A Taste of Spring

A Taste of Spring

A Taste of Spring by Athene Sholl 
The rain and hail has finally stopped, possibly just for a few hours – who knows? We even saw just a hint of a pink sunset last night. And the birds tweeted, very very faintly – just for a short while. Spring is on the way…
It really did feel like a sign that light was at the end of the tunnel. But of course we have still have 2 more loooooong weeks of January to get through yet. And then February – sigh. And then the weather will be up and down a million times, teasing us with hints of light and warmth. Then will come the fool’s spring, when cardigans will be cast aside, and sweaters packed away, in false hope, before winter descends again, like a shroud. To catch us all out. Then come the spring coughs and colds as the lymph changes direction and makes us all feel wrong. Rinse and repeat throughout March, and then suddenly – there we are in actual real live spring, birds singing, sun on our faces, clocks changing and we really feel alive again.
But we don’t have to wait until then – grab a slice of spring from our necklace selection. These gorgeous pieces were on display at the Coach House Gallery – and due to the gallery closing this week, (another sigh) we’ve got them lined up in the studio for you, Just when we all need a boost. Ping us a message if one takes your fancy
Athene xxx
White

White

Ok, I get it…I get it, finally! You’re not a colour, you’re all of them. Like white light – the very presence of colour. 

Always there, an amalgam of everything. 

White – Shining, clean, clear, aloof sometimes, but that’s good – maybe being at a slight distance gives us something to strive towards.  I realise now that you’re not a colour, you’re all of them, all of it. All of everything. You manage to be all things everywhere. 

Something to eat, something to drink, something to write on, something to look at, something to stick it up with, something in case you make a mistake. Love expressed through little handwritten notes.

Always making me question – like my first grown up book. Yes, but what’s it really about? Really. What’s it all about?

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. Mix them all together to get the pure, the white, you taught me that too. Or did I teach you that? The lines are blurring these days. Possibly not completely all seeing and knowing, even with the proverbial eyes in the back of the head, but what mother really is?

“They fuck you up, your mum and dad”, but then, like Jon Berger, they encourage you in your ways of seeing. Shape, mould, steer, even manage (maybe one day, god willing).

As a mother myself now, I realise this –  as in art, so in motherhood, create something, nurture it, make it whole, round it out. Manners, ethics, manners, literature, manners, humour, sense of self, manners, medieval history and socio economic development from the renaissance to the industrial revolution, manners, all those things we need to learn. And in return? You are our rainbow, all the things we actually do need, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, and how to iron a shirt. Properly. Including the sleeves.

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet = White.

Thank you for showing me the light. X x x

White Pearl Necklace. Freshwater pearls with mother of pearl. Handmade sterling silver clasp.Approx length 16″.

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The Texture of Cream

The Texture of Cream

Easy to get on with, gregarious, cream goes with everything, in any situation. On a family holiday to Disney land, out to lunch at the Peninsula, to the beach with the relatives from Ireland, for tea and cake at the park, a foil for all the other colours. 

But now I realise you’re not a colour, cream. You’re a texture. Or texture itself. The first thing that comes to mind is warmth. The depth and warmth of a sheepskin rug, the textured pattern of a cable knit, an arran sweater, heavy. Not cloying, but heavy enough to feel it’s comforting weight.  Supporting and cosseting when you need the comfort, and sometime whether you need it or not. Or perhaps when you don’t even realise you need it. Perhaps a wake up call that the warmth and the comfort are necessary? Even if we don’t want them. If you were a colour, you’d definitely be cream, but that’s only because of all the scarves, rugs and jumpers, the sheepskins. 

It’s more than the colour, it’s the texture of it. Gentle, warm, comforting, cosseting…once I thought it was too much, but now I appreciate the support – like holding space, helping me to breathe, when I didn’t even realise the space and the breath were missing. 

Maybe missing on both sides? See a need, fill a need. On both sides.

Relax and let someone in. On both sides.

This could be boiled down to one word, support. On both sides.

This hasn’t been the first of these essays to make me cry, but it has been the first of this series that I’ve written with tears streaming throughout. I told you I didn’t know what colour you were, but then I remembered, the realisation came that it’s not colour, it’s the warmth itself, the warmth.

It’s texture.

