13/08/20 BLOG 10: "PUT THE KETTLE ON."
This week’s blog comes courtesy of someone connected to the Encompass Network who was inspired by Alice’s Masterclasses to create something of her own. She used the Masterclasses to reflect on what lockdown had meant to her and her own self-care and has very kindly shared it as part of Together Alone. We would love to hear from anyone who has given the masterclasses a go, or has thoughts, tips or tools to share around self-care. You can contact us HERE.
As I near my family home, I will call ahead to tell them to put the kettle on so a warm cuppa awaits me. As I come into the kitchen – my folks will be there and a cuppa sitting waiting.
"PUT THE KETTLE ON."
I grew up hearing those words in different kitchens, usually uttered by women. Gathered round the kitchen table, generations would talk and share and eat. I heard the family news punctuated by kettles boiling and fresh brews in big chunky mugs. I loved when I was of the age to make the pots of tea and I knew to make them strong.
I have favourite mugs. I like to have my own mug and over the years I have had various main ones which are linked to memories of places and people. My orange and black mug was my current favourite. I painted it at a pottery barn with my 2 girls on a frosty Sunday a couple of years ago. We all decorated a piece in our own ways and spent time working on them, all together round a table. We frequently talk about that day with my youngest asking “can we go back one day” but now its “When Covid is over, can we go back there one day?”
I read Alice’s workshop notes and knew I would need quiet time to do this. I have little space at home to do anything creative with every corner now covered with the kids’ art works and school projects. I waited until the first weekend we were allowed to travel and stay away. A real easing of lock down and when we could have freedom from our flat and the melting point of emotions it has become. We had a bolt hole for a few days with no-one else but us. A quiet isolated space.
I waited until the kids were occupied with something else and distracted, no “Mum, Mum, Mum MUM.” I prepared the empty table and laid it out. A blank page waiting to be filled. Being away from home was making me feel buzzy and my mind was jumping around. At last I could think about we had been through and were still facing. This bubble away gave me pause to think something of it through. I wanted to let my self-care be part of working through that tangled jumble of memories and feelings over the past 4 months and to use the workshop in that way. Apologies to Alice that I don’t follow all the steps but used the ideas as a launchpad instead.
I wasn’t sure how to get going or what to do. I read the workshop notes again and sat waiting for some inspiration. I sat with the blank page and thought of the only other table I have sat at through lockdown. My cramped cluttered kitchen with the ever-constant cluster of items that accompanied me. This one was so big. So empty.
When Lockdown started, my world shrunk in. I was on my own at the kitchen table. I took over one corner of the kitchen table to work from. Every day the same items were laid out ready for the day – my own Covid survival kit. I drew a quick sketch of them.
I focused on my mug and the swirling thoughts, questions and emotions that had been around me. I didnt stop and think too much about what I was writing or drawing and allowed my pen to lead itself with swirls and loops. I have never really talked about what my real time in Lockdown was like, as I needed to be strong for my kids and put a brave face on for others. My mug was the only witness to late nights sitting alone, frantically trying to come up with plans and solutions for everything and everyone around. The mug was with me in these silent times when my head was spinning with the juggling of work with the kids’ needs. It travelled around my flat with me – perched on shelves and worktops. My hands round my mug, sometimes just staring into space, thinking “why now?”, “Why in my kids’ lifetimes?” and “what is going to happen…….”
I redrew my mug, focusing on its shape. Its perfect for your hands to cup round – my youngest says it reminds her of my belly! I picked out the key thoughts from my swirling jumble and wanted them inside this shape – to keep them contained and inside this time.
I worked again on a fresh sheet – with a calmer mug, more settled but with my thoughts and feelings outside my contained box.
By now, I was in full flow and loving the starkness of my thick black pen on the paper. I wanted to look at the different parts of my drawings, the favourite abstract sections and to pull them out for more work on yet another fresh piece of paper. I drew a square of smaller squares and looked back over all I had done, sometimes forgetting where they had come from and what emotions pushed them.
I liked the curves, the swirls and curls and how these repeated in each small square – connection them all. I wanted to really think about the hard times we have been through but to place them in my bigger picture and puzzle, to think about how they linked and were related. How one box linked to another, how one emotion fed into the next, how my feelings were both internal and outside of me too.
I was totally absorbed during this, looking at my squares and how they looked together with the shadows and backgrounds of each square forming their own pattern. I remember a teacher at school telling us to squint our eyes to see shadows and tones. I sat with scrunched up eyes looking at my page and seeing other abstracts shapes emerging from the overall. I enjoyed going back to look at small lines and how they repeated in different shapes.
I really liked the handle with its round shape and the way the light / dark through the curved shape gave a whole different aspect. I like the play of words – to get a handle on something is to understand it. A handle is something to hold onto but also to be held by. To handle something is to touch it but also that one can cope with what is coming.
I think this is the doodle that I want to develop further and look to turn into a design and possibly a repeating pattern to print. I quite like the idea of this being my next design for a replacement mug. One I can paint with my girls beside me when we finally can...