Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Sea side days


 This weekend my family and I are off to Dartmouth which is hosting it's annual regatta. My parents have a flat in Dartmouth so we try and go there whenever we have a spare weekend - especially if the sun is shining! Devon is a beautiful place and something about being by the sea is so calming. The view from the balcony of the flat just never gets old - even when it is raining there will be boats going in and out, fishermen looking for lobsters and crabs. As it happens Dartmouth is an excellent place for crabbing - I once spent the day sitting on the sea front and managed to catch 60 crabs just with a simple crabbing line and some raw bacon! 
I have so many happy memories of days spent in Dartmouth and hopefully the weather will improve for this weekend so that all the scheduled regatta events go ahead and we can sit out in the sun and sea air!

I made and sent the card below to my grandparents who are rather unwell at the moment. I'm sure they would love nothing more than to be able to join us as they also love Dartmouth. Hopefully the card will help them to remember the times we spent there and they can imagine they are sat on the balcony overlooking the river watching all the activities and goings on.

The photographs below were taken by my Mom who could probably fill many albums with her shots of the river and coastline!




Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Storytelling

Is there anything better than a good story? A book that you can't put down, a character who you feel such a connection with that you feel a slight sense of grief when the book ends... I have always been a pretty avid reader and from a young age I would often insist a big pile of books being left on my bed for me to delve into before I dropped off to sleep. 
Growing up I mostly read fiction, finding that these imaginative stories offered me solace and escape - a chance to daydream about fantasy worlds and eccentric characters. However as an adult I am now finding myself drawn to non fiction works the real life stories, accounts and experiences from humans around the world.










I first discovered 'The Moth' in book form - a collection of short real life experiences as told at live story telling events worldwide. Once I had read the book of these fascinating tales I then discovered the podcast which is a live recording of these story telling events. To give you a better idea, here is how 'The Moth' is explained on their website: 


"The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story – and The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape and present it.
Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide.

Moth shows are renowned for the great range of human experience they showcase. Each show starts with a theme, and the storytellers explore it, often in unexpected ways. Since each story is true and every voice authentic, the shows dance between documentary and theater, creating a unique, intimate, and often enlightening experience for the audience."



What's great about the stories featured on the Moth is that the performers themselves are so varied and diverse; people from all walks of life participate from street cleaners to world renowned surgeons. It is such an interesting insight into the lives of others and each story is unique - some describe monumental life changing events whilst others are about simple encounters that may have changed a negative pattern of thinking. 

I would definitely recommend anyone to buy the book and download the free weekly podcast, its hard to imagine anyone who wouldn't enjoy it. The stories I have listened to have made me laugh, cry and reflect upon my own experiences.

Most of the live storytelling events are held across America however there are also regular events in London - tickets sell fast though as they are becoming increasingly popular!
I have also found similar events run by different writing and performance groups in Bristol so I am really looking forward to attending a few of those - who knows maybe one day I will get up and perform myself!

Last night I with a friend to a storytelling event which featured authors and writers reading 10 minute short fictional stories. There was such a supportive atmosphere in the room and it was amazing how the whole audience were just transfixed by the narrators. I guess it just shows that you are never too old for a good story!

To find out more about 'The Moth' you can visit their website here which has a ton of information on the book, how to download the podcast or even get involved and submit your own story!


Enjoy!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Little Betty


I have been meaning to post a photo for a while of this little beauty that I received as a gift from my parents for graduating. It is a miniature sewing machine (which actually works by turning the handle!) with a tiny needle felted wren perching on top. I am especially fond of its name 'Little Betty' since Betty is also the name of my cat!

My house is full of trinkets and treasures which I have collected over the past few years - If I see something interesting or unusual at flea markets, vintage fairs or charity shops I can't resist buying them! Each piece has its own history and story and I like to imagine who they belonged to before me or who created them. To me these are the things that make my house a home, so I will go on collecting until I eventually run out of room!



Sunday, 19 July 2015

Grandparents who eat grapefruit...

