To transmit a feeling of joy in difficult times and to remind us of the feeling of possibilities and magic. Painting for me is always accompanied by music and this one is named after a beautiful joyful piece of music by South African jazz pianist and composer Bheki Mseleku and played by my friends, the amazing Hexagonal. ❤
I was in the physically-distanced queue for the post office today, sending some paintings to the States, (luckily people are still buying my work,) when I realised someone was standing right next to me. Surprised, I turned around to see the old lady who lives next door. I was surprised, not least because I thought she would be stringent about ‘the rules’ about 2 metres, and I was actually delighted to see an old Tory lady deliberately breaking the ‘rules’ of the new abnormal. She said she had to get back home to pay the gardener and didn’t have time to wait in the queue and asked if I would pick up a copy of the Telegraph for her. I said that of course I would. I sensed that I was the first person she had stood close to for a long time and that just my proximity was fulfilling a basic human need. When I dropped the newspaper off to her, I realised how starved she was of conversation and I duly stood there and let her go off on a tirade of how much she hated the lockdown, how exhausted she was because of simply doing nothing, how sad, lonely and unhappy she was. I told her she was always welcome to come and have a coffee in the garden with us, and commiserated with her. Normally she attends all kinds of groups and clubs and talks. Now all she has is the Telegraph.
I find that I will do anything for anyone at the moment. I will leave bags of organic veg outside my vulnerable friends’ door. Kindness actually gives us endorphins, and so to give is a kindness to ourselves as well. What is so strange is that my friends, one of whom is battling cancer, are struggling on their own, and their friends are unable to see them, to support them in their darkest hour. It is so utterly counter-intuitive. I want to hug them, to show I care, to touch and talk with them.
I will go on walks with anyone who wants my company. Yesterday I crashed my daughter’s ‘distanced’ picnic in the park just to hang out with two young people for a while. We laughed as instead of hugs, I did a sort of hybrid ‘namaste’ bow.
I miss…. everything. Just everything without guilt or constant fear of judgement, or self consciousness about how to behave. I realise how sociable I really am, when I had thought I was some sort of semi-hermit. I miss the joy of big groups of friends laughing and chatting. I have a sense that there is a tipping point coming.
The past few days I have walked with my sister and picked elderflower to make elderflower champagne and drank turmeric sun tea. I hugged a tree grown from a pine cone from the Garden of Gethsemane in Battle church yard. I went to see my Mum and she simply said, ‘It’s so lovely just to talk isn’t it?’ as we sat on her garden swing chair and she regaled me with stories about the neighbours.
12th September – 19th September 2020
Painting Our Archetypes. A week-long painting retreat in a beautiful Spanish house with art studio in Orgiva, Las Alpujarras mountains in southern Spain. We will be exploring Jungian archetypes through painting, writing and guided meditations. This retreat will be self-catered. All materials, art tuition by me, art supplies and lodging with lovely bedrooms will be provided. There is a large roof terrace, several double bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and comfortable living room. All art tuition, a guided acequia walk with author Chris Stewart, (Driving Over Lemons) and tours of some of the beautiful white mountain villages, natural springs and waterfalls with me will be included in the cost. Cost is £850 (GBP) per person payable via Paypal or bank transfer. A refundable deposit of £200 (GBP) is payable prior to the retreat. To secure your place please email me: email@example.com or use the contact form above. Flights and insurance are not included. I can arrange for transfers to and from the townhouse at additional cost. I have two or three places left.
Clearly, this is all contingent upon open borders, but things are looking very hopeful and if you would like to join us and be on my list of possibilities, please get in touch. I would love to hear from you!
More details about my art retreats are here: http://www.art-retreat-spain.com
And my art work here: http://www.alicemason.net
I came across this brilliant essay last night and it articulates everything I have been trying to convey the past few months…..
‘The whole phrase “right-wing conspiracy theorist” is a bit odd, since traditionally it is the Left that has been most alert to the proclivity of the powerful to abuse their power. Traditionally, it is the Left that is suspicious of corporate interests, that urges us to “question authority,” and that has in fact been the main victim of government infiltration and surveillance.
