Tag Archives: Flora

Be The Change

Dry Pond at Bodrifty

Like this dry pond at Bodrifty (which I photographed a couple of weeks ago), when I made the momentous decision to survive by my own artistic endeavours,  I was forced to pare my existence down to the bare bones out of  economic necessity.  I now declare myself in line with the official drought crisis that is currently sweeping the country (though you wouldn’t think it today as the rain lashes down) to desert-conditions level of survival.  Although I have been a practicing artist – on and off – all my working life, this time it feels like starting from scratch again.  I know it may take a few years before my ‘pool of plenty’ is replenished once more – the mere fact I believe it will happen is a huge leap of faith in itself.

Virginia Woolf said,a woman author needs only financial independence and a space of her own to prosper.  How right she was but these two vital ingredients for creative survival are mutually dependent on each other.  For some people, just finding the right environment that will enable them to thrive creatively can be difficult.  This seems particularly true for women.  Being natural ‘carers’ for family, friends or business clients over many years, is often at the expense of our own ambitions.  There is simply no time to indulge our own aspirations. We all need that space to grow, and often we have to fight our corner to get it, and – more importantly – once claimed, hold on to it.

Gandhi once said the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  In my view there is a real danger that in serving others you can lose yourself into a state of oblivion!  Serving others is a tool for learning about humanity in general, as well as understanding your own levels of compassion and desire to help others.  And yes, there is a vicarious pleasure to be gained by serving other people’s needs, like helping your children flourish and prosper, or as we did, for instance, serving guest’s needs in our B&B business.  But it’s not the whole story and it may be at the detriment of your own personal growth.

When I feel that the scales have tipped into the area where life begins to feel more like a heavy burden, then the time has come to say, enough is enough, it is time I ‘serve’ my own needs.  This is particularly true as we feel the clock speeding up and the realisation that there will simply not be enough time left for us to do all the things that we want to do.  So what we choose to do needs to really count.  For many who have been devoted to the service of others over many years, this can be the hardest thing in the world to do.  To feel fulfilled in any way, we need to make our inner world matter, to feed our psychic beings, and to be able to express ourselves through the many facets of our personality is vital to maintain a healthy self-hood.  The very best way to do this is to give expression to our innate creative powers.   For Sven Berlin, “Although I have written of poetry and the visual arts as I have practised them for over half a century, it always seems to me the things of most importance in this existence – except for light and colour and form – are those things that are invisible.  (from ‘The Other Man’)

As in everything we do in life, there is a balance to be struck, between serving the needs of others as well as ourselves…..lest – heaven forbid – we should ever be accused of being selfish!  So I say, create some physical and mental personal space and get on with the business of being the change you want to see(Ghandi).   This may not be as worthy as serving others but it is much more aspirational.  In the long-term, your light will spread its magic far and wide and be an inspiration to others.   So – go on – clear your diary and free up some time.   Be brave and give yourself permission to take more control of your life .  You know you’re worth it!


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Confetti & Tears

Bride's Bouquet and Father of the Bride's buttonhole

A week ago today, my daughter got married.   After all the anticipation of the Big Day, when it came to it, this very special ‘right of passage’ was over almost as soon as it had begun and as near to perfection as anyone could have wished for.  All the right ingredients were there: the lace bolero (we thought of it first), the readings, the speeches, the songbirds, the proper snog at the altar, slightly giggly vows, copious quantities of tears both of laughter and of joy, and the continuous sunshine that radiated warmth and love for the happy couple.  There was nothing to mar the day, no fisticuffs or drunken, disorderly behaviour, though I think there was a considerable amount of verbal wife-swapping going on at one point……and that’s another story.  Catching up with friends and family I had not seen in a decade was like weaving the missing links back into my life.  In fact, it was the happiest and most heartfelt wedding I can remember.  The fact that the day had gone without a hitch is due, in no small measure, to the brilliant magic that the bride and groom had managed to conjure.  To pull off such an occasion with flawless efficiency, style, grace and exquisite attention to detail, is a major achievement and bodes well for their future.  My admiration for them both has increased  considerably.  And now, a week on from the event, there is a frantic exchange of photos flying about as we all sort out our best moments to share.

Now, from the emotional rollercoaster ride in my role as Mother of the Bride, I must put my artist hat back on, trot off to my studio and throw open my doors for the start of Cornwall Open Studios.  It’s a bit chilly today, so wrap up warm.  Everyone is welcome, and I look forward to seeing you if you can make it.

