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Welcome to Musings – The Loom Room Blog

21 August, 2016

Have loom – will travel….

Filed under: Life,Nature,Weaving — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 1:33 pm

Isn’t it funny how certain things make a house feel like a home?

For me, as a weaver, it has to be a loom!  The French house in Gascony now has a working loom in it, and the wonderful and familiar smell of wool yarn means that France is now home!!

At the moment, I am in another temporary studio – #3, I think!  The salon, which will eventually be our rather lovely lounge (with mezzanine library!!) is home to a new-to-me Louet Spring loom.

Salon Studio 4 Salon Studio 3

You can see a little of the yarn stash I have managed to take over to France against the walls, but there is still a mountain of boxes to shift.  We had to buy a transit van to help move my books and yarns across the English Channel and have to be careful not to overload the poor thing too much!!  There are quite a few more trips to plan!!

It was great to put the loom together and to try it out, even if the first warp on was a 7.5m exhibition warp for the Nature In The Making exhibition which Agnes and I are doing in the Netherlands in November!  This is not normally to be recommended – usually I would suggest several short warps with different techniques to find out all the quirks and idiosyncracies of the loom before putting on an important warp.  But still, how many of us actually follow our own guidelines all the time???!!!

Happily, it was a relatively hassle-free introduction.  I’ll write more about it on another blog, but suffice it to say that the loom and I are working well together!

This trip to France also included plenty of physical interaction with the fabric of the building!!  Firstly, we cleaned out all the remnants of old furniture and tiles that had been left in the grange which will be my workshop, and swept it all through, leaving a blank canvas for the work to start in September.

Blog studio renovations 4 Blog studio renovations 3 Blog studio renovations 2 Blog studio renovations 1

It is another TARDIS.  It doesn’t look very large from the outside but the inside is deceptively large.

Then we removed partition walls in a bathroom to allow for two bathrooms – I’m a wicked sledge-hammer wielder – and took off all the floor and wall tiles.  We have also saved all the doors to be re-used.

Then I started weaving, and Graham continued with taking out all the old kitchen, leaving us with a single camping stove, a barbecue and a fridge.  The kitchen was somewhat over-engineered, with re-inforced steel concrete plinths for the worksurfaces, and brick walls, but we shall be able to re-use the cupboard doors and the drawer unit as everything is made with proper materials rather than chipboard rubbish!!

I am very excited, despite the ramifications of the vote in the UK to leave the EU which has impacted on our renovations fund somewhat drastically, meaning that we have to cut back on some of the things that we were hoping to do.  Basically it means that we will have to do several things in different stages instead of having all the work done at once.  Such is life.  It is amazing to us that we are actually in a position to live this dream, so if it takes longer to fulfil everything we planned, so be it….

The time spent in France this summer has been unbelievable, with amazing nocturnal natural fireworks on two occasions (electrical storms!), the fabulous array of summer night markets in villages and towns all around this part of France with their local produce and great music and dancing, the socialising with new friends and neighbours – we have landed in a really wonderful area for welcome, warmth and friendship!! – and the beautiful sunshine and views from our house over the changing fields mean that early mornings and late evenings are especially magical times for watching the landscape transform.

We have also been fascinated by the red squirrel nesting in the space between shutters and window in the attic, taking advantage of the woodpecker holes that appeared in the spring.  She had several babies and, although she has now vacated her nest, taking her babies with her (I think she didn’t like the demolition work happening a floor below her!), she is in the vicinity and we have been waking up to the lovely scene of red squirrels chasing each other round and round the trunks of trees outside the front windows.  Other wildlife has been sightings of two pairs of stunning Golden Orioles who flew in to take advantage of the bounty of our mulberry tree (tasty raspberry-like berries which we eat straight from the tree!).  The birds had the top fruit, we had the bottom fruit – a good balance!!  Bats are in abundance in the area, woodpeckers too, and plenty of other birdlife.

