9 1/2 Weeks

Not quite the 9 1/2 weeks I remember or was hoping for.

So we’ve reached ‘hump day’ – 9 1/2 weeks into lockdown. Not quite the ‘hump day’ one would expect from 9 1/2 weeks but nevertheless we made it this far and there’s certainly some movement in the right direction. Things are looking up. 

With that in mind, I thought I’d make a list of 9 1/2 highlights so far this week. 

1. Ordering 6 bottles of wine (4 of which are Rosé – a sure sign that summer has arrived) before breakfast. Incredibly, Whispering Angel had already sold out and it was only 8am. 

2. The re-opening of schools albeit tentatively and with caution. This means that Teenager No. 2 will unhook himself from his Xbox, apply some deodorant and put on a smarter version of tracksuit bottoms before tapping me for lunch money.

3. An open air meet with a loved one from another household. At this stage far more appealing than a loved one at home. 

4. The gradual transition from leggings into shorts although still with an elasticated waistband. It may require some lifestyle coaching and coaxing as well as a lock on the fridge before I entertain any item of clothing with a grown up fastening. 

Lets not even think about feet: 9 1/2 weeks of either trainers, socks or flip flops my feet have remodelled themselves into a more rectangular shape. I think the shoebox would probably make for the most comfortable fit. They’ll be no strutting around in stilettos and Trilby – like Kim Basinger in that film, I’ll be keeping more than my hat on.

As for our Kim in that iconic food scene with the young Mickey Rourke. Some of the dishes created by ‘The Teenagers’ would certainly require at the very least a blindfold in order to consume followed by some Pepto Bismol. 

Catering size quantities of bolognese sauce washed down with party size bottles of Fanta. Cheese and Sriracha toasties with a side of Haribos. The mind boggles. You won’t find a bowl of cherries in the fridge more likely some Thatchers and last night’s curry. 

Ok, I digress…on to number 5. 

5. The near completion of 6 oil paintings and the beginning of a new collection. Long overdue, call it my ‘self development’. A positive from the negative. 

6. A return to ‘near normal’ by mid July. Define normal let alone near normal, I think that may be another blog but positive all the same. 

7. The arrival of the table legs for my new set of garden furniture which I ordered at the beginning of April. The company must have decided to stagger the delivery . First to arrive were 3 chairs and 1 cushion, next came another 3 chairs followed by 4 cushions and a table top. Concluding with an additional 10 day wait for the table legs.

8. The patio extension. From a casual voyeuristic point of view it has been highly entertaining. What started out as a straightforward add on to an already existing patio has now evolved into a large sunken ‘area’. Apparently, The Teenagers dug too deep. 

9. The late night chat has moved from power tools and DIY ‘triumphs’ to plans for the future. We’re in survival mode trying to predict how everything will land, formulating a game plan, looking ahead with determination. 

9 1/2. I wonder if there’s any jelly left in the fridge…..

 

Week Seven

It’s been a while since I wrote, possibly due to what I considered at the time my own personal logistical and emotional rollercoaster but in fact was nothing compared to what has been happening to our world over the past few months.

I have read and listened to the constant narrative of experiences from the past seven weeks. Heart wrenching stories of loss, anger and panic at the threat of our freedom but most importantly the heroism of our ‘frontline’ workers and carers. Their courage and strength have held the NHS together and saved lives. We will never forget.

Those first couple of weeks were a fast track of emotions heightened by the stillness of our containment, tinged with those moments of lockdown retail decisions – I will look back somewhat bemused at the luminous green Nike trainers and spangled cycling shorts – too much Mr Motivator, not enough Joe Wicks. It then occurred  to me that this is the time to re-organise my list of priorities.

Perhaps too much of the material things had crept up the list – yes, I miss the hair salon, the manicures that you’d squeeze into an already packed agenda like it was a life or death necessity. It’s the community, the friends, the family and the teamwork that have claimed their rightful spot at the top of the list.

Unlike many, my lockdown has been ok, living out of the city with plenty of space to walk at a safe distance. It has also been the longest stretch of time living with my teenage children (19 and 18 years) since they flew the nest.