Isn't it funny how we come to associate certain smells, colours or sounds with a particular person or moment in our lives? This week I passed by a fruit stall and the display of pink and yellow grapefruits instantly reminded me of my Grandparents. Every morning without fail they would both share a grapefruit for breakfast and I can clearly remember as a young child sitting in my Grandma's bedroom as Grandpa bought her breakfast in bed and watching as they ate their grapefruits out of matching bowls. I can also remember when staying with them being offered a grapefruit of my own for breakfast and finding it far too sour in spite of sprinkling sugar all over it! When my Grandparents came to stay at our house, my sister and I would watch them unload all their bags and every time without fail my Grandpa would have packed some grapefruits - so intent as they were to keep to their morning routine!
Now my Grandma and Grandpa are both in their 90's and live in a care home, so I am not sure if they eat a breakfast that is provided or whether they are able to choose. However seeing and smelling those grapefruits the other day desperately made me want to visit them so I could take some grapefruits and we could all sit and share them together.

   

Sunday, 12 July 2015

'I Will Move Mountains' - An introduction.

When many people see the word 'achievement' they will automatically associate it with some sort of monumental accomplishment - running a marathon, completing a qualification, climbing a mountain. As someone who suffers from low self esteem it has taken me a long time to appreciate and celebrate the smaller everyday achievements that are so easy to overlook or dismiss. Maybe I'm generalizing a bit here but it feels in Western society we are constantly being pushed to succeed - to reach that next goal or target (whatever it may be) and we are so quick to forget or dismiss the hard work and effort we put in to everyday achievements, as well as recognizing how hard they can sometimes be to complete. 


I have struggled with mental health problems for a long time and there have been days where it has been a massive effort to get myself out of bed and get dressed - let alone go to work, socialise or do something remotely productive! A therapist I once worked with once instructed me to make a daily list of my achievements. I scoffed at the idea and thought it was ridiculous - at that time I had no job, wasn't in education,  and very few interests or hobbies that I felt motivated enough to participate in. In my eyes wasn't achieving anything day to day! My therapist asked me if I had cleaned my teeth yesterday, if I had showered and brushed my hair. I replied that I had. I was told that for someone suffering with severe depression these were significant achievements and I should feel proud of myself for those instead of constantly beating myself up for all the things I wasn't doing.

It took me a long time to accept this way of thinking and I appreciate that the things I mentioned may seem so basic and routine for some people that it would seem strange to feel a sense of pride for doing them. However it is so important to remember that for some people these things take a huge amount of effort and that they deserve to be recognised as a positive accomplishment.

Now that I am doing a bit better I have new things on my list of daily achievements - things that I'm sure will still seem ridiculously simple or mundane to others but would have once been impossible for me to consider doing. I feel proud of the things I can now do without too much effort but I never forget how difficult they once were and when I'm having a bad day I think about how far I have come and try and pat myself on the pack for those 'little things' 

So onto the point of this post and some more info of how this relates to my mountain project...

I am interested in hearing about everyday achievements. Big or small it doesn't matter - it can be something like managing to overcome a fear of using public transport, getting back in touch with an old friend, leaving the safety of your home to take a quick walk, making eye contact with or smiling at a stranger, completing your degree, getting a promotion etc etc. I would like to know specific difficulties and feats that for you have been personally challenging and you have worked hard to accomplish. What are the 'mountains' that you have climbed?

My plan is to create a series of drawings and embroideries (possibly in the form of an artists book) that illustrates these achievements alongside more abstract mountain landscape studies.

If you would like to help out and be involved in my project pleased drop me an email (emmak2204@hotmail.com) with your story. All stories will remain anonymous and please note that you do not have to suffer from a mental health condition to participate - I reckon everyone needs to be a little  kinder to themselves and take some time to reflect on their personal achievements!


Thursday, 9 July 2015

Moving Mountains

Today I have been busy writing an application for an Artist residency in Wales I am interested in. As I was thinking about the kind of work I would make for the residency, I was inspired to start a new personal project that I am really excited about. All I will say for now is that it will involve mountains and share a preview of a quick sketch I did this afternoon. 

Expect more information and progress soon!