'Prepare to be immersed in the heat and vibrancy of Florida's natural world, full of such sensual detail that to read it is to breathe it in.' - Jo Shapcott
[review of Greyhound Night Service]

Winter break

After a very long flu season during which I spent most of the time ill, I am amazed that my long-waited for trip to the US has started. I really didn't expect to feel well enough to travel or well enough to be able to meet my newborn nephew on this trip.

A couple of days into the trip and I have been continually in the presence of sunrises and sunsets, a theme that seems to continue every day and one of which I am making note...slowing down to really notice. On the flights over, I saw the sunrise and sunset of my travel day from the window of the plane. Each extraordinary; each reminding me how little I see either of these light-shifts when I'm in full-flow-work-zone at home.

But winter break is always one of my favourite times of the year. It is a time for hibernation and for letting the short days do their work, hold their sway. A time for us humans to do as bears do and cuddle up, snuggle in, spend some energy replenishing our over-worked and over-stressed selves. I find that there is a lovely stillness in the weeks after the crazy-blitz of Christmas and its lead up, with all of the noise: xmas songs for a month everywhere you go, extra traffic on the roads, cafes and restaurants full to bursting. But then January comes and with it, the quiet.

Apart from the hush-static of jet engines, it was rather quiet too at 32,000 feet. The view was constantly awe-inspiring as winter flights over the Atlantic can be: rafts of ice below, sky as clear as a bell chime. All of the light and darkness, the looking out of windows, and the stillness of very early mornings remind me so much of a poetry collection I love:

The Sunrise Liturgy: A Poem Sequence - Kindle edition by Mia ...

I must revisit it when I return home. In the mean time I am awaiting an exciting reunion with my residency collaborator, Martha Cook. I haven't seen her since leaving Hambidge in September and we have plans to meet later this week. Our best collaborative work came in the final few days of the summer residency, with my work being mainly in clay slabs. As such, nothing was dry enough for us to fire or for me to pack away and take back to the UK. So Martha has kept hold of about eight pieces for me to see and I am really excited to know how they have turned out.

Creative ideas began to emerge between us, at the end of our separate, solo residencies in winter 2018, when we first met. Throwing these ideas around in the year that followed turned into multiple surprising skype meetings, during which we co-wrote a proposal for our second residency. Part of this proposal for my own work, was to experiment with clay and the botanicals that I had been cataloguing and writing about during my first visit at Hambidge. I found that I had LOTS of questions for the clay, such as: what would happen if I rollered certain bits of the natural world into it...what alchemy (if any) would happen with the fire? What would the end result be?

Here's a snap of one of the raw pieces just after completion in September (with Martha's mug in the background):

The unknown nature of the ceramic processes is what I found so exciting in my collaboration: every day was a new exploration and every day brought the unexpected thinking processes with it.

**Update--Our collaborative meeting was fruitful! Although it was only partially-planned as such, we ended up having a very cold but very wonderful forest walk and outdoor meditation session in our meeting. And my reunion with the clay slabs was a wonder. Here is the finished version of the raw piece above; it's like its own being and captures something in the texture and burnish from the fire that needs more thinking...more writing about what next!