Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
A very dear friend of mine said this to me in one of our many e-mail correspondence. Sometimes I'll receive a compliment that sticks a lump in my throat and fills me with a great sense of gratitude for the person who says it.
When a compliment is truly genuine it stays with me. I've commented on it before and probably will again. There is so much to be said for genuine appreciation. Anyone can say, "Good Job" or "You're cool" but it takes a certain level of awareness, trust and observation for someone to deliver a compliment that not only has meaning, but a lasting effect.
It's an unfourtunate side-effect of our world that so many people lack self-respect, dignity and self-knowledge. One can argue that those who pursue their dreams are feeding their ego or being selfish. But it's the difference between pride as a result of hard work and satisfaction and pride at bettering yourself by belittling someone else.
There's a strange idea that there's not enough happiness to go around. That happiness is somehow finite and if someone else has it you can blame them for not feeling happy yourself.
This entire concept seems ridiculous to me now but it was one I wholeheartedly believed for some time. In that time I don't think I got a lot of compliments that I believed were genuine. Certainly a lot of people told me that the work I was doing or how I performed at a job was satisfactory, but I couldn't accept them with grace. This was because they were delivered by people who didn't know me through no fault of their own.
I didn't know who I was so I couldn't have possibly shared that with the world. I didn't know because I didn't own anything. I let life happen to me instead of making life happen. It wasn't something I'd always done, but it's something I'll never do again.
So when someone acknowledges that ownership...when someone I admire through and through can say that they see something I love about myself, it feels good. As it should.
Funny. I was going to write an entry about business cards and how important they are. Another thing about knowing yourself though is knowing what's important, going with the flow, and accepting change.
Such is life.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Growing up in Canada and having gone camping in Canada, (Proper camping...none of this mamby-pamby 'I need running water' business.) I equate it with being at least an hour away from anything.
English Camping was explained to me as 'pitching a tent on someones property'. In this case the property belonged to Guy Mallinson, a green woodworker who was featured on MasterCrafts on the BBC. My girlfriend would be participating in one of the many courses he had to offer and I would be taking advantage of the holiday and some further exploration. I didn't imagine where we were headed would be particularly wooded or private, but I wasn't really fussed. Camping has less to do with the location and more to do with the complete break it offers. For me camping has been about exploring, reading, napping in the sun and doodling in a sketchbook. When I was a kid I would go on adventures, find streams to muck about in and climb trees to dangerous heights.
On this particular trip my mindset was to get as much sun as possible, enjoy a lot of delicious food and see how many books I could finish reading.
The first surprise occurred before we even got there. As we wound our way down to Dorset it became apparent that we were going to pass by Stonehenge. First there were a few signs directing the way and then, over the rise of a hill and around a bend, there it was.
It seemed almost surreal, sitting there in what looked like farmers fields. It was obviously too good to pass up so we crossed the motorway and took the road down to the tourist centre. Getting closer it's easier to see how it's been fenced off and whilst it does sit amongst the farmers fields (surrounded with sheep, in this case.) the actual sight has been enclosed and separated.
It was windy and a bit chilly so I wasn't able to linger as long as I'd have liked, but I snapped gobs of photos and truly marvelled at the mechanics of it. To think it had been assembled in the stone age was incredible. My only disappointment is that the stones are so fenced off. I would have loved to be able to sit amongst them, pondering their placement or just letting my mind fall blank. I think it would be an incredible place to meditate too, but as it is a few have spoiled it for the many. Some names carved in the stone and a short fence and many signs reading 'Do No Cross' keep Stonehenge at a gazing distance.
The wind spurred us on and we returned to the car to continue our journey through the West Country.
England really is beautiful and the view of the sky and sloping hills of the countryside as you drive down to the coast are both breathtaking and quaint. It was a marvelous trip down made no less wonderful by the arrival at our destination. The parking area was at the top of a hill and a line of trees blocked the view of where the camping was. All my doubts about English camping were left behind as I stepped through those trees on to the path down to the workshop.
Guy has done a brilliant job of setting up an outdoor space in which to teach his woodworking skills. There are three round stretched canvas 'ceilings' creating three sheltered work spaces. A rectangular 'ceiling' provides the cover for the kitchen area, where Guy took us to make tea as soon as introductions were done. This kitchen is completely kitted out with a dishwasher, two sinks, fridge and stove. It overlooks a pond with a small duck house in it.
We took our tea and had a bit of a tour around. Guy showed us the loos, which have a grass covered roof, and the new outdoor shower he'd just put in. The shower was incredible, actually. It's a 'living' shower so in a few months time it will sprout leaves over the top and create an extra bushy shelter.
Down the path at the lowest point of the property were the camp sights. We picked the largest one and then went back up to finish our tea and have a little rest after the long drive. Guy had to get back to working on a project he was doing so we were left to our own devices. Sitting on some stumps stuck in a circle around a fire pit, we took in the patch of wood we were sat in. Below us the pond glinted in the sun. Three ducks came wandering up the path, curious to find out who we were. They're Indian Runner Ducks, as we later learned, and they were a constant delight throughout the entire camping trip.
