Thursday, 25 February 2016

"you do not support the root, but the root supports you."

Yesterday I set about making a birthday card for Grandma's birthday. With Sense and Sensibility playing in the background, and this beautiful belt gifted to me from my sister as my inspiration, I started painting.

Eva has a huge box of old letters in her room that she's sorting through right now. It really made me glad for my own letter-writing, but I wonder if I shouldn't be a little more decisive in it - that is, that I could ask more meaningful questions and because of that, cherish the answers even more. Surely that is a precious thing about letter-writing? That one can express more through writing than can be expressed in spoken word. Part of me wants to splurge on a box to hold them all, but instead I went on a little wander round the charity shops first and stumbled across these two dresses.

I'll finish with one of my favourite quotes from the film Bright Star:

"A poem needs understanding through the senses. The poing of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore; it's to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out... it is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery."

Thursday, 18 February 2016

1950s helsingborg

Yesterday was a blast from the past - and I mean that in two ways. I took a step back to my '40s and '50s life a few years back during a trip to Helsingborg, and got terribly homesick. Pair this trip with the Carol soundtrack on loop and my red lipstick and perhaps you'll see why.

Helsingborg is home to the wonderful Ebbas Fik, a 1950s style cafe. You can order delicious homemade burgers and wedges (with the potato skins on) or a dazzling selection of fika items, and pay 1 kronor to pick a song on the jukebox. I chose The Hollies - I'm Alive, and truly, the place came alive in that moment. The two-tone custard yellow and turquoise walls were bedecked with movie posters, and adverts, and there were shelves full of books and records for your perusal (and your pennies; they were all for sale). I felt transported.

I wandered the streets. Sweden has frozen over again this week, yet the skies were a beautiful blue, and the sun cast long golden rays across the streets. Sweden is a strange country, in the sense that it is incredibly easy to lose sense of which era you're in. The architecture has a timeless quality to it, with most of its old buildings and cobbled streets intact, and it is not so difficult to imagine how the streets might have looked fifty, eighty, even a hundred and fifty years in the past.

The next stop on my rather brief tour was to Dunkers kulturhus to the exhibition Vivian Maier: Street Photographer. The life of Vivian Maier (1926-2009) is little-known and somewhat sad. Working quietly as a nanny for 40 years, a 'real, live Mary Poppins', she spent her free time taking over 150,000 photographs of life in Chicago and New York. Her body of work was never published in her lifetime, and many of the photographs were still in negative form, unprinted. One of the curators of her work, John Maloof, said of her that 'she was a Socialist, a Feminist, a movie critic, and a tell-it-like-it-is type of person... She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn't show anyone.' Like so many great artists, she was never aware of the impact of her life's work.

Self portrait, ca.1956

Self portrait, ca.1956

ca. 1953-8

ca. 1953-8

Thursday, 11 February 2016

"every sound has its own handwriting"

Skåne is the Wales of Sweden: if you look out of your window, it is probably raining. It is quite easy to let it dampen down your creativity, and surviving winter still being able to occasionally produce art is something of a joy to me. I have to constantly remind myself that 'creativity' covers a multitude of things, from sketching, to weaving, to reading, to cooking. And just because there isn't always a finished piece or physical outcome, it doesn't make it any less of an achievement. 

If you had asked me a year and a half ago what I wanted to do in my life, I would have probably given a look of existential crisis. I was working as a teaching assistant in a rough school and although I loved the kids to bits, I spent my working life with my nerves in tatters, knowing that as soon as I left the staff room after my lunch I would be the one at the centre of gossip, just like whoever had left before me.

Coming to Sweden has been a life-changing experice, and I don't say that lightly. In addition to being able to speak the language better than ever now, God gave me a completely fresh start. It has allowed for my creativity, lifestyle, and spiritual gifts to blossom in a way that I never realised was possible. Every day is an act of thanksgiving for the wonderful privileges I have here. And even the rainy days hold something utterly dreamy to them