When my super intelligent, super talented sister decided to write a blog, her biggest challenge was not how she would find the time to write (newly retired from keeping the NHS afloat, time for personal pursuits is a novelty) or what she would write about (cooking, touring, history, walking, living in the beautiful Welsh Marches etc). No, it turned out that what caused her embryonic career as a blogger to stutter was finding a title for it. After trying to match the expectations of her potential readers with her own ideas and aspirations she came up with this which I think works pretty well (as, indeed, do her blogs).
When I started out as a Textile Artist I wondered whether I should use my own name or come up with something a little less personal. There were a couple of reasons: firstly, my name is not that uncommon and, coincidentally, there’s another Maria Lalic in the art world although she is higher profile and exhibits in places like the Tate; secondly, as much as I love textile art, I also love primitive craft, writing, teaching workshops, gardening and loads of other things. I wondered about having an all-encompassing label for these things because I thought that people who liked my artwork might think that there was a multitude of people with the same name doing loads of different things. I couldn’t come up with the umbrella term in the same way as my sister did so I settled on giving each activity a different name. Textiles to Treasure showed off my attempts at crafts,
Rebecca Alston wrote short stories, book reviews and magazine articles and Simple Country Folk reflected my interest in gardening, simple living and self reliance. When Lorraine from Greenweeds Web Design got involved she was adamant that everything should come under my name because she said – quite rightly – all of the different aspects of my character affected the work I produce as a Textile Artist.
I wasn’t convinced but I said goodbye to all of my alter-egos and carried on as just me. Nowhere is this more obvious than on my twitter account where I use my 140 characters to micro blog about textile art,
my cat Lily,
how the garden looks,
the weekly Porthcawl Park Run
and my treks through the local countryside.
Weithiau, wrth gwrs, rydw i’n ysgrifennu yn y Gymraeg achos bod diddordeb mawr ‘da fi yn yr iaith Gymraeg ac Hanes a Diwylliant Cymru ac mae llawer o bobl yn defnyddio twitter am yr un peth.
We pretty much get stuck with the names our parents give us but of course you can wreak revenge when you name your own offspring though that is easy compared to naming pieces of artwork. When I had my usual pop up exhibition at the year’s Wonderwool I was struggling with what to call this piece but my problem was solved by my pal, the wonderfully talented artist Miranda Bowen , who came up with a great title.
At the same event I showed some work that I had made for an exhibition that I’ll be having at Bryngarw Country Park on the 30/31 July 2016. Exhibitions also need names! I found a snippet of a quote from the Book of Isaiah which referred to a ‘habitation of dragons and a court of owls’ so the name for the exhibition is ‘A Habitation of Dragons’ and all of the pieces of work will be inspired by dragons or dragon-lore.
That’s a lot of titles to come up with and whilst they sound a bit fictional (Heuldra, Lamia, Sreca for example), all of the names have their roots in mythology or the Welsh language. So whilst I was standing there at Wonderwool, waxing lyrical about the variety of Textile Art I had on display, talking about the things which inspire or interest me and giving information about our NGS open garden day to just about anybody who stopped long enough to listen, a lady came up to me and said “Is this all yours?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“There’s too much,” she said, “and it’s all too different, too confusing. I can’t cope.” And she walked away.
I wonder what Lorraine would have to say about that.
A dweud y gwir, does dim ots ‘da fi nawr. Yn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol eleni, byddaf i’n gwneud sesiwn crefft ym Maes D yn y bore ac yn siarad am fy ngardd yn y prynhawn Ddydd Gwener. Dewch a dweud ‘Helo’ pe basech chi yno.
“You can’t see the forest for the trees”
Once I make up my mind to do something I am completely committed. It’s getting to the point where I make up my mind that causes me trouble. Take going on holiday for example. When I was young there was no choice when it came to destination or activity. We had days out when Mum convinced us that walking miles, beachcombing and swishing little fishing nets in mountain streams were the ultimate holiday pastime. Picnics of squidgy beef spread sandwiches and warm orange squash with the promise of an ice cream cornet for good behaviour were all we wanted – which is just as well because that was all we got.
These days I keep my holidays short and pack them with all sorts of activity. Last week I combined walking part of the Wales Coast Path with, amongst other things, meeting my chum Lorraine from Greenweeds. Lorraine tries her very best to get me interested in and interacting with social media. To some extent, she has succeeded but not, I suspect, in the way she anticipated when she created this website. Anyway, let’s go back to the Wales Coast Path. The weather on Tuesday started off cold and squally and ended up like the tail end of a hurricane. Not ideal conditions to be walking along cliff tops with waves crashing on jagged rocks a couple of hundred feet below. Nevertheless I started walking at Llanrhystud and aimed for Aberystwyth.
Before the weather closed in I got some spectacular views of where I’d been
and where I was going.
Photographs like this are not much use to me as an artist. They’ve got too much detail and not enough atmosphere to remind me of what it was like to actually be in the landscape. Diolch byth am fy llyfr sgets! Mewn gwirionedd, dw i ddim yn dda iawn yn tynnu neu beintio go iawn ond dw i’n mwynhau sgetsio. Using a sketchbook allows me to pare down the information and give myself a starting point for a piece of textile art. These are some of my sketches of the part of the Wales Coast Path between Llanrhystud and Aberystwyth and I don’t apologise to purists for the standard of drawing.
These sketches are the size of Artist Trading Cards and you can find out more about the background of ATCs here. They are a perfect example of how working with less can bring you more. Even if you don’t get involved in the trading aspect, restricting your design information to a small piece of card can really focus your mind on what’s important in your artwork. ATCs are a great way to network with other artists but also help you to develop your own abilities.
Day 2 of the holiday involved a trip to Dolgellau to visit the amazing wool shop Knit One , which is run by the beautiful black cat, Bramble Murgatroyd and her assistants, Angharad and Kate.
Bramble, Angharad, Kate & I would never have encountered each other if it hadn’t been for Lorraine persuading me to use Twitter as a form of micro-blogging. In 140 characters and 4 images, I can show the world – or at least the tweeting part of it – what I’m up to as an artist. I soon realised that more people are interested in what Lily, my cat, is doing than what I’m creating. In this example of less being more, getting a tweet from Bramble about how cats don’t like circular knitting needles, led to me spending a fabulous morning in Knit One having a lesson in how to knit using a magic loop. On the journey back to Aberystwyth, my sketchbook was at hand, recording less detail and more memory prompts.
With a rucsac packed full of fleece that Lorraine didn’t want, day 3 saw me back in Llanrhystud, this time walking the coast path south towards Aberaeron. The weather was glorious, the terrain kinder and the views spectacular. I could put some photographs here to prove it but my third example of less being more comes from looking for shapes and lines rather than a whole picture.
Incidentally on my way back from Dolgellau I called into the Centre for Alternative Technology which is where I first discovered Permaculture. For ditherers like me, being spoiled for choice can be a real challenge because I spend too much time and effort on trying to deal with the whole picture Instead of the bits which are important. There’s a great website describing Permaculture principles that you can view here and I’ve deliberately directed you to Principle 7 which is about designing from patterns to details – useful when you can’t see the forest for the trees .