The rest of the day was spent doing what needs to be done when camping: Pitching tent and settling in. Dinner was chicken and salad and the later evening was spent by the fire, enjoying a sky that wasn't obliterated by light pollution.
The next day I was left to my own devices. I was already learning a lot about camping in this country. I can now identify a pheasant by it's call (They're very loud and not too courteous when one is trying to sleep.) and I know how to spot a wren, the smallest of small birds I've ever seen.
I went exploring around the edge of the wood, along a path Guy told me should be good fun. He said to watch out for faerie houses so I brought my camera and set out. The path took me by the edge of the farmers field that runs up against the wooded property. Several lambs were playing in the field, bleating loudly as they ran about in the sun.
I found my first faerie house whilst trying to get nearer the lambs for a good shot. They kept running off though and as I was maneuvering myself between to trees I spotted this lovely little abode.
In total I found about six, although it was hard to say if some of them were only one or simply different rooms built around the roots of the same tree. Regardless, it inspired me and I set about gathering sticks, bark, leaves and reeds. I made my own contribution, which I hung in a tree above one of the many streams that ran down the length of the property.
I'm happy to say I did manage to capture a clear photo of the lambs eventually. Later in the day they were being fed and I went up to see if they were going to be less nervous about my presence. They were entirely curious about me and I was able to capture them in a short video, as well as this shot, which I'm really pleased with.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Today I took the train from the place I'm temping to Camden. The stained glass class I attend is located at the end of Camden market. The walk from the station takes me through the main street.
To avoid the droves of people I stay on the sidewalk edge, close to the road. Everyone else is looking at the shops, mesmerised by the abundance of knick knacks they can buy. Greasy punks with Mohawks and piercings stand with signs pointing to the various tattoo parlours. The smell of frying food penetrates the cool air.
My steps are self assured.
I know this place. Although I've only been here a short time, I feel that I fit. On the underground or on the street, in the crowds or the echoing emptiness of a museum, I feel like a Londoner. I know I'm not really. If you live in London it seems you don't actually experience London. So many people here tell me they've only been to one of two museums, never taken in the theatre and haven't a clue how to navigate the underground if it isn't their particular line.
It's a unique perspective I hold. I'm a resident so the tourist image doesn't fit me. I'm here to explore and discover, certainly, but I'm here for a long time. I have a home here...I even brought my cat over with me. I'm establishing myself in little ways. I'm making friends, finding venues at which to perform my drag, setting up my art and finding comfort in re-visiting favourite spots.
In January I was still stunned, finding my footing and learning to adjust to the change in time and altitude.
In February I was desperate for friendship, missing the ability to just converse. Lonely in a city of millions.
In March I found a groove. I set about doing as much art as I could, blogging and marketing myself. I found things to keep me busy, met new people, accomplished a few fun projects and hooked up a position with a temp agency that fulfills the requirements of my Visa.
It's April and I don't know what this month holds yet. Promise of income is a relief as a trip to Amsterdam for my twenty-fifth birthday rapidly approaches. Recognition of my artwork in local circles gives me moments of *glee*. And last night? A performance on stage at Wotever, since I do oh so love doing drag.
Such promise, such opportunity, such potential.
Three months means this adventure has only just begun. But those three months went by awful quick and two years really isn't that long in the scheme of things. Must remember to savour every moment and take advantage of it all. Don't want to become like those real Londoners and feel complacent about this place. It is a wonderful place and I'm so happy it chose me.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
I however, don't really recognise this particular holiday as anything more than a long weekend.
Already I've managed to nearly complete an animation with a friend. Despite the utter lack of proper equipment (Other than his brilliant camera and tri-pod) and a ridiculously short amount of time in which to work, I feel really good with the result. Not everything is done but what is left is relatively minor. We have managed six rough animations of about twelve seconds each. This took us six hours collectively and there is still one left to do. Ironically enough we have been animating the seven deadly sins for use in a play written and performed by some Yoot's. It's a gritty animation, but then, these are the seven deadly sins we're talking about.
I really enjoyed working on it and hope to have the footage to add to my portfolio in short order. It made me miss the creative flow that comes from animating something and I'm trying to formulate ways in which I can work it into my other creative projects. I think an animation of a stained glass piece slowly building itself up would be fabulous.
Again, it seems I'm just adding to my list of things to do and create. I continue to tell myself to specialise, hone my skills and modify my work so it improves in one area. I don't know that I haven't though. Certainly, I do tackle many mediums and often with great success, but I am by no means dabbling in everything. I think my style is less about the medium and more about the elements. Everything I do is bright and almost all of it has an aspect of the natural world to it. Even these animations, which were quite gruesome, employed the use of some very bright colours.
Or maybe I am truly in an apprenticeship of my own making. I am a student of life and right now London is my classroom. I meet teachers everywhere in the people I'm begining to call my friends. I find special lessons on the television or at a museum and I create my own assignments.
And this is as it should be.