Balnacra Arts & Pottery by Vicky Stonebridge


How can i write an end of year review when there are 4 hoursleft to go ? when my take on things is flailing about and flipping from onemoment to the next ?

Do you ever get up really early before the weather has woken up ? Heresurrounded by mountains and loch, with lots of wet and stormy weather this lastcouple of months, the wind blows night and day…except for a brief momentbetween the two where it pauses, still, to take a deep breath and rest. Its thesame with the tide changes, the water seems to relentlessly push and nag its wayin and out, except for when at the tide turns and then there is a pause. Thewind will drop, a strange stillness descends, the land and sea take that deepbreath, the sea birds will call out in the silence, everything stops, until agust of wind signals the ripples and rhythms to start again, pushing in and outdancing to the moons cycle.
Well I’ve been waiting for that in-take of breath between the old year and thenew. In that darkness and cold which seems to drag for weeks, that time betweenYule, solstice, Christmas, new year and folks going back to work, sometime inthat slurred dragged out sluggish frustrating period of hibernation andfeasting i expect some stillness to reflect. A pause to see where we have beenand where we are going.
Suil air ais- Suil air adhart, consider the future- reflect on the past.
But so far there has been no pause, the wheels seem to havesped up if anything!  I crave a lull,some space, peace, silence to make sense of it all, but no. So who am i tofight it ?


Looking back at last years review of 2010, ‘stress, nomoney, worrying about how to make a living, how to afford to do art, how toreconcile my art, time and money issues’ well no change there, that’s thereview i would have written this morning…again. but things have changed this year, newthreads are getting woven into the glittering celtic tapestry, new chaoticcycles started turning, i keep meeting inspirational people, which is new. I’mgetting dragged back into community & local life which i’d turned away fromafter being burnt by some toxic committee’s, having had a lack of supportduring tough times and wasted too much energy trying to achieve things locallyand hitting head against a brick wall of entrenched negativity ( evidence itemnumber 1 – read any local community council minutes ) . But I’m a greatbeliever in giving second chances and forgiveness, and also reviewing theevidence, ‘did i do wrong?’, ‘ was it a little bit me?’ ‘ did i create thatsituation?’. So while the last couple of years have been focused on gettingaway from lochcarron, and getting out into the big wide world, I’m now findingprojects which seem to be worth some effort locally again. That is not to saythat a big thrust of this year has been about internationalism andcross-cultural projects, and i am ending the year with Siberia, Scythia and Russiaagain very much in mind.

This year has felt more open with possibilities, more unexpected andunpredicted events. Some have had very unexpected outcomes. I am happier isuppose when things like this happen, it fills me with hope and optimism. When thingsare constricting, negative, difficult and there is no money to make any changeor difference, it’s good to be able to believe that the unexpected can happen. Andit does. There must have been many lonely years by myself up the glen withsmall children that nothing happened, no spark, no magic, no matter how ipushed and pulled to make things happen, I’d go years without meeting anyonenew, just work worry work, just getting by and getting slapped down for notconforming, or having a low income.
Financially now we are even more broke than before.  But there is no way I will let something likemoney get me down ( well of course it does really ! ), the whole world isfacing an economic crisis, and i figure people like me who have lived outwithconsumer fads and greeds for years, have a role to play in illuminating the wayforward with non consuming based solutions. Folks laugh and comment on my 30yrold patchy trousers, but ha! Another year of the con-dem government and all thecool kids will be wearing them!

It’s been most surprising watching a whole newgeneration switching onto protest, to examining why capitalism is failing, whyour current lifestyles are not sustainable, why we need governance that istruely democratic and accountable to the people. More and more people arepicking up the themes that only outside minority cranks like me have beenbanging on about for 25+ years, community land ownership, scottish independence,recycling, repairing stuff, non oil based alternatives, locally produced food,trade and barter, traditional skills, crafts, the need for a fairer morecreative and vocational education system, nurturing local culture, minoritylanguages, social inclusion, a social based not capital based economy,permaculture, communities.. this is an endless list of hippy nonsense that i’vesat quietly on for a long time. But its great to see the concepts beingdiscussed in the main arena at last, and bright young things picking up thebanner and running with it.

In the early 90’s there was a thing called ‘phantom treeplanting’, you’d see itdiscussed in reforesting scotlands magazine ‘ the treeplanters guide to thegalaxy’ some of my illicitly planted trees hand grown from local seed, are nicebig mature trees now. Nowadays the same idea is called ‘guerilla…’ ratherthan phantom, we’re starting to see guerrilla art and crafts across the world (see also street art ), guerrilla gardening even. People are bypassing therules, regulations and money, going out there and doing things, because theyare good things to do.
This is sort of what my work is, i don’t really earn a wage from my labours,but it is the right thing to do, it does influence others, it does have apositive impact, and somehow we get by. It is hard to keep the faith but thisyear I’m meeting others working on the same premise, working on arts projects,community projects , woodlands projects, social enterprise projects, independentgalleries, etc- people ignoring the state funding tick-box hoop-jumping culturepeople just getting on with it, because it is the right thing to do. This isthe way forward through local and global austerity, people working together,just doing the right thing.
where do I go with my art in all this ? perhaps there will be a lull, a pause,a deep breath tomorrow and i’ll get some clarity to write about art stuff thati did in 2011 and where the path may head next? Perhaps things will still be wild and crazy, swirling like our Westerlygales.

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This entry was posted on December 31, 2011 by in Blog and tagged , , , , .

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