Unleashing Creativity with Generative AI

Session 1: Understanding GenAI Tools

  • Part 1: Introduction to GenAI for Artists
    • Overview of GenAI
    • Applications in the art world
  • Part 2: Hands-On Practice with Idea Generation Tools
    • Using ChatGPT for brainstorming
    • Exploring AI-based idea generation tools (e.g., DALL-E, DeepArt)

Tools

Next: Concept Development and Mood Board Creation

Residency June 2024 – meet the artists

Picture of four artists who are taking part in Vital Capacities in June 2024.
Artists on Vital Capacities residency in June 2024 – from top left, clockwise: Jameisha Prescod, Shrouk El-Attar, Bella Milroy, and James Kong King-sin

For the tenth Vital Capacities‘ residency, we partner with UnlimitedVideotage (Hong Kong) and Wysing Art Centre (Cambridge) to work with artists from the UK and Hong Kong. From 1 June, artists Shrouk El-Attar, Bella Milroy, Jameisha Prescod and James Kong King-sin will join Vital Capacities, to undertake research and develop new work. Working with our partners, they will explore and exchange new ideas using their studio spaces, and create new work throughout the residency.

Continue reading “Residency June 2024 – meet the artists”

GenAI: A First Step

As part of my residency with Vital Capacities, I’m exploring the relationship between GenAI and artists, focusing on how AI can enhance our creative processes. Today, I’m excited to share my first use case: using ChatGPT to extract and describe image content for accessibility purposes. Here’s a photograph I captured during my urban exploration.


To ensure that my work is accessible to all, I used ChatGPT to generate a detailed description of the image. The AI accurately identified the silhouette of a person standing on a high vantage point, overlooking a brightly lit cityscape at night, with an overcast sky adding to the dramatic atmosphere.

A screen capture of James requests ChatGPT to describe his portfolio picture. ChatGPT response the image description

This initial use of GenAI demonstrates how artists can utilize AI tools to create accessible content, ensuring that our work can be experienced by a broader audience, including those with visual impairments. By integrating AI into our practice, we can enhance the inclusivity and reach of our art.

Stay tuned as I continue to explore and share more ways in which AI can support and transform our artistic endeavors. This is just the beginning of an exciting journey with Vital Capacities.

Vital Capacities: Gateways – new exhibition

A handpainted image of a white toilet spewing brown liquid into a giant fountain holding high a large white spotted egg on a yellow and orange background.
Sammy Paloma, The Flowering Milk of the Boghead, 2023 (screen shot from artwork)

New work by Vital Capacities resident artists from the May 2023 residency, including work by artists Shaima Ali, Bassam Issa, Sammy Paloma, and Su Hui-Yu & XTRUX.

In May 2023, four artists took part in residencies on Vital Capacities – Shaima Ali (Palestine), Bassam Issa (Ireland), Sammy Paloma (UK), and Su Hui-Yu & XTRUX (Taiwan) – to explore and develop new work, supported by partnerships with Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN), Shubbak Festival, Videotage and Wysing Art Centre.

Throughout the month the artists did research, tested ideas and created new work, working with our partners, web designer and digital inclusion specialist. Gateways is an exhibition of new work resulting from May 2023’s residency.

See the exhibition now: vitalcapacities.com/exhibition/

With thanks to Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN), Shubbak Festival, Videotage, and Wysing Art Centre. Thank you to Arts Council England for their support.

The memorial hall

The structure was ready made by the architect team. We are now building the detail of the interior.

The eventual form will be a digital grave , we will be able to maintain the content for the rest of our life, as an artist last will. Also, the spaceship looking hall is an extension of the video work Space Warriors.

The Bog is a Thin Place; A Sanctuary, A Portal & A Home

A watercolour painting featuring a pair of Simpson-yellow arms with black chains around the wrists. The hands have long and gnarly bright green nails wriggling their way towards the sky. The chains around their wrists also extend upwards towards the sky.
The arms are splashing out of a boggy, bubbling hole in the ground. This hole of green bubbling sludge is surrounded by brown earth blooming out at it's edges.

I love that phrase u sometimes hear about Halloween/Samhain: “the thinning of the veil”. From the idea of thin times it’s only a small leap to that of thin places. In Shetland witch (or heksi) folklore it is said that the stretch of sand that runs between high and low tide is the undisputed territory of the devil. Folk magic loves a threshold, a space between spaces (oh so liminal): a beach, a fog, the meeting point of two rivers, a keyhole, midnight, a crossroad. A bog. To get lost in a thick fog whilst traversing a bog might just about be the perfect setting to summon the dead. My sense is that these thin places and times are potent precisely because they can function as temporary sanctuaries, a home for those pushed to the margins. Not unlike Doom Patrol’s Danny The Street (DC Universe/HBO) a roving sentient genderqueer street that goes where it’s needed and provides a home to for us misfits.

