Excitingly, as the year is coming to an end, and the glory of this year's yellow leaves in hedges and woodlands is being replaced, for those with good enough eyesight, by silvery lichens that only reveal themselves to us when all the leaves are gone, we are about to open our doors to 12 plus Arts, and their Christmas exhibition.
There's always so much to do, a growing list of jobs to tick off, but for me, once the boxes are all ticked, the turkey cooked and cooled, the holidays are reading time: the joy of writing up and handing out that list of books I've been compiling in my head all year, digging out something suitably cosy to wear to read them, and taking advantage of lit fires, and nature pulling the light by three o clock. Not to mention chocolates at any time of the day or night,
This year, having started my PhD research over again, I'll be making my way through Metamorphoses, and mulling over Bernini's rendition of it in marble. It's a strangely suitable subject for the holidays, thinking about it, when so much of the natural world is stripped back and laid bare before spring reclothes it again. What's that if not metamorphosis? And, if I keep up with those chocolates for breakfast, the natural world is not the only thing that's going to be transformed by spring.
Do come and see us while we are open, 4th-12th December. Also watch this space for new work coming in the spring. And to everyone, have a joyous Christmas. I look forward to catching up in the new year.
I had the amazing, if slightly daunting, opportunity this week to give a paper at the New Voices conference organised by the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds university. My paper explored the idea of using sculpture as a muse for creative writing. I am a short story writer, and my paper explored the adaption of a classical myth, Apollo and Daphne, by the baroque sculptor Bernini, and how, in turn, I am adapting the themes of both Ovid and Bernini in a collection of short stories. What, someone in the audience asked, is the moral imperative of adaptation. It was a fascinating question, and a propos, since the myth and the sculpture are particularly controversial in depicting and/or describing the attempted rape of the nymph Daphne by the god Apollo. In the age of #MeToo, how we are meant to respond to a work that appropriates sexual violence towards women to make a symbolic point? Can we call ourselves feminists, for example, if we find beauty in such a sculpture, and if we disregard such a work, what do we, as a culture, miss out on? For me, writing is the perfect medium to pose difficult questions and though we might not be able to provide answers, we can, and in my opinion should, endeavour to stimulate debate. For example, what kinds of sculptures do we want to see in the public sphere and whose lives would we like to celebrate in sculpture? To what extent are the underlying beliefs and power imbalances that have historically excused and facilitated violence towards women still evident in our world today?
The difficulty I am finding is not how am I going to have enough to write about, but rather, how on earth am I going to fit it all in!
Summer is in its last throws, with lilac September skies, and horse chestnut leaves starting to turn. I'm not quite sure if I'm ready for the new term or not. But that doesn't matter because right now I have the distraction of collaborating with the mixed media artist Anna Brass on an Arts Council funded project for Unreal Estates. We are bringing to life an old United Reform Chapel currently for sale in Norwich. The chapel needs a new roof and sadly the congregation can't afford it, meaning this glorious building, exquisitely made for one thing, is on the brink of transformation, all for the sake of corroded roofing nails. The story moved us to want to tell it in words and images. More to follow, plus an online exhibition and hopefully, all being well, a real life exhibition in Norwich in 2022. Though maybe it's just me, but it's hard to plan that far ahead.