kat robertson artist

Holding Back the Tide.

(Every month I participate in the Treesister’s wonderful, nourishing, Full Moon Calls and journal the experience. Sometimes I share the experience here too.)

So,this is the last of this six week cycle.

Belong. Belonging to Life.

I have put off sharing this as I could not work out how best to make this post.

I think this may be the last of these Full Moon shares for a while.

In drifting away from the screen the way I am called to, I am drifting away too from all online connections.

I will still be meditating every Full Moon, but am curious now in ‘loosing the narrative’.
Hopefully those ‘unguided’ meditations will also inspire creation!

Head has been too hungry for information and full of searching possibilities to be able to make art these last few months.
Trying to make some kind of sense of it all and failing miserably.

This drawing broke a period of crushing ‘artist’s block’.
A weird kind.
Too many inspirations. Mind like rapids.
In a state of constant inspiration.
Never starting anything.
Never finishing anything.
Podcasts, drama, radio constantly on.
Repeatedly triggered.
Very distracted.
Fascinated and horrified by these times in equal measure.
Watching it all play out and, at the same time, come closer.
Sometimes obsessing about the way that, as a wave goes out, there is a crossover point, and that is when the gravel hisses.
An emotional gyroscope.
Meditation an essential coping mechanism, that I am not always doing.

Doing this drawing helped.

I have not yet, fully understood, what this pencil drawing, inspired by the guided meditation, speaks to me.
It is still landing.

This is an attempt to share one ‘still’ image that arose during the meditation.
One that stayed with me days later.
One that called to be drawn out.

It arrived as an intuitively, evolving, work.
A combination of ink-jet print and pencil.

Interesting, that it is a picture of a ‘blockage’ ……. the figure seemed very peaceful…..

I call it ‘Holding Back the Tide.’

kat robertson artist
‘Holding Back the Tide’

From notes 24/6/21:

“Full Strawberry Moon.
Solstice Moon.

Embrace the World.

Sandy soil giving way to pure sand. Mediterranean? Pines in a beach edge.
Deep dappled shade.
River estuary to my right through the trees.
Ahead a clear, straight, HORIZON.
Relcutant to leave the shade.
No shade at the edge of the sandy estuary.
Stepping into the punishing glare.
Leaving one way tracks across the silty sand.
Stepping into the river.
Fresh and Salty.
Brine.
Floating down stream, then stopped from going ‘all out to sea’, caught in a basket-shaped, natural, ‘harbour’ of water-bleached, smooth, river-drifted, wood.
Gently held by those broken limbs.

Reminded again of ‘Debris’. (A character I wove in 1992, for my peculiar degree show, who still haunts me somehow.)

Back to floating.
In the calmer water behind this wooden ‘pocket’.
The rest of the river continues to roar past alongside.
Important not to let myself be caught in its pull.

Very aware of Air and Water.
Supported by the sky above and the briney water below.
Exploring the air and water within my own body.

Kind of dissolved. Like salt.

Looking straight up at the ever-changing sky.

Clouds.

My breath joining them, creating more clouds.


Sandwiched between Sky and Water.

Bridging Water and Sky.”



Tides, washing up and flotsam, jetsam.
White sprays tinged with grey and floating matter, all too ready to latch onto the back of her brain.
Vultures disguised as gulls, snap and scream, waiting for the water’s waste to choke her up completely, then to swoop and gnaw.
Sneakily paranoid of their intentions.
Rocking in a sea-like motion, (narrator rocks) sailing her old memories and collecting all the junk, clogging up her veins.

Debris.

Debris crying salty tears for the beautiful ocean she remembers, now a solid field of left behinds and waste.”

(extract from ‘Spook’ : performance by Kat Robertson. 1992)



Going Nuts!

I hang peanuts to help feed all ‘our’ small birds.
They are nesting now in the hedges we have planted.
Never had so many birds.
More and more species come each year as the trees and hedges become more established.
Certainly appears to be supporting this growing biodiversity.

But is it really? Perhaps this too is an illusion?

The woodpecker comes and he’s weakened the wires of the feeder.
The squirrel comes and he’s chewed a neat, ‘peanut at a time’, hole.
It worked for while.
Then the crow family, attracted by the nuts falling on the ground, piled in and tore the feeder apart.

The feeder became a spikey, sharp, hazard for all who visited it.
It spilled its contents all over the grass.

I worried about those sharp, spikey, wires.
I worried about all those whole nuts, the possibility of baby chicks choking on them, so I took it down.

