Tuesday, July 29, 2008

in which the fish muses on the ending of this day

The day is heading toward closing: this moment is one I love, its poignancy lies perhaps in the low angle of the sun. Low lines of gold on the side of my face, a bunch of jasmine on the table, shadows long and the scent the perfume like something arisen from the past. Barber’s Adagio perhaps is adding more atmosphere than I care for.

As a painter I am bound always to hunt for silent spaces and I spend way too much time in a place alone. If given the opportunity I will run there, whereas most persons, given the time, would seek the company of others, of community, but it is my lot to do otherwise. I spend great chunks of time in my own company.

Yet this is something that impacts on every other part of my life: My worlds collide in so many ways. I find that when I am in the silent space sometimes that I am paralysed. Sometimes when in the presence of persons huge tracts of speech fly out of my mouth before I can stop them.

At the moment there is disharmony, fragmentation, hostility. My practice is solely driven by things over which I have no control. Faced with that vast blank space before me I am often confronted by what appears there: I wish I was dispassionate. I live in an imaginary world, and I create through pictures a concrete form of that. Making pictures is the way I deal with things, yet even that is itself fragmentary, interrupted.

My life is a place of duality, hard to balance. Things slide away and I find it hard to catch them again. Things I make mean so much that looking at them sometimes breaks my heart. Right now it hurts my heart to draw.

I daydreamed of visiting Tate St Ives today,and my Tate newsletter arrived in the post.

My children. Sometimes I feel that I can do nothing for them: they overwhelm me in ways I cannot say. They are so different. Almost like opposites.
Sometimes I shake inwardly in the face of my own inadequacy as a mother: yet my son will say, upon waking and finding me in his field of vision: I love you.

I believe him.

And yet I know, as he does too, that he would live with his father, that he would choose his father if he had to. If things came to that.

The girl narrows her eyes and looks at the world with disdain, she is the blossoming of the Germanic branch of her family tree: intriguingly, there are shared traits with others, I have noticed. I fear that she will never see the world as I do, and it makes me sad, but at least she is strong, clever and organised.

The Queen of Emo gives birth to the Ice Princess: I wonder if my tears have poisoned her: that black spell when she was growing in me, and I was drowning in despair: did this colour her?
Her gaze is like a death-ray.

She is swimming, I can see her hair in a silver cloud. Her face has changed so much people don’t recognise her in the street.

The light is changing.

I think about my etchings, incomplete, and my canvases, which puzzle me. I think about the fragments of writing I have part completed. I think of all the reject letters I have received in the past week. The unsuccessful proposals and applications, so many so many they drown me.

I wish I could smooth all the jagged edges. The sea is roaring at me: I tried to keep out this morning but my limbs carried me there without my consent. Thus did I enter the sea, whether I liked it or not, in sheets of unusual icy rain.
My heart aches this week, and I suspect it will for quite some time.
The lovely Miss Boat is going to make me Steamboat next week.

The sun sinks behind a bank of cloud, at this moment the sea foam lights up briefly in a sheen of violet white, and the deeper ocean is the darkest green.
As it always has been, I will never change. I swim as far as I can in the cold, and then I swim some more.

This is me. Swimming through the dark pools when I have to. All the bits and the fragments and the hurting parts and the other times, there is always some light, there is always water, and salt. Strings of weed.
Banks of Apricot Cloud, a desperate wanting. Waiting.

Black charcoal, indigo paint.
Late afternoon light.


jane said...

Jasmine! Its beautiful enveloping sad scent. I've noticed it's early this year. I try not to smell it because it makes me feel sad and inadequate. Toss it into the ocean and see if it can swim like you!! Sneaky manipulative Jasmine will cleave the strongest heart (but I will pick a bunch in the morning because the pain is exquisite).

Jellyhead said...

Ah fifi, you are so right. Mothering is both a joy and a searing pain. Perhaps birth is to warn us of this paradox.

I know I have yet to go through the teen years with my kids, but I can imagine the disdain, the distancing, and the tightness this causes in your chest.

Swim and feel better.


fifi said...

only one a teenager, jelly, and the other only just.

but thank you both.

Suse said...

Oh, Fifi.


Molly said...

All the longing and yearning in this, the ice maiden, the inadequacy---you've put into poignant words things most of us can't find words for. Would a hug help?

Kirti said...

