>end of term

>End of term: everyone is tired. I’m completely exhausted actually. Having finished off my dissertation this week and got three copies bound ready for submission…

I should be celebrating. But actually I’m rather overwhelmed by everything that I need to do in the next couple of months. For most of the other students on my course the Easter holiday is a chance to catch up and get lots of work done. For me it is a time to spend with family. I have to put my work aside for a while, get the house in order, try to relax a little.

I spent most of yesterday asleep, just trying to catch up with myself and I did have half an hour of garden therapy.

I planted out these lovely broad beans as well as runner beans and climbing beans. I constructed wigwams for them to climb on. It felt a little like the preparation of a warp: getting the structure right before adding the in-between bits.

There is a lot of hope involved in this game. You nurture these little things, watching them grow in the protection of the pot and the window sill and then release them to the mercies of the weather and the slugs.

>full stops

I’m in the midst the final edit of my dissertation before handing it in. I’ve spent the last couple of hours moving full stops and commas around. I’ve also discovered that I have a bit of a penchant for writing really long sentences!

As my subject is ‘the garden as a creative outlet’ I looked back through some photos yesterday to find a suitable one of my own garden. There were some really interesting colour combinations from late in the year but in terms of the garden looking ‘at its best’ it has to be May or June.

>writing and stitching

I’ve done quite a bit of planning and writing this week. The second draft of my dissertation is due in soon so I gave some necessary time early in the week to completing the sections still not written. I wrote my introduction and most of chapter 3. It feels like the end is in sight now!

We had a really interesting and useful talk from Clare Lane on Wednesday. It means so much more hearing directly from someone else’s experience than being told the theory of the steps you might take after you finish a BA. Clare is currently artist in residence at Bradford College through the AA2A scheme and it is fascinating to see her working in the print room and experimenting with the digital printer, pushing the boundaries of how it can be used.

I spent most of Thursday stitching and planning various different stitch-based samples. It was good to have a hands-on day after a few days of computers and writing.

Yesterday I collected an order of felt from an industrial felt manufacturer in Dewsbury. After my felt deliberations (see previous posts) I decided to go for their product as it really is right for what I’m trying to achieve. The wool is from New Zealand (not British wool as I’d originally hoped to use) and the felt has a really smooth surface and solid structure.

Current listening: The Decemberists (in my head having heard them live last night)



“I was scrubbing the stone flags of the larder, on my hands and knees, weighed down by this sense of pursuit; I felt that circumstances were robbing me of my identity, so precarious still, as poet, or as whatever it was I hoped to become. Suddenly, as with the shifting of a gestalt, I realised that I was the same person whether scrubbing a floor or writing a poem; that my dignity as a being was in no way dependent upon the role which I had at any moment to assume; for all such roles are merely that, and the person free of them all.”

Kathleen Raine, The Land Unknown

(In: Autobiographies,1991: p194)


>I’m working on my dissertation (the first draft is due in less than two weeks). We aren’t required to write an abstract but writing one is something that I’ve found useful to clarify the form of the whole thing. Here it is:

Natural Creativity
An exploration of the garden as a creative outlet

Artists feel the urge to create, the need to express themselves. How might creativity be engaged with by different people? If a person is creative in one area of their life will they automatically find outlets for this in other, more mundane areas of their life such as tending a garden? The importance of ‘slowness’ and reflection in the creative process is recognised. Examples of artists who have an approach to their creative practice that resonates with the author’s own are identified and those who have a particular relationship with the natural world in their work. Definitions of the garden as art are explored, including how the debate over fine and applied art might be applied to gardens. Gardening tasks are compared to repetitive tasks in artistic or craft practice and their value as part of a creative life is considered. Different approaches by two contemporary artists who are also passionate gardeners are used to illustrate the value of gardening to artistic practice.

>everything I need


This week I am mostly trying to write my dissertation.

I have everything I need:

a quiet house
a light bay window to sit in and view the garden in odd moments of contemplation
a computer
copious notes and relevant books

I have found lots of nice words to write, I just need to get them in the right order now…

>getting things in order

>I have just over a week before college term starts again and I’ll be in the midst of my final year. I’m finding the prospect of full time fairly scary, having done it all part time so far.

I’m reviewing where I’m up to with my dissertation research. I had hoped to have a first draft written before starting back. This isn’t required for quite a long time, after Christmas even, but with all of my other commitments (family mostly – most of my music making is having to go on hold this year) I thought that getting ahead of myself through the summer would give me a bit of breathing space this semester. I haven’t quite managed my target but I have done a lot of the research and reading that I intended to do and I do have part of a first draft written, so all in all I’m pretty pleased. I have a pile of books that are still waiting for reading but I can work my way through those over the next few weeks I hope.

Current listening: Monsters of Folk

>words of wisdom

>Today I’ve been reading about creativity and approaches to a creative life. I’m finding it fascinating. There are all sorts of little gems I’ve found but in particular I’ve found some of Anni Albers’ words really useful. And I mean useful in a broad, approach to life and approach to artistic practice kind of way (never mind the dissertation!). In her writing I keep coming across inspirational nuggets of wisdom that I could do with pinning up on my notice board, but of course the more you have of those the less you take notice of them.

Here are a couple that deal with the exploration of a material, from On Designing (1971):

Direct experience of a medium – taking it in the hand, learning by working it of its obedience and its resistance, its potency and weakness, its charm and dullness. The material itself is full of suggestions if we approach it unaggressively, receptively.

Freedom can be bewildering; but within set limits the imagination can find something to hold on to. There still remains a fullness of choice but one not as over-whelming as that offered by unlimited opportunities.

And this one is all about the importance of tactility in our relationship with materials, from On Weaving (1965):

We touch things to assure ourselves of reality. We touch the objects of our love
We touch the things we form. Our tactile experiences are elemental.

Current listening: Janacek Woodwind Sextet, Mladi (Youth)