Artfully Present 

The current Venus Retrograde transit through Leo continues to be an artistically auspicious one for me – someone who is usually bent toward the creation of pictures and stories through words than words and stories through pictures.


As the photographs show, I’ve been creating in the same medium as last week: basically one side of a Delite’s rice cracker box, two pieces of origami paper unearthed from the bottom drawer of my desk (thank you Daiso for your beautiful, inexpensive paper and thank you past me who wanted to make paper cranes!) and a randomly selected page of Italo Calvino’s ‘Six Memos’ (did I ever tell you the story about how my dog ate Calvino?). The rest is communing with scissors, glue and random acts of meaning.


‘Arting’ – as I’ve come to think of it, has been a way to remove my mind from the turbulence of the here and now. It’s also been an opportunity to create something unique for the special people in my life. The top square is a birthday present for Kim and the bottom a housewarming present from Rob. (This time I’ve shown them as works in progress rather than as the polished, final piece!)


Amid the glue — and the chaos that comes with breathing out a little too hard and blowing tiny pieces of paper across the desk (and thus, for a few horrible minutes, destroying the perfect poetry of the words assembled because one of the words can no longer be found!) — there was a gift for me!


Many years ago I learned as an editor and a publisher of strange and left-of-field conceptual ideas that the best approach to any project once it had been conceived and entrusted to a group of writers was to step the hell out of the way. The Chinese Whisperings and Literary Mix Tapes anthologies are the results of this ‘letting go’. Of trusting that the writers involved had the capacity to grow an idea far beyond anything I was able to.

I’m learning the same lessons over again, this time through art.

I was afraid the first one of these little squares would be the best I’d ever make and everything after would be dross. The Ego of Perfectionism has always been my nemesis when it comes to art (far less so with writing). It’s an easy way of opting out of my creative expression. I can give in, do nothing because I believe I’ll never be good enough…

… or I can step the hell out of my own way. Let go.

Tuesday afternoon I sent this message to Kim (after messages earlier in the day about getting over oneself in the creative process!)

Lesson 1: every little piece of art has its own energy and dynamism. This means if you step out of the way of expecting anything of it, it can ‘become’ all by itself.

Lesson 2: return to Lesson 1

And at the end of the ‘becoming’ you let it go and so it can ‘become’ again when it reaches its new home.

Then you go back to the supermarket and stock up on packets of Delites, thumb old books in boxes downstairs that haven’t quite made it to the donation bin (in the hope it might be the new cornucopia of found poetry) and wait for the time and space to imperfectly create again.

Thank you to Rowena for the gift (a pre-release!) of She Makes War’s new album Direction of Travel (which I’ve been listening to as I’ve been writing). I am ever so grateful for beautiful, generous friends who bring rays of light in a week of turmoil.