Wednesday, August 03, 2016


I wanted to share this image of angels  from the Pincoteca in Siena by Sano di Pietro from the Cinqua Cento- I have it as a screen saver and every morning when I open my laptop I take a moment to reflect on its serenity, its beauty and sweetness. And when I look through my recent photos whilst I was in Italy I notice that I am much taken by angels- I seem to have noticed them everywhere I went.

I came across a recent post by Sharon Boggon ( whose inspirational stitching blog I followed for many years) about a new project she is setting up about contemporary Journaling, which I shall be following with interest. And so it has lead to some of my own ruminations about journalling.

I have kept a journal in one way or another since I was about 15 and was a writer on scraps of paper before that. My children grew up journalling, whether it was words or drawing - it didn't matter. I have kept up the habit- not always consistently, sometimes I might go a week without journalling, and then I will get back to it. I even went a few years without journalling at all- mainly whilst I was at university.

And then, just before I left France, I lost my Rhodia Folder journal. I think I left it behind in the church where I was exhibiting at Forca Fil in Mane- if anyone found it I would love it back. I had started this journal  in February after buying the Rhodia folder. I love Rhodia paper- it's so beautiful and smooth to write on with a fountain pen- you barely need apply any pressure. The only paper that offers a challenge is Fabriano- and I love the ivory colour of their paper. The folder is a new product from Rhodia and it has plastic pocket inserts which were so handy for collecting all sorts of bits and bobs, and to boot I lost my new purple Lamy fountain pen. Lamy bring out a new colour every year and this years colour is purple- it's my one extravagance apart from buying lovely journals. But losing that journal has been a bit of a pain- there were so many thoughts, ruminations, ideas and lists, and reflections and descriptions in that journal, I feel as if I have lost 5 months of myself, yet I have a lot of work I made in that time which proves otherwise.

What do I love about journalling?

Well for a start a journal is shaped like a book- I love books- I like the shape of books, I like the paper in books, I like the words , the images,the smell.

I love fountain pens- indeed I particularly love Lamy fountain pens, once in my solicitor days I managed to convert a large part of the office I worked in to use Lamy fountain pens-  they are smooth to write with and draw with. But to draw I use black ink so that does necessitate another Lamy pen. I like the weight of them in my hand.

I love blank pages or dot grid pages or little squares ( which remind me of learning to write as a child)- I don't actually like lined pages at all. I like to be able to go  all over the page without being contained by lines.

I use my journal for all sorts of things- I do record my feelings sometimes, but mostly I record encounters with ideas  and places and food and museums/galleries. I use my journal to research, though if I really want to research something more intensively I will start a separate journal for that. Right now I want to research things about Italy- things I encountered, but I forgot to bring my Fabriano notebook with me - so it's had to go on the back burner for the time being because Italy needs to be explored in a Fabriano journal- nothing else will do.

I do draw in my journal- usually mono-colour and in black  if I can- again if I want to explore something in colour I tend to do that in a separate journal, but my journal also contains a lot of writing- sometimes quotes, ideas. Actually my journals contain a lot of ideas about things I am interested in.

I write recipes into my journals- and then I forget which journal I wrote them in . And I keep all sorts of bits of paper of interest in my journal- cards, tickets- but I don't paste them in- they are usually loose stuck between the pages.

I am often surprised how I will return to subject matter over a period of time- years even and when I look at my thoughts then and now- how things have changed and evolved. Sometimes you refind things that were forgotten with the passing of time, other times it's like meeting an old friend- as if there has been no intervening years.

Sometimes I write stories or beginnings of stories.

I write about books I have read.
I bought a book whilst I was at le Triadou- well actually I bought two books. Letters to a Young Poet  by Rainer Maria Rilke... I wish I could write such letters and how times have changed that we don't write such letters. They are a exploration of his own work , his ruminations on his subject matter, even though he is addressing a young poet. And then such delight to walk the path he walked in Duino several months later.

The other book I bought was Six Drawing Lessons by William Kentridge. I have  been admiring Kentridge's work from afar and bought the book for greater insight ( more of his books will find my shelf no doubt)  as I liked how his ideas worked and the thoughts he put into his work- it's a long and erudite tale. I like how he draws on philosophy, on ideas of others and I even encountered Rilke in the pages of his six lectures on Drawing for Harvard University. Then imagine my unutterable delight to be able to experience some of his work in Milan- I only found there was an exhibition of his work whilst checking a website for things to do in Milan). I wrote about all these things in my lost Rhodia journal. But what surprises me even more, that ,walking the Rilke path in Duino and visiting Kentridge's work in Milan were both unplanned things- things that I only found out about  the minute they were upon me- and I wrote about how strange and serendipitous the universe can be, how these encounters turn up in my life without expecting them to and yet they somehow connect  what I am thinking and trying to understand.

 And so  whilst trying out my new Fude pen which arrived on the same day as the William Kentridge book- the two things are combined somehow, and I am trying to get to the centre of  banksias

And there you have it Rilke and Kentridge on the same page!

And then recent ruminations on Aussie bush-I am trying to feel it not only see it- I want to understand its myths, the people who have written about it. I want to create the  Aussie bush in all its weirdness and wonder- there is no other wilderness like it in the world.

So this ramble is a little of how my journals actually are- a place to explore, discover, test, think, create ideas- and the slowness of the actual writing or drawing creates somehow greater reflection, and your brain has time to evolve  the ideas, because the slowness of your hand dictates the exploration - much like stitching really.


sharonb said...

Your last sentence has given me much food for thought "the slowness of the actual writing or drawing creates somehow greater reflection, and your brain has time to evolve the ideas, because the slowness of your hand dictates the exploration - much like stitching really."
I have felt the slowness- what I call processing time - connected with a journal but I had not made the link between the slowness of stitching and slowness of hand writing/drawing. As I read it I had a ah ha! moment thanks - and thanks for the spreading the word about the relaunch of in a minute ago as a journaling site

Andy Lloyd Williams said...

Your post on journals is really fascinating and very helpful: thank you. It also links up with your last blog on the tree. I am currently working on a challenge for Bath Quilters when we have to make four small items :. The four seasons. I am making four ring binder covers (A5) They all have the same shaped tree on a landscape quilted background. Obviously the trees are through the seasons and I wondered what on earth will I use them for . Now I know :- journals! Thank you.

Dijanne Cevaal said...

Sharon glad you thought that connection between writing and stitching was an aha moment- I have been making the connection for some time- it's also lead me to do more hand stitching than I thought I ever would- I love that stitches are in a way abstract marks yet have the power of telling a story.

Margaret Cooter said...

Commiserations on the loss of your journal - it really is like losing months out of your life (I lost a journal when I was mugged years ago, and mourn it still).
And thanks for the heads-up on the Wm Kentridge book, that's definitely on my list - he's high on my list of favourite artists, for all sorts of reasons.