Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Magic in the Mundane!

If there's one thing that can make a day seem humdrum, its a daily commute, taking the same route and transport day in day out whatever the season, don't you think?

I have a particularly punishing commute as we get up and out to catch a 6.20am ferry from my small island over to Hong Kong and I am in my artroom at 7.00am! Yes and it is dark at the moment !!!

Recently I decided to spice up the mundane routine by taking a few photos along the way either in the morning or on the way home, I posted these daily on Facebook for a month. To my surprise I got all sorts of feedback,  I realised I was giving people overseas a small window into my world and local friends started to comment upon how my photos were helping them to stop and stare too..........................

It's so easy to rush along the same old trek, our attention settling upon what's to be done that day, without particularly noticing the world out there, isn't it !! 

Somehow the taking of these photos and thus focusing upon the world around me, offers me two rather lovely is the ability to collect magical moments, like these fabulous drying fish......and the other is that I feel I am creating a conscious connection to the wider world, which is a great way to keep a handle on perspective!!

I recommend it!

In the meantime I have also joined a month long photo challenge with 2 friends and that has continued to give me a lovely creative project each day, as well as the drive to try and perceive something "ordinary" with new eyes!

A utensil
Favourite drink
Seeing something Magical in the Mundane is a great way to pause and give our full attention to something, to actually take a moment to be "Mindful". Vietnamese monk Thic Nhat Hanh says that Mindfulness is a particular way of paying attention to whatever our experience is, in the present moment, without preference or judgment. It allows us to clearly perceive our own thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, sensory experiences and events as they occur, Mindfulness asks us to engage our full awareness and all our of our senses.

Full awareness and engaging all of our senses means Paying Attention, which happens to be a key part of a Wild at Art Weekend Retreat, and I know how hard it is for people in a big city to shift gears and achieve that! 

Try it yourself :

Stop reading for a moment, sit back and look around you and see what can you see……notice the colour, shapes, textures, and detail. Let your eyes alight on what is all around you, play with your awareness by opening it to include as much as your eyes can take in, now isolate aspects…….what do you notice? Where do your eyes lead you …….Sometimes shifting our attention to images rather than our inner dialogue can be a means of achieving relaxation. It allows the mind to rest and replenish.

I bring you a lovely Mindfulness exercise from Thic Naht Hanh, on the delicious experience of eating an orange................... 


Till next time my friends, stop and take a look around you today, have a mindful moment, see where your attention takes you Have Fun
Katie xxx

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Love Scribe of Bamako

There are a thousand ways to say "I love you". ......and Alassane Maiga's job is to pick the right one for each customer. He is one of 10 public scribes that sit on benches outside La Grande Poste, the main post office in Bamako Mali, says Journalist Alex Duval.

In a country with 70% illiteracy, scribes are required to help the public fill in forms and send letters - but this week, they are focused on a different kind of communication.

Three Hearts on a Rock, by Jim Dine, Montreal
Half way around the world, listening to this story on the BBC World Service, it confirms to me how important it is to dedicate one day in the year that is completely given over to celebrating LOVE!

I teach art in a primary school and on Friday the 14th I observed many excited children, creating love messages and making cards for their teachers and parents and friends. Children show us the power of being authentic and the power of accessing genuine feelings. So to me, Valentines Day, has become a day to be mindful about all of our loved ones and to treasure the powerful presence of love in our lives.

Two Big Black Hearts by Jim Dine
"Valentine's Day is when all our work comes to fruition," Maiga says. Bamako is big enough and amorous enough to keep the scribes working until the early hours of the morning in the week before Valentine's Day - to the extent that they can be seen sleeping on the post office steps.

Imagine that, a town being described as AMOROUS enough!!!! And it seems that while other amorous romantics around the world are sending flowers or cards, whether or not you know how to write in Bamako, people still have a strong enough urge to send loved ones a Love Poem,  and the "urge to love" trumps the limitations of personal abilities!!!

A love letter is never a one-size-fits-all affair. Maiga has to analyse the nature and magnitude of each passion - "what kind of love are we talking about?" - and assess the situation. Does he need to woo, seduce or charm? Should the billet doux contain a note of contrition, following an argument? Is it intended for a colleague at work, or a lover?

