Images from “Our Patient Day’s Allotted Span” show at NEPO House, Seattle

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Little jökull, woven fabric and crocheted yarn and fabric, stones, 2012-13

“Our Patient Day’s Allotted Span” show at NEPO House, which  was such a gratifying experience to bring some of the work began in Iceland to closure, to see friends, share my family’s work and share in the hospitality of NEPO House’s Little Treats series.  Paul loved standing on the porch serving Icelandic waffles and glogg and egg nog to everyone who arrived.

No one asked me about the odd title…maybe my odd titles are just par for the course now.  It’s something from the very beginning of the beginning.  As I was writing the first grant proposal for this project in early 2011, trying to coax something concise from the jumble of ideas, I was reading my son my favorite book from my childhood, The Fairy Caravan by Beatrix Potter.  And this one scene struck me in the gullet, a powerful monolog spoken by a Herdwick ewe named Belle Lingcropper, about the strength and tenacity of the sheep, as well as the transitory nature of our time here.  She says

” What though the hailstorms sweep the fell in winter–through tempest, frost, or heat–we live our patient day’s allotted span.”

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Cave Father, archival ink jet photograph

Both the wisp of legacy and transience, from the mouth of sheep (but of course Miss Potter really).  For  awhile I have been fixated and inspired how Beatrix Potter managed to craft a life for herself as a woman writer of her time, as well a attain a certain independence and ultimately to use her own earned money to become a major conservationist of land, of a way of life, and the Herdwick sheep breed.  She used her patient day’s allotted span well, and I aim to do the same, somehow.

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Anyhow, aside from my admiration for her ability to  make a living as an artist, jumping over hurdles, I’m sure, I have never had to deal with — her ewe’s speech seemed to draw me to a place in my mind, not Britian, but to a fantasy of Iceland where things would play out, questions would be met with answers on the wind and stone, if only for a brief time.

But that brief time was wedged in the legacy of the maker, the creator, the individual who has crafted their life’s work from the the air, the land, the water and all that comes with it.  My collaborators –my son, my husband — we went on that part of our journey together, a different but interrelated meaning for all of us.  Something lasting for all of us, but the geologic text written on the small island of Iceland loomed in my mind as a different time table than our own brief human span.

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And Potter’s imagining of the mind of her dear Herdwicks seemed to speak of a pride of one’s place in a long span of time, not just what we experience.  I thought the working title would shed itself — and for a while I didn’t think of it all — but once this grouping of work was done, it still seemed to work.

You can also see some of my films from the project here: Films!

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Here’s the entirety of little Belle the ewe’s speech.  I was startled by the tenderness I felt for the Icelandic sheep we would encounter, their soft eyes and the intense soft warmness they seemed to radiate in the harsh rocky landscape.  I always imagined them saying this…

Cool is the air above the craggy summit. Clear is the water of the mountain keld. Green grows the grass in droughty days beneath the brackens! What though the hailstorms sweep the fell in winter–through tempest, frost, or heat–we live our patient day’s allotted span.

Wild and free as when the stone-men told our puzzled early numbers; untamed as when the Norsemen named our grassings in their stride. Our little feet had ridged the slopes before the passing Romans. On through the fleeting centuries, when fresh blood came from Iceland, Spain, or Scotland–stubborn, unchanged, UNBEATEN–we have held the stony waste.

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Icelandic blueberry, mushroom, bones wallpaper

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Join me at some Community Crochet Workshops…

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go….not on a jet plane, but to a series of my Community Crochet Workshops, working on Hazel’s Glacier for an upcoming presentation of the piece.  Please join us and learn to crochet or teach what you know!  All the deets are below!

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Community Crochet Events: Mandy Greer: ‘Solstenen’ Project

-December 10th, 2:30-5pm:      Beacon Hill Library community room

2821 Beacon Ave. S., Seattle

-December 11th, 1:30-4pm:     High Point Library community room

3411 S.W. Raymond St., Seattle

– Dec. 16th, 12:30-3:30pm:      Favorite Art Projects @Henry Art Gallery

15th Avenue Northeast, Seattle

“Multi-media artist Mandy Greer, has for years involved the public in the making of her large scale sculpture and installation work, through free Community Crochet workshops, teaching anyone who drops in the basics of crochet and incorporating their stitches into a larger artwork.

You are invited to join Mandy in a series Community Crochet events as part of her ‘Solstenen’ Project, where she will be teaching anyone willing to crochet, giving you the opportunity to contribute to the creation of a large scale fiber ‘glacier’ made of hundreds of different white fabrics and yarn and meant to be worn by Greer’s son.  Began on a residency in Iceland, the crocheted and woven glacier now grows larger as it emerges from isolation, accumulating energy from many hands, like a glacier accumulates and transports stones.  The Glacier will be exhibited at NEPO House on Dec. 22nd, 2012.

Children are welcome and encouraged at the events on the 10th and 11th, as Greer’s 8 year old son will also be on hand to teach crocheting to other children.

All materials and tools supplied,  all skill levels welcome.

Mandy Greer’s ‘Solstenen Project’, is a series of residencies over the course of a year exploring themes of weight and physical burden as external symbols of internal self-transformation — identity metamorphosing into the environmental — including 5 weeks in Iceland in the fall of 2012.

‘Solstenen Project’ residencies were sponsored in part by grants from 4 Culture, Artist Trust and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.”

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Intergenerational art making…

I’m deep in ( and almost done with ) the agonizing process of selecting a few images from 17 photoshoots we did in Iceland, for a show at NEPO House that focuses in on some of the intergenerational art making we did while there for 5 weeks.  Agonizing because each shoot turned up about 10 good images, but I’m trying to tell a specific story and some of the images fall outside that, but are still my favorites.  And there are dreaded moments of ‘everything about this image is perfect but that dumb look in my eyes’ and there is no second shot of it.  Lighting/color can be adjusted….dumb looks are hard to manage.  It was such a fast and intuitive and rugged process, in many cases pushing the limits of how wet or cold I wanted my cameras, or quickly fading light or how much a child would take.  I’m feeling exhausted and could prowl through these files for months, and will be doing that, to focus on different narratives than this one for this show.  But this set of behind-the-scene images soothes me….we all miss our time together.  More info on the show to come…

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