As I took it apart to recycle I thought what a horrible thing it was!

And wondered, not for the first time, why I am feeding them peanuts anyway?
Beginning to see these non-natives as foreign, ‘junk’ food.
Somewhere far away, is there now a shortage of peanuts/protein? Prehaps a devastating mono-crop?
As they grow and export their produce for our simple, well intended, pleasure?

———————————————

Why do I feed them? Because I love to see them all.
Because I like to think I am helping.

But do I do it for me, or for them?

———————————————

Unthinking, but full of good intentions, I bought a squirrel-proof, bird-nut, feeder, through Amazon.
And a special squirrel feeder, with a flip top lid.

I set them up.

———————————————-

The squirrel still gets in the bird feeder.
Ignoring the ‘kinder’ alternative.
A little, wirey, red.
It is a hard time of year for them, between buds and berries.

Sometimes we see mice in there too, now they have handy shelf to stand on.

It was fun watching the smaller birds work it out.
Some were quicker than others.
It did not take any of them very long, after much tipping of heads and beady eyeing.

The squirrel box is being used by something else, at night.
A creature that uses it in a way that leaves the lid open.
So all the nuts all get wet in the rain.
The crows come and throw them all around.

———————————————

So the nuts are still spilling out on the ground.
Just around the base of the squirrel feeder now.

———————————————

Typical.

Feeling foolish.

So often we think we are helping, when, in reality, we are just adding layers of dangerous complexity, dependancy even.
And ignoring the hidden layers and layers of OIL, in the farming, manufacture, distribution and transportation of bird foods and feeders.
I wonder how many rotting foods hang in untended feeders like these? Poised to poison?
How many metal/plastic, broken feeders end up in landfill?


‘Feeders’. Dwellling on that word.


Oh well. It’s here now.
No point in not using the nuts I already have, but prehaps it’s time to look into alternatives?


Perhaps I do not need to set such ‘bait’ to lure them closer to our ‘cage’?
Ugly, isn’t it?
If I stop feeding I will just have to learn to look for them in a different way.
They will still be here!
Apparently it is only ever a small percentage of bird population that even comes to our feeding stations.
RSPB and ‘Pets At Home’ continue to insist it is important to support our garden visitors and to sell these.
I have been feeding nuts, all year, for years now.
Internet searches suggest that birds will simply seek out other feeders if you stop feeding.
I wonder if that would be true here?

Ours are the only feeders for a few miles around.


In the beginning there were few birds that came, as there was no natural cover here.
The cover I planted has now grown.
Our hillside plot now full of levels of Life.
Are they really now dependant on us?


The unmowed meadow grass-seed will harden soon.

That swathe must house a host of living foods.

So full of insects and caterpillers.

The bramble blossom buds are ripening.

We will have nuts on our young hazels this year.

And some berries will come on the hawthorn, rowan and elder.

There are so many slugs and snails. (No carrots this year. Destroyed.)


Seeing a lot more mice around the house perimeter, since loosing our beloved Sprocket dog and old, old, Bobkin cat.
This ready supply of nuts will not be helping to keep them away from our house!
Thinking about getting another terrier.
To discourage them.
(Also to keep the deer out of the garden.
The deer that ringed a few of our maturing trees this year.)

But then, of course, I will see a lot less wildlife on my walks again!
And I am still reluctant to rejoin that aspect of the ‘pet food’ industry.
Our only source of fresh bones/scraps closed down a few years ago ….

All in the Balance ……….


(Perhaps this feeder would make a nice light? It is quite well constructed!)




UPDATE: I cut off the damaged parts of the old feeders and simply made them shorter. In one I cut a neat ‘one peanut’ hole and placed it so the squirrel can stand on the ‘platform’ and pick them out. I have completely removed the squirrel box, intending to remove it’s plastic ‘window’ and convert it into a nesting box. All seem happy and there is a lot less waste this way. Those feeders now, temporarily, ‘saved’ from land fill. Playing around with a few simple designs for nut-feeders that do not use plastic. Unable to think up an alternative for the metal grill as yet.
I have seen a stunning Jay visit a few times recently. I wonder if he/she was the ‘clever’, yet destructive, visitor to the squirrel box? Seems likely. The Jay and other clever corvoids.

The sparrow hawk now, again, has free’er’ access again to his prey.

