Having trouble with the precise positioning of Kosta's pecs, I decided to try Google. Before beginning on the life-size figures I did do a lot of research, which included borrowing medical tomes and studying anatomy on-line. However I never actually Googled a specific body part, and here at my first attempt found apparently exactly what I needed: Origin and Insertion, including details of the specific ribs these muscles are attached to and how they are attached.
This is particularly appropriate as I'm trying out a new way of putting the figures together, with all the defining muscles now underneath one skin layer. The problem of insertion was foxing me and resulting in Kosta's pectoralis major looking unnaturally high on his chest. Well, we weren't quite talking about the same thing, but I did actually find the Wikipedia article very helpful, and so did Kosta.
I'm having to work hard to stay focused on the sculptures because the Con.Text conversations are beginning to form themselves into text which is demanding visual interpretation. This, though very labour intensive, is fun and quite addictive, whereas the soft sculptures are physically painful to produce, but something I really need to do.
And then of course there is all the arts admin stuff, life, love, house'n home to keep balanced. These have to be glory days.
Out here, on the very fine edge
where pain, exhaustion, depression, are
held in precarious balance, I
risk being totally destabilised
by the ignorance of the witch-hunt
determined to demonise my need;
to expose a criminal cheat in the
monumental effort I make to
present myself as equal,
Digital friends, electronic social life, podcast entertainment, filmed performance: all good, but no substitute for the real live thing.
Not living in London, access (including financial access) to the phenomenon known simply as 2012, was problematic. Knowing no local people with any real interest in experiencing the Cultural Olympiad, I actually felt far more isolated than involved.
I was at the mercy of the media, and misleading statements like The Best Disability Arts practitioners are at the Southbank. Arguably some of the best were; some of the best were not, I found it important to remind myself as I struggled to negotiate the London Trap.
I had friends who were doing the Oparalympics, and it was interesting to observe how they reacted to all the media hype about the New Attitude to disability and disabled people.
I'm planning to make a record during the coming months, of the progress of my personal legacy from the Oparalympiad, and since I won't be taking up any new sports, we are talking cultural legacy here and my expectations have been raised.
To ensure fair measurement I am working on a lympiometer.
Areas to be measured include inspiration, motivation, productivity, heritage happiness and sense of integration.
Keen to get some numbers into the lympiometer as soon as possible, I actually started before the Oparalympiad was over:
Inspiration? Emotional Oparalympiad exhaustion was draining any personal hopes of inspiration, so not much to record here. I'm working hard at maintaining the sparks already lit, and currently relying heavily on the Blue Peter strategy.
Motivation? Mmmh. Another zero score. The overwhelming (tantalising and mostly out of reach), offer of so unbelievably much packed into such a short period of time, seemed to function more as a deterrent. I'm having to exert a lot of pressure on myself to battle doubts and keep going.
Productivity? Ooops a minus score here. I am still working, but slowing. Things are bound to improve if I can just hang on in there.
Heritage happiness? Too soon to tell. I'm feeling very mixed up right now. I feel a bit like my artist has creative indigestion; nothing serious, just an uncomfortable lack of happiness and reasons to persevere.
Integration? A section of the population is more aware and more openly curious.
The blanket shade of pity has nuances; the Lexi-effect has people speculating on my capabilities, none of this feels very inclusive - yet.
Disability? How do I feel about being disabled? Confused, inadequate, defensive - all those supercrips are kind of overwhelming.
Do I have expectation of improvement? Yes definitely! My 2012 Day needs time to sink in, and that New Attitude is surely going to have a positive effect on paralife
I should give you my car-keys, you could park my car anyday.
That's amazing, I couldn't do that with a wheelchair.
You really can get around in that tiny space, well done.
And I boil. Spontaneous anger drives me to growl:
Carkeys? Hand over your spine, I've got wheels of my own.
You are so clever walking; I couldn't, not with those legs!
And: Congratulations, you really do work those legs well, amazing you don't even fall over...
There is no real logic to this rudeness. I wasn't born with wheels and there is a skill to living and working with them, so why do I get so offended when wheelless admire my dexterity and adaptability?
Why do I feel so patronised? Why can't I stay cool and offer a lighter reply?
Why have I not developed skills to prompt people to rethink the way they see me?
Thank you, I do specialise in Ferraris, but could probably manage a Bugatti...
No, it does take skill, practice and a brain cell or two...want to give it a go?
And: Yes, I am rather good at this, for a female I have brilliant spatial awareness!
When somebody opens the lid and the opportunity for change presents itself, why are we so obsessed with the shape of the box that contains us?
I used to take words for granted
and not just because I can read.
