How are we in November?!
The year had a slow start didn’t it? But now life is very much a tumble of responsibilities and ‘back to normal’ except I don’t think I can go back – only forward so I am taking on the changes and challenges that the pandemic has wrought and trying my best to live well and live safely.
One of the things I missed most in the lockdowns was going to the cinema and it has taken me a long time to rekindle the confidence to go again. Last month I filled up on cinema trips and saw the RSC with their lockdown filmed version of Romeo and Juliet starring Josh O’Connor and Jessie Buckley, with its reworking of the female roles creating a much more matriarchal house of Capulet . That was followed by the long awaited James bond, “No time to Die” (no spoilers here, but do see it!! ) and then my husband’s choice of ‘Dune’. Living with three chaps there’s quite a lot of sci-fi and dystopian movies in our lives. I used to love reading sci-fi when I was a teenager but it wouldn’t be my own choice for film going. That said it was a super stylish film with many scenes majestically filmed.
This all led up to the film I had been holding out for – Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch”. I have been a fan of his films for a long time. He has a wonderful sense of story-telling that errs towards a sense of animation, all quirkily curated and beautifully rendered. There’s his ability to find and create the best sets, so joyously styled with colour and a sense of nostalgia. I love the way he flattens perspective and creates the most elaborate dolls-house views into the lives of his characters. He tends to work with an ensemble cast so, after many years, there’s the waiting for each cast member to reappear. His latest film was joyous, celebratory of writing and writers, of art, food and culture. It was a slice of perfection.
On top of this, at the start of the month we had the pleasure of seeing Grayson Perry’s touring with “A Show for Normal People”. I had seen him live a few years ago discussing the fall-out from Brexit and how it divided our nation. This piece showed, through slides, music and talk that so many of us are in the centre ground. That we are bound by our differences, that most of us are very definitely normal! Implicit in his questions, was how do we change that? How do we challenge ourselves to stand up? To stand out and be change makers? What ‘normal’ do we accept and what do we wish to be separate from. I wasn’t too keen on the musical elements of this show but Grayson Perry is such a joy to listen to and sent me home thinking and questioning who I am.
My wings have been clipped a little as I have hunkered down to get my latest course, “Stitching the Stillness” to completion. It starts on November 11th but as it’s a self-paced course, feel free to join after the start date. Or join me for my Winter Holiday Play Day and share in the joy of making cards and your own printed wrap for an eco Christmas (course access from November 18th).
The cultural experiences I have chosen to book and see have been very much about story telling. I’m yet to see much art after lockdown but am enjoying words and narrative, and how they help us to understand who we are. I’m looking ahead to a trip to Sheffield for the “Beyond Bloomsbury – Life, Love and Legacy” exhibition. I would love a trip to London too to soak up some art but just don’t feel confident to travel in London just yet. I did recently see “Breaking the Mould – Sculpture by Women since 1945” at Nottingham University. I took my 13-year-old son and there were many prompts to a discussion about ‘what is art’, ‘what is it for’ and ‘what makes art good or bad’. Aesthetically I was quite challenged, having a penchant for viewing work that’s ‘pretty’ so it was good to be challenged, by the work and my sidekick.
I think when we choose exhibitions we can end up seeing a narrow band of work, of films, or of books and yet the growth, the surprises and the learning come from seeing and experiencing work outside of our comfort zone. In home educating my youngest and in conversation with my college-going-16-year-old I love to encourage them to sink into a subject or an area of interest. This goes back to the idea I often share of going ‘deeper not wider’ but I think here I am saying there’s validity in doing both. We need a wide resource of inspirations to fill our creative well, but once you happen across something that piques your interest, grab it with open arms, read more, watch more, eat like your favourite artist, dress like their muse. Creativity is about play, and a project should be more than just visually enriching but fill up all your senses.
As we head into another winter in the shadow of the pandemic, our ability to enrich our lives, with art making, reading, writing, and living creatively will be our saviour. I think I will take inspiration from Wes Anderson’s rich palette of culture and character and let my inner Francophile come out to play.