AWOL

I went down to Parsonage Gardens today to put up a new sign.  The Magnolia tree reminded me of our Christmas tree, once it had been stripped of all its decorations.  It looked kind of skinny, naked and shivery in the cold.  I wanted to throw a big jacket over its shoulders.  A very very large jacket.

I’ve never seen a jacket that large, actually.

Someone had taken down my previous sign.  Either that, or it had smudged, parted company with itself, perhaps even totally dissolved in the wind and the rain that has shaken and lashed this island in recent times.

I hadn’t been in touch since before Xmas, and wondered if I had been struck off the Old Parsonage’s agenda.

Moribund, I stepped closer to the tree, looking for a suitable site for my new offering – and was instantly cheered to see a determined cluster of snowdrops at its base.

IMG_01272

a determined cluster of snowdrops

Hope springs eternal, then.  Good.

As I gazed up at the tree’s higher reaches, its bony fingers reaching for the sky of bright, cold blue, I spotted the Mystery Shoe.  I haven’t written about that yet.  See if you can spot it.

the Mystery Shoe(i)

In case you can’t, here’s a clue…

Mystery Shoe

the Mystery Shoe (ii)

And here’s a close up.

the Mystery Shoe (detail)

the Mystery Shoe (detail)

More about that later.

I wanted to pin (ouch! -sorry) my new sign to the tree, because that’s what one does with Missing Pussycat signs.  But something told me I should seek permission first, so I did, and I haven’t been granted it yet, so watch this space, because I’m going back tomorrow.

And this is my Missing Pussycat sign.

Missing 1 (566x800)

That should do it.

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Notes from a Tree/08

A different view

A different view

In August, I climbed higher than I had dared before

and earned myself a different view,

including one or two last

shy

magnolia

flowers

hiding

(out of my reach) – whose

siblings lay in petals

scattered on the ground.

IMG_0327dr_lores

…petals scattered on the ground

Mid-month, the wind blew strongly

enough to make the boughs sway – and me with them.

It was a distinctly

unnerving

experience, and I clung on for

dear life (as did my new friends, the remaining magnolias).

IMG_0333fire40_dr_lores

An unnerving experience

I  wondered what to do with the photographs I had started taking of the people who passed below.  Perhaps I would put them in a gallery called ‘Human Traffic’

– but what of the dogs and occasional wildlife I snapped?  Hmm.  

‘Non-Leopard Sightings’, or

‘Human Traffic (and Other Beasties)’

maybe.  

Divided into two categories:

‘Those Who Did’ and ‘Those Who Didn’t’ (notice me, that is).

20131002_095208

…notice me, that is.

Why is She Up There, Mummy? (part two)

So, the excitement and fear of the (will they/won’t they) proposal letter and its reception over and done with, I settled back into wondering what on earth I was actually doing.  “What’s it all about?” I wondered, not for the first time, in my notebook.  Why, when all the other artists had left (aka moved on), was I still here?

This is what I wrote:-

“It’s about

Belonging vs. Being Out of Place

Being Here v. Wanting to be Somewhere Else

Authenticity v. Disguise

Nature v. Civilisation

Childhood v. Adulthood

Freedom of Expression v. Repression

It’s also about lounging about and having fun!

These are all themes in my life.

It’s also about the frustration of discovering there are some things I really don’t like about myself – but try as I might, I can’t seem to change…”

And we all know what they say about leopards…

Smile for the camera, please!

Smile for the camera, please!

To conclude: there’s a certain amount of stuckness going on in my life (not to be confused with Stuckism, which is something entirely different), and so it seems apt that I should be ‘stuck’ up a tree for a year.

That’s why she’s up there, Mummy.

The End of Leopardry?

After the draft proposal in my notebook came this:-

Draft_proposal_2aDraft_proposal_2b

And then, for two weeks, I did nothing.  I didn’t re-type or deliver my letter. Day after day, I trudged up and down the banks of the River Mersey in Didsbury with my dog, see-sawing between “Yes, it’s a good idea” and “No, it’s a terrible idea.”

What if they said no?  What if they said yes?  I couldn’t work out which would be worse.

Finally, on 5th August I typed the finished version.

On 6th August… Well, read it yourself – a page from my notebook:-

20131030_200126My little heart sang.

And then I fled down to my mother’s in Essex for five days.

Why is She Up There, Mummy? (part one)

I thought it might be useful to add this, for the record.  Here is the blurb I wrote for the exhibition:-

Artist’s Name: Lorna Ruskin
Title of work: “Self Portrait: Leopard (Dreams are Made of This)” 2013

Type of artwork: Performance

For the exhibition “If Not Here, Where?” I present a performance-based self-portrait. Dressed in a leopard onesie, I lounge in a tree, pondering my current life situation and waiting for the impulse to move. Surveying my life so far – the choices I have made – I wonder what happened to my dreams, to the life I thought I would have, and the person I thought I would be… Am I happy with who I am? Can I change..?

I am not from around here.

How is it – when I used to imagine myself living a life in Africa – that I am still here, living my life in Manchester, of all places? Do I belong here? Do I fit in? Is this my native land, my natural environment? Is this where I want to be?

And if I dream of being elsewhere, is that a dream I really want to make real, or do I just like dreaming…?

If not here, where would you be?

Notes from a Tree/04

From my notebook, dated 14th July 2013

The hot weather endures.

I endure

Saddle-sore discomfort,

grazed feet and ankles –

the results of my clumsiness when climbing.

Being overlooked (underlooked –  Look Up!  Look Up!) and then:

“Why is she up there, Mummy?”

Little girl bright in a yellow cardigan

with dark brown eyes.

“Why is she up there, Mummy?”

Mummy takes little girl by the hand, bends over her, low

Her voice is hushed –

Mummy probably doesn’t know, either.

A Weimaraner, my best visitor yet,

Jumping up to try and reach my toes and

Falling, rolling over on its back as it lands on the grass

Blue eyes turned up to me, perched on my bough

Its ears falling back

WHAT’S THAT???!!!

Unlike a squirrel, and unlike a cat.

I decide I really ought to have my camera at the ready, at all times.

Day One of the Exhibition: If Not Here Where

picnic_01

picnic_02

The exhibition opening on July 7th coincided with a Garden Party in Parsonage Gardens, which was already in full swing when I arrived, and there was a group of adults and children picnicking under my chosen Magnolia tree.  (Photography courtesy of Roger Bygott)

The title of my performance is “Self-Portrait: Leopard (Dreams Are Made Of This)”

The beginning, contd.

This is how it started.

IfNotHere_JL

I was invited to participate in a group exhibition curated by the artists John Lynch and Natasha Lolljee at the Old Parsonage and Parsonage Gardens, Didsbury, Manchester, UK.  The exhibition took place over two weeks in July, 2013.

Taking the exhibition’s theme – ‘If Not Here Where’ – literally, I thought: where would I rather be (if anywhere)?

– An image of a leopard lounging in a tree against a backdrop of endless savannah came to my mind.  At sundown, of course.

I long, sometimes, to be in Africa.

I long to be at home.