One amusing incident was when we had our first UK visitors.  When we first took over La Tuilerie, we found an old fold-up wooden chair which had been painted and repainted over the years and we decided to use it in our bathroom.  Whenever we were expecting visitors, whether Orange France, or friends, we put the chair at the bottom of the driveway, positioned so that it could be seen from both directions.  A couple of days before our visitors were expected, we saw a beautiful, but dead, pine marten to the left of our driveway on the edge of the road.  Its markings were just stunning – like the snow leopard and silver tabby crossed – although its little teeth were as sharp as needles and would certainly have inflicted a nasty bite!  We didn’t know whether to remove or leave it, and in the end decided it would be best to leave it.  Our visitors arrived, using the chair as signal locator and we had a lovely time!  After lunch, they had to leave and I went down to bring in the chair.  It had disappeared!!  Zut alors!  And so had the pine marten.  Had the local council come along, picked up the pine marten and taken our chair thinking that it too was for disposal?

We decided to pay a visit to the déchetterie – the local recycling centre – to see if they knew where the chair was.  I went indoors, sat down, and worked out how to tell the ouvrier what had happened.  You can imagine the scene – my French is not fluent, by any stretch of the imagination.  I practised the sentences for a while – probably at least 20 minutes – rehearsing over and over and changing the order of the sentences, trying to find the simplest way to explain the situation.  When I felt I probably had it as good as I was going to, we went to the déchetterie – only to find it had just closed!!  Happily we were able to speak to the lady in charge and I managed to make myself understood.

Not that it did any good, mind you….  The council don’t take their rubbish there and she didn’t know where the council rubbish tip was but advised us to go to the Mairie – by then well after 5, so too late for the day.  I confess I chickened out of trying to explain it all again the next day, so somewhere in a council tip near Nérac, there is a lovely old decrepit blue folding chair – unless it has found a new owner, of course!!

It won’t be long before you’ll be able to see the renovations in progress.  With as much of the preparation work done as we could do, things are now ready for the artisans to come back from their August break and start work in late September, fingers crossed!

It’s lovely being able to share this adventure with you virtually, and it would be wonderful if you could come and experience this marvellous place in real life.  In the meantime, until next time,

Happy Weaving!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 May, 2012

Reverance of age

Filed under: Life,Nature,Philosophy,Psychology — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 5:10 pm

Maybe it’s because of the milestone birthday I’ve reached, or maybe it’s because of studying for an MA and being challenged to challenge and think deeply about everything, but I’ve become more and more aware of how little we appreciate the ageing process – unless it’s to do with antiques, that is!

Why does our Western society worship youth?

Yesterday, a reminder letter arrived from my dentist.  Nothing earth-shattering there – just a reminder to schedule a 6-month appointment.  But on the letterhead was the announcement – in bold and capitals -

COMING SOON – New Service: Facial Asthetics (line & wrinkle treatments)

At my hairdressers, (which I only visit about once a year!), you are urged to take waxing treatments for all parts of your body, electrolysis to remove body hair if you don’t fancy waxing, and botox and other methods to remove lines and wrinkles.

Other societies revere the wisdom that age brings and lines and wrinkles are a sign of a life that’s been lived, with highs, lows, laughter and tears.

Yes, most of us do want to look as good as we can for our age (!) but how far do you go to look younger than your life experience?

My paternal grandmother was 101 when she died earlier this year, and her face showed her longevity and her passion and enjoyment in living.  She had dignity, wisdom, gentleness and steel and all was there to see in her face.  A wonderful book, a fascinating read.

Facelifts create a mask – sometimes like a death-mask, it seems to me!  In the effort to wipe away the trace of the years, life is wiped away with it.  The face’s myriad expressions are paralysed.  Visual expression is vital to our human mode of communication, along with body language and verbal/aural language.  Without the use of tiny facial muscles, how can we communicate effectively?  Lines and wrinkles are merely the result of repetitive facial movements. They express us more clearly than any words.  They can tell the lie behind words sometimes.  Perhaps that is why people want to eradicate them.  Perhaps their faces betray what they really feel as opposed to what they say they feel.

I must confess – I have thought of botox to remove the depth of my frown line.  I frown when I concentrate, and I concentrate a lot, so it is a deep line.  But it is mostly visible to me.  Other people see the laughter lines, the tiny expressions that show humour, passion, love of life, interest.  The frown line is mostly employed when I’m looking at the computer, or reading, or thinking deeply, so is not really an expression of who I am to others.  Would I really contemplate injecting a poison into my skin to remove such a line?  In my less confident moments, yes I would.  But when I really think about it, my face is a record of how I live my life, my communication with others, my outlook on life.  Would I want to eradicate part of my own history?  Remove part of what makes up that entity I call me?

So here’s to lines and wrinkles.  Raise a glass of whatever you like to drink and let’s toast life lived!

