Two weeks into my residency at Murrays Cottage, Hill End and it snowed this morning. I kid you not. After two warm days with no fire, I gave myself permission to light a fire at breakfast time and have a studio day. My first. There are some sneaky little drafts around this little home, but the fire soon banished them.
I briefly ran out of yarn to dye this week, which changed my focus back to the landscape around me, rather than what was under my feet and hanging from trees.
I spent the morning in Golden Gully last week, strolling, drawing, and picking up leaves. I was struck by not only the back breaking industry of the largely Chinese gold diggers, but also the complete indifference of nature as it carved through the abandoned diggings and reshaped the landscape to a new normal.
I felt duty bound to draw the arch and decided that I would be back to look for landlines.
A couple of days ago, I clambered around the precipitously steep diggings of Hawkins Hill. The pockmarks of mine shafts and the undulations of mullock heaps are everywhere along this ridgeline. Now these are the only reminders with trees and shrubs taking advantage of the disturbance, finding a way to survive.
One evening I was browsing through one of the books on the shelf in the cottage, and came across this quote:
“I want to evoke the sensation of that anti-human environment that is partly indifferent nature and partly the creation of indifferent, raw, unthinking people.”
Donald Friend- Diary 4-2-50
There you go. Great minds think alike ;)
A few days into my residency at Hill End and I can feel changes in myself. Spring here is a sense of urgency and metamorphosis. The blossom on the aged fruit trees is alive with bees, spine bills and honeyeaters.
A spotted pardalote and his mate a blue wren batter themselves on the kitchen window, convinced that they are defending their territory. A magpie that I’m paying protection money to (tit bits) is already feeding fledglings.
Daffodils, jonquils and snowdrops are blooming in Murrays garden heralding the season.
A brisk and gusty cold change swept through on Sunday, swirling around the valley and blowing me off my feet on Bald Hill. Only a few spots of rain.
Each day, I have started by lying in bed, woken by the birds (lately a very monotonous whoop whoop of a pigeon), and think about the day ahead.
But I only think about the first few steps, and then let the day unfold, as I follow thoughts and “what ifs” around.
I haven’t done this before, allowing a fissure to open with no real beginning and no real end and giving myself permission to just go with it.
I feel a responsibility to my original proposal, but also to where that has leading me to. It’s hard to describe how uncluttered my mind feels (no signal, internet or TV helps!) as I write, draw, experiment, ponder, what if, hang out bits of cloth to dry, walk, photograph, think, stitch and weave.
I am trying to take each day, one at a time, as I allow this largely alone time to strip back distraction and let creativity run its course.
I’m not sure my practice will be the same after this month in Murray’s Cottage, which is exciting to contemplate, because at this point the journey is not clear.