Monday 3 July 2017

Elders and Elderflowers

It's been a while since I posted. In the last few months, I've had many a challenge. It has been a more focused period of my artistic life, as I have geared up to promoting my work more, and heading towards exhibition, as well as travelling around the country, making a living to help balance the artistic production.

Being an artist often means balancing what we love to do, with what helps to pay the bills. That means juggling alot. To build towards an exhibition means devoting alot of time that is not instantly rewarding, and also means I have to invest in product, and risk it not being profitable. That's part of the game.

New work development for market

Proud  Watchful Scottish Ram

And hence finding other work to help support my passion. The trade, to support the art, whilst I continue to develop, hopefully sell, and refine my current style.

The energy and resources needed to do this felt enormous, and we all have our limits. I often met mine this time! And I began to rely heavily on the people around me. For a listening ear. For advice. For sounding boards. Or perhaps just to witness the tears of frustration and small deaths that happen each day. The steps forward and the two back...that old cliche.

"Elders" is a word that began to resonate for me during this time. People in my life that although have walked different paths, have experienced life to an extent that they can advise, and in such a way that helps me grow, rather than to talk direction and tell me what to do.

My elders are not always older than me, although that is often the case. They just tend to be the person that I happen to be around, and when I listen closely to them, their advice can help. Perhaps not immediately, and perhaps not all is actually helpful in my specific case. However, there is always a sense of support, love, care, and compassion... and endless encouragement.

I rely so very heavily on these people. My mother, my aunts, my uncles, my sisters, brothers and their partners, my cousins.

Enjoying the sun with Mum in Cromer...searching for the goats!

My friends this time the advice I have received from my lifelong friends Karen Roberts, Mary-Alice Lloyd, Steven Ahern and Anita Sauvage, have bouyed me up, kept me sane, and kept me going, as well as people I have worked with before, with Linsay Given-Black's timely calming couple of words at my first market experience at the Art & Craft Collective's monthly pop-up exhibitions. Big challenges have come and with them a feeling of what's important, what's right and what it means to truly love and care for someone when they go through difficulties, as well as successes.

Mary-Alice and me in the garden!

My nieces and nephews, although younger than me, are often times able to give young seeds of elderflower wisdom too.

We flower so very briefly, and these days I wonder about how I use, and journey through, my life. I can lose perspective at times as I go on with my goal and passion for art, and I reflect on remembering to enjoy the fruits of my labours, which are the people's friendship and experiences around me...and as my new antipodean friend Dave is apt to say...the rest is just bric-a-brac.

Sometimes the letting go of a goal helps to let us see where we get to whilst persuing it.

Alot of my blog may appear very positive and upbeat and very adventurous, and yes it is, some of the time.

Then there are the darker, scarier, fear-filled and lost times. The introspective times. The times when you doubt things, and lose things. Like friends, family, opportunity, keys to the motorhome, artwork, your temper, your perspective, your emotional control. Without the elders in my life, those that have lost these themselves, and so know; without them, I could not be writing this blog now.

So I got back to the UK in early spring, and during that time planned, worked, drove from place to place, and made elderflower cordial.


Elderflowers don't last very long. You get a burst of sweet scent, and a window of opportunity to gather them, place in boiled water with lemon and orange slices, and perhaps too much sugar for our own good, and hey presto, as we go into summer, we can keep the taste of it through the months, and if you freeze it, into the winter months too.

Journey along the canal in Muston, Leicestershire

It was one of the seasonal paid jobs I got to help finance myself during this time, and I have to say that it was one of the most joyous jobs I've done. Foraging in the Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire countryside in woods and beside canals, I was of course lucky to be doing it in full sunshine. You get paid by the kilo, and so you do have to pick an enormous number of flower heads, but during my cycling to work as an invigilator for schools, I'd noticed them growing along the canals, and so I was armed with fore-knowledge.

After elderflowers came the cherry, and making home made (and my first, and extremely frustrating attempt at) gluten-free cherry pie..I have my sister Louise to thank for my growing expertise with this "so-called" pastry ;-). Again, the cherry tree is fleeting, and you have to take advantage of the season, and I loved that aspect of reconnecting with nature.

Cherry tree view

I'm hopefully going to develop my ability at growing things. Creativity comes in all things, and in growing vegetables I have found a highly rewarding pursuit (although at this point I literally only have 4 baby cucumbers, so whether I actually have green fingers or not remains to be seen...only time will tell...

In the undergrowth!

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