15 August 1999
>Wow! I've just been looking and absorbing some of your writing/ work/ thoughts. For someone who thinks in pictures and forms l find words limiting, but l'm game to a challenge.
Obviously ;-) But anyway, we can scan in and send each other sketches etc too.
>We seem to be opposites in many ways. Tim likes to use the word complementary.
I think I'd like to as well!
>Even so we do still have a lot in common. l believe this collaboration will stretch me and challenge me in many ways l've never even thought about. l am very much a hands-on person, l love clay and texture, forms and shapes, feeling and feeling.
I think that I'm basically a visual artist, but (hopefully) tactile as well.
When I was in Cornwall I became friends with a sculptor, and we had some great times together walking the dogs at Lamorna, where she also taught me to see in 3-d for the first time. But I've never had the opportunity to work in 3-d, and now digital media is by far the most accessible to me. I guess my dance training means that I do think about the way people occupy space, though.
>l like to relook at myths and assumptions, and question them.
Always a good idea!
>At college l made a barbed-wire wedding dress, but then didn't have the nerve to wear it.
Sounds like it would have been uncomfortable? Anyway, I wouldn't have had the nerve to wear the brace if I hadn't needed to . . .
>I don't like my myths, assumtions and prejudices questioned, but l know like medicine it may taste nasty but it'll do me good. I am always wanting to learn to understand more, I am a little set in my ways, and although frightened, am looking forward to having a good shake-up. I want to tell you about myself but l feel trapped in sterotype labels so here goes. I'm 45, skinny, ageing hippy, sensitive ( l think it sounds better than neurotic), artistic, intolerant, argumentative, often tired and limited by my own fears.
So we *have* got a lot in common, then!
>In many ways my life is both shallow and boring,
>but l am aware of, and far capable of more. I have read quiet a few feminist writers who have sent my mind reeling, l really enjoyed Women that run with the Wolves and find a great need to howl.
I've never read it, but know what you mean!
>l now read Terry Pratchett, for sheer escapism.
I've not read much Pratchett, but love escapist fiction in general, and girls' school stories have of course been one great love there. I'm currently dipping into Elsie Oxenham's "Abbey" books for girls, which have as the central characters girls and women who live in a Manor House with a ruined Abbey in the grounds, within which they have many adventures (the Abbey itself is apparently based on Cleeve Abbey). I discuss these books more in my PhD hyperthesis, Virtual Worlds of Girls, but the aspect which is of most interest to me in relation to this project is the way in which the books feminise what has been created originally as an all-male space. Reading them as a girl also gave me my love of pottery (I collect pottery from Newport Pottery in West Wales) and introduced me to the concept of having a room of your own where the colour scheme was important to you.
Is there anything of Terry Pratchett's you'd recommend in particular?
> l also have a background within the Christian tradition, but became frustrated and angry that l wasn't excepted and appeared to have no role, because l was a woman. My ex worked in the church as an evangelist, and l towed the line for 10 years.
I grew up in a Christian home, with my mother being a Baptist although we went to the Church of England. (You can find out more about my childhood within my PhD hyperthesis, Virtual Worlds of Girls, in My Own Schooldays.) The church had stopped having any meaning for me by the time I left home, apart from a sense of imprisonment.
>When he walked out l began to grow, question, and find other women like myself who didn't fit the mould. Others intoduced me into the concept of a female deity, history books showed me forms, gave me stories. Women writers gave me inspiration and hope.
Writing is still the most powerful way of communicating experiences and ideas, particularly if you're isolated and/or excluded from the mainstream and thus from representation on TV, radio etc. I was introduced to feminist writers at the age of 18, and they've been part of my life ever since. More fundamental still to my life, though, are the disabled writers and artists who've been crucial to the process of my 'coming out' as disabled and developing Disability Pride.
>l did my Art degree as a mature student, read up on goddesses and visited museums in search of them. l found the Britsh museum very limited, but enjoyed the search, seeing many hidden references. Although from south-east London, l relate to the celtic part of me greatly. My father is/was Irish and l grew up in a strong Irish community,
I love west Wales and south-west Cornwall, which are both Celtic areas, and find my spiritual home in Wales, but I have no Celtic blood (so far as I know).
