Monday, 27 April 2020

The Corona Fairy. Just born this way.

The original inspiration for Disney's Tinkabell
When I was a little girl, I believed - I knew - I was a fairy.  I thought it was obvious, and that everyone else knew and agreed.  I reacted with a passion to colours and patterns, I could see things in the light and all I wanted to do was live under flowers and fly with wings that sparkled.  Fairies wore light gossamer dresses, and were beautiful.  Being a very human child, I was solid, roughly square in shape, with straight white blonde hair that stuck out in all directions and was gathered into a ribbon on top of my head.  At one point, I found some old net curtains in my mother's sewing box, and wore them.  My mother was truly beautiful in real life, and had high standards; she and her sisters made me wonderful pretty dresses that had puffed sleeves, little flowers sewn into the fabric, and white lace and ribbons.  I was dressed so very beautifully and yet, I had a mind that did not touch my mother's world.  The net curtains were what I wanted, and so, I wore them over my pretty dresses and thought I was the most beautiful fairy in the world.
Many knees on each leg

It is worth mentioning that I was not thin, nor light, nor fey.  I was fat, loved food and pretty things in a very solid, uncomplicated and hefty way.  I was one hell of a fairy.

I drew all the time.  I made things, I painted things and lived in a wonderful magical world.  And though life got in the way many times as I grew up, I found great solace in accessing this fairy place where I could express myself and surround myself with colour and beauty.   Even in the times as a young mother when life was very hard and I was lost to myself, I painted pictures in my kitchen and kept little corners of my life for art.  As with all these things, there were times when I could not create, when left with small children after a divorce, and they were the hardest times of all.  It is when we lose something so fundamental to who we are, that we learn its value.

However, we all know that I came through those times.  What always helped when life was not easy was this creative place which thrived on beauty, magic, colour, shape, stories, patterns and my own inner world.  It is as if I have one foot in the real world, and the other in a world of my own making.  Much of my life has been learning how to honour both worlds, and to bring them harmoniously together so that I can live in both, access both, and use both to be the best that I can.  The hardest for me was to find my way in the real world.  It was too easy to escape to the other, but life has shown me that in order to be or do anything, I have to be here on this earth, and love it.  Not always easy, or successful, but so valuable when it works. 

Here we are then, in a lock down in a global pandemic, all of us, living a new version of our lives in our homes.  Some of us have more time than ever, some do not.  Each of us has to find resources from deep inside to find our ways through these days.  I do not know how you are managing, I hope you are finding ways to cope.  I have good days and bad days here, and find that it is my mind that creates how time feels.  It has taken a while for me to accept that my days are mostly restricted to whatever I decide to do in them.  It really is up to me.  The house and garden do not change and time is neutral. There are days I want to escape, there are days I feel ready to achieve great things and there are days when I feel I might as well put one foot in front of the other so to speak, and see where the days lead.  All of these days are valuable, all of them make a bigger picture, and all of them give me insights into where my mind is on that particular day.

I knew at the beginning of this time of isolation, that I could indulge in play.  But it is hard to play when one has been so worthy and all one does is so very deep and meaningful.  What a thing to realise.  All that I do is fine, it is what I do, but the notion that play would be indulgent and that I ought to be able to do it now that I have some time, is a little telling. It is a mindset that say, Play!  Now!  You have time and you must honour it!  Be creative and spontaneous!

Painted plant pots
Whatever hard things this social isolation and distancing has brought for us all, whatever losses we have to bear, for me at least, there is this place I was born with that I can go to, which is creativity.  The place that responds to colour and shape, that sees things in the light, that escapes into the stars and plays with the fairies. The place that made me wear net curtains over my chocolate stained pretty dresses with puff sleeves and frills, the place that made the hard times more bearable, the place that in the years when it was gone, left such a bleak space in my life.  It is time to notice it again, and let it out, so that I can play.

I watch my grandchildren play.  They are totally in the moment and they have no self doubt.  They have something to do, and they do it.  There is no judgement in their play, and when they are playing, which they do all day long, they simply give it all their attention and focus.  This is play.  For me to decide to play, I have to put down my Shoulds and Oughts, I have to make a pact with myself, that the world will not end if I do not do this worthy thing here, or if I do not read up on that worthy self improving thing there.  I have to change my mind and say, it does not matter about these other things!  It does not matter if what you do when playing is any good, or finished, or even recognisable, it simply matters that you go into your creative space, have a look around, and play.

