On the Edge

Updated: Feb 20



I've been sat here, garnering my thoughts as we head in to 2021. Like for most of 2020, the house isn't quiet. I live with quiet people but the pandemic means we all share a closer space. We check in on each other in our rooms. I'm grateful we are safe, together, gathered. But there is a pervading sadness today as we enter an unending Lockdown. This is not what I had envisaged for my children, held back from seeking their independence and learning.


There have of course been joys in finding ourselves together, finding a slower pace of life and filling days with tasks that we seek for ourselves. In the tumble of days I have lost the silence that directed my days pre-Covid 19. Last year I took on the challenge of the life change that the pandemic wrought on us all - I bent and shifted and origamied myself into a new vision of work. One area of life changed, challenges the others and we all morphed around each other. I directed my family and we all took on new roles. Coping through controlling. Life doesn't come with a guidebook, and adulthood has no manual. Being a pandemic parent has left me feeling that I can only lead by example - take time to heal when it all chafes, sleep more, eat the good food we are grateful for. Reaching out and forming a network of brave women around me gave me solace and lifted me. The year went on.





We have been fortunate thus far and this winter break, much needed, has been nourishing. And so I reach the edge of the year, the cusp as 2020 falls into 2021. But suddenly we are left needing more resolve. Following on from the announcement last night of a further Lockdown, this poem, Fianius by Kathleen Jamie spoke to me. The word 'fianius' means 'testimony' or 'witness' and made me question how we are capturing this time of change, not just in our hearts and bones, but through what we write and make.




In the business of 2020, I created courses, used my skills to transform and support others' creativity. I built a network of creatives that I like to call my tribe, for my work has led me to many bright star-souls and I am extremely grateful for them - for you. In 2020, finding time to seek spaces, make art and have journeys was harder. A journey doesn't have to be outward, but traditionally, my landscapes have been inspired by moments in a place. I find inspiration in the new, the happened upon, the magic of changing light and noticing beauty. In 2020 my world became shrunk, not just to fit my own restrictions but those that I share my life with - protecting those more vulnerable.






I began to think that I no longer wanted to interpret the landscape in my work. And yet, once I took the time to reflect I realised that the landscape has so much to teach us about our soulscapes - that internal space that we can visit at any time. The landscape has always been a place through which I interpret myself - each journey an awakening as I process life and step forwards into each new moment. But in Lockdown, walks became medicinal - there was parental prodding to lead a march around the block. It became rare for these to feel spiritual. I felt hemmed in.






I live in suburbia, benefitting from green spaces but never feeling free - spaces are edged by roads, some big some small, access closed off by railway lines - freight and mainline. The canal sears a route through countryside and town, criss crossed by roads and running close to rivers. I long for bigger spaces, for hills and mountains. They are all there, and not far away, but dark days prevent me from escaping there.


So I have made my peace with this landscape I call home. In recent journalling work, the image of a bird, high above a river came to mind. she has revisited me and I look for her when I am out in nature.





I've been pondering what it means to soar. It's about flying high and achievement and ambition - but also seeing things from an alternative point of view - flying over head, getting an overview. We get stuck looking from one perspective and need to soar to see things differently. So when I have been walking I take that birds-eye view, I see the river flowing on endlessly and let my spirit follow it. I see the web of man's marks on the landscape and will translate that into my own creative mark making. Having a different view is opening up new ways of creating.




What it has led to is a new enjoyment of the landscape, of my sketchbook and the potential for my creative year ahead. There's more acceptance of being here for now, and more vision for what I can do to create. Instead of looking at the concrete, I am seeing what lies beneath, the spaces around and through, the reflections and embellishments.


The year ahead for me is about aligning my creativity with my community. I'm looking forward to aimless wanderings, dreaming and the potential fo change and growth. I look forward to sharing the journey of the year with you. If you've not yet joined, you can find my creative community here.


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Helen Hallows is The Nurtured Artist

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Nurturing Creativity since....

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