22 August, 2010

Swarms and human behaviour

Filed under: Life,Philosophy,Psychology — Tags: , , , — admin @ 12:20 pm

I was watching an ants’ nest that had been disturbed in my garden during our most recent renovation activity.  The ants were scurrying around seemingly at random, running here and there without apparent purpose, until I realised that there was indeed a very methodical method in their running.  To me, the ants are identical, but I guess to ants, humans are identical.  I couldn’t recognise individuals but I could recognise patterns of movement that emerged as I took the time to watch what happened.

There were obvious patterns and tasks that were allocated to specific individuals.  You’ve probably read about the information that bees pass on to each other about locations of food sources through their dances.  Well, information of some sort was being passed around the ants with resultant changes to their behaviour when an obstacle was put in their way. 

That got me to thinking about how that relates to human behaviour.  We like to think we are all individual with our own choices, and independent behavour patterns, but we are also swarm animals.  Whenever we are together in big groups, you can see that behaviour emerging.  Just watch behaviour patterns at airports when there are flight delays or cancellations.  Watch the crowd at a sports match.  On occasion, and for the sheer fun of it, I’ve stood in a busy area and looked up a the top of a building, or the sky, and waited to see how many people look up too.  It’s quite funny!  Once one person looks up, another will do so and on and on until most people glance up just to see what everyone else is looking at.

The same kind of reaction can be generated by businesses looking to sell things.  If you can get people to think that everyone else is buying the product, then the swarm behaviour kicks in.  Just think of the January sales!! 

Swarms also have impacts greater than the efforts of the individuals involved.  If you can’t solve a problem on your own, and you ask a group of people for help, other people’s different approaches to the problem can help all of you solve the problem.  That’s called collective intelligence and nature uses it frequently.  So do the armed forces and rescue services. 

I love that we just have to look at what is happening in nature to see what happens in human experience.  We like to think that we are superior beings but we march to the same tune as everything else!!  We can express ourselves perhaps in more diverse ways, but really we are all related to everything else and that is a fact we should never forget.

5 July, 2009

Marks of Passage

Filed under: Life,Philosophy — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:40 pm

This is the time of year for the local farmers to wait for a couple of days of fine weather to dry the grass crop and then cut and turn and collect for hay.  We’ve just had a few days of glorious weather which has led to them working flat out to get the hay in before the next bout of rain. 

During the grass growing season, you can see where the walkers go.  Most of them are very good and stick to the paths, even if the paths go straight through the middle of the field and therefore the middle of the crop.  The grass is laid flat in a narrow V shape so you can see where to walk, thanks to the guidance of the person who went there before you. 

Then when the crop is gathered in, it is like the picture has been swept clean.  Except that it hasn’t.  The main field has a yellow look to it.  But standing out dramatically against this is the narrow green strip where the sunlight has got through to the base of the grass where the walkers have flattened it.  So the marks of people’s passage through the crop is there for all to see.

This is something that always gets me thinking about cause and effect – the butterfly analogy – where a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon rain forest could have an effect on the other side of the world through a weather system begun through the actions of the butterfly’s wings.  Whilst that is a philosophical point, and sometimes a little hard to imagine, it’s useful to remember that what we say and do and how we interact with people has a dramatic effect.  Our passage through our lives is marked in a similar way to the field.  We leave marks of our having been there through how people remember us, whether we have made a difference in other people’s lives through our actions, whether in love or hate, obsession or indifference, for good or for ill. 

I’m reminded of the bad effects this can cause through a memory of a young friend who had a great passion for horses, and was setting up a riding stable with her parents.  A few years before, she had had a relationship with a very possessive man, and they had been apart for about a year.  The trouble was he was determined that if he couldn’t have her, no-one else would, and he started assaulting her both psychologically and physically.  To their shame the police didn’t take her concerns for her safety seriously, not even when he sent two men to beat her up with a baseball bat in her own home!   A few months later, she was dead – gunned down by him and a friend of his in a quiet country lane near where I live.  She had been forced off the road whilst driving, and then the ‘friend’ pulled the trigger.  She was a wonderfully lively, positive young lady with a life brim full of possibilities who affected everyone she met in an uplifting way – except him.  His demons couldn’t let him see anything other than his loss.  He was caught and lots of us testified to his obsession and behaviour and now he is serving a long, long time in prison.  But he destroyed a beautiful person.