My new friends, the plants and flowers.
My creative play started with the garden.  I planted new flowers and then began to notice what was already there.  Every day, I looked at the plants until I felt I knew them. Nothing happened, nothing was created, but there was joy in observing.  There was a pride in the growing,
changing and moving on of these plants. I became friends with my garden, I felt part of the growing.  There are many flowers and plants in my garden.  It is a free for all with what is in there, and hollyhocks have self seeded everywhere.   And fox gloves, and honesty, and even wisteria.  I have honeysuckle, peonies, roses, fuchsia and ferns.  I have daisies and dandelions, and sweet peas.  And now, thanks to friends at Arun Exact, I have beetroot, cauliflower, sprouts, herbs, tomatoes and
beans.  My lodgers Mark and Kate have made a kitchen garden with them, and we are all as proud as new parents with our teeny sprouting vegetables.  Arun Exact is a peer led relapse prevention service, working with clients in huge greenhouses learning how to grow food and make things from it.  They are doing good work, and are to be admired and supported in every way.  I am joining them as an artist when the world lets us out again.

My studio, everything from

a paper guillotine to pink 
feathers and glitter
Inside my studio in the garden, I have paints, varnishes, wood, canvas, glitter, feathers, materials, papers, paints, pens, books and a million other things.  Including a little heated gun that picks up treated little glass bling stones and glues them direct onto surfaces.  Oh and I have a wood saw, a guillotine to cut paper and a sander.  It is an Aladdin's cave.  But what I am doing in there is working hard on my worthy and wonderful exhibition on Addiction.  I have not glued a rhinestone onto anything for ages.  I have not written in ink on the walls, nor painted furniture for the sake of it for such a long time.  I have not had time.  In fact, it was never time, it was that I did not want to go into the creative garden, in case I never came out.  And there was the dreadful suspicion that I had forgotten how to play.

During this lock down I can and do work on the exhibition, from time to time.  But there is no deadline for it any more, and there is space for other things.

I began by painting my bedside cabinets blue.  That was fun, just blue, no decorations.  The blue is perfect, and I painted them in the sunshine in the garden and when they were varnished and complete, I put them into my bedroom where every time to go in, I admire them.  Then the beads on green flip flops given to me by my dear friend Bette, had all come off.  I had them by the door for a year thinking that one day I will do something about them.  Last week, I did.  I sat in my studio, removed the old beads and glued more sequins and stones from my hoard onto the flip flops and now, they are mended.  Fab.  They catch the sunlight when I wear them, they are the real thing.  I had forgotten the feeling that today, now, later, I can paint a flower pot.  Or sand another table and decorate it.  Or draw, write and post some stories to the grandbabies George aged four and Arthur aged two, all of which I have now done.
A green bee and ladybird table

Disney's Tinkerbell, the fairy in the film Peter Pan, scatters fairy dust when she moves.  This is how I feel when I am happy in my world.  I am not always happy in my world, and I am not tiny, yellow and able to fly.  But the freedom to simply live in the moment with paints, colours, ideas and
motivation to see where it all goes and what happens, that is the fairy dust.  That is where Tinkerbell and I are alike.  When I am not happy in my world, which, being a human like the rest of us, is often, the fairy dust is still there, I just cannot see it.

Detail of the table now in my bathroom
 The creative play, the fairy dust, covers all manner of things.  I have ordered cheap cotton skirts in brilliant colours so that I can wear them all alone in my house.  I have made each room here lovely so that I can sit and experience it.  I have the time after all, and, time is neutral.  It is we who give it meaning. I am learning to let go and give myself permission to experience pleasure and joy, and I am noticing colour, shape, magic and light.  I can sit in the garden and watch everything growing and just doing its thing.  I can sit and read, I can day dream.  And nothing happens, no one minds, and the world does not notice.  For the moment, I can do this, I am feeling peace and healing.  There is plenty out there that will demand my attention and focus when all this is over and we are back in our public world again.

But the gift of this time, for me, in amongst all the hard things of life, is the reminder that my creative world, my fairy dust other world that is so fundamental to anything I decide to do, does not go away and in all the madness of the lives we all live, is only a sprinkle of fairy dust away.

Which is the real Tinkerbell?  I know I can't always tell.  

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