Having a full house has had its challenges, from negotiating them out of their pj’s into some clean clothes at least every other day. That an entire packet of chocolate orange Club biscuits does not constitute a meal or their five a day, bedtime is before 2am and no, Vodka Redbull will not give you wings, just a hangover.

It has also given us the opportunity to re-connect, rather than the rushed weekend meet or chat squeezed into their busy social diaries. I have watched them process what’s happening. From the initial feelings of frustration having their wings clipped so early in their newfound independence, to a much deeper realisation as to what is happening and how it will affect the future of our world economically as well as socially and the ripple effect.

The advice I gave to my children is the same as the message to myself: use this time to take positive action by preparing oneself to emerge from this fortified, recharged, with awareness of the tough journey ahead. Whether that be through completing your homework on time or learning a new skill.

For me it’s painting, it acts as a platform to rest my thoughts, recharge the mind ready for the next phase.

The next few days will be reflective not only for the VE Day anniversary, oh the irony, but also of the experiences and bonds of the last 7 weeks and how we re-introduce ourselves to this new world.

I like to think that my ‘lockdown walks’ will continue long after the isolation period with a lot more attention to detail and my surroundings.

My parents, who grew up during World War 2, with fathers who fought for our freedom have found this kind of enemy both frightening and confusing. They fear for their grandchildren’s future in this changing world. However, in those dark moments of helpless despair they have been the ones who have encouraged that wartime spirit, their sense of humour never falters.

My father reminded me of the quote by Glenn Turner “Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere’.

With that in mind, stay positive, stay safe, count your blessings and never forget.

Let Your Shoes Tell the Story

I remember my first pair of red shoes, ankle straps, patent. I was 10 years old, I thought I was Dorothy.  It’s a memory of a childhood blissfully unaware of myself or the future.  Happy in the present daydream.

I think the same naivety can be felt from my wedding shoes, the innocence of loves young dream.  Worn only once they are incarcerated in an antique chest soon to be immortalised.  Released from the darkness, a different kind of self portrait.

Immortalising the memory is a different way of listening.

Shoes seem to be an object of provenance, less invasive than a portrait.  A sensitive way to tell a story. It can help ground you give you a sense of belonging by documenting each chapter.

Listening to clients tell their story is enchanting and I feel privileged to see the shoes that hold so much provenance.

From Vegas to Valencia and as far as New Zealand with stories rich in love and laughter.

 

     

So far it’s proving to be a remarkable journey…… 

For all enquiries email: flossie@artbyflossie.com

The Fine Art of a Siesta

Just as a flamboyance of flamingos must rest during their journey, so must we during our migration through the day.

This is still a fairly new and sometimes sporadic ritual for me but the results have been beneficial. I have discovered that the beauty and finesse of oil on canvas manipulated with careful nuance is heightened by the relaxed earthiness of an afternoon kip.
Slip out of your shoes, lift those legs and nestle somewhere smooth and comforting.
As a flamingo lifts a leg to take a load off so must we. Siesta or forty winks, is there a difference?
Do we do it standing up or sitting down? Is the shade of a sombrero enough or should one de-robe?  Should a siesta be a solo performance, perhaps, as to siesta with another may result in no siesta at all. A group siesta, well, that’s a whole different blog…
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So many questions about such a straightforward but often forgotten ritual. If we were going to plan the perfect siesta maybe the following rules should apply.

1. Your day must begin feeling refreshed and sated from a fulfilling evening. With the mind switched on and buzzing it will be noon before you know it and you’re flying though the motions. As the clock ticks round to 1.30 thoughts move to lunch.

2. The all important dish to tantalise a delicate nap but not too much to leave one comatose. Living in the Spanish city of Valencia (rice central) paella is top of the list but steady yourself, less is more. One mouthful too far and you’ve upset the balance. Whilst on the subject of balance I’d save the wine for Friday or the weekend, particularly if you intend not to siesta alone.

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3.I would not recommend de-robing in the office in preparation for forty winks at your desk, but if lucky enough to lunch at home slipping into your favourite t-shirt could aide the relaxation process.

