Sunday, 12 August 2012


There is an advert on the television at the moment, I am not entirely sure what for, because I get distracted by the music - Simon and Garfunkel's Homeward Bound, which I love. I have a really eclectic taste in music, and as such sometimes 'forget' for a little while about a band or singer, and I love being reminded of a sound I love.

Something I find intriguing is the idea of labels which we give ourself, and titles, which came to mind after thinking about the lyrics. And every stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one man band.

Sunday evenings are perfect for pondering thoughts with a pot of tea. I had an inspiring conversation with two dear friends last week about the idea of portfolio careers. The idea is that rather than having one job or career, you have several. For example, you have perhaps a part or nearly full time job, preferably doing something you love, and then you might have a sideline etsy business, or do tutoring. Maybe you write as well. Either way, the hope is that because more facets of your personality and talents have expression, you will feel more fulfilled. And if the worst should happen and you should lose a job, then it shouldn't be as soul destroying as it was for me last year, because you have other things to support you, and also your identity isn't as tied to one thing, which you have lost.

Also, there are very few of us who can say that we earn our living through being a poet, or a crafter, or a baker, or whatever it is that you love to do. But a portfolio career lets you do something that you may not be able to afford to do full time, and who knows, maybe just maybe gradually you will be able to put more time into one thing as you become more established, and draw back from another.

But that idea brings me back to that of titles and labels. When can you say I am writer or I am a lounge singer? Is it when you have been paid for it once? When somewhere it is your job title on a contract you have signed? When it is the thing you love to do most? I don't know.

But the other day, I was reading a magazine which my Mum had phoned to tell me about. It is called Cloth Paper Scissors and is an American magazine that I have not seen over here before. It was really lovely, but very much aimed at those who see themselves as art crafters. More than one of the people interviewed referred to themselves as an artist. One of them was talking about her medium being collage, and the things that she likes to take with her when she travels. Now the interesting thing is that while she may well have exhibited, collage is her hobby, yet she feels entirely at ease with seeing herself as an artist. (Not that I see anything wrong with that at all!)

But me....I have never thought of myself as an artist. Perhaps it is because although I do sometimes create from within, I often create using other peoples patterns. But I bake, I cook, for a while I was designing cupcake decorations for a local bakery, I knit, I crochet, I cross stitch, I embroider, I make cards, I dance, I have dabbled in making candles and seasonal occupations such as decorating easter eggs or carving halloween pumpkins....and yet I have never once thought of myself as an artist.

I would have said at one time that whatever you create and in whatever medium should have to have some greater meaning for it to be art and therefore you an artist but then again sometimes things can be beautiful just for what they are, and have no greater meaning than beauty, but still be art.

I think mostly it comes down to confidence and how you perceive yourself. I have been going to my burlesque lessons since October now, and have a repertoire of seven dances, but I don't yet think of myself as a burlesque dancer. It isn't a label I am ready to give myself. I have a lovely friend who happily lets people know that she is a paper artist. I think that perhaps one reason why I don't use certain labels is because I have a wide range of craft and art interests, I don't feel that I am an expert of specialist in any of them, so which to take as my title?

Sarah Ban Breathnach uses a lovely expression in her Simple Abundance writings - she is mainly talking about women as home makers and domesticity, but she uses the term 'artist of the everyday' and I really like that.

I realise that this post makes it sound as though I am quite hung up on titles, on labels, but really I am not. Really this is more of just a pondering chain of thought that I have sat down and typed as thoughts chased each other through my mind. It is interesting how we introduce ourselves to others, what they see, what we let them see. Some labels we take on, or are given almost unthinkingly. We are daughters, sisters, wives, some of us mothers, aunts, grandmothers. I wonder what labels and titles we can choose for ourselves today which are uplifting and inspiring, and we feel we can own and live up to.

I think I mentioned that I have been enjoying some novels by Miss Read recently. She started writing fictionalised accounts of her career after she stopped teaching, so there would have been a long time when she was a teacher, and then a long time when she was a writer. I love that it is never too late to uncover a new talent, or discover a new part of our personalities.

I think for the next few weeks, I am going to try and think about some of my crafting and making as art, and myself as an artist. I wonder where that will lead me. Will I prioritise my crafting more, treat myself to better tools? Nicer yarn, better paper, pen and ink? I will let you know how I get on....and do let me know how you get on too.

love Mimi xxx

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Mimi, I was really happy to see you have read Miss Read books. I have almost 10 of her books and I love everyone. I've owned them for over 10 years and still take pleasure in reading about Thrush Green and Fair Acre. Another good author who writes WWII fiction is Elizabeth Elgin. Have a nice Day!
Teresa, Sacramento, CA