Tuesday, January 02, 2007

My Art Story

Settle in, get a cuppa if you like - I have a feeling this may take a little while; alternatively you could click back and visit someone else's blog. I should not presume you want to take, or have, the time to read...

I can not remember a time in my life when I did not create. In my spare room there are tapestries I completed as a primary school student. In the suitcase of dolls clothes I keep still - for visiting children of course - there are clothes and blankies I stitched 30 years ago.

My mother taught me to embroider, to tapestry, to knit (still not good at that one) and to arrange flowers. At school I learnt cake decorating, to crochet and to sew. Later in life I learnt patchwork, applique and to make dough roses. Who would have thought anyone could spent hours making roses from 2mm wide to 20mm wide out of a mix they made themselves (it even had white bread in it)? I have recieved many compliments and a few awards for my craft.

I enjoyed all of these accomplishments, really enjoyed them, and yet, that is what they were - accomplishments. Oh yes, I would spend hours with graph paper designing my own cross stitch patterns or patchwork pieces - but the focus was always on how it would look in the end. Sometimes, I admit for others compliments, mostly for me - but always the focus was product and process, never my heart, my soul ...

In 2000 I suffered a complete mental and physical break down, no secret, but a story I like to tell face-to-face. Suffice to say my whole being hurt - my heart, my soul and my body. And yet, in this time I felt led to go to a wire workshop being led by an amazing wire artist, Tanya Colby. I asked a friend to go and we spent a full day playing with wire. I think we made a Christmas decoration and a bowl or vase. Tanya at that time made mostly bowls. I don't actually remember.

What I do remember is loving the feel of the wire in my hands.

I am a farm girl and wire makes fences - it controls and restricts. It is hard, especially when you are fencing in the rain on a cold winters day. I can't tell you how many times I have cut myself with wire - I can tell you it stings. Wire is incredibly heavy when you are pulling 500m of it down a fence line in the wind. And yet wire was calling to me.

I went home and raided my supplies, tie wire (kindly supplied by Dad for any gardening jobs) and wire cutters. A quick trip to Bunnings and then I sat, at my regular desk. The desk where I prepared and marked my school work - and I let my fingers talk. An angel seems such a cliche'd form to make, but I truly believed I was alive as a result of angels and that I would continue to live with the help of angels. Heavenly angels and Earthly 'friend' angels. I poured all my grief and hope into this little angel (about 30cm tall). I molded and twisted, squeezed and stretched that wire - until she emerged. When I had finished I was surprised by her beauty and form - they were not planned, they were consequences of the message and messenger. She came from within.

6 1/2 years on the halo is a little wonky and she gets a little less symmetrical each year, but she is a symbol of hope and of the beginning of my art journey. Oddly, she has had a special place in my home for years and never received a comment (something I had not really noticed) and then in December two first time visitors praised her within days of each other. Oh how my heart sung. Perhaps the timing was right. I am feeling 'normal' for the first time in six or seven years, and I am finding my art pulling me back to wire.


Anonymous said...

That is a lovely story. Thank you for sharing it with us. I think the angel is beautiful....no matter if you do think she's a bit wonky. I think creating is a good way to heal the soul and what better thing to create than an angel to watch over you.

kelly w said...

I was lucky enough to see this beauty in "real" life - and she is totally beautiful - I think more so now Julie for the beautiful way in which you tell her story.

I for one cannot wait to see where your desire to play with wire again leads - keep me posted,


Anonymous said...

Hi Julie

You are one of the most talented people I know. You can turn your hand to lots of different styles/crafts and you do them all so well. I think your angel is very special and looks stunning in these pictures. LIke Janet said, art is such a good way to heal the soul. Take care and thanks for sharing. Natxx

Anonymous said...

I am a farm girl and wire makes fences - it controls and restricts. It is hard, especially when you are fencing in the rain on a cold winters day.

reminds me of James true freedom is found in boundaries.

Anonymous said...


I loved reading every single word of this post. You write so eloquently and directly from your heart. And I always feel transported by your words and are left with another insight into your beautiful, and sensitive soul.

Thankyou for sharing your art journey. And what has led you to the person, and artist, you are today.

I related to the following words:

"but always the focus was product and process, never my heart, my soul ..."

As I used to be like that too.

Have often wondered what led you to doing the beautiful work with wire and other metals.I am always astounded by how you are able to twist, and curl and bring your creations into life.

I agree with Nat that you are one of the most talented people I know. Every time I receive something from you I examine it closely and wonder at the love and talent that has gone into it.

I am sorry you went through such a tough time in 2000(which I know is an understatement). But am pleased it lead to a different way of creating for you. Your art is amazing Julie, and has so much depth and feeling. It sounds like this crisis set you free on a creative level (if that makes sense). You certainly create with your heart and soul now.

The little angel is divine, and such a beautiful expression of your spirituality and art.

It is interesting (and affirming) that 2 visitors have commented on your angel recently. And a amazing expression of synchronicity as you are feeling 'normal' again.

You are a very special person Julie.

Much love

Dotee xoxo

Lisa said...

I knew she was special before reading a word. Thank you for sharing this story. You're such a special person and I just love you and your angel.

Julie H said...

Thank you so much, there is some risk in putting your heart on this page - and yet you all make me feel safe.

Dotee, I am grateful for the breakdown - it freed me of so much and taught me so much about what is important. You were so right in saying it was freeing.

One Crabapple said...

I ran and got a cuppa from the breakroom as soon as you asked...

I noted the above post of your angel before I had read this entry....explaining it's beauty and symbolism.

This was so touching.

I get it ! I love it.

I am so happy for you - I have wondered how you are feeling. This is good news and my heart lifts up with yours at reading it.

(slurp::: gulp - my cuppa)
Let me ask you

WHERE are pictures of these treasures you speak of ?
A suitcase of doll clothes ?
Can I dare to hope for a future post of these lovlies ?
(These "accomplishments" ?)

And I wanna know how to make dough roses !

Back to wire now....(sipp sippppp)...
I saw a wonderful sculpture in Santa Barbara once...
Three horse heads , chests...out of chicken wire.
it completely fascinated me and I always wished to experiment with wire and create something so beautiful

I tried squishing some around that I had for the garden (deer you remember....) and man ! that stuff is hard to shape and mold ! You have to be STRONG and patient....

Sounds very much like an Aussie Artist I know....

I am looking forward to your wonderful wire art.

Much Love, S.

Julie H said...

Oh Sandy thank you x 1000. One day I do believe you and I will sit with a large pot of tea/coffee/hot chocolate and we will Talk.

You are a treasure!