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 4.In order to settle it would be prudent to organise a gentle alarm call and then decide on some ‘white noise’. Something succulent yet delicate enough to lose oneself in a full on doze.

5.It has been proven that a short but rich rest during the day can result in a wealth of creativity for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Imagine turning a pointless day into a limitless one.

6. Do not. I repeat do not be tempted to make that last call. Especially if dealing with disgruntled partners and/or lovers. You’ve been dealing with demands all morning and wish to do so successfully and with patience in the afternoon so hang up and take the rest. The anti-climatic siesta (where one never quite loses oneself) has been cause of many a frantic afternoon…in some cases longer.

img_27477. And finally the discipline known as practice. To overcome temptations, distractions and the pressure of a short time frame takes practice. Practice makes perfect and soon the stresses of everyday life are put back into perspective and the paint starts to flow with ease and elegance across the canvas of our lives.

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I write because I love.

The Gob shirt…Forever Style and Substance

The humble t-shirt isn’t so humble after all, its rise to fame and importance may have been portrayed with such modesty but don’t be fooled…the T has the power.

The t-shirt’s status was first recognised in the US when the US Navy issued them to recruits to be worn under their uniform. In 1938 the first tees were sold to civilians as outerwear; they were marketed as ‘gob’ shirts.

 

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Emerging from such strong, noble beginnings encouraged the feeling of strength, masculinity and a heroic notion, all still associated with the T.

Not content with its functional status the t-shirt decided to begin a long and distinguished journey as communicator to the masses, interpreter of dreams and emotions.West-mag-TShirt_WDayton

An ageless canvas….discovered by Warren Dayton, artist, illustrator and designer during the psychedlic era he started to use the t-shirt as a new medium to explore; our modest gob shirt never looked back.

 

In 1975 Vivienne Westwood famously reprinted an illustration by artist Jim French called ‘Longhorns’.  Malcolm McLaren added some text and the ‘Cowboys’ t-shirt was born. It caused waves of controversy through mainstream culture and thrills of delight from trendsetters and creatives. Shop worker Alan Jones was arrested on the Kings Road for wearing one. It was deemed too provocative and he was fined.  The design is still in print today.018_cowboys_new-720x1024

So the word was out – the t-shirt was a powerful tool for freedom of expression, communication and advertising, a banner for bands to promote their music and fans to celebrate their songs.

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The teenage agony aunt.  When no one understands you the t shirt will shield you and speak for you.  I remember with great fondness my Cure t-shirt, my comfort blanket as a shy fourteen year old. It was my armour, giving me a sense of security and belonging. My parents hated it…

In 1977 the graphic artist Milton Glaser single-handedly elevated the city of New York with one simple logo….I ❤️ NY is still symbolic today.  A momentous moment within the realms of advertising but what about us, the ordinary person, the civilian on the street, what does the t-shirt mean to us?

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I believe it’s an opportunity for us to express our creativity; we’re all born creative but alas some of us grow up too fast. For some, choosing and wearing a t-shirt in the morning could be the most creative thing we get to do all day. It could be something that triggers a memory or emotion close to your heart that keeps you smiling inside through the day.

Let’s not forget those dark days we sometimes encounter; there are plenty of tees to suit every mood. The company T-shirt Hell celebrates those controversial designs, priding themselves on being politically incorrect, allowing the wearer to laugh in the face of doom and gloom.

By moving your existing emotion into another domain or dimension, can your t-shirt affect the rules of attraction? Of course, that logo or band could make or break that first date… it’s symbolic, a visual communication of who you are and your perspective on the world.  This power can sometimes be cultivated, so that instead of offering clues to our identity it could be an opportunity to disguise, hide and even surprise.

Once the ‘deal is sealed’ there’s that post coital t shirt…cute, coy and full of promises of future adventures.

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One thing’s for certain – a t-shirt is infectious, to be revered. We covet the rare and the limited editions just like a piece of art. The Victoria and Albert Museum now features a permanent collection of tees through the ages in their fashion gallery.

Those that choose to live first and later philosophise are the perfect ambassadors, so put on your t-shirt – let’s dance.IMG_1676

 

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