Welcome (back!) to Words and Pictures. Thanks for taking the time to stop by. This will be a slightly different post from usual.
I want to share a project with you which really means a lot to me. It grew out of thoughts and feelings which were swirling around for some time before I found the way I wanted to express them. This post will be about the "why" of this wall-hanging, so that you can read the story behind it.
If you want to know the "how", that will be along in the next few days, and you can ignore all the touchy-feely stuff in the meantime!
I am entering it in Simon Says Stamp and Show's Challenge this week, Depths of Distress - on two counts. Crafting, I think, has really helped me while I have been working my way through a difficult time. And also, as you'll see when "the how" comes out... I don't think there's a single element on this piece which doesn't use one or other product from Tim Holtz's Distress Range!
Okay, the "why" of the piece...
Crafting has become hugely important to me in a very short amount of time. It's provided an outlet or release of creativity which I think had been bottled up for a long time... and it's no coincidence that all this happened at a time when I am in the midst of rearranging how my life works almost completely.
Some decisions I've taken may seem, from a rational, logical viewpoint, almost crazy, but they are based on an overwhelmingly strong gut/heart feeling that things needed to change.
What this piece has done is to have given me a way of exploring and expressing the things which matter most to me in life, the things I'm in pursuit of with some of these crazy changes. And it also helped to re-focus my thinking about why I'm making these changes, at a point when it was all in danger of getting a little bit blurry.
So, I'm just going to give you a little background to the different elements, so you can see how the piece came together, and "read" the story.
The sentiment is really at the centre of it all, Always Follow Your Heart. How do you make sure you are living your life in the best possible way? What should you be aiming for, trying for, looking for?
I think in revolving these questions, I can get far too headbound, and it's incredibly important to take time to listen to the inner urgings of the body, mind and soul. It's a useful reminder to me to keep doing that...
The Umbrella Man appealed to me the very first time I saw him, in his stamp incarnation. Something about the angle of his head, the hopefulness of how he's looking out from under the umbrella to the sky, or to the horizon, strikes a chord. When I created my sky blue sparkly cardstock, I knew it was meant for him... that collision of being ready for rain, but hoping for sunshine.
I've talked before about how I feel about this Photographic Memories stamp from Tim Holtz. It is so redolent of displaced families in wartime, refugees, immigrants who have lost all they had (the home represented by the torn, faded wallpaper behind the photo), and are trying to find a new home, a new way of life.
It speaks to me of my own family background. My maternal grandparents had to face exactly those difficulties - seeking an escape from the horrors inflicted on the Jews in Central Europe in the 1930s. It's a history I always felt connected to on a deep level.
Music turns up twice on the wall-hanging. It's vital to me: listening, singing, playing; whether as a communal activity or in solitude, music is one of my great joys and great solaces.
The piece of music across the centre of the hanging was the trigger for gathering all the other elements together. It was quite by chance that this particular line was left over from the page of music I'd used in another project (or was it? Had my subconscious mind encouraged my fingers to salvage that particular line?). When I read it, I almost laughed out loud, because it so perfectly linked things together: Land of my fathers, that home shall be mine.
So, just at the point when I am trying to work out a way of making a new life in the Czech Republic, in a place within striking distance of the town my grandmother was born and brought up in (a path made considerably smoother for me by the fact that my mother is already forging ahead of me), following my heart which has always yearned to be out of the UK, here is this piece of paper with not only that thought on it, but that thought set to music!
The luggage label, of course, is all about travelling, but I didn't want a dark, pessimistic brown label, so again I created for myself the sky blue of sunshine and hope. The compass is about seeking these new directions, not only geographically but also in how I arrange my work/life balance to create space for family, friends and my own creativity. I'm not there yet, so I hope the compass will be useful.
The Play tag has a double meaning for me. I've been incredibly lucky to have been in and around theatres for most of my working life, so obviously "the play's the thing"; but also, in my work as a Text and Voice Coach the absolute key to discovery, for me, is playfulness.
The freedom to play, which so many of us lose under layers of socialisation as adults, is one of the great joys and privileges of the world of theatre, if you have the capacity to take advantage of it. Playfulness is at the heart of taking risks and finding your way to new parts of yourself. It is vital to life.
Which leads me to my other great passion - writing, language and poetry. It's represented here by probably the supreme user, inventor and re-inventor of words, Shakespeare.
This particular sonnet is essentially about how life is very short - "every thing that grows / Holds in perfection but a little moment", and yet Shakespeare says that he can keep someone alive through his very writing; the person to whom it is addressed will live anew each time the sonnet is read. There is something there about the power of words to shape our world which is endlessly glorious to me.
I'll finish with the butterfly. I can't remember the first time I used it as an alias on a computer... probably to put my high score in on Minesweeper back in days of yore! But it's somehow stayed with me ever since (in my own head at any rate). And this butterfly is particularly sweet to me because, as I think I've pointed out elsewhere, it has the words California Theatre across its middle. Not that I have any particular connection to California, mind - but it is Theatre spelt the English UK way!
The heart echoes the main sentiment, of course: that which should be followed. And the flowers, apart from being adorable, are there as a symbol of my desire both to be starting a garden, in order to be more self-sufficient (though that will have to be vegetables rather than roses, I suppose), and to be putting down proper roots for myself somewhere. By the nature of my work, I've led a very peripatetic life, always on the move. It's time to slow down, follow my heart, and I think I may have found the place to do it: Land of my fathers, that home shall be mine.
I do just want to say that all of this wasn't carefully thought out and prepared in advance. It gathered itself together on my craft table and in my head and in my heart, and found its way in to the world almost without me... or that's how it felt. When I look at it now, it's very clear what it was all trying to say - as I hope I've been able to share with you here.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
And I've just discovered the words of the Czech National Anthem, Kde domov můj:
Where is my home? Where is my home?
Where water rushes through the meadows
And breezes murmur in the pine groves...
Where in the springtime, full of blooms
An earthly paradise it looms.
This is the fair land of Bohemia,
And in Bohemia is my home.