Balnacra Arts & Pottery by Vicky Stonebridge


weeks behind in blogging again.  Everything is scrambled, lurching from one health problem to another, driving from east to west, living out of bags, lurching from one set of blood tests to another. Things are not as bad as that sounds, but as the sun gathers warmth, the trees start to bud and grow green, i find myself not able to plan further than 1 or 2 days ahead, with contingencies- and half finished canvases being dragged around optimistically in my art bag, just in case i get a moment.
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tangles and patterns are everywhere. This is some sort of life metaphor i suppose.

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The basket weaving course i was doing at Auchtertyre learning centre with Monique Bervoets has now finished. I loved it & have a tonne of useful baskets now. I’m trying to spend more time in the garden, for fresh air, fittness and I just love being outside. so trimming some trees takes me off into a hurdlemaking journey. Every part of things gets reused and recycled, so it takes me ten times longer to do anything, but that is the game.
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I treated myself in March as a birthday present to a drawknife, This has been on my wishlist for a year or so. Now i need to make myself a shave horse, so i can use this knife without shaving my kneecaps off. I posted this pic on FB and Colin Parsons from Achmore very kindly dropped off a lovely chunky plank of green cypress from a local tree, this will be the base of the shave horse. There are a couple of more basic greenwood working tools i need, but i have enough bits of greenwood. IF you have no idea what i am talking about, never fear, when i make the thing i will explain all ! Now i just need some time & strength. I’m learning not to push myself like i used to, and just doing little bits of things when i feel up to it.
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I’ve managed to get things going in the greenhouse this year. Happy days! There are still some leaks, but another layer of bitumen along my seams should sort that.2014-04-08 14.09.56
Meanwhile, early April, i went finally to get the latest tattoo work finished. I go to Keith for this Calum McWilliam at Kelpie Tattoo is my artist. He gets my designs, and knows what i’m talking about to be able to freehand some parts to fit, doing in in the style i am after, plus he can cope with the detail. This was a 4 or so hour sitting. I am very happy with it, though i spent a couple of days being rather pathetic, i am not sure if my pain threshold is getting weaker or just that the neck is a sore bit to have inked. Looking forward to the next time i can afford some more though!
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then what happened? well when everyone was taking barefaced selfies for cancer charity, I turned football faced, balloon faced selfie. some sort of allergic reaction to something which we haven’t pinned down. so that was another weeks cancelled work and ultra strong doses of steroids. the good aspect of this was that i was able to just knuckle down & hide away to finish 4 paintings to go to the Inchmore gallery for their spring opening exhibition. being completely manic on steroids at 4am helped get the work done on time.
SAM_1152within a forest dark
        my heart's lake  SAM_1292


Then I made some pendants
Next challenge was setting up the community Gallery and information centre for the summer season. Last year i had a paid p/t post as project coordinator, pulling this and some other work together, i ended up particularly frazzled by it, as the business model presents a few challenges. This year, there is no funding for a coordinator, so we’re all just sort of throwing it together on a voluntary basis. I did end up as the one getting all the hassals, inquiries and questions in the set up week. But i have been determined not to let it take over my life again as it is not my responsibility. So somehow anyway, the place got set up and is now open to the public, looking lovely, getting visitors, making sales and smiles.

this is my corner, exhibitors rent a space each & take turns to staff the centre.
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that week i also did a Papermaking workshop with additional needs adults, I loved running this, great fun, great to get opportunity for this work of work again.
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I knuckled down last week & made lots of hoops, lovely lovely hoops! these will become round canvases for me to daydream about painting on, one day, when i get some studio time.

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so what next? well the painful elbow tendon thing, just seems to have stopped improving,  so I’m going back for some physio next month. Knees are awfie sore but new braces are good for walks, have yet to try them up a mountain. Allergy tests came back negative for suspected food intolerance’s, so that mystery remains, I have an epipen now so feel safer should i balloon up again.  I am pretty worried about work and earning,  especially when the pressure is getting put on me from some official corners. Its not nice being made to feel like a lazy skiver, and certainly doesn’t do health & well being any good. A couple of hours after i’d had a particularly stressful phone call from one of these officials reminding me of  ” my contractual obligation to get back to work asap” , i ate a bar of dairy milk chocolate.

Anti stress comfort food? within less than a minute of this hitting my stomach I was doubled up in excruciating pain. I managed to grab my phone and the epipen & get to the bathroom where i ended up collapsed on the floor. I focused on my breathing enough to work out that this wasn’t an allergic thing. Managed to phone NHS24 after a while, the emergency doctor came out with painkiller injection which knocked me out. long story short. something is not right with my gall bladder and /or liver, getting blood tests every few days, awaiting hospital scans. Meantime, in constant chronic pain and simply cannot eat anything with any fat in, even a splash of milk in a cup of tea is painful. Its quite hard adjusting to such a strict diet with little money & little choice in local shops, i was fed up the first few days,  but the gnawing hunger has passed & i’m grazing dried fruit & crackers instead.

I do find illness and health problems boring, when they are mine.  Everyone has answer for you, advice, bizarro treatments even though we don’t know what the problem is.  But i have been very touched by how fast this story has spread around the village & peoples concern and kindness.
I’m aware that it ties up with identity, who am i? I’m the rufty toughty fire-woman who is strong and fit and wields power tools Rarr! see me be independent and contribute positively to society! I’m not ready to be some shuffling old dear who can’t open a jar of jam by herself.  I’m insecure about the financial future too, being an artist is tough enough, being self employed is difficult, but with no strength, no energy and lots of sick days? I’m also feeling sorry for myself, because My Mother has a hereditary liver disease, and her Mother before her. Gall bladder is straightforward enough, but the liver cysts? I have seen what my Mum has gone through & don’t fancy it much.  However, at this stage it is a waiting game, it might be something easy and simply fixed, it might be something a lot worse.  Life is precious and every moment must be lived, even when it hurts. Get outside when the sun is shining basically.

Easter weekend was a lovely respite over on the East coast at Andy’s, lots of sunshine, forest and beach gentle walks. Just what the Doctor ordered. My boys, Bruno-dog & Andy have been looking after me well. Hopefully the next thrilling installment will be less health and more art!

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This entry was posted on April 22, 2014 by in Blog and tagged , , , .

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