Saturday, 7 September 2013

Hollyhocks! Both Amazing and Annoying. And What's On for AGD.

I am filled today, with gentle paradoxes.  There is no discord in the house, there is a silence and a peace.  Outside my window, my treasured hollyhocks are growing as they do, straight into the path of anyone who wants to pass them.  Am I, I ask my self, in a moment of whimsical self analysis, a human hollyhock?  Do I grow tall with flowers on me straight into the path of innocent passers by?  Here, my friends, is the first of the gentle paradoxes. I am a hollyhock, and I am not.

Before we look at the human hollyhock paradox, let us look at some of the other gentle paradoxes that float about as I sit in my silent, peaceful house, and write this week's blog.

One side                                                                              And the other

I am incredibly busy                                                              I have so much time

I am very happy                                                                   I am very unhappy 

I am on a diet to lose weight                                                  I have never eaten so much in my life and have                                                                                              lost a stone

I am very good at what I do                                                   I don't know what I am doing

I have no money                                                                   I live very well

I am big in my world                                                              I am microscopically small in my world

I am still hungry                                                                   I just had a big breakfast

I am a human hollyhock                                                         I am nothing of the kind

Today, there is nothing happening.  And yet, everything is happening.  Sitting here in my sitting room, I have resisted putting on the radio and distracting myself. Instead, I have sat on my sofa and thought, "What, exactly, am I feeling?"  And from that question sprung the first of the paradoxes.  "I am feeling," I said to myself, mug of tea halfway to my lips, a debris of boiled eggs and porridge on the tray beside me, "I am feeling, both everything and nothing."  

At that moment, I glanced out of my window to the hollyhocks growing at right angles to the house, directly into the eyes of anyone who is passing.  They are my pride and joy.  I have longed for hollyhocks in my front garden and now I have loads.  I love how they look and the colours they are, but they are a liability.  They bop themselves on your head if you stand too near, they grow into your face as you pass, they look so beautiful from a distance but as you get closer, you realise that they are about nine foot tall and about as gentle as a big puppy dog wanting to play.  They are both glorious and annoying.

Am I, I wondered with a moment of insight, both glorious and annoying?  I began to identify with the hollyhocks and I began to look for similarities.  The answer that came was, "Yes.  You, along with the rest of human kind, are both glorious and annoying.  It's a human thing.  And if you, with time on your hands this morning, identify with a hollyhock, well, whatever makes you happy."

Today is a day to ponder, to think, and to do things without planning them.  This silence is doing me no end of good.  Or not, if the hollyhock thing worries you.  I have much to do, and maybe it will all get done while I do nothing.  I have no time to read, but I will probably finish my book today.  The house is humming with the feeling of space, yet it is full with lodgers, Giant Boy, and his friends.  

Despite, or maybe because of, the paradoxes that are keeping me pleasantly distracted today, I shall tell you now what is happening in the next few weeks.  

A Graceful Death and Sounding for the Soul Presents An Afternoon of End of Life Awareness through the Media of Art and Sound.

Saturday 14 September, at the Roland Rank Centre here in Bognor Regis. Sarah Weller, of Sounding for the Soul, and I, dedicate this to the memory of Julia Wilson, who gave AGD the benefit of her image, her story, and her experience of Motor Neurone Disease.  She died on the 9 August, and we are honoured to have had time with her with A Graceful Death.  

Tea, coffee and cake included from start to finish.  That's made you decide to come now, hasn't it.

We are extremely grateful to the Bognor Regis Lions, a wonderful local charity, who have generously donated the Roland Rank Centre to us for this afternoon, in support of what we are doing.   Doors open at 1pm.  Come and meet Sarah and me, meet each other, hear and experience the work that Sarah and I do, and tell us too of your stories.  I will be speaking about my work, who is behind the portraits, how working with the dying affects me, my sitters and why I do it all.  Sarah will talk about her work with Sound, and the best bit is the extensive Sound Bath she will perform for you all.  And when you are not doing any of that, eat cake and drink tea.  

Going Bald for AGD

Jackie, with hair, tough and determined to go bald for AGD.  I encourage her every step of the way.  I would.

Well.  How about this.  We are having a Knees Up at the Walnut Tree Pub in Runcton, on Friday 20 September, 7pm - 11pm.  There will be a party that evening in the Walnut Tree, the space we are using kindly donated by Dave who manages the pub.  The central spot in the evening will be the shaving of Jackie Keogh's hair before the chemo that she is receiving for her cancer, gets it, to raise funds for the AGD exhibition and project. Paris, from Simply Hair Hairdressers in Bognor will be doing the shaving.  There will be a pub quiz, a quid to enter, and prizes for the winners.  There will be a raffle, with prizes galore, and there will be time to give donations for Jackie's amazing selfless act of madness.  I have, in my generosity, promised to donate to her a rasta hat with attached dreadlocks for when she has no hair at all left.  Joking apart, Jackie does not feel well at all, and I am so grateful for her wonderful spirit of fun and adventure.

You can donate now at Go Fund Me, the website is safe, efficient and very easy to use.  Have a look now, all the information and some words from Jackie herself is on the page on the link below.  All the funds are to enable the A Graceful Death exhibition and project continue to work in the community, raising awareness for what it means to face the end of life, and working with individuals through art and creativity, as they face their final journey.   Click on it and see if you can donate even a few pounds. And please, come and join us for the Knees Up on the day itself.

And now - 

In the spirit of being both amazing and annoying, I shall now go back to communing with the hollyhocks.  See you on the 14th and the 20th.  You cannot be paradoxical about being both there and not there, you will just have to be there, and consider being paradoxical about something else.  

Hollyhocks.  Paradoxically, both amazing and annoying.  Like us.  

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