As if to reinforce my thinking, on my last visit to the dump, I spied an, almost brand new, bird-ball feeder in the skip. I fished that out.

Still unsure how to proceed. Rescuing, refurbishing feeders? Making/designing eco-feeders?
But huge problems remain, for me, in what we are feeding these, our visiting and native birds.
The whole industry of ‘bird food’.

Prehaps a simple return to feeding only our scraps on a large bird-table is the answer after all?
Simply sharing our food.

But then I must carefully consider salt and sugar, additives and mould ……

So many layers of human impact in this simple act.

Ongoing …….

Landrover lichen.

When I think of Resilience, lichens nearly always pop up in my mind.
They exist in abundance here, in many fascinating forms.
I feel a peculiar kinship with them.
Their extraordinary symbiosis, this living partnership, half algae/half fungii.
Their ability to exist independently, most lichens taking nothing from their hosts.
Their ‘hold-fast’, anchoring, evolution.
Seeking height and Light.
Their need for fresh, clear, Air.
How they dehydrate, play dead, then spring to Life again at the slightest rise in humidity.
How responsive and sensitive they are to their environment.

There is a strange co-existance of ‘scrap metal recycling and mending motor repairs’ and ‘devotion to Life/Nature and rewilding’ going on here too.
In our male/female, rural, partnership.
On our two, adjacent, plots.
Both just surviving, hanging on, as best we can, deep in this countryside.
As I potter, devoted, in our, increasingly, wild garden, my Peace is often disrupted by engine sounds, the hammering of metal on metal and loud music. Hardly the retreat I’d envisioned!
‘Keep your enemies closer’ I sometimes quip.

But his yard can also be a revelationary habitat all its own.

It is actually considerable work for ‘my mechanical man’ to keep the Nature OUT of his, more industrial zone, here.
Surrounded on all sides by bracken and briar.
He does not use pesticides, the strimmer his preferred weapon of choice. (I prefer a sythe.)

And the truth is I often see beautiful examples of Resilience and ‘nature’s take-over’ in his yard.

The briar rose I planted here, that is slowly re-seeding more widely now, was originally rescued from the tyre tread of one old landrover!

And then, recently, I spotted this Beauty, improbably growing on a customer’s vehicle.

Luckily the owner appreciates it too.
This vehicle had been left standing for a while before he bought it. In France!
This lichen grew on it in another country!!
It did not sound like he is going to purposefully remove it either, rather just observing how it fares, as he uses it locally for his ‘forest’ work.
It looks dry now, but the landrover will be parked outside, not undercover, so is likely to come to life again.

We chatted re-spider’s webs on wing mirrors that have accompanied us on long journeys. (I had a spider that came with us on a 1000 mile round trip from here to Essex once!)

Earth is OK. Nature will triumph in the end.
Our human impact is drastic and concerning, but over all it is our future ability to Balance our future with this planet’s health that obsesses me now.

I experience a kind of Hope in this ‘encounter’.
Something to learn from it.
It inspires emotions similar to the, now often shared, images of humble dandelions growing through concrete.
Of weeds pushing through pavements.

The ‘ghost’ of a previous sticker on the side of his land rover made me smile.

‘ONE LIFE. LIVE IT.’

This lichen must have read it!

kat robertson artist

June mandalas.

Making mandalas is work for lovely work for rainy days……

Piano seat (with sweet peas!)

I have been enjoying time ‘playing’ outside, on the patio I have now extended, away from the ticks, in the sun, building things.
Using up some of the ‘old wood’ pile and, of course, the bits of old piano!

I constructed a sunbed/bench out of an old pallette.

This is what became of our old piano in the end!
A garden piano seat!
It makes a great ‘wind break’ too.
Although very heavy, it can be rolled, on its original wheels, and repositioned around the patio.

It turned out to be a bit too long a job to seperate the metal frame along with the strings, from the frame.
(I had originally imagined a kind of ‘wind harp’.)
So I built a bench seat with a kind of planter on one side and am trying out training sweet peas up the strings!
Hopefully a scented living wall by the end of summer (if the peas don’t pull away the vibration of the strings? We’ll see!).

I love this kind of free, organic, ‘building’.
Not being too precious about things.
Banging in recycled, rusty, nails and ex-piano screws/fittings, as required.

A dowel to hang a teatowel on.
The top opens up to create a wider ‘bar’.
Hooks on either side ….

I will probably just keep adding to it, as inspired.

It definitely needs more plants.
And I’m just going to let the Elements remove the all the varnish for me!
It is already peeling off nicely.