Of course, such a sad story can be countered by many happy stories – how individuals can make a huge difference for the good in many people’s lives, purely by the nature of their personalities.  I’m sure you will know of at least half a dozen people who have this kind of personality. 

But it behoves us to remember that how we live our lives has a direct impact on many people, whether we come into personal contact with them or not, and I for one want to make that a positive experience, whether I know about it or not!   

15 March, 2009

Mindfulness Take 2

Filed under: Life,Philosophy — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 10:25 am

You know how suddenly everything grows and puts on its coat of green?  Well this week in my corner of the world, spring has suddenly sprung.  Leaves are popping up all over the place, and suddenly the world looks less bare and forlorn.  It’s amazing how it happens almost overnight. 

Today on my walk, I decided to practise half an hour of mindfulness.  Boy, was that hard!  I decided to focus on listening to the sounds of nature and man around me as I walked because I thought that listening would focus my attention more powerfully than looking.  I was right about that, but had to keep metaphorically shaking myself to rein my thoughts back and just listen.  In a way, it was harder to do that than it was to spend time practising my oboe back in the day…. Practising the oboe required me to think in a disciplined way.  Listening to nature required me not to think – just to listen and appreciate the sounds I was hearing.  Not to think about them but just to note them.  It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but the experience made me determined that each day I must dedicate some time just to listening to sounds. 

We all listen to our minds constantly, and if you’ve the kind of job, or mind, that likes to analyse or imagine, then the time that we spend in our minds is massive.  I would say that the time I spend in my head is over 90% of the total time that I am conscious!  Yikes!  No wonder trying just to suspend thinking was hard!  It’s like being a tea-addict – it requires conscious thought not to go and put the kettle on for another cuppa.  But I would never have realised that it would require conscious thought not to think!! Hopefully practice will make it easier to do. 

On a slightly different vein, I bought my Dad a book for his birthday.  It’s called The Book of Idle Pleasures and is edited by Dan Kieran and Tom Hodgkinson.  Dad is trying his hand at this thing called retirement.  He’s a very young 79 this birthday and has been working 7 days a week in my brother’s company for the last 4 years.  It helped him tremendously when Mum died in 2007, but now is the time to rein back a little and only work for a couple of days a week so that he can begin to enjoy his time to himself.  To give him a little help and a few suggestions along the way, this book is full of short ideas such as ‘Reclining on Top Deck of the Bus’, ‘Doodling’, ‘Whittling’, ‘Lying in a Hammock’, ‘Walking Back Home Drunk’ – although I don’t think Dad will go for that last one, somehow!!  The contributors write for The Idler, a magazine ‘that celebrates freedom, fun and the fine art of doing nothing.’  Their reason for writing the book – “We want to comfort and inspire you with philosophy, satire and reflection, as well as giving practical information to help in the quest for the idle life”. 

Sounds like a great idea to me!

8 March, 2009

Patience

Filed under: Jacquard weaving,Life,Philosophy,Teaching,Weaving — Tags: , , , — admin @ 5:12 pm

One of the lessons that weaving teaches is patience.  All kinds of patience – the ‘take a deep breath and count to 10’ patience when something easily preventable happens;  the ‘am I dedicated enough to the quality of this piece that I unweave those picks to sort out that mistake?’ patience;  the ‘can I be disciplined enough to weave a sample to check how it’s going to end up when wet-finished?’ patience; and just the normal sort of patience that you need to go and fix that broken end rather than weave on.

I think weaving should be compulsory to teach patience!  I am smiling as I write those words because I know that many would disagree with me, and to some extent, I disagree with myself!  Patience is a valuable life lesson to learn and many of us find that, through our weaving, we are more patient with other people, and also with things that go wrong just for the sheer hell of it!!  On the other hand, would I want weaving to be seen as a life’s lesson?  No, of course not.  If someone has no interest in it, it would be purgatory for them and put them off weaving for life – like liver and peas for me!! 

