Friday, May 01, 2009

Blood and ink

It's 8 am and I'm at my window, sun on the elms and hedges of my street. The elm leaves are between bud and full leaf. I was at Fabrica last night for a reading from The Tale of Genji by science fiction writer Gwyneth Jones (who's also Ann Hallam, a writer of novels for teenagers). What knowledge that woman has. It's part of a series - Blood and Ink - put together for the Anish Kapoor show at the gallery. Gwyneth took us through social history, the other writing of the time, her own fascination with the book and the way she's been influenced by it in her own writing.

Gwyneth's website is: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/gwynethann/

In the afternoon I was planning a workshop with Jane. The treat of doing this is often a glimpse of her studio. I went in yesterday feeling fractious and knackered and was stunned by the luminosity of her new paintings. The walls were full of fruit, flowers, porcelain and fabric and the colours are like perfume, or a blackbird, crickets.......I didn't want to leave. It was like opening a door into an old walled garden with orchard and rampant flowers in the middle of summer.

Jane's work is on sale during May at The Handmade House, Beards Place Farm, 98 Lewes Road, Ditchling: www.handmadehouse.co.uk

There's a sculpture trail, food and jewellery too by the talented Emma Willcocks whose bracelets are never off my wrist. Emma, actually, reintroduced me to the pleasure of allotmenting when she asked me to share hers many years ago up near the racecourse, the one I still have.

And it's a busy time. I've been planting seeds, weeding etc. But for some bizarre reason my neck is rigid and I've been slipping in and out of a seam of anger, like a residue of winter muck. I'm trying to work out where it's coming from. Some is personal, but there's a fair bit stirred up by the world and its inequalities: the usual, men/women, poor/rich, confident/diffident/, powerful/disempowered.

Work no longer guarantees enough money to live on.

Men still have more influence than they deserve.

But maybe the only solution is to net the brassicas, keep slugs off the spinach and chard, scare birds from the redcurrants and leave the snarling, fighting and scrabbling for position, the mutual congratulations and building of towers to those who prefer air conditioning to the chalk slopes of the Downs.

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