to which I replied - one. His comment was "That many!" He can be grumpy. And fair play, on our fourth viewing together, he had reached four stars! 

It is a lovely gentle story of two children, Jo and Bobby, living in Nova Scotia. There is one moose living alone on a small island out in the bay and they want to find another moose, build a raft and take it to join the single moose. 

Jo and Bobby

Bobby's mother is concerned about the danger and she attempts to get Jo's Dad to join her in stopping them. His response is to say "I am not the one to say 'No, its too difficult for the likes of you'. There's plenty enough people in the world to tell her that. But what I will do is to make sure that the raft is sea worthy and keep an eye on them."

Jo and Bobby find a lovely moose they call Beatrice and after some set backs and a bumpy journey succeed in taking her over to the island to join the other moose. Such films operate at many levels - for me this is a cinematic exploration of the psychic importance of growing well and being encouraged to follow a dream and manage risks.