I’m treating the start of September as the start of a New Year. Autumn always feels like a beginning, with the new school and University terms beginning, and school holidays ending, giving me more time and space to reflect and plan.
I was going to be starting an MA this term, and have made the decision not too, although I plan on maintaining links with the Environmental Humanities Research Centre at Bath Spa. The reasons for me not taking up my place are quite complex.
I have been experiencing a change in my thinking and my priorities, both personally and professionally. I have realised that with the time and energy that I and my husband Jonathan have invested in adopting and supporting our son over the last few years, that some changes now need to be made. I need to address my own well-being, and better provide for my own needs.
I wanted to do the MA as a way of focusing on myself and my own priorities, alongside being a Dad, and of building a like-minded community with whom I can continue to address some of the issues that our world faces. I’ve been feeling increasingly anxious at the state of the world. Climate change, biodiversity loss, the rise of the far right. I’ve always aimed for my practice to support a change to a more environmentally sustainable, ethical society, and I wanted to step things up a gear, get ‘out there’ and ‘do something’.
I’ve realised that I can still do all this, but in a way that doesn’t add increased pressure and workload. I now see that I can bring my inquiry closer to home, and explore the benefits of living an artful life in the way that I walk, parent, garden and cook. Of course I still need to earn money and still want to work with others to support their own artful engagement with themselves and their locality, but I need to not overlook me and where I am, here and now. My body, my garden, my village, my home are in as much need of attention as anywhere else.
I am fascinated by the beautiful in the everyday, the natural in the man-made and the possibility of living an artful life, something I continue to learn about from my memories of and friendships with artists and collaborators Chris Seeley and Kathy Skerritt. Chris and I were working on a book together, on weaving art and daily life, before she became ill and I became an adoptive parent, and we had to put it to one side. Sadly Chris died, and we never had chance to finish the book, but I’m determined to keep exploring what An Artful Life could be. (An Artful Life was also the name given to a wonderful celebration of Chris’s life by her husband Geoff).
I move into a new studio next month, shared with my husband, and plan to give more time to my own making and exhibiting, and to collaborations with artists who share my values. There are many ways of living a good, ethical, rewarding life, and I’m not ruling out anything for the future. For now, however I aim to focus on my well-being, my family and my home, and learn from an exploration into art as an everyday practice, a way of being present and of experiencing ecological and spiritual connection.