Making the invisible visible.

As I sat in a room asking what I thought was a perfectly attentive question in midstream a member of that group physically turned their back against me and not for the first time that morning , engaged the room in their conversation leaving my question hanging and me feeling like yet again that l was invisible.Not important. I am not invisible and I am important. I removed myself from the room. New boundaries.

Living with mental health is an invisible world. Being in someones world whilst they are experiencing mental health issues is also entering into an invisible space too. It can have a dramatic impact on health, confidence and subsequent relationships. What if you are a child with no understanding of this impact, not understanding the concept of mental health, with no boundaries to protect yourself from its affects? Factor in those suffering with the illness are there supposedly to protect you. I hear you. I see you. I am you.

Entering the ‘ grown up’ world with no boundaries, not given any, allowed any as mental health, someone elses mental health consumed not only theirs but gobbled up the potential of you establishing yours too, the difference…you are a child. You are now an open, vulnerable and gullible adolescent still being abused as you have no boundaries to say no with. You have no concept they exist , that you are supposed to have them.

Becoming a victim is a choice it is said. “you can choose not to be one.” Perhaps, you come, in time, to accept it , whatever, IT is and you find a way to overcome the effects of it. Thats not to trivialise it and is certainly not to say its either easy or is a quick, clean task. At 55 I struggle. I do know as I started to make my own boundaries clearly define them to myself, what is acceptable and what is not, irrespective of others acknowledging them, my sense of well being has started to change. I feel more powerful, in control to stop this cycle. It involves a lot of painful painful disassociations, that strangely feel liberating once done and I start to live with the consequences. Not nearly as bad as I anticipated because in truth, my attachment to a person, or situation was already lost, gone as there was no respect there. If there was I found the relationship changed for the better.

No one should be made to feel invisible.

No one should feel its ok to be treated as if they are invisible.

Without asking, Judgements are made to my face and I, having no boundaries , swallow hard again, dutifully following the ’advice’ again in a different direction. I am exhausted from hearing, ” well, what you want to do is…”As humans why do we feel so self righteous that we have got it so right as to judge others?

Minority groups, animals, the environment… to name but a few are victims to this damaging behaviour.

To be Kind. To actually ask and listen. Give someone your full attention without judgement if only for a moment. Be humble, grateful. With the first thought of good not bad.

Make the invisible visible whoever or whatever they may be. Its called respect surely. Behind each face ’mask’ is another story to tell than the one you are seeing.

The Blackberry Invader or Humble Bramble?

Along the narrow path, brambles had completely networked, crisscrossing in every direction, successfully blocking any entry through the path. The path barely identifiable. The first task was to open up this network and negotiate a compromise. Entering into a conversation, the boundaries between myself and their persistent invasion, became a much more civilised affair. Tackled with a pair of secateurs, (not a noisy, smelly, petrol strimmer, as indiscriminately tried and miserably failed in the past)and a resolution to not try to eradicate but to utilise the resource. What could I create from it?

Years previously I had made a successful yarn from the inner core of nettles by a process of drying, crushing stripping and so on. Alice Fox, whilst documenting her plot 105, has successfully been making cordage from bramble so this will be a possible experiment but first was to explore whether it yielded a dye successfully.

Natural bramble dye, from the leaves, stems and flowers no berries…yet, gave a lovely surprise…. Responding to different mordants and pH. Black ’berries’ as such offer a fugitive dye they are not lightfast, a stain more than offering a pigment. However, make interesting dyes and inks when you create a dialogue with the environment and something I am experimenting with in alternative processes for journalling this research. Tests will need to be done to assume whether this dyebath is lightfast but it is looking promising to use the resource within the colour scheme and definitely for this second module: sampling and testing. Trying not to repeat subjects, like Natural dyeing that can be readily obtained now through this World wide Web/digital library, I have wondered which way my practice is to go with regards to teaching. How to make a blackberry dyebath seems so easily learnt compared to when I started out over 15 years ago. The thoughtful musings of other journal writers such as Sarah Swett pondered the same it seems and came to a compromise that worked for them.

In order to make the switch from wide fashion cloth to narrow braids that can be interwoven and left outside to continue the narrative with the environment, the thickness of my yarns do need to be considered.

This year the aim of The Textile Farm, me, is to be self sufficient with the resources I use in my ’making’. With the exception of the art paper, a khadi rag paper, that has happened. Although I have made paper before,I think I succumbed to time limitations. Incidentally bramble and nettles and lots of resources I do use lend themselves so well to paper making.

Natural Dialogues.

Entering an unfamiliar place and striking up a conversation is always a challenge, but what if it’s a place you feel you know and a conversation you would love to have. I have suddenly gone shy!

My conversation with the top of the land has always been how can I maintain the narrow pathway, keeping it open for personal use, honouring my fond historical memories of the owner of the farm, who I purchased the land from, driving their animals from the farm, situated by this piece of land, to the fields at the other end. Mother Nature quickly assumes the rights of this pathway should I not keep up this conversation.

Harvesting, rather than removing, pushing back the boundary of the overgrown path. Gently and lightly re establishing the footsteps. The copious amounts of vegetative material collected, with resources, tested, sampled and analysed.

A week later and only halfway along this top boundary, I began to realise a process of creative dialogue has been established.

Walking the boundaries

With the first module of my MA in….I have begun to give structure to my investigations and these reflections will form part of that process. The areas of the land that quite literarily ‘draw’ me to them are the wooded areas. Whilst very narrow areas they are situated on the periphery of the land…. The boundaries. This got me thinking about boundaries. What are they made up of? How many are there seen and unseen, visible or hidden?

I have set my own clear boundaries within the use of this land. To only farm using organic principles, to keep low stocked animals, grow crops resourcefully and to be mindful of structures I create being temporary and biodegradable. Being an artist, I continued working creating boundaries; with the materials and processes I use. Resourceful materials grown such as flax, plants for colour, foraged on the land like acorns, nettles and achillea or with animals I keep to provide fibres like mohair from my 3 beautiful angora goats. This led me onto to consider my own personal boundaries….not always so boundaried.

We create boundaries to mark ‘our’ land. This piece of land has a fence around it. Supposedly separating this piece from ‘other’ pieces. Yet within the land itself, boundaries are created, microcosms separated. How are they separated? Who or what separated them? Many boundaries are created by different criteria. Strayer et al(2003), Cadenesso et al (2003) and Kolasso (2014) suggest defining that criteria is necessary to consider an ‘investigation’ of the boundaries. Cadenesso stresses the importance of specifying the ‘boundary’ that is under investigation by considering three areas: the boundary itself but also the ‘patch’ that lies beyond and the ‘flow’ between them. This does make sense as it isn’t always clear where the demarcation is, it’s not always clear, there are, as we know, grey or in this case ‘green’ areas. How does one affect the other? Cadenesso also suggests that there is a hierarchal structure within these areas. The type of flow between the two is affected by the materials, the energy, organisms and the information transferred for example. Both the boundary and the patch have there own unique architecture and composition. What makes them different?

Nature creates boundaries of her own.

Passionate about nature and the impact as humans we have on the environment: What boundaries should be in place to safeguard this relationship? How does nature create her own boundaries?

There’s a lot to think about.


Cadenesso M.L et al. (2003) A framework for the theory of ecological boundaries

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