Jessie is looking good. Removing her hair was quite traumatic and I pondered the bald skull a while before deciding that it needed a little remodelling.
On the floor, a half-stuffed torso has joined the various body parts, I need more wadding before I can go further with the sculpture; it is hungry on wadding and I ferry the stuff home frequently. Tied to the back of my powerchair it gives a bulky profile that no-one would guess is a new body in the making.
Rooted people grow on the pages that I am so lucky to be able to sit outside and draw. I need to make the most of every good day.
I've just taken a break to Google 'rooted' in my quest for a name for the new man, and discovered rooted androids and superusers. I need to think about that.
Back in 2006 when Jessie lay in mute protest on her platform bed, superusers didn't exist. I had been drawing rooted people since art school, exploring issues of belonging, connecting and self-awareness, but I still left Jessie's seeking and reaching out as something suggested rather than created in 3D. The despair that engulfed me inhibited Jessie too.
At the time, Disability Arts was new to me and while it was giving me back a voice, that voice was very small and frail, I had yet to figure out how to use it.
Disability Arts found me;
held me spellbound in revelation;
poked and prodded at my strength
until my eyes opened in focus;
until my words made no-sounds,
until my fingers drew protests.
And remade the offer that is life.
The paralysing silence
shattered, and I became
My life in Tokyo is not exactly domestic, there are few meals to cook or chores to attend to. The robot cleaner takes care of bare essentials and meals are mostly eaten out. Passing a restaurant, we check for access and availability and by the time I roll in, several seats have been removed to give me a choice of seating.
I am greeted with dignity, with no sense of being too much bother, or of being patronised.
This area that I call home is quiet and comfortable, with very little evidence of poverty or social injustice. Obviously it colours my impressions of Japanese society and maybe it makes access to issues a slower process.
Around me I see Universal Design embraced with the collective acknowledgement that age will inevitably render it necessary for most people; and I see evidence of design being used in a more socially aware fashion.
In English public spaces people lacking wheels inevitably choose to use the dropped curbs and the automatic doors, yet designers of these spaces continue to ignore the implications. I live in a part of England where there seems not much attempt being made to take advantage of design possibilities to promote, or symbolically play with, notions of equality; or create spatial justice.
Running alongside Sumida, the walkway has fascinating changes of shape and texture and many resting places. One particularly attractive portion has a narrow chequerboard pathway leading to steps where it widens out before more steps lead back up to the sinuously sloping wide sweep of path rolling consistently alongside.
People lacking mobility disability inevitably choose to descend into this little pit, before coming back up to my level. I love the symbolic significance and the impression of design awareness that created this role-reversing space.
The random seeds of the flower garden
are coming full circle. In beds beside
dark soil is cleared and raked to a fine tilth.
I watch and wait with anticipation,
but one morning a regimented row
of soldier marigolds, over- bred and
barren, stand to attention as I pass.
A playful echo, Sumida's ribbon
companion is fading, and easy
gives way to the approaching season.
Heat and humidity creeping closer,
my journey is broken by orange and
yellow reminders of law and order.
On days when I feel quite invisible, even to myself, I have, in the past, found something salvational in my archives; a confirmation, a reassurance of my existence as artist. Surrounded by the evidence of my work I then find inspiration and the need to say more and other.
For a year now the blog has been adding to my archive; or has it? It doesn't feel like it works in quite the same way. I'm wondering how other creatives feel about their blogs... When I exhibit artworks, perform or publish words, I still feel they are mine and a resource open to reinterpretation in other contexts.
Why don't blogged words feel the same? Why is revisiting them not the same experience? And why does that feel appropriate right now and maybe even empowering?
Rumplestiltskin was a truth
that, revealed, lost it's power.
What I create is the truth
about me. It may not be
more than the truth at the time,
but then gathering time
my catwalk words will draw
a bigger picture; outline
fill details to the image.
And the image will speak
the volumes left unspoken;
the slow, steady cradle
will layer the reveal.
These are the secrets I keep
from myself, for myself. But
are the catwalk words cast
like confetti to end in the
gutter? The images passed
like so much litter? Are they
still mine to add or to edit?
I'm here for the journey and
something is changing, but
who changes who, and why?