Then. maybe, give it a bit of a, ‘use-up-old’, paint job.

Still working out what to do with the mechanism and a bucket full of keys …… some plans brewing …..

Like my head at the moment.

Lots of keys.

But none seem to fit the lock.

Heart-Light Glow/Full Flower Moon: Partial Eclipse

(Every month I participate in the Treesister’s wonderful, nourishing, Full Moon Calls and journal the experience. This month my response was more visual!)

This month we were guided to ask ourselves if we were giving from empty?
It does feel like that sometimes.
And then asked if we could fill up enough to give?
To Connect, become Open and Breathe in the Love.

What part of me is needing Love?

The part of me that does not know she is loved.
The part of me I, frankly, do not Love.
A part of me that has become so wizened and hardened, like a nut.
She is difficult to prise open.
Probably rotten inside anyhow.
The part of me I find unloveable.
Undeserving of my Love.
The part with no self discipline, the lazy, self-sabotaging, self.
The part of me that does not Love itself.
And hides in it’s tough shell.
Pushing all Love away.

I can see ‘her’ now , as a cartoon figure.
Overweight, mis-shapen, slouching, bad teeth, thick glasses, cracked feet.
A fag hanging off her bottom lip. Yellowed fingers, purple skin.
An ugly, crying, needy, face.

How to embrace our short comings, our weaker selves?
Do we forgive them? Explain them, make excuses for them? Tell their story? Attempt to understand them?

Those parts of ourselves we’d rather not meet.

I said ‘Hello.’

‘She’ did not reply.

Just pretended not to hear me and blew smoke/ink in my face, obviously willing me to try again.

I was not in the mood for those games.

I moved on past.

The meditation guided us in to our Hearts.
Into our Heartbeat.
Such an incredible organ.

Recieving and Giving. Recieving and Giving.
24/7.

As I listened, I ‘saw’ an image of naked women, appearing like sea creatures, curled up in child’s pose, faces to the ground? Floating in dark matter cosmos? All with glowing, changing, skin. Skin covered in chromatophores. Like a squid or octupus. Pulsing light, in unison, in the dark. As they pulsed, a mysterious, network below them pulsed Life, thier Love Energy, all through the forest floor.

I decided to try and work with this ‘vision’ and see what happened!

I set out thinking it was going to be a pen and ink drawing …. it evolved into some rather strange, digital art experiments, which bear little resemblance to the original ‘vision’!

Like ‘sketches’ for part of a performance? Sci-fi illustrations?

Here are some of the images that resulted.

Heart-Light Glow

dandelion clock as background?
kat robertson artist
kat robertson artist

When the Yellow is on the Broom.

This is the first year that this transplanted broom has flowered like this!

Dazzling in this fine spell of weather.
(Is it just me or is the sunlight somehow drier and more intense these days? Feels tropical. Perhaps we will get more dry months like this, here on the West Coast of Scotland, as the Gulf Stream drifts and shifts ….)

Could not resist making a mandala.

Such summery JOY!

Check out the accidental ‘bee’ in the crop detail!
Can you see it?

Within this Frame of Gold.

Reminded of a poem I wrote years ago.

I have shared before, re-edited. It is buried somewhere in this ‘rolling om’.

This was the original, raw, version.

Back when I was an ‘automatic writing’ purist.

Never edit. The rule.

Take the first words, even if they do not make sense.

Let it flow.


It suprised me.



Within This Frame of Gold

Going, gorn and wasting

Everything.

Jealousy of nobody, but wearing all the wrong gear.

Clambering aimlessly toward a gaping sun in noisy abandon.

Slowly winding up the painted sky and screaming dreams of nothing.

Teeth and toes in constant turmoil, struggling with words, and sand, that stick, like saliva, to my soul.

Raining thunder and gold, the open fire cackles.

Calling children and piling paper to throw away the chewed pencil ends of culture to the waiting bird, a-preying,

Floating from the earth and carrying our limitations away to fester in the jaws of snails.

Bodies fumble, boneless, in the snake infested grass.

Sneezing quickly, gunning down the possibilities.

With the heads of tortoises they pulled in their hearts and listened only to their greed.

Trees wailed as the scar tissue grew and we picked up our spears and clubs for war.

In everyone there is an Indian, exhausted from the battle,

That screaming at the reptile skulls, ignored and angry,

will sit down and drown their own identity.