And of course, we learn best when we are doing something we enjoy.  There are many other ways to learn patience, but for me weaving has been the best teacher.  I can’t honestly say that it works every time.  Just today, one of my baby jacquard looms was having a hissy fit – not lifting certain ends – and in the end I realised it was down to my lack of a maintenance routine on the card-cutting and lacing equipment, and the loom itself.  Whilst I realised and appreciated that, I was somewhat frustrated because I was in the middle of weaving a project, and the cards were not presenting themselves accurately to the jacquard head which meant that quite a few cards ended up mangled with resultant mis-picks.  At the beginning of my 2 hour session, I went up and down the ladder quite frequently, and with a certain amount of laissez-faire.  By the end of my 2 hour session, I was more bad-tempered whenever the recalcitrant cards came up, and less likely to go up the ladder to fix it.  A salutary tale to remind me that maintenance must be done when I’m not actually using the machinery!!! 

Patience with machinery is one thing – they can’t answer back so it doesn’t matter if you vent a little – but patience with people is totally different.  Some people are incredibly patient – I’m thinking particularly here about people who care for little ones, for the elderly, for people with disabilities, to name but a few – and they are never valued financially as they should be.  Trying to be patient with my little problems in weaving makes me appreciate much more the incredible job that so many people do for so little reward. 

1 February, 2009

Zone Out

Filed under: Life,Philosophy,Weaving — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 3:49 pm

One of the books I am reading at the moment is called 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life by Roger-Pol Droit. It’s full of different exercises you can try to see deeper than the surface of things.

The second exercise in the book – Empty a Word of Its Meaning – is one that resonates with me in weaving as well.   You know the kind of thing – keep repeating a commonplace word and it loses its meaning, or as Roger-Pol Droit puts it, “it detaches itself and hardens.”  He continues, “You find yourself repeating a series of strange sounds. A series of absurd and meaningless noises, that denote nothing, indicate nothing… “.  This happens to me especially during a boring meeting when someone is going on about a specific topic, and they keep repeating the same word. It just becomes farcical because the word becomes disassociated with what they are talking about. 

It’s a weird feeling when that happens – you feel slightly disassociated from reality and everything gets a bit surreal – but it’s kind of nice. 

This zoning out of surface reality happens to me sometimes when I’m weaving.  If I’m doing repetitious work that needs focus but not total concentration, such as weaving a predictable pattern that I’ve woven lots of times before (as I often do in weaving samples), I can find my mind going a little somnolent.  This is an interesting place to be in.  You are aware, but not totally focussed on anything external.  Your mind is in a kind of free-fall, your body feels a bit in limbo. 

It can also be a creative place to be.  When we are caught up with words relating to everyday life, we are pinned down in our reality, fixed to the earth with concrete meanings.  When we find ourselves in mental free-fall, we have the chance and opportunity to be incredibly creative, with the sub-conscious providing new associations.  It’s kind of like having a brain partitioned like a computer hard-drive.  One part does all the obvious surface stuff, the other is for another experience.  When I zone-out of surface reality, my mind pops into the partitioned section where words don’t exist and normal sensations take on a different quality. 

Have you ever wondered how it would feel to be an astronaut floating in non-gravity?  The lack of reference as to what’s up and what’s down, no gravity to root things to where they should be in our normal experience?  I think that’s kind of what must happen mentally when we zone out. 

As children, I think we are much more aware of this side of our personalities.  Imagination takes kids to all sorts of fantastical but relevant places.  Perhaps it’s something that we need to cultivate more actively as adults – to regain that slightly disturbing but ultimately exciting and freeing sensation .  As Roger-Pol Droit observes, “Just a few seconds are enough to tear that fine film within which we make sense of things, smug with the power of giving things names.” 

Whilst not everyone reading this blog will be a weaver, or like to weave repetitious samples, we can all play the repeating word game, and find that incredible space where reality is suspended……

19 January, 2009

Support Systems

Filed under: Life,Philosophy,Travel — Tags: , , — admin @ 2:54 pm

The first thing I need to do on this posting is to apologise to Jo Earl for giving her a new first name and mis-spelling her surname!!  My humble apologies, Jo. 

I’m still on US time at the moment, despite having arrived back in the UK on Saturday.  My flight was delayed by 6 hours which could have been a real hassle, but I spent some of the time thinking (!!) and some of the time sharing a bottle of red wine with a fellow passenger, so it went fairly quickly.

What I was thinking about was support systems and infrastructure.  In airports, you suddenly become aware of the huge infrastructure supporting this nest of ant planes, and the thousands of ant passengers.  The individual becomes important, but also loses individuality.  What I mean is that you can imagine that on this particular journey you suddenly realise that thousands of individuals are getting up early, out of their normal routine, and setting off on journeys.  They all converge on hubs of activity (the airport), their luggage is sorted, the logistics worked out, they depart in a myriad of directions for destinations all over the world, and along the way, some of those individuals touch strangers’ lives briefly before moving from their new hubs into other destinations.