>which has made me very anti The Church of Rome, and it's male power. It's difficult to be angry but not be predjudiced, l have alot to learn. My theology is now of the pick-and-mix variety, which can be a cop-out sometimes.
But I guess most people's personal theology is like that?
> For my final years work at college l looked at the myths and roles of St.Mary and Eve, the saint and the whore sterotypes. This ended with me producing bowls with clitorises (shown in picture)
I really like the pictures of your work that I've seen, although they've only been poor reproductions so far.
>and a falling life-size figure made from photo-copied transpariences. l enjoyed visiting Liverpool Cathedral, a lovely place, and especially enjoyed the shop with its plastic madonna and plastic iconography. l made moulds from pieces bought and used them in my work. l often work with bought images, dolls and statues, changing and joining them with other objects.
I am really looking forward to seeing more images of your work.
> Well enough about me, where do we go from here? You appear to be so self-sufficient and confident
Isn't that always true of the other person?
>that l'm not quiet sure where I fit in. I also looked at the booklet on Mount Grace and found certain ideas,images, and thoughts, that may be of interest to you. I have already visited the site but will again and send you images.
Great, I'll look forward to it.
>l was also interested in the aspect of time, evolution, change.
Have you any ideas as to how we could express this?
>Looking at the humble beginnings, with words like piety and poverty, to the growth of industry and wealth.
That's interesting, I hadn't thought of that. The booklet says that the poverty was relative - when I compare the monks' "cells" to my home, I can only agree!
>I found it quiet interesting to see that the priory had a prison, was it a prison within a prison? or is the priory not a prison but a place of freedom. I suppose it's ones' attitude.
And that we can only imagine . . . I expect it meant many different things to many different people.
>Pictures in the booklet showed arches, doorways, windows, maybe they are to see out/in/to other worlds/other times/other realities.
Yes, I like the idea of what they were seeing in addition to their surroundings; they certainly lived at least part of the time in a virtual reality that was probably more real to them than their daily lives.
>I was also interested in the springhouse and of course the remains of the kiln.
Can you think of a way in which we can use the kiln?
>From what I remember of my visit it was very bleak (it was a very grey day), green grass covers much of the ground, a wood at the back, and stark buildings eerie and sad.
That's a very different picture from the booklet! But then the reality of tourism brochures always is! I went to two universities on the strength of seeing the sites in prospectuses and then in the summer months, and later felt duped because the reality of the weather and the setting during term-time was so very different! You've increased my vision of the site; thanks.
>The priory has a large weasel population and was once used to make a documentary about weasels on the television. On my visit l saw a weasel chase and overcome a rabbit twice it's size, it was very gruesome, like watching a wildlife film where one wants to save the deer from the lioness.
You've painted a much darker picture than the booklet! But then the history of the site must have its dark side too, as you've already pointed out with the prison. One of the aspects of the cycle of nature that I like is the inclusion of the dark side, as opposed to the Christian idea of seeing light and dark as opposites.
> I hope that this has given you some ideas about myself and my work. I find the whole concept of this work very exciting, yet very vague as to times, expectations and outcomes.
One suspects that's because the organisers *are* very vague as to these things! But this gives us some very welcome freedom, so I think that it's positive. We might ask Tim a few more questions about the history of the project, though; there's bound to be a lot of thinking behind it that wasn't reflected in the information they sent to applicants. Also, Tim seems very supportive and encouraging - and generally very enthusiastic about the project - and that gives me confidence.
>I hope these will fall into place as l have my week-end assisting work, nights (thank-you for challenging my attitudes and limited use of words, Carer!) and children to juggle. l can give roughly three days a week to this work, but can be flexible.
Well, you know my availability, so why don't you discuss a schedule with Tim, and I'll see where my timings fit into that. As we don't have to overlap too much, it should be fairly easy. I presume with kids it's easier to have a fixed schedule that can be flexible if necessary to domestic needs? (My physical needs will necessarily throw the schedule out sometimes too.)
>l feel that I'm drifting out to sea, what an adventure.
I love the sea, but wouldn't like to be drifting! But I do feel that we are setting out on an adventure, which is always fun . . .
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