Heavy lids and worn out actions.

Golden winds and shimmering heat of winding, brick-like beating.

Mind and torso in clambering war dance.

Smelling of tannin and leaping in joy.

Rings and pockets full of envy

Green with jealousy and slow poison.

Why, when ships can pace an ocean, do the smiling reptiles seed to destroy that voting freedom?

Then plugging into mothering, feeling only sadness in the core of woven fabrics.

Oh to be an Indian in this society,

True to cyclic winds and calling,

Slowly grimacing at this torture.

The spearing, grasping, destroying,


All within this frame of gold.

Kat Robertson. 1991.

And, on the theme of ‘gold’, this was a stunning moment here on the hill.
After a dull day, just as the sun was setting, a blanket of golden Light slid under the cloud and spilled out over the land.

All the new leaves shimmered and sang.

All seemed stunned into silence and awe.

Still.

Even the birds fell quiet.

Golden.


Composing!

I was not going to add this to the blog, but in the spirit of documenting all of my creative endeavours, it might as well be shared!

I thought I’d have a go at composing a tune for my extremely, talented, musical Dad, to celebrate his 8th decade on this Earth.

It is the first time I have tried writing music.
It is a simple wee ditty.
Like me.

Many thanks to my talented, multi-dimensional artist, friend, Hannah Boaden, who used her magic software, to type set it for me!
https://soundcloud.com/hannah-boaden
https://www.facebook.com/HannahBoadenArt/

Some folk think it has a nautical feel ……. played well it does have a carefree tone.

Certainly fits with my recent experiments.
Moving ‘as Water’ through Life.

He seemed to like it.

Then I thought it might be fun to make a short video, using my best photos from May 2021 to accompany it.
Hopefully they can distract from my clumsy attempt at playing it!
Though I quite like the ‘child practising in the back room’ feel to it. It is honest somehow.
It does sound much better when he plays it on his baby grand.
His score has all the slurs and other notations hand-inked on too.
Wish I had copied that before I gave it to him.

This new old-piano was rescued from the dump this week and had a bit of a bumpy ride, from the forgotten container to here. As you can hear it has not even been tuned yet!

Our old old-piano now sits in the garden.
It has come to the end of its musical usefulness.
Lots and lots of ideas for what to create with it.

I will share a post here later ……. if it comes to anything beyond fire wood!


kat robertson artist

Growth.

Thinking alot about Growth recently.
Reading about ideas of Degrowth.
Knowing that it is less, not more, that I need now,
But not wanting to ‘send us back to the dark ages’.

I stare out of the window.
Tree teacher.

The great Oak grows up fast in the beginning.
Then pauses to thicken.
Creating Stability.

Often it looses a lower limb or two as it stretches toward the sky.
Shedding what no longer serves.

It grows slower and wider as it ages.
Putting on rings of girth.
Not only on it’s trunk, but also on it’s branches and it’s roots.
Growing in all directions!
Building strength to ensure it’s longevity.

In years of scarcity it grows less.
In years of plenty it takes all it needs.
In it’s maturity it becomes host to other, new, Life.
Ferns and fungi, lichen and mosses.

Societal progress might do well to learn from this great tree.

Societal ‘growth’ has more in common with the growth I see in the commercial, forestry, plantations.
The fast growing, conifer, trees, all planted too close together.
They rush toward the light.
Growing thin, straight and brittle.
The ground below becoming deadened.
Little thrives there, in the acid dark, to knit it all together.

And then, when the first big wind comes along,
They uproot or snap.
Collide into one another, falling like dominos.
Each taking it’s neighbour down as it falls.

Becoming worthless as a crop.
Impossible to even harvest.

No longer possible to make sense of as ‘forest’.

So Oak teaches it is not about stopping growing.
Not about degrowing.
(Although, perhaps, we could lose a useless limb or two, that no longer serve)

It is about growth in the right places, at the right time.

Allow for more Light.
Create more Space.
With Care and Foresight,
Prune away the dead, or diseased, wood as necessary.

Like all good gardeners, cultivate more Patience.
More Awareness of Resources available.
More Awareness of what grows Beneath.

This is what makes for more Resilience.

These are lessons well worth remembering now.

Not new wisdom. As ancient as the hills.

Thank You Oak for reminding me.

Kat Robertson. May 2021.

charcoal drawing, used to create animation, in its final state.
‘Tree. Growing in all directions
, as dictated by what is available to it, by the stresses it encounters