I used to recycle, but not any more,
it's an option for folk with both feet on the floor.
I used to just drive on my own,
without the kerfuffle and fuss.
I used to enjoy going out for a meal,
aware how much fun spontaneous feels.
I used to be tall; wear a hat,
take the train to town for a show.
I used to be free to roll over in bed,
but now I'm supported by cushions instead.
I used to air-kiss with my friends,
propel, with my hand on their back.
I used to be one of the good and the glad
now I am "merely" the chairborne; the bad.
I had a meeting to attend, in my home town, just 8 minutes away in the car, however it became necessary to travel in my wheelchair so I allowed a good hour. It wasn't enough.
Deeply shaken and in a lot of pain I was forced to abandon my journey after an hour. I was two thirds of the way there.
Wheelborne, do I have the right to expect that a pavement should be accessible and traversable? Do I have the right to expect that a dropped curb should facilitate my safe delivery to a second level?
Or should I anticipate that any journey I might undertake here on these pavements might endanger my life and health with pits and ruts that threaten to immobilise or overturn my wheelchair; or cambers and angled surfaces that deliver me, powerless, into a stream of traffic?
What exactly is a pavement for? What makes it fit for purpose? Do wheelborne people have any rights to safety as pedestrians?
Can anyone possibly imagine I can be integrated into mainstream existence when just turning up is so fraught with personal danger?
Can anyone possibly imagine I can be integrated when urban geography conspires to ensure my absence?
Can anyone possibly imagine integration without the possibility of presence?
What price spatial justice?
Wake me up when it's all gone away,
the cultural olympiad, the
blonde moment, the vital distraction.
Wake me up when you want to talk
about the simple, ordinary stuff
like feeling safe and welcome; being
expected, planned for and valued.
Yes, wake me up when the madness leaves;
when you're ready to talk equality;
access to welfare, health, and safety;
to simple shopping for clothes and food.
Let me know when the big attention
stealing drama gives way to the post
event paralysis, remind me...
of your fantasy: the legacy.
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.
The Dawn Chorus seeps into my consciousness with liquid joy. Night brought sleep, so I open my eyes with a question.
These days play out on a yo-yo string, some are stretched out towards the promise of wholeness; some like this one are curled in on the pain. And waiting an unfocused kind of waiting, between moments that I try not to fritter away. Yesterday comes like that when I wedge myself against the garden wall and paint a long view. And later I watch the birthday flags waving from terracotta pots and take a rain check on chocolate layer-cake.
Days, moments, that leave no memories, just quiet folds in the chronological order of my life. Out on the pleated edges is where the sun shines and creation swirls; and where hope still has a cheeky smile.
I know of no way to acknowledge the value of hours devoted to breathing through pain; no way but waking and living. No way to honour love and life, but living; being; creating.
Sensuous lines swirl
white on white, kissed
by the glass walls
of my house; embraced
by the Nouveau frame.
Day by day, week by week,
pressed against the glass
while the sun rises
and a squillion snowflakes
dither and refrost.
Impatient for my
jewelled garden to emerge,
armfuls of silken narcissi,
fistfuls of fake muscari
into the waiting canvas.
Beardsley morphs into Mucha
waiting melts into spring.
Without Con.text I hover uncertain of my direction. I feel like my bones have been picked clean and a howling gale whistles through me; it snatches everything and yet still leaves me here. Where to now? I'm working and wishing that my inspiration will take flight.
I miss my muse, I miss my heart.
Today there is nothing to say.
Slow moving marks on a blank page
say nothing yet, and nothing yet
I have been playing in vain with
big, bold charcoal and flirting with
inconsequential words: yearning.
Hiding what might be the real me
to avoid contention; bland is
the new black. I feel too broken
to make waves, but who is it I
am trying to mend with tiny
points of black ink on blank paper?
Dots that take days, weeks to reveal
faces, reveal secrets conceal
more; yet fail to clothe my gipsy
bones. Flight, the flame that consumes
me, playing with fire and finding
my way home from mistakes, without
obliterating love. Is this
flying? In these bare, heartless bones
I am yearning, aching to fly.
Sitting in Residence at Salisbury Arts Centre, talking to loads of interesting people is fascinating. I wanted people to be honest with their personal responses and gut reactions, and have been frequently taken by surprise at just how much honesty I'm getting.
I had this conversation with a young person as we were surrounded by Martin Bruch's Bruchlandungen:
How I relate to this is
Like, these are the important bits of your life, yeh?
And these are the bits I throw away, y'know?
The pictures that don't work,
I only keep the good ones.
I don't want to say your life is rubbish, but
its making me think...