Fifty years ago, if anyone said, “There is a secret program called COINTELPRO that is spying on civil rights groups and sowing division within them with poison pen letters and fabricated rumors,” that would have been a conspiracy theory by today’s standards. The same, 25 years ago, with, “There is a secret program in which the CIA facilitates narcotics sales into American inner cities and uses the money to fund right-wing paramilitaries in Central America.”
The same with government infiltration of environmental groups and peace activists starting in the 1980s. Or more recently, the infiltration of the Standing Rock movement. Or the real estate industry’s decades-long conspiracy to redline neighborhoods to keep black people out. Given this history, why all of a sudden is it the Left urging everyone to trust “the Man” — to trust the pronouncements of the pharmaceutical companies and pharma-funded organizations like the CDC and WHO?
Why is skepticism towards these institutions labeled “right wing”? It isn’t as if only the privileged are “inconvenienced” by lockdown. It is devastating the lives of tens or hundreds of millions of the global precariat. The UN World Food Program is warning that by the end of the year, 260 million people will face starvation. Most are black and brown people in Africa and South Asia. One might argue that to restrict the debate to epidemiological questions of mortality is itself a privileged stance that erases the suffering of those who are most marginalized to begin with.’
Full essay here:
B and I spent the afternoon together in her new home and then walked to the sea as the evening light enticed us. It was a day made all the more special because I haven’t seen her for over two months, and normally we see each other at least once a week. Normally we hug and kiss hello, but we didn’t. I love Bernie because she makes me laugh and we see absurdity in so much and say outrageous things to each other, knowing that we share a love of the absurd and darkly comic. Also she is so empathic, and loving but has this tough south London side, and she sort of sparkles. She always says my family are like something from Howard’s End, which I find so endearing.
The atmosphere in Hastings felt lighter. It made us sad to see the pubs all shut as normally on an evening like that they would be heaving. They were like ghost ships. Some fish and chip shops were open and people were standing outside in civilised distanced manner waiting to order. People seemed happy. Small gatherings of families were on the beach enjoying a brave evening swim in the shimmering sea. It was so rarefied and like a cloak of silky mercury.
I am so grateful that I have been in the UK during this time with so much more relative freedom. My friend Dr William Bird has been advising the government on physical activity during this pandemic and I am so grateful for his voice of reason. And yet, still people are up in arms about people visiting the beach even though it is the safest place and so very easy to sit at safe distance. It is simply unbelievable how easily people have descended into fear, blame and finger-pointing. Trying to keep the faith that we will come through this in eventual calm and love.
With so much more time on our hands, and now the opportunity to see others, with ‘social distancing’ in place, I took my mother to see my Dad’s gravestone in Northiam, a village a few miles beyond Rye. My Mum has bravely navigated this strange dystopian scene with her usual strength and independence, although she admits to being bored a lot, as she can’t go to her archeology or poetry groups, but she still works on her pottery. At 80, she is an incredible woman, and has lived an amazing life. She has been a viticulturist, a vintner, a shepherdess, a small-holder, a fruit tree planter, a tree warden, a woodswoman, a teacher, a mother of four, renovator of French houses (with my Dad,) a jazz and classical pianist, a singer, (madrigals, choirs, opera) and is now a mad potter. She speaks several languages, reads Zola in French and makes strange cakes with zero fat in them, and always containing ginger, which I actually love, and writes poetry. She always asks if she can read me her latest poem, which I always indulge her in, as they are funny, sweet and pretty clever. She has a great sense of fun, could swim the channel, has a beautiful speaking voice and is hilariously funny, and she makes me laugh so much, and she never minds if I laugh at her poems, because she knows they are a little odd. She loves to reminisce about her first kiss and her first loves.
When my beautiful Dad was alive, they were inseparable, and had a wonderful relationship, but she lost him when they were only 55, and she went a bit off the rails afterwards. She channeled everything into learning jazz piano. Already an accomplished pianist, she was determined to master jazz, and joined a jazz workshop and immediately fell in love with the main leader of the workshop, a charismatic and strange man, who was a brilliant sax player and who took a lot of drugs. Mum started hanging out with some strange dudes and even built a jacuzzi in her basement, because she fancied all the jazz dudes and we teased her that she wanted to entice them all into the jacuzzi. She built it and then promptly sold the house. She and my Dad moved house so many times, and even moved countries three times, I have lost count how many moves, but it’s no wonder I have always been so nomadic.
