Thursday 5 November 2015


I went to a dance theatre production about ageing and the passing of time at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, last week; Once Upon A Time, two dancers and one trapeze artist all over 65. Stunning, sad, beautifully simple yet full of complexity in its meaning. Apart from feeling decidedly unfit, I went home reflecting on our shared experience of fading memories of who we once were, as strong, young people. We all held centre stage in our own performance. Not much seems to be said about how this sense of diminishing feels, as articulated by those of us who are ageing, into our 60s, 70s and beyond. It's a difficult subject, granted, we're encouraged to stay young, look young but do we feel young? There is a beauty in ageing which needs a particular kind of looking; I saw it last week.
The above image is the residue of who I once was, as a young woman; what's left of my departing self.

Sunday 4 October 2015

New website creation

Long silence, far too long. I even stopped writing in my research journals for a while, all too aware of the thousands of words I've accumulated and not wanting to add even more. Looking back over words written in the throes of intense emotion, is daunting and exhausting. Particularly when I know that I should be trawling through them on the lookout for research insight gems. Sometimes, that just feels too premeditated and contrived. So.... I just stopped writing. I didn't stop thinking.

Much has happened since the last post so I've decided that I need a new website; one that reflects who I am becoming rather than just showing who I used to be. I'll post here when it's up and running. There's a holding image for the new site;

Deciding on this new content has given pause for thought about how we quietly shift from one perspective to another without realising it. Thoughts evolve in the background and I think that it's only when confronted by an unexpected response on our part, to a hitherto 'normal' event, that we see this shift in ourselves. In a way, this forms the crux of my research. I stand on a watershed, or in a liminal space, depending on how you think about this. I'm not who I thought I was, in fact, I'm almost a stranger in my own skin, rather like a snake casts its skin and moves on. Does the snake stay intrinsically the same or has it shifted? The artwork I've created as part of the research, has clearly shown me this movement within myself. I'm shocked, I thought I knew myself pretty well. My self preconceptions are wrong or at best, misguided. I've even had 2 specific dreams where my unconscious has tried to help me to understand this inner metamorphosis. We don't listen closely enough.

                                              research artwork for 'departing selves', 2015

Sunday 27 July 2014

I have no images to add to my musings here. But I am in Kyoto now, experiencing one of the most rewarding aspects of being an older researcher in very foreign culture. The Japanese are full of paradox; boisterous/quiet, of the now and also of the past, both intertwined into their busy lives. Kyoto must be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. For an older woman who silently fears getting lost, it is becoming an empowering time for me here, as I navigate buses, busy streets and empty side streets. Temples abound. They are not tourist traps in any sense, but form a real part of Japanese life, as do the shrines. I'm privileged in being allowed to share these spaces of reflection with  Japanese lady, who truly values Japanese traditions in a modern world.
I have been moved to tears by the stillness of ponds, delighted by the subtle taste of simple vegetables, overwhelmed by the kindness of young people as they show me the correct street or take me to a bus stop.
I could live here, I'm finding something I thought I'd lost several years ago, when I left my island home.
How do I sustain this sense of spirituality when I return to the UK?
This is showing me how much I need to touch Nature, feel silk, be kinder.

Wednesday 23 October 2013


No images for this post; just a big thank you to the Masters students at GSA today; talking about reflective writing, what it could be, why we do it as creative people as an integral part of our practice.

I can't really imagine a time when I wont do it and I find it difficult to understand how a creative person could survive without it. The benefits far outweigh the time spent thinking through writing, it opens up new worlds.

There is no 'correct' way to do, if it works for you then it must be 'right'. Personally, I write reflectively in order to think unconscious thoughts, to help organise my hectic mind, to clear space within my head for new thoughts.

I blog to feel 'grown up', to connect, to seek resonance and discourse. Between the two, journal writing or blogging, the journal wins hands down. I am in my journal in a way that I am in no other aspect of my creative practice, I reveal the myself.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

heuristic research and mirrors

I'm sure many thousands of psychology researchers have come across heuristic research, but it was new to me, as an artist and what's more interesting, it feels so familiar. The idea of complete immersion, solipsistic, isolated, staring into the mirror day after day and seeing so many faces looking back down over the years..............this is compelling. It's also very difficult to sustain without the feeling that you're slowly going slightly crazy. I'd like to have been around when Moustakas first wrote of this way of doing research, but I was too young, too distracted, just not ready to look into the void.

What bothers me slightly, regardless of how comfortable this type of research feels, is 'am I doing it right?'. This may not matter too much (at this stage) as there is no 'right', or so it seems. Is this too good to be true? I wonder? Phenomenological research offers many pathways, this is just one of them. But it has encouraged me to look again at what I'm doing, the question of rigour, integrity and variable truths. I'm now reflecting on some of the summer collages of this year, the visceral ones, where writing was almost impossible, apart from describing the process itself, my choice of materials etc. I wrote very little of their meaning, just needing the images to speak for me. Immersion and incubation have been and gone, I'm now at the illumination stage. Expilcation comes later. The creative synthesis is way down the line of thought, out of sight.

I'm doing a short talk at the GSA tomorrow on this blog and on reading back over these months of posts, it feels as if the chosen content is becoming much more serious, less conversational, (if it ever was that?) more contemplative, more questioning..............more 'grown up'. Or is it just me seeing it that way as I delve down into very uncomfortable undergrowth? I only tend to add a post when there is some aspect of the research I want to put out there, to share, to invite comment, or just to let go of it for a while. Initiating discourse would be good, the challenge to look again at the work in new ways would help me.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

self analysis

As I look back over what I've done this summer, I wonder about the thin line between self analysis and art therapy. I'm not ill, I'm just ageing, it's not easy nor do I have a choice in the matter. Trying to articulate this journey is almost impossible, I've no idea what words to choose, none come up to the mark for me. But images do, they tell of shadows, distant memories perhaps false, created histories and whispers. I'm layering my thoughts with these images, as I position one on top of the other. Some take on a dominant role, others float quietly behind, hoping to be un-noticed. This will take me to the words I need to write. This is nipping at my heels, demanding attention and I don't know where to begin, I'm in a fog.