If it could be a colour it would be cream mostly. But not the fresh kind though…you can have too much of that. A love shown and expressed through food, prawns in the main.

Again, how does it take an exploration of colour to make me realise something I hadn’t noticed before about my own life, or a family member? Warmth…hugs, rugs, curtains, soft furnishings in general, all the things I generally eschew.

 

So now this one is interesting, where others inspire colour and I realise my perception of them is tied up with and selected as a colour – this one is definitely a texture. Sheepskin is too warm, too soft, too supportive, resisted for so long, deemed overly cosseting, but now the realisation that this creamy colour is more than just that, It has form. It’s woolly!

Perhaps this might be the next direction – texture?

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Pretty French Vintage Grey

Pretty French Vintage Grey

Grey – that pretty French vintage grey, worn out and comfortable. It’s everywhere, ubiquitous, very calm and the perfect foil for anything you want to put with it. 

It comes to me, sleepless in the middle of the night, in a French hotel room, That lovely Paris Grey…ahhh Annie Sloan, you found my family, you found my babies. It takes me back to those first years. There’s no colour, no sleep, tired in the middle of the night….so tired. 

So tired. 

When the light’s gone, when everything has that uniform shade of grey, you can see, but there’s no colour at all. 

So tired. 

So tired, so sleepy, feeding and falling asleep. Wanting to be so careful, they’re tiny, but you’re so tired and everything is so grey, there’s no light. 

But at the same time, it’s perfect. It’s just us. We’re safe, we’re warm, we’re together.

It’s everywhere. Pretty French vintage grey. We recognise it during the day, that colour of the night, the comfort in the fact that it is everywhere, it really is ubiquitous, it’s the colour of the “noughties”.  It’s the fashion shade de jour for interiors, it’s so familiar, like the family should be, like all this should be. Such as it is, we fall into it, it’s what we’re here for. It’s the only reason we’re here. That instinct, that feeling of creating something incredible.

If I look back, my own mother’s love for me might just as easily be wrapped up in that ghastly 70’s orange.  Arghhh, the curtains. But this is my version of motherhood, it’s about my kids, but in reality it’s not about my kids at all. It’s purely about that sense of motherhood. My perception of motherhood. It’s wrapped up in them, but it’s not them. It came about as a result of them. This level of perception, this appreciation of a shade, or shades. hitherto overlooked completely. I’d tried before of course, with the pretty French vintage grey, but I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t yet see it properly.  A Ghost V neck, didn’t much tick the boxes for the original mother, handed down to the next. Not quite right there either. Perhaps the baton should now be passed back, that colour would suit perfectly now. Would you like it back?

 

Amazing how when that perception shifts, there’s a realisation of how solid grey can be. Like the Forth bridge. Massive, Secure, Safe. Relentless even. Supportive, but all in the background, cleverly hiding it’s light under a bushel and allowing itself to act as a foil. That’s love, that’s what pretty French vintage grey is. Love.

There’s a pink one and a blue one, but I love them best in the middle of the night, when they’re both grey. When I check on them before I go to bed, when it’s just me and them – just how it started. Just a mother and a child, in the night, in the greyness, safe and warm, together. Or if I get up in the night to see if they’re ok – because I heard a noise, or had a dream, or just because. Then I check and I realise we’re all safe and warm, and grey in the dark together. Then the peace comes over me. They look like angels when they’re asleep and I remember when they were tiny. It takes me back to that knife edge between good grey and the deeper grey beneath. It’s a tightrope, to embrace the grey, but not to end up under the bell jar.

Guys, you’re not just a colour…you’re everything. I can’t distill it to a shade, a tone. It’s more than that. My life is your lives, and your lives are my life. We’re wrapped up together. We always will be, in my head, in my heart. You’ll find your own tribe later and won’t need me in the same way, but I’ll be here and I’ll be any colour you want.

Grey Necklace. Raw Sapphire, Labradorite and freshwater pearls. Handmade sterling silver clasp.Approx length 18″

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Murky Orange Rainbow?

Murky Orange Rainbow?

Murky orange rainbow? It has to start somewhere, has to come from somewhere, I suppose. 

Lining up the liquorice comfits on the dashboard was my first awareness of it – the nerdy-ness, the tiny flash of the inherited autistic streak that’s in all of us really. 