It’s awe-inspiring really – all the support staff there in place who actually depend on all these individual travellers – the baggage handlers, ticketing staff, shop attendants, cleaners, pilots and air crew, cabin staff, kitchen services, and all the other ancillary staff, air traffic controllers, transfer bus drivers, tanker drivers and loaders.

And each person that you see or pass, or talk with, has their own history – their story of life, culture, geography.

The more I think about this, the more I am in awe.  The sheer logistics of moving disparate human beings around the world.  The sheer amount of individual life experiences walking around.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to glimpse each person’s experience?  What an insight into all sides of life!  To catch an understanding of another’s situation.

How best to put into words the sense of contradictions that travelling brings to my mind.  The insignificance of each individual and yet the total importance to each of those individuals.  Each separate strand seemingly random yet coming together, separating out into clumps that move for a while together, converge with more coming in from different directions, then separate out into other strands, some amalgamated, some individual, until finally each disperses.  Yet this is happening day after day in countless cities in all countries in our world – a continuum, never ending, always changing;  every day every place unique in its combinations yet seemingly the same.

I find this almost beyond words and yet I comprehend it perfectly, like so many things in our world and universe.  So trivial and yet so much an integral part of how the world works.  See it repeated in the beauty of an individual flower, and a field full of flowers; or an individual snowflake and a snow-covered tree or path; or an individual star in among the galaxies in our universe.

11 January, 2009

Expanding Your Mind

Filed under: Jacquard weaving — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 6:00 pm

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I’m in the US to attend a conference on innovative textiles and digital technology in jacquard weaving. It was run by the Centre for Craft, Creativity & Design at Hendersonville, in south North Carolina and took place at the Blue Ridge Community College.

Inspired Design: Jacquard & Entrepreneurial Textiles featured speakers from the US, Canada, UK, Scandinavia and Australia and presented a wide range of fields across five design growth areas of Smart Textiles, Performance and Interactive Textiles, Textiles for Boutique Clothing, Interior Design Textiles and Corporate & Public Art Textile Commissions. The delegates were largely a mixture of educators, students and professional textile artists. It was an exhilarating and full-on conference with each speaker hard on the heels of the one before, interspersed with breakout sessions between each topic area, and a key-note speaker from different fields on each day. An exhibition including works from the speakers as well as other artists was held in conjunction with the conference, with its own comprehensive catalogue.

Conferences like this are essential, I think, as they pull us out of our daily routines and force us to connect intensively with other ideas, concepts and people in a flurry of activity and connections before depositing us once more in our normal environment but with a brain buzzing with juxtapositions, key phrases, ‘aha’ moments, and many new possibilities. It takes time to filter this intensive experience and to emerge with a path that may or may not incorporate some of the thoughts that arose from this communication with others.

Some of the key points to come across time and time again in this conference was communication, connection, collaboration and disruptive thinking (neat – cccd!) and that was also the essence of any meeting like this. New people to meet; faces to fit to names that you know, have corresponded with, have read articles by; conversations that lead you to wanting to work with someone and a whole host of new possibilities thrown into the arena by inspiring speakers. It’s like a smorgasbord for the brain!

Such over-stimulation leads to sleepless nights as your brain whirls and swirls, trying to make sense of what you’ve absorbed, but it also leads to new work, exciting research, and new partnerships.

To me, as important as the seminars are, the social interaction is as vital a part of the experience. The chance dinner partners, the discussions over coffee, the shared bus rides, even a random comment whilst washing hands in the rest room, can be pivotal in a change of course or the way you might think about something Serendipity plays a big part in these events and can lead to long-term friendship and collaborations.

So a huge debt of gratitude and thanks goes to everyone who comes forward to organise such events; in this case, Dian Magie, Katie Lee, Terri Gibson, Catharine Ellis, Bethanne Knudson, and all those wonderful assistants and drivers, all fellow artists, who made it happen, and to the speakers who gave us so much brain fodder!

The knock-on effect from events like these is incalculable! Wouldn’t it be fun to canvas delegates in 5 years time and see how this event changed lives – artistically or otherwise? Or even an exhibition of work stemming directly from attendance at this conference? I think the results would be fascinating!