I like cats and dogs equally. I see the value in both. I am enjoying pandemic winter dogs in cute coats at the moment.
I have lived in London most of my life and my relationship with it has morphed and changed over the years. For a long time, I think it was ‘just’ London to me. I grew up here. But I’ve begun to really see it and appreciate it in a much deeper way as time has gone by. It’s such a beautiful city. I don’t know how I’d ever leave. I love and need time in nature, particularly the sea, but I always miss the hum of this town. Breakfast = porridge mostly. I treat it as a canvas on which to drop many things.
I have no clue why the canals of London aren’t more known. Set off from Paddington & through Little Venice. Find your way to the canal path towards Camden, onto Kings X, Granary Square, wiggle briefly off at Islington and drop back down on the other side of Upper Street and onwards east! You’ll see a whole other side of London and amazing wildlife. If you’re lucky, Mini Dracula the cormorant.
Writing a book changed a lot of things. It wasn’t something I planned or even thought I could do! But the millisecond I had the idea, I knew I was going to pursue it. I shocked myself by following through despite having zero experience. What helped was a boyfriend who had been making a film. I think I had quite an unconfident idea of how creativity worked before that. Seeing what he went through: the fun, the drama, the pivoting, the rufty tufty nature of creativity and running a big project. That ideas don’t come out fully formed or ‘correct’. That the constant shifting motion of a thing is often what will shape the thing for the better, if you allow it. That helped me enter into a big creative endeavour of my own with a more flexible mindset. I think it was already there. I just needed help unlocking it. That it was absolutely OK to not know the answers all the time.
The book involved interviewing a huge cross section of people about a pivotal life experience: losing virginity. I prefer the phrase ‘first sexual experiences’. ‘Virginity loss’ is such an awful, outmoded concept but at least we all know what we’re talking about. The narrative explores, via the interviews, how and why people’s experiences have changed over the last 80 years. Although some themes are eternal I must tell you. Human emotions don’t change. I’d love to write an extra chapter of the book now, soley on shades of gender as we have evolved around this area in such great ways.
Recent times have been revelatory for me. My work most often focus’s on the not openly talked about, the personal, the private. I’m most comfortable in that space. I’m an over sharer but I’ve realised that instead of feeling embarrassed about that, I could acknowledge it’s also my superpower. My willingness to be open creates the space for others to safely express their own stuff.
I’m often trying to figure out stuff around boundaries, vulnerability, grief, interpersonal relationships, the meaning of intimacy, all kinds of messy and interesting things. I figure if I’m poking around in these areas, others have the same questions and interest too. That was the whole point of the book. All my projects are a collaboration or conversation of sorts.
Though the book looked back over the past to contextualize the present; these days I find myself looking to the edges of right now to try figure out how we’ll look in 20 years, 50 years. I wish I could teleport to the future to see how we will evolve!
This is going to sound like the most pretentious thing I’ve ever said but I’ve begun to look at my side hustles through a more artistic lens. I’m into outcome – but I’m really into process now. I’ve spent the last couple of years working on a project with a man who has his entire body tattooed with the dense black image of a tree.
On the surface the project is about identity, masculinity, vulnerability, how we deal with physical & mental pain. But it’s also clear that the project has shifted us as people. That we’ve pushed through boundaries with ourselves and each other. I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time. I’m not a trained photographer and I always photograph him nude but I’m just following my instincts as an artist and a questioner and making a space for him to do the same.
I think having three parents, is the most literal answer to that question. Being influenced by three completely different people so thoroughly. In lots of ways, most things come back to this.
I think we all know that moment is right now. That said, I feel in a very pregnant state of mind (Not literally!). Our stories are being rewritten, whether we like it or not. We are in a changeable space, and if we are able to roll with that, it can be freeing. I say this as a natural catastrophizer i.e. the sentiment doesn’t come easy but at the same time, it’s good to try and make the best of a situation. My experience of life is that there is almost always something to be extracted and learnt from even the direst situations. I’ve lost two parents (separately, pre pandemic) in challenging circumstances but no matter what way I look at it, I see these experiences also shaped me for the better.
One of my enduring pursuits is to find a sweet spot between something you really love, that brings you loads of joy – and throwing in a challenge. I really think that’s where you get the magic. I did improv classes for a while. That was terrifying. But I got so much out of it. Massive laughs and more understanding of the fact that being your most undefended self in front of other people actually isn’t as terrible as you think. Generally, photography has been that thing too. Because I am so challenged by technical stuff and numbers so I really only have my instinct to ride on. But I am so gripped by imagery that I can’t stop. I have to jump in. When I let go of the ‘you’re not qualified for this’, good stuff happens.
I’m super curious about the tension points between our human-ness: our emotions, our hormones, our natural drives to survive and procreate, vs a world that is evolving very fast. The life my mum lived as a young woman is unrecognisable to me today, as a woman in western culture. I sometimes think the world has got whiplash, because even though 50 years seems like a long time, it’s nothing in the context of evolution. A blip. But a lot has changed and I see evidence everywhere that its way too much for a lot of people to deal with. That in itself is an interesting, if frustrating tension point.
Right now I stay on track with basic stuff. I know that I’m better when I’m riding my bike, getting past the boredom of meditation and doing it anyway, going to bed earlier than I normally might. That’s really it. When I take care of those things, the other stuff is more reachable. Writing, photographing, thinking about what I’m going to do next in my work life, creative life and trying to be of use in the world. I can be of better service when I take care of myself.
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