Notes from a Tree/10

In the absence of my leopard-self, I return to typing up notes from my sketch book:-

On the third of September

from up in my tree

I spied on a woman in a blue jacket reading my sign.

“Hello!” I called, as leopards are wont to do, in these parts.

She looked up,

spotted me through the leaves

and apologised to me several times.

I didn’t know what for.

So I took a photo of her.

Later, I treated it with a watercolour filter in Photoshop

to conceal her identity –

and then another one called ‘Paint Daubs’ –

because I felt as if I wanted to protect her.

Not that I know much about filters in Photoshop.

Nor protecting people, for that matter.

Being a leopard, and all.

PaintDaubsLores

I felt as if I wanted to protect her

Still AWOL

I had been asked not to use any pins, so on January 28th I dragged myself to Parsonage Gardens to tie my Missing poster to the magnolia tree.  It had taken me all day to get there from ten minutes’ walk away (sometimes the shortest journeys take the longest time), and dusk had fallen.

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The Missing poster at dusk (1)

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The Missing poster at dusk (2)

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The Missing poster at dusk (3)

I took some pictures on my phone of the buds against the darkening sky,

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The buds against the darkening sky (1)

… and a final cartoon shot, before leaving.

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The buds against the darkening sky (2)

Two days later I returned, to see what it looked like in daylight.

in daylight

What it looks like in daylight

buds, buds, glorious buds...

Buds, buds, glorious buds…

Notes from a Tree/09

December it may be

But I still have some catching up to do.

All summer long, my beloved Jolly accompanied to the gardens, and waited – down on the ground – while I did my stint as a leopard in a tree.

I’d get up when I felt like it, have breakfast, take a shower, get dressed. We’d walk to the Parsonage the long way round, along the river.  The sun shone.  A bag swung from my hand.  Inside was some food for me, some food for Jolly, a plastic bowl to put water in for him, and my leopard onesie.  I thought, “This is the life.”

My beloved Jolly

My beloved Jolly

In Cahoots

On September 2nd I went to the Parsonage Gardens to take down the old sign, which had become a little rain-smudged…

the old sign

the old sign

..and to put up a new one

newsign_lores2

the new sign

(With hindsight, I don’t know why I bothered.  The first one was clearly better, in a smudgy sort of way).

But on approaching the Magnolia Tree I stopped short.

The ground beneath its branches was covered in a soft pink cloud

a soft pink cloud

a soft pink cloud

Puzzled, I glanced up at the Magnolia tree as it stood there, humming a jaunty little tune and looking rather pleased with itself.

But then I cottoned on.

“Ha!” said I.  “Well done, Magnolia, you nearly had me there.  But you didn’t drop this lot.  This stuff comes from the Smoke Tree!”

The Magnolia said nothing; but ceased its humming and looked away – a little crestfallen, I thought.

I did think it was funny, though, how the wind had blown the pink cloud from the Smoke Tree, around the Acer in between and deposited it so convincingly here, beneath my beloved Magnolia.

It seems the wind and the trees are playful, in cahoots, trying to trick me.

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).

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…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?