We got to the graveyard and it was a really beautiful and hot day. The air was so still and the greens of the trees intense. As I sat on the grass and wiped the dust from the granite of the stone, my Mum said ‘Ooh what’s that wonderful smell of flowers?’ and I said I didn’t notice, I couldn’t smell anything. The graveyard is tiny and there weren’t any flowers or even shrubs nearby. The heat of the day made it feel very languid and we wandered into the nearby field and along the path in the middle of a vast farmer’s field with some kind of crop growing. The field must have been about a quarter of a mile wide and I wanted to walk to the edge of the woods, but she said her knees weren’t up to the job, so we turned back. At which point she said she could smell the flowers again. I said I couldn’t smell anything. She said ‘It must be your perfume.’ I said I wasn’t wearing any, so I said, ‘Mum, I think it’s Dad. They say that when spirits visit you, there is a smell of flowers, and I can’t smell the flowers, so it’s Dad saying hello to you.’ Mum said she loved that thought. He loved her so much. He still does.
Available as a painting and an online painting course. To gladden the heart using colour as therapy and painting as meditation.
I’ve seen it all now. We succeeded in banning plastic straws a few months ago, and today I saw something on social media called The Cuddle Curtain. It was a huge sheet of plastic with two sets of arm ‘condoms’ which two people having a hug could stand either side of and ‘hug’ each other, sheathed in plastic. This world will be entirely awash in plastic, due to all the masks, gloves, PPE, etc. I personally am aghast that someone could think a ‘cuddle curtain’ would be something to celebrate. Plastic is the virus on the planet.
There is something happening. The clarity of mind that comes from a deep connection to the land where I live. With so few distractions or rushing, much deeper sleep and no alcohol whatsoever during this lockdown, I have come to know this part of the earth better than I have ever known anything. I walk above the sea on the cliff path and especially at high tide, when the sea is lapping against the edge of the land, I can feel a sort of fizzing in the air, and the faintest sound of bubbles. There is an acquiescence and a sort of peace. Even more in awe of nature, I can communicate with it and I can feel a fusion with it.
Is it a form of Stockholm syndrome? I understand how people can fall in love with their captors, because it is an instinct of survival. At first when my freedom was taken away, I suffered headaches and psychic pain. I knew that the only way I could heal was through giving myself up to nature. I lay down every day in the bluebell woods above the sea, away from sight, and allowed nature to soothe me, and finally understood that only Gaia could be my healer. Now the colours of flowers are brighter than ever and I stop and commune with them on my walks. I have never been any good at gardening because I always feel I need to apologise to plants if I disrupt their lives. I can plant things, and sweep, but not much more.
I still miss so much, and especially my daughter with her radiant joy, and our shared laughter and friendship. I miss us together in the back garden of the Stag and cold white wine. But wine is only a celebration for me. I have promised myself that I want to wait until there is something to celebrate before I drink it.
Today refugees crossed the channel again in a dinghy. Pett Level seems to be a favourite landing beach. There were 25 in all including a family of six. I hope they get the asylum they seek. It made me so aware of how close we are to France and how close I am to possibilities.
A Zoom meeting with my lovely friends in different countries tonight and some art and writing therapy. We talked of this dystopia we are all living in and our shared common experiences. Every week we discuss the different aspects of processing this new territory, and the one thing that unites us and that is our shared creativity. It is more vital than ever.
Without the usual distractions in life, we are being forced to confront our own existential discomfort. The little things we do in life to distract from these things are coping mechanisms. Some people are so addicted to being busy, they are for the first time ever, confronting their issues. And on top of this, the questions arise as to what is really happening. Why are healthy people being quarantined? Is there a deep state agenda? So many questions. So much time to ponder them. Little wonder some of us are picking up on the collective consciousness and unease.
May we all find peace in the deep healing that comes from true connection with nature.
A painting about transcendence. A crucible is a container or vessel which is used to melt liquids at very high temperatures. It is also a trial or difficult time from which a transcendence can occur and from which a more beautiful world can emerge.