Saturday, 20 June 2009

You are an ocean wave my love

On 27/3/09 my daughter, Nina, was stillborn 27 weeks into the pregnancy. She had been diagnosed with Edwards Syndrome 6 weeks earlier and we had been advised she was unlikely to survive beyond the womb. She should have been born alive and healthy on 27/6/09.

As you can imagine, the last few weeks have been unbearable and I find myself a different person seeing the world through new eyes. My priorities have changed and where I once sought out excitement I now seek solace.

I buried my daughter in felt in a nature reserve. The artist who made the felt burial shroud has also initiated an art project making feet felt. I bought one of these kits with the intention of making molds of our feet to place as temporary markers above Nina's grave. I liked the imagery of the feet naturally degrading into earth around Nina's grave symbolising our unity, her place in our hearts, family and minds that will hold us together indefinitely.

In the early throws of our grief we did not have time to make the feet. Later, our grief caught our tongues and our flow of communication became blocked. We did not know how to express ourselves or make ourselves understood. I began to internalise my pain and my partner externalised his.

I began to write, seek out out distractions and creative prompts, my world fleetingly took me away from my family offering me a way of numbing this pain. I began Mother Henna's 'heART of the Hero' workshop (although I am disgracefully behind schedule).

I accepted the invitation to the Blog Festival: Solstice Hero Dance, Light on Shadow. I needed a way to reach out to my family and include them in my distractions and creative therapy and bring us back together and thought that making the feet felt kit together would be a symbolic way of doing this.

We went to Wales with my father to visit my grand parents. Over the course of 5 days we dyed wool, made wet felt patches, dressed feet, walked, collected drift wool, played on the beach, enjoyed the company of family and absorbed the beauty of the nature around us. There were many stages and processes to this feet felt project all of which were soothing to the soul.

During the Heart of the Hero workshop, I have been asked who my spirit guides are and what I would ask them. I have discovered that my guides are Sheep and Puffin. Right now I have no questions, instead I will listen and observe.

This morning I looked up the totem medicine of sheep:

Sheep can show how to maintain balance and have confidence in situations and abilities, teaches how to move in the physical with agility, camouflage and blending with surrounding, teaches a sense of togetherness and community along with showing how to make life easy and promote serenity. Sheep instills a sense of protection and alertness with peace of mind and heart. Are you protecting yourself enough and/or remaining centred in peace? Sheep wisdom can help in understanding your place and perceptions within the scheme of things.

Having read the medicine of Sheep it is no surprising that I have encountered so many people along my journey who find comfort and peace in felt making.

I the looked up the totem medicine of Puffin:

Those with this medicine would benefit by living near large bodies of water, particularly the ocean. Without water in their immediate environment they could have difficulty finding their equilibrium in life. Because water is associated with the intuition and all things hidden those with this medicine make excellent psychics and therapists.

Puffins rely on body language to convey messages to other puffins. Puffins are masters of disguise and teach those with this totem how to disguise their true feelings and use body language to their advantage. After all actions can speak louder than words!

Through out this project I have had the 'All About Eve' song 'Martha's Harbour' repeatedly playing in my mind. I'm not sure where it came from a I have not listened to 'All About Eve ' in more than 15 years, but it feels right. One of the meanings attributed to the name 'Nina' is 'goddess of the ocean'. So for now, Nina is my ocean wave lapping over our feet on the Welsh Island shores and can be seen with our feet in the beach photographs above.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Preparation for felt - steps 3, 4, 5 & 6

Step 3 - Wet felting

(My daughters helping hands)

Step 4 - Felting the feet

(preparing my fiances feet)

Step 5 - Walking

(finding wool along the way)

Step 6 - Taking off the feet, hanging them out to dry

(Improvising - We could not find any pegs in Amlwch!)

The lining of my boots are 100% wool. The plastic bags that I
wrapped my feet in split and I found that the feet felt had felted
to the inner lining of the boots. It took a bit of prising apart!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Preparation for felt - step 2

All of the colours looked really vibrant in their dye pots this morning. When squeezed out, the green from the spinach all but disappeared. The beetroot held its colour a bit better but the depth of colour was lost. The turmeric held out really well, even after rinsing. Maybe, ground particles lend themselves better to the dying proess than boiled root vegetales.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Preparations for felt - step 1

So tomorrow I go to Wales to visit my grandparents. I've really been looking forward to it and have decided to do my feet felt kit there with my fiance and our daughter.

In preparation we went shopping for all the unusual vegetables we could find. I live in an ethnically diverse area where shopping for chilli, doodies (long or round), Arvee, ginger, methi, corriander, yam, coconut, okra, tivdi and many other culinary delights is not only easy but cheap too. My grandad is vegetarian and makes he most delightful root vegetable pies.

I also had another motive. I wanted to have ago at dying some of the felt in preparation for making the feet felt kit. So after a morning of market shopping with the help of my 3 year old daughter, who helps me choose the most interesting shapes from the vegetables on display, I had an afternoon of trying my hand at making natural vegetable dyes.

We chose turmeric, spinach and beetroot to make the dyes for the red, yellow and green . We are going to leave them to soak overnight and hang them to dry in the morning.

I have an idea for a few arty photo's and an installation I can make with the feet felt when they are complete.

Hopefully the end results will give me something to offer to Mother Henna for her Blog Festival: Solstice Hero Dance, Light on Shadow.

To find out more bout how you can participate please click on the following link: