Hilda Van Netten
Best Day of the Year!
For over 10 years, a random group of acquaintances (who have turned into friends), have found a warm space to make art together on New Year's Eve. We even have a name: Cobourg Collage Collective. We've met in an art gallery, a craft store, an old laundromat, a woodworking shop, in a theatre above a chocolate store, in a brick walled meeting place, and for the past few years, in Green Wood Coalition's art hive. We bring along collaging supplies for ourselves and to share: interesting pictures, scissors, patterned papers, glue, old books, a typewriter, twigs, bent spoons, ideas, no ideas, paper cutter, meaningful poems and music, wonderful music.
We bring food to share.
This morning, as the snowflakes were falling outside my kitchen window, I made a mango/carrot salad and Scottish Fruit Slices for dessert. I'll whip some heavy cream just before we leave and cut up some fruit. I think there must be a connection between collage artists and good cooking. We've had vegan "meat pies" that were out of this world, African Ground Nut stew to die for, and bread salad that defied its boring name. But, even though the shared meal is great, it's the art that impacts all of us the most. It's always a struggle to tear folks away from their creations to eat!
One of the challenges for everyone is "what to collage"? I've learned to listen to ideas that float into my brain at the very last minute and to go with them. When they get incorporated into a collage, they speak to me every time I see them. It's like I receive a nudge to think about things differently.... to be influenced by someone else's perspective throughout the next year.
Here's one example from 4 years ago:
"Heroes didn't leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn't wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised and their superpowers were as simple as listening , or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else's. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back." Jodi Picoult.
The collage below is from three years ago. It normally sits at the window near my desk. A dear friend introduced me to the African concept of Ubuntu.... "I am because we are."
"In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.... This is the inter-related structure of reality." Martin Luther King Jr.
Two years ago, I had the urge to make an up-cycled book. I started covering the pages of a hard cover kids' book with patterned papers and random interesting pictures from some old art books I'd picked up somewhere on holidays. I got about half done that year. Last year, I continued and just when I needed them, the words came to me. One of our group always reads a poem or short story to start our time together. This was the poem. Perfect. And, serendipitously, it meshed with last year's pictures too.
We look with uncertainty
beyond the old choices for clear-cut answers
to a softer, more permeable aliveness
which is every moment at the brink of death;
for something new is being born in us
if we but let it.
We stand at a new doorway, awaiting that which comes...
daring to be human creatures,
vulnerable to the beauty of existence.
Learning to love.
So, just this morning, as I was baking Scottish Fruit Slices and listening to a Moth podcast, this quote zinged into my brain:
"In the deepest, blackest night of despair and anxiety,
it only takes a pinhole of light
and all of grace can come in"
I have absolutely NO idea what I am going to collage, but images of dark old houses with one golden, glowing lighted window are floating in my brain. And these words will be part of it. Stay tuned!