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Lace Cap Tree?

I had a few minutes to kill before an appointment in Penzance yesterday so I went for a walk in Penlee Park.  It was a bright but breezy day and I came across this tree near the tennis courts with beautiful clusters of white blossom, dancing in the dappled light.  It reminds me of the Lace Cap Hydrandeas in my garden.  I love the soft pinky- purple heads of my garden shrubs and often use them as an arrangement in the house because they look so spectacular – this photo was taken late last Summer.  I tried to find the park tree in one of my ‘Tree’ books but can’t identify it….


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Laboratory or Factory?

Is your studio a lab for your experiments or is it a factory for churning out artwork to meet exhibition deadlines?  At various times, my studio activities fluctuate between the two but relies more heavily on the ‘laboratory’ approach.  A work room designed for alchemy, and those ‘eureka’ moments when something happens to open up new possibilities which need to be explored.  This is more about the processes than the end result.  To be in a state where anything is possible.  Where any mood is acceptable: serious, irreverent, enquiring, playful, meditative, reflective, focused, random, non-sensorial

Easter Spring Sprung at Sancreed Church

…….all of that, and whatever it happens to be when you are ‘in’ that moment.  Sometimes the intention is more academic altogether such as when I am drawing or painting a subject that I want to be recognisable – such as a specific landscape, an animal, person or still life, and applies to my present commission which I have just started.  (More about that in future posts).  I do enjoy this mode because it tests my skills of draughtsmanship, and it is always good to get back to basics.  In the study of proportions, scale, composition etc., there is nowhere to hide.

So to answer the first question that Jane (my new ‘blog’ friend) posed: “what do you want your work to achieve?”  The simple answer is that I want to express a certain truth with my work – a truth that by it’s nature, is a very personal and subjective one.  It is a form of visual language as an intellectual exercise and applies equally to whichever mode I happen to be working in, either representational or abstract.  It is a combination of deliberate thought processes and instinctive actions.  If the artwork doesn’t ‘feel’ or look right, it will get scrapped, or reworked until I am satisfied.  My policy is never to ‘exhibit’ any artwork that I am not happy to put my signature to, or at least claim as one of my own.  And by that I mean it doesn’t have to be perfect.  The fact that something has been attempted with a specific intention, meaning or purpose will be understood as an act of integrity and there is a real difference between that and perfection.  (Ideas about ‘quality’: subject for another post).  Sometimes it flows and feels effortless, sometimes it is hard work and feels heavy and laboured.  Often it is the best I can do at the time.  Sometimes it is as a result of a series of mistakes or mishaps that the best things happen.  This is where the alchemy comes in and these moments are the most rewarding because you feel like a pioneer at the frontier of new discoveries, and that anything is possible.  But somewhere in the very core of the process your hope is that you will reach out and connect with the viewer’s sensibilities and add something to their own truth.  And in saying that, I think I have probably answered the 2nd part of Jane’s question, “what do you want to achieve with your work?”  The short answer:  To communicate and engage with an audience via a highly personal visual language.


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Mothering Sunday

A posy for all Mothers today.

a posy for Mothering Sunday, (with some of my light boxes in the background!)

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Heavenly Scent

Daffs in the field above St Michael's Mount, 4th March, 2011

At this time of year when the the fields around us are full of daffodils always reminds me of when my son was born because the hospital where he was delivered into this world was heady with the scent of all the different narcissus varieties………dare I admit, 30 years ago now, but I remember it as if it was yesterday!

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lace cap hydrangeas


lace cap hydrangeas

Clover petals in clusters of cream

Shades of white, and soft ultramarine,

Standing on stalks above fawn pom-pom tops

Turning to paper with pink peppery spots.

Leggy sweet peas swaying, tall scented heads

Cut from long shadows in late Autumn beds,

Faded remnants of late Summer’s bloom

Sparkling jewels peeping out of the gloom.

Symbols of hope that life lingers on

A little bit jaded, but definitely not done.

Arranged in the pot unearthed near the tree

A sweet-smelling posy presented to me.

Denied icy winds or snows to devour

My latest venture, my muse to inspire.

A simple still-life, yet therein lies,

Just take a moment to feast the eyes:

There, placed on the table covered with cloth

That had lain on the floor in front of the hearth,

Visible proof of slumber before Spring

A moment of stillness for breathing again.

Caro Woods, January 2011

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