Wednesday, 30 January 2013

It's so vast!

Where I live in Wells there are buildings on all sides but I enjoy writing at my desk and seeing people walking, scurrying, chatting...  I am not someone who writes in an isolated attic, quite often I will write in cafe's or in parks.

However when I am in a large open space or have views of mountains across meadows and farms, I can feel my writing expanding in a quite different way.  This glorious sunset moved me beyond words and into wonder...  The wonder is something physical and felt with my whole body.

Only later can it become words and phrases and then stories: stories that are journeys into landscapes and characters.  The vast experienced becomes encapsulated and then manageable, and feeds into the process of creativity.

Sometimes it 'works' and at other times it has to be re-shaped, damped down like drying out clay, and shaped once again.

The story is indeed never ending. 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Mask making in Romania

Why do I have to get away from everything and everyone in order to make masks and indulge my messy playfulness!  In Romania with deep snow and minus 22 degrees, I realised it was months since I had made any masks!  Out with plaster of Paris bandage (Modroc), Vaseline and warm water (remembering not to clog up the sink by pouring away left-over water!).  I love the feel of the materials and the pliability of the plaster.

Sometimes I have a theme in my head but this time it was just seeing what emerged as I cut, moulded and shaped.  In a sense the masks made me, rather me making the masks.  Several distinct characters emerged which are still intriguing me.  

The first is a strong mask of the shadow and the light, with blurred cross over in a vertical divide.  Although the shadow is on the left as I was making it, when I wear it it is on my right!  Now there is a paradox!  The second mask is a little girl, pink skinned and yellow hair, and she is screaming.  She feels very disturbing and disturbed. 

The third mask is a clown or fool, who feels very important to me right now.  This mask is obviously calling rather that screaming and has beaded hair!

The three fit one inside the other - little girl covered by shadow-light covered by clown!

One in three and three in one!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Sparkle Awards

It has given me such pleasure to help to set up the Sparkle Awards for creative work with elderly people, especially those with dementia.  Candidates are nominated by their peers or managers and may be carers, volunteers or therapists.  Creative Care has made awards in Romania, Czech Republic and UK during 2012.

Sharon Jacksties was the last award made at the end of 2012 for her outstanding work with older people, especially through storytelling.  Sharon has been working with older people for many years, and is also a trainer on the Creative Care training courses in Somerset.  She has just published a very special book 'Somerset Folk Tales (History Press), illustrated by Jem Dick.

But in the wider sphere, are we really looking forward to greater care being given to older people?  To more compassion in care homes?  To a better status and terms of employment for carers?  To an acknowledgement of the crucial role that all the arts have to play in care for older people, especially those with dementia?

Basically how much more 'evidence based practice' do funders want before the arts in health care are affirmed and acknowledged?

Or are we looking at more dispirited workers, more neglected residents, more scandals of cruelty?

Lets keep up the campaign and our energy!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Will Anything Change?

What extremes of news and a feeling of bouncing from the public to the personal and back again.  Still in deep shock from the rape and death of the woman in Delhi - will anything change?  Are we really going to see attitudes shift in the acknowledgement of women;s rights and roles in all societies?

I remember so well when I was researching the material for my one woman show,'My Dear Emily: the story of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson', (First Lady Doctor in UK), the extraordinary prejudice in the media (cartoons in Punch), and the hostility of many lecturers and fellow male students.  She was told of the 'horrors' of the dissecting room in an effort to dissuade her from continuing her studies.  And accused of taking easier exams because she scored higher than the male medical students.

Professional women owe so much, to so many of the pioneers including Elizabeth Garrett, Emily Davies, 
Sophie Jex-Blake and all the suffragettes.  How much is being taught in schools to both boys and girls, and at what age?  It should be starting in nursery school, but I suspect there are not the books - yet!

As we move into 2013 - can we carry a constant reminder that we need to acknowledge the heroic  women who championed our causes in education, health and politics - within the last 150 years!