Balnacra Arts & Pottery by Vicky Stonebridge

March at many miles per hour.

Rag Rug. Peg loom woven, 60cm x 70cm. washable. £48

Rag Rug. Peg loom woven, 60cm x 70cm. washable. £48

Hectic days. Last week or so was so busy it just was silly, after a pile of meetings, events, seminars and driving for 15 hours. I’ve finally reached a point of turning, a point where i simply could no longer even see the task list, the intrays, the inbox the answer phone messages. So i found myself wandering off into the studio and messing about with glue, paper, rags, threads, sticks and gold paint. One of the things i finished in this state of the creative brain overriding the organising brain, was the Rag rug above.   I’m not sure yet what is happening, where my life is going, there are some BIG decisions waiting a few jig saw pieces to fall into place before i can move forward. But i do know that i need more creative time, more time to write, make things, play and think.

This Blog hasn’t really said much for a while, just hastily thrown up photos. This conversely indicates that there has been lots of going on, there is always lots i want to write about too, ideas rattling around my brain looking for an out, things i want to say.  Meanwhile to backtrack to the 1st of March;

I had a birthday. 47 , yeah, old? ‘whatever’. I always get depressed the day before my birthday, have done as long as i remember, i don’t know why. overtaken by teenage loneliness and angst, its not about age as i feel younger than ever. Its not about the shrinking window of mortality, as i’m amazed i made it this far. It is what it is. This year things fell just so i had a narrow opportunity the night before my birthday to see my Aunt & Uncle down at Loch Lomond while they were in the country visiting a new baby cousin. It just so fell that there wasn’t time to collect any loved ones to do the road trip with me.  Any longer treks i usually always take the bus as i can’t afford the fuel or time to drive. But with some birthday cash & places off the bus routes & times to go- i headed off, without even my trusty hound for company I started down the west coast on the Friday night. Mountains rolling past in the gathering gloom and stacking up the miles in solitude.
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Found where i was going. Went a walk on Loch Lomond shores birthday morning.
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spent time with family, then hit the road north this time across the country on roads less traveled  Since i was to be on the road during my birthday anyway i thought i’d see as many sights and people as possible, never enough time to see all those en route!

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Caught up with my college pal and inspirational artist after Loch Tay who cooked a fabulous dinner for me. Would love to have stayed longer for a proper catch up, but by this time i was shattered, had inertia and wanted to see my BF on my Birthday, it was only another few hours drive…. I got well freaked out at a 24hour filling station when some creepy looking ned followed me across the forecourt and tried to get in my passenger door ! where’s the fierce guard dog when i need him?  I just sped off out of there, normally fearless i was creeped out & not prepared to do a verbal challenge. I didn’t stop & go to police with it as i was shattered & figured i’d be snarled up for hours. I’m guessing he was drunk/ drugged & looking for a lift ( benefit of doubt ).  This shook me up and made me miss a turn off which added another 30/40 minutes to my journey, the weather had turned nasty and poor visibility on the A9. But amazingly i made it, just in time still on my birthday.  Which gave me the whole of Sunday to recoup, visit a daughter & rest up in the peaceful sanctuary from work that is Burghead.
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Monday morning. a seminar on ‘Play’ at Highland Council offices in Inverness. This was organised by ‘Play highland’ . Speakers neatly outlined where we are currently in terms of Highland Council and some other councils recognising the social, economic, educational and health & well being benefits of ‘play’ for adults as well as children. There was talk about play spaces, about the need to reverse the over supervised culture that has sprung up around Health & safety fears in recent years. Surveys have shown that children in poorer households have less access to outdoor play spaces. Work is being done to survey the countries play provision etc.  The event highlighted for me the need to articulate better these ideas in the work i do. Its all very well me understanding teh importance of play, and creativity, how spaces and activities can foster ‘play’, how to facilitate ‘play’ but i forget not everyone else does. Most adults have lost the ability to play, be creative or imaginative, it is a luxury afforded to the creative industries that we are allowed to use that part of our brains. Our society has become very structured, this is a play park, this is the type of play activity you can do here, how and when. Forestry schools and the curriculum for excellence in schools are opening up a more organic, creative approach to activities and spaces. The outdoors is now being slowly seen as an important part of children’s upbringing rather than a scary dangerous place where litigation threats, stranger danger and risk aversion mean that its just too difficult to let children out to play.  I certainly raised my children to paddle in rivers, climb trees and light camp fires ( supervised ! ) ,  to be able to roll this out across community projects i need to find better language to articulate the benefits against the risks. I didn’t capture many notes as my pen ran out… just listening, just being.

felt created by High school pupils after woodland visits

felt created by High school pupils after woodland visits

there was also a workshop to encourage some teachers and other delegates to get hands on with ideas of art & crafts to do after an outdoor play session. A great change for me to actually play, though i aught really to have gone to one of the drier workshops on Health and Safety i suppose.

basic printmaking ideas. Here's what i did.

basic printmaking ideas. Here’s what i did.

Then i went to see another of my brood. then home. then collect the dog.
Tuesday was a woodland Croft seminar, i had to do an introduction speechy thing at this, too exhausted & no time to prep, thrown in deep end. Event was great, the speakers really exciting and inspiring. soup & sarnies & a visit to the tree-house. what are woodland crofts all about ? well imagine having a way to supplement your income, but not in the middle of a field with sheep, but with woodlands, timber, firewood, bee keeping , crafts, bio fuels, etc etc etc its early days, but it has real potential for community schemes that overlap with community ownership, land management, and addressing rural housing needs. I also ended up getting interviewed for the telly box during the day. BBC Alba Gaelic TV, it was shown on the news the next day and on the radio a couple of times that week. I just wish when i did telly, radio or public speaking i had time to think things through better, its always fudged and off the cuff cringe-making bumbling. social media is weird though, i had a billion lovely birthday messages, and some things i post about random daily life trivea i’ll get lots and lots of the coveted ‘ likes’ – the bigger things like being on telly or achieving some massive community gain… no-one notices.  Social media is fickle, and a reminder that its all arbitrary, its all ego nonsense.

here is a link to the iplayer news piece about the event with me on,  the interview bits are in English. The question i’m responding to is ” what are the obstacles..?”

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Then i got poorly and my tum decided it would be completely bread intolerant after i’ve been okay to eat anything for a year or so. Cue early night doubled up in bed.
Wednesday a big meeting, same venue. lots of stakeholders negotiating big stuff, me there with community hat on, more soup and no sandwiches thank you, Weds afternoon a smaller wee meeting about some community stuff. Wednesday evening a massive long meeting still trying to negotiate setting up of some sort of crafts co-op, time is running out, my negotiating skills just went on strike & went home for a time cup of tea, leaving me struggling.

Thursday…. had had enough, just wove my rag rug and ignored paperwork. Friday, cracked on and tried to catch up with paperwork and intray and demands and phone calls. Saturday le precious weekend! the wind was too cold and wintery for a hill walk, so we went on a road jolly instead to see the Brochs and Eilean Donan Castle. Battery re-charge, with gathering some lichen for dyeing thrown in. Oh and Wild goats but my camera battery ran out.
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and then and then and then… will it ever stop!?  So while i await the outcomes of several things that are on the table, i’m trying hard to keep the community project momentum going, keep earning enough to scrape through the monthly bills, but mostly to claw back some control and creative time again. Spring its been an adventure, and now i need to do some art thanks.

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This entry was posted on March 12, 2013 by in Blog and tagged , , , .

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