When you go down there you show it in all its beauty. The depth of it.

meli said...

oh fifi i hope you feel better soon. orange clouds are good. i remember once, in the middle of several years (well, probably just two years, but it felt like forever) of feeling very sad and hopeless, i saw a long thin beautiful orange cloud, lounging above my city. One day, i thought, i will be as lazy and as beautiful and as happy as that cloud. and it was true.

and it will be true for you.

you are doing beautiful work even if it feels fragmented. sometimes the work gets done anyway, no matter how you feel.

and i know i know rejections aren't nice, but try not to take them personally, because they're a bit random really, the way they make these decisions, and you just need to keep trying and trying and you'll get somewhere wonderful eventually. they're like stepping stones, these rejections, they're part of the path.

i love your paintings of underwater reeds.

Anonymous said...

If you feel like a swim, Sunday 3rd August, 11.00am, at the Manly surf club, for a swim to Shelly Beach and back, with a few despots from the ocean swimming fraternity, weather permitting.

Bit of Thalo blue here I feel, mind you, it's a lovely blue, mix it with a bit of white and cadmium yellow...uummmyum..swim would do you good.

The Glistener.

bluemountainsmary said...

Well we make a fine pair at the moment don't we.

Something in the tides and the cycles and the pull of the moon.

I really understand the solitary life of which you speak. Increasingly I am on my own as I wander my world with my camera and then when I am with people the words spew out of me.

The day will come when you are painting and I am with you with my camera. We can be solitary together!

fifi said...

Bless you all immensely.

Meli of course you are right.
And things hard earned are better anyway. Something will come: I am bracing myself for two disappointments today.

Suse, oh pea...

Glistening one: :-)
You are sweet. I might take you up on that, and a coffee after. I wouldn't mind visiting those friends in cabbage tree bay.

Mary: I almost drove straight up there.

Miss jane: come to steamboat.

Thank you molly and kirti. I feel very privileged that you say such nice things and I am considering myself hugged.

katiecrackernuts said...

You stumble in the painting becuase it's painful. I stumble in the writing. My diary is untouched. My blog flippant and far away from what jars. Last week is still hot and branded to me, but for the teen, it's slipped away. Though she's wary, her protege more so. Ps and Qs are minded and I work to be the adult. I want to be the teen. I want to scream and leave the responsibilities where they fall for someone else to gather and put back in their rightful places. I smooth sheets and fold clothes, cook meals and hang out washing in a bid to stabilise myself, my world. Best of luck to you.

Regulus said...

Reading this carefully, seeing the different hues of light, shifting colors and shadows of sunset, I caught a glimpse ... a short but powerful glimpse and I was there and understood what you were describing, even perhaps feeling. I got it. Just for an instant. It was in another life or some alternate but interlinked reality. I got it.

alice c said...

Holding you close in my thoughts, dear Fifi. I am sure that there will be something wonderful around the next bend in the road - something that makes your heart sing and helps you to face the challenges in your life.

travistee said...

This is so beautiful, as most of the things we create while in pain seem to be.
I guess the curse of the artist is that you cannot just close your eyes and enjoy the darkness and the silence, for you probably continue to see your images burning before you.
As I writer, I can turn off the light and stop the words.
But the thoughts persist.

little red hen said...

Oh Fifi, I feel like making you a cake and a nice pot of tea!! (That is my remedy for the blues all the better shared with a gentle friend with a sympathetic and empathetic ear!) Your words are beautiful and made me cry! My boy turns 17 in 4 weeks and my girlie is 15and a half, it is strange how they can be so different isn't it and how we can know them so well and not at all in the same moment.
Hope your spirits lift soon.

meggie said...

Please have some hugs, from puffy arms, as my granddaughter calls them!
When I was younger I often wished I couldn't think- I think you will know what I meant.

fifi said...

Reg: that is amazing really. And nice.
Trav: Yes, like the grit in the oyster, as they say.
Little hen, I do wish for some cake and tea. I will imagine it.
meggie; you aren't in the least puffy! thanks for the hugs.

Such kind thoughts, such nice persons all.

Pam said...

Fifi,I'm a bit late, but just wanted to say that this was beautifully written. You expressed what I couldn't many years ago. A dear friend saw me through this time, a true confidant.That and long walks where I would ponder where this mother-daughter and family dynamic thing was going.I had a favourite column or sentinal of gum trees, grand old girls that I would walk past.You capture this time in a womans and artists life so eloquently.Wonderfully written.

Luhlahh said...

That ocean of helplessness and despair - I know it well, much better than my blog would suggest. Just remember that a bit of melancholy is good for the creative soul, but if you feel like you are getting towed out to sea (as can happen to the strongest of swimmers) please remember to raise your hand and get help from someone warm, capable and wise, (a stong swimmer with a board perhaps?) whoever that is for you.
Cyber hugs, Lou. X