Was that the rainbow? Could you be the rainbow? 

Or are you orange? Can we have an orange rainbow? Maybe you are the muted rainbow, or my murky rainbow. You’d probably find that funny. Hopefully? 

Orange is the sunshine, the vitality, the warmth. Standing in the kitchen at 2am eating oranges was when I really felt it. The vitality and the warmth. The connection. 

Further back, it was always there. Buying me owls carved in sandstone, letting me choose an unsuitable dress with a peplum, being there, supporting. Literally and figuratively. 

But which colours? I can see some of them, mostly green and orange, I think. OMG you’ll end up being those awful curtains if we’re not careful. Let’s get a grip on this one. 

Stripey maybe? Brown and the sick jumper of course, but was that green? I’m not sure. 

The liquorice comfits were multicoloured, not really rainbows, but definitely multicoloured. Not a normal rainbow, again, I’m sure that would tickle you. A rainbow, sure, but not the normal one. What is normal, anyway? You were the first person to make me question normal. 

So, comfits, not really rainbows, but multicoloured. Fastidious comes to mind. Can you have a fastidious rainbow?  Are we really pushing it now? Maybe that’s it. Not a rainbow, but multicoloured, multifaceted. And fastidious. 

Finance, writing, fishing, water fights, alcopops, motor bikes, camping, oranges, comfits, language in general, Latin in particular (Dictum Mayum Pactum), singing, pubs, being thrown out of nightclubs, elite and pocket money. In no particular order. Variety. It’s the spice of life. Everything is in there. Everything that informs me, supported me, originally in the literal sense – now supporting me in a different fashion. Guiding, encouraging, helping to distill the essence of what should make it all tick. Coaching, questioning, constantly. Encouraging my own questioning. 

A rainbow, tied up with white, once. 

A rainbow, close to white, once. 

Like the prism, white comes in one side, the rainbow leaves through the other. Closely connected, both are constant, yet separate. Two sides of the same coin. Two complementary manifestations of the presence of light and of the amalgam of colour. Murky rainbow and white. 

To quote the murky orange rainbow, 

“Well I’m still chasing rainbows, so why shouldn’t you be? Keep chasing your rainbows, folks, it’s better than growing old.” 

The eternal Peter Pan. Educated and informed, but still Peter Pan. 

Murky rainbow on the outside, Peter Pan on the inside. 

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Work in Progress

In direct response to the original premise of the exhibition – ” Work in Progress ” , the arts being under attack in education – I’d like to make the following point. There is the old adage that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. And also the quote that “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught.” – Oscar Wilde.

I don’t think that art education has the ability to produce creativity that was not there in the first place. Of course it provides a valuable grounding in the theory and the mechanics of all facets of art, but the spark has to be there in some way, before it can be kindled. I’d love books such as John Berger’s “Ways of seeing” to be required reading in schools in the same way that ‘An Inspector Calls” is. Education in the arts can be a massive eye opener for many, but how much basic art education is necessary for those who genuinely don’t have a creative bone in their body? I feel that art education’s most valuable asset, both in schools and in tertiary education, is time. Time to think, to reflect, to produce without expectation, to mess up, in a way that other facets of education don’t posses. They are more concerned with skills and information. With art education, the nurturing of something that people very often don’t realize themselves that they have is so important. For many it’s the feeling that there is something that needs to be said, in the same way as writing, which might come after the realization that this is important to them. It might never occur to the individual that they have something worth giving or saying, it needs to be coaxed out of them, and in a society that doesn’t always value that as much as the financial benefits of other paths, that can be a struggle to find in the first place. So much can be repressed and squashed by the time we get to our teenage years, when doodling and musings have to give way to serious work. Doodling and musings ARE serious work.

I’m aware that I’ve been extremely lucky to have had the arts education that I have, through GCSE, A levels and then five years at art college. And everything I’ve learned since. Along with the support from my parents and family to spend time on what often must seem like a selfish exercise – I’m eternally grateful for my early creative education, with input from very different teachers, who variously taught me about colour -Miss Rabey, about tone and shading – Mrs Susanne White, and one who let me cut pictures out of magazines for whole double lessons, without ever saying it was a waste of time. Possibly the most valuable thing I ever learned to do. Yay for Miss Sarah Nicolle.