22 Feb Past, Present, Future
I seem to be starting out as I always do….with a heartfelt apology for my long, long silence. I can hear you thinking…..’Wow, someone’s bigging herself up, we weren’t exactly waiting with bated breath!’ but I started blogging with a promise to myself of commitment; it’s like Words with Friends, lengthy gaps are just plain bad behaviour. Anyway, here’s the explanation – interspersed, just for a spot of random visual interest, with some new and hopefully fruitful recent images I have put together to inspire the work ahead of me in 2014.
Before I get down to business, take a breather with some photos I took in Israel last week:
Rooftops in old Akko:
Sundown in old Akko – it happens very fast!:
Sky during the brief dusk, between Haifa and Akko
Regular visitors may remember that a freak health occurrence laid me low last summer. The discovery on a random X-ray of what looked like a small metal chain in my right lung necessitated heavy-duty and painful surgery to remove it. You can well imagine how completely this interrupted the art work-flow….pain, shock, all that stuff. But the plot has since thickened.
As you may remember from my posting last summer, I concluded that I had somehow inhaled some jewellery findings during a sneezing fit, and that this accounted for the glowing alien in my lung. The photo is still there for all to see, in the earlier post. I can now announce that I must no longer be blamed for careless respiration! I owe this startling discovery – not altogether welcome, as I will explain in due course – to dear Leyla, my Farsi teacher. She had very kindly taken to driving over to our house for our weekly lesson as I was still unable to drive, and one day she expressed ( in Farsi of course) an interest in looking at the contents of the little pot of lung with which my surgeon had thoughtfully presented me after the operation. Ghoulish, yes! but, as it turned out, revelatory! It seems that it was not my budding career as a jeweller, but a medical procedure 7 months earlier, that had been the origin of this drama!
Do you remember that fascinating filament with the little platinum bobbles, whose insertion into my bod I described in such admiring terms in a post last year? When prodded by Leyla into examining the contents of that little pot, I realised that this, and not jewellery cable, was what the surgeon had removed from my lung. The filament had indeed formed itself, as intended, into a tiny cute little coiled pretzel, intended to stay put and serve a noble medical purpose, but far from faithfully doing its job, it had apparently set off within 2 days on a completely unauthorised journey round my person, swimming up to my very heart, and whooshing into my lung, where it snuggled down in a cosy nest for 7 months until it was revealed, and removed, last June. Shocking!
Sour-cream/chive pretzel, followed by Foreign Body in my lung masquerading as same:
I was now tasked with having to reframe the summer’s painful events into a new narrative in which I had narrowly avoided an even worse disaster. Something had been done TO me, rather than BY me. I had cancelled that earlier procedure on one occasion before I actually underwent it; some protective instinct – which I was talked out of by a different, well-meaning specialist – had come to the fore. Hear me, dear people – henceforth, follow your gut feeling!
I still can’t find it in my heart to erase my earlier post about the jewellery, even though it’s completely inaccurate, because I was proud of having managed not to recriminate myself, but to accept the randomness of accident. Turns out I was indeed slapped round the face, but it wasn’t necessarily fate who was holding the wet kipper…..
This all had a far-reaching but not necessarily negative impact on my work. Of course, there was something of the post-operative tiredness, even ennui; but the brush with mortality started me thinking again along the same lines as those which led me to start blogging. How many weeks, months, years, will I be blessed to continue with productive work as an artist? Looking round the studio as 2013 drew to a close, I had a surge of love for my treasury of research, drawings, writings, photos, paintings, snippets of colour…of my shelves of collage papers and fabrics, of the monoprints hanging up to dry on the ‘washing line’ rigged up across the room. In early January I came across a ‘hamsa’, a little silver ‘hand’ amulet in the Tel Aviv craft market. It had the usual legends engraved on it….luck, health, happiness, abundance, joy; I was seized by a sudden New Year’s resolution to sign up to all of these positives, and not to dwell on the more painful parts of the past year.
So….back to blogging, dears. I am back at work, inspired by Tom Reiss’s marvellous book ‘The Orientalist’ – which I realise is a good definition for me. My fascination with Farsi, with the imagined ancient family journey, as I have already described to you, is still very much alive. My recent visits to Israel have enriched my treasure trove of words, languages and images.During wonderful days in the British Library last month I revelled in the delight of handling a 17th century world map, decorated with mermaids and unicorns, drawn for the King of France. The cashier at my local petrol station kindly allowed me to photograph her beautiful hands decorated in dramatic black henna swirls for a family wedding.
Another teaching session at JFS is coming up soon. So…..lots of work ahead to do, to share, to enjoy. Welcome, 2014!
Here’s some work in progress:
Two details from the ground of my new amulet piece, collage on canvas – positive words and wishes
Such fun….writing words on plasticine and clay, and printing from them on to collage paper to stick on to the canvas….I write them first on a sheet of transparent acetate and turn it over to use as a writing guide, so they won’t come out back-to-front when I print them! And I’ve done that enough times….
Here’s a recent collage about my grandparents, Fanny and Harry Abrahams, and their children – my mother Sonia, and her brothers Victor and Jack.
Thanks for visiting. So much work to do – come back soon and keep me up to the mark.
Meanwhile – a few more images…