This one is written by the scribe of Bamako himself :

A love poem by Alassane Maiga

You who know my best and worst points.
You who know my coolness and my warmth.
I dedicate this poem to you, Fatoumata.
You gave me the desire to live.
You reconciled me with my parents.
You reconciled me with the world.
Without you I don't know what to do. I need to see you. Even your clothing.
If I am walking in the street and I see a colour you wear, I think of you. That's real love. Thank you. I am thinking of you. I love you so much.
Written for his own girlfriend, whom he met in 2006

Well, in true annual fashion, the creation of an amorous artfact took place at Flowers Towers last week! In top secret operations, ( when his head was turned)  a little homemade delectation was created to Big UP my fab chap!!!

Yes it started out as a bit of old cardboard!!! But with a spot of tissue paper magic, elmers glue, fluids acrylics, and some old fridge magnet poetry, my message took flight!

I hope Alassane Maiga would appreciate the saucy sentiments!!!

You know, here in Hong Kong, Friday 14th was known as Double Valentine Day,  It wasn't just Valentines but also the 15th day of the Lunar New Year -- more commonly known as Yuan Xiao or the Chinese Valentine's Day. The last time the two days coincided was nearly 15 years ago. 

Double Valentines Full Moon

Nearly 500 couples tied the knot at marriage registries across the city while a hundred couples marked the occasion at the city's famous Wong Tai Sin temple. They made their love-wish before Yue Lao, the deity for love and marriage, by tying themselves to their significant other with a silk cord. It is believed that once this is tied under his watch, no one can break the union..........the Romance in all of us is inescapable!!!

I don't subscribe to cynical views that nail Valentines day as a Hallmark Festival, I think as humans, we each and every one of us have a drive to love, be loved, to express that love and live it in our most visceral being....................

Whether it be self love, agape love, eros love, puppy love, paternal love, soulmate love, patriotic love, brotherly love, maternal love, tough love! unconditional love, divine goes on and we all have love as a presence in our lives in a variety of these shapes and forms.

So folks grab a piece of paper and tally up your love quotients including all the wondrous forms and shapes that love might take in your lovely lives...........

and for now, in loving friendship and in great love of art and poetry and of people !!!!
Have a great week


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Positive Self Talk..........

2013 Journals
Our captivation with Facebook is testament to the fact that we humans are quite driven to want to document our daily lives, thoughts and hobbies, and for me, my art journal is the place to document my inner world. In fact I fill up and create several journals per year, you could call it a compulsion!

I wouldn’t call my journal a diary and yet the pages do often reflect the journey of my life and thoughts, and in time each journal becomes such a treasured friend,  I don't leave home without it!

My journal is a place to collect what I would call the "residuum" of a day................ 

A page may be based around something I accidentally found or saw that day,  something funny or profound someone said, a great idea, a design for something ………..all sorts of shards and fragments of residual daily moments can contribute! So you see it does become a diary of sorts. 

As I said last week, I don't always plan what is calling to be expressed....I often just start playing with materials,colouring the background, finding what's on or nearby my art table to use, look for words in a magazine and start composing! The inspiration unfolds as I play and see what is flowing in and out of the sub conscious mind.

This week found me teaching myself how to cut out gorgeous shaped edges ( Thanks to Valerie Sjodin) and how to emphasise those with text. Since I'm off work on a Chinese New Year holiday, I felt fully justified in telling myself to Stop, Smile, and Breathe! 

But as I painted and doodled, personal concerns about how to pay for three or four years of teenage University fees in England at overseas rates crowded in, and since I am a solution focussed person by nature, I began talking to my worries through the journal page.

In season with Chinese New Year wishes for wealth, I created a small shrine to manifest my needed Tael" of gold on the pages ..............

and here it is............ta da! my wishes to manifest that gold! and I know that just articulating my wish puts it out there in the universe!  Somehow and sometime soon, a door will open and I'd better keep my mind open to that!  Thats how I believe the power of Positive Self Talk works anyway.

I will share with you a very beautiful video that I saw this week, featuring artist Paulus Berenson, who is in his 80's and has journaled his whole he says, "Your journal allows you to hang out with your own imagination, your inspiration and your intuition"

Making Journals with Paulus Berenson  ( Its a 10 minute film, so let it buffer first before you try and watch it or you'll get frustrated with all that stopping!)

Why not hang out with YOUR imagination this week friends, try a doodle, or a new font, what is it you might need to manifest? Have a play!

till next week
Happy Year of the Horse

Katie xx