filled from top to bottom

16 Jan

WEEK ONE (january 2-8)

The new year comes with deadlines and priorities.
The last weeks of 2016 have given us extra priorities as we help to ready our daughter’s house house for market – and I still have the quilt to finish as THE WEDDING is on Saturday, in Melbourne.
I head back home from our little house, and straight into the studio, leaving the bloke and the dog to work on the girls shed.

The quilt continues to proceed in a slow and timely manner.
With the animals machine appliqued to the quilt I need to sort out and bed down the loft in the woollen rows of the quilt, between the animals.

I settle on a big quilting stitch in an assortment of woollen yarns in greens, grey and black. It takes a couple of days on and off. I finish it on Wednesday night…late at night after undoing and redoing some colours. I did not want to heave it onto the board to check balance as I was in the flow, and it wouldn’t really be a problem if it wasn’t perfect, but when I had unofficially finished it, and viewed it on the board from close and from afar, I decided that parts of five rows needed a pep talk.

On Thursday I press it with the steam iron to settle and bed down the quilting – to flatten and to crisp it up and to almost ‘pre-felt’ it.
The label goes on and so the title ‘moo, neigh, woof & oink’ is quickly decided upon and recorded.
Wrapping in cellophane is appropriate. No need to hide this ‘sort of’ surprise.

During my ‘walk away from the quilt/clearing the mind and the eye’ breaks I start reading Art & Fear – another book I bought alongside ‘Steal like an artist’.
It looks like a bleak read but from the very start I am hooked. They are talking about me and all my failings.
Having the time alone for these couple of days whilst I stitch has me also devouring and underlining page after page at meal times.
This book has given me hope, and besides, it is simply a fascinating read.

I also listen to more Conversations /Richard Fidler on the ABC. I delve into older sessions and re-absorb the familiar. It is the best way to keep me at task – to have me absorbed and stimulated whilst I perform the repetitious task at hand.

At the back of my mind for many weeks are, as usual, year and life priorities.
I do need to change priorities to enable me to be the Artist that have started to profess to be.
I am good at organisation but I am also VERY good at being flexible and changing my course and my mind – worthy of a good tick or a bad tick.

A conversation with a close friend, talking about the future year, has me saying something like ‘I just need to finish X, Y, and Z and then I will be able to get to my work’.
Her reply was straight forward….’you always say that’.
I need to change that.
I need to change that NOW.

Be the change you want to be….a riff off Gandhi’s be the change you wish to see…..rings in my ears.
How to?
Slowly and quickly to look at every aspect of my life – it is not one thing that will need to change it is many changes and tweaks that are needed to undo the old paradigm – along with my mindset!
I challenge myself this time, and I’m up for the challenge, but I don’t know whether be able to achieve the desired effect – my life is full up to pussy’s bow and beyond….

I realise that I have to go on a sort of diet – removing parts of my life that aren’t helping me to reach my goal of more and better art.
Perhaps will be counting time rather than calories?
Is it possible?

Meanwhile, my cousin Nada Murphy has an exhibition opening at Bathers Beach Gallery.
I catch up with her sister and brother there and I am transported yet again into my love of family. Nada’s work is following a different theme and look from her usual love of country…this time she presents an ode to her mother.
These cousins are all older than me, they remember our farm – I do not. They remember me as a toddler learning to speak.They know so much more than I do. We vow, again, to keep in closer contact. Another New Year challenge for me. More to try to fit in.

By Friday afternoon my ‘family’ changes. We are in Melbourne staying with my big brother, introducing our youngest grandie to them, and meeting their three grandies, two for the first time.
The wedding, the pre-wedding visit to the farm to observe some set up tasks – testing the drone!!! – and the post-wedding lunch were all superb.

Fascinating people, wonderful stories. Meeting anew and renewing relationships.
Dancing, being silly, being serious.
The days filled me from top to bottom with love and hope, with happiness, and very suprisingly with calm.

There was also the joy of being on the farm – including newly acquired adjacent acreage with a very old, very run-down house which I, of course, delight in.
Pictures in this post could have been of the wedding but I chose to show the inspiring old abode.

In between all of this my gentle reading, from my birthday pile, is perfect.
Six Square Metres by Margaret Simons did not require deep thinking.
It simply matched gardening to life.

I leave Melbourne with much more family than I arrived with. Our two small suitcases  hold, alongside our now crumpled finery, an old movie projector with reels of film including my parents wedding, my grandfathers factory easter hat parade, the farm and I can’t remember what else.
Also boxes and boxes of photos across many generations.
Another task for the year, turning all to digital, and to family distribution, and then perhaps to artworks?
So another task is set and the bloke and I vow to work on this arduous task together as he is also the keeper of the Mullen family archive.
This task will also need to jockey for a high up position in my life.
Something has to give but I need time to work out what it is….


Jan Mullen

B. Ed. Art/Craft (Textiles/Sculpture) Living in Perth, Western Australia Artist, Fabric Designer, Author, Teacher, Mentor.