Vital Capacities new resident artists May 2023

Artists on Vital Capacities residency in May 2023 – from top left, clockwise: Sammy Paloma, Bassam Issa, Shaima Mohammad Ali, and Su Hui-Yu & XTRUX

For the eighth Vital Capacities‘ residency, we partner with Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN), Shubbak Festival, Videotage (Hong Kong) and Wysing Art Centre (Cambridge) to work with artists from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Palestine and Hong Kong. From 1 May, artists Bassam Issa, Sammy Paloma, Shaima Muhammad Ali and Su Hui-Yu & XTRUX will join Vital Capacities, to undertake research and develop new work. Working with our partners, they will explore and exchange new ideas using their studio spaces, and create new work throughout the residency.

The artists for May 2023’s residency are:

Bassam Issa works across digital animation, painting, sculpture, and textiles creating visions of resistance, transformation, and queer possibility. He completed a BA in Visual Art Practice from Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology in 2016. Recent solo exhibitions include: IT’S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE, TAKE THIS! The Douglas Hyde Gallery(2022) I AM ERROR, Gasworks, London (2021), and De La Warr Pavilion, Sussex (2022).

Sammy Paloma is an artist, poet and witch living in Shetland, on a croft by a beach, next to a bog, with 11 chickens. She paints, prints, tattoos, writes poetry, and makes computer games (with Uma Breakdown). Her work is into how divination disturbs linear time, grief rituals and necromancy. Her current obsession is the overlapping folklore and paranormal phenomena surrounding both boglands and crossroads.

Shaima Mohammad Ali is an artist from the destroyed village of Beit Thul in Palestine. She uses sculptural elements and video art to explore the liminal space between the personal and the collective, where it  is a point of intersection and where it is a point of departure. She draws her inspiration from that which demands an interruption to the every day. Her art is political in that it refuses to take on a singular perspective, preferring to reflect the mixture and entwinement of politics in the day-to-day of the Palestinian individual through their life, hopes and dreams.

Su Hui-Yu & XTRUX – Su Hui-Yu is a Taipei based artist who has been working on his specific “Re-shooting” series which focuses on Taiwan’s colonial histories, martial law memory and body-politics for many years. XTRUX is a Taiwanese collective art founded in October 2020 with a number of creators whose works focus on new media art. Su and XTRUX have been cooperating on experimental projects since 2022.

Residencies will launch on 1 May 23 – find out what artists are up by joining our mailing list and following them on: vitalcapacities.com

May’s residency programme is delivered in partnership with Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN), Shubbak Festival, Videotage (Hong Kong) and Wysing Art Centre, with support from Arts Council England.

Vital Capacities is an accessible, purpose-built digital residency space, that supports artists’ practice while engaging audiences with their work.

Vital Capacities has been created by videoclub in consultation with artists, digital inclusion specialist Sarah Pickthall and website designer Oli Pyle.

AUGMENTED REALITY AND DARKROOM PRINTING

I am interested exploring darkroom printing with AR. Furthering on my work from the other week I’ve carried on exploring Anna Atkins cyanotype printed and edited them to create into an AR artwork.

Anna Atkins cyanotype print which has a blue background and white outline of leaves on top.
Anna Atkins cyanotype print which has a blue background and white outline of a plant on top
Anna Atkins cyanotype print which has a blue background and white outline of a leaf on top
Anna Atkins cyanotype print which has a blue background and white outline of a plant on top
Anna Atkins cyanotype print which has a blue background and white outline of 3 fern leaves on top
Anna Atkins cyanotype print which has a blue background and white outline of 9 ferns on top.
“Anna Atkins, Ferns. Specimen of Cyanotype, 1840s, cyanotype, overall: 26.3 x 20.8 cm (10 3/8 x 8 3/16 in.), R. K. Mellon Family Foundation, 2007.15.1”

Vectary

Scan the QR codes to see further AR works.

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One of Anna Atkins leaves created in Adobe Illustrator and Vectary with the Anna Atkins print used as a material. Photograph taken over rhubarb leaves.
One of Anna Atkins leaves created in Adobe Illustrator and Vectary with the Anna Atkins print used as a material. Photo is of the leaf placed over grass with a fence and a dog in the background.
One of Anna Atkins leaves created in Adobe Illustrator and Vectary with the Anna Atkins print used as a material. Photo is of the leaf placed in a bed of dying tulips.
One of Anna Atkins leaves created in Adobe Illustrator and Vectary with the Anna Atkins print used as a material. Photo is of the leaf placed in a bed of little blue flowers.
One of Anna Atkins leaves created in Adobe Illustrator and Vectary with the Anna Atkins print used as a material. Photo is of the leaf placed in a rose bush with one tiny yellow rose that is currently growing.

Adobe Aero

Scan the QR codes to open your Adobe Aero app to see further works.

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A cut out of an Anna Atkins cyanotype that is floating in the air with a garden behind it. If you click on the link it will take you to footage on YouTube of me walking around the work.
Photo of one of the Adobe Illustrator works with a garden behind and a dog in the distance.
Anna Atkins cyanotype that I've edited in Adobe Illustrator is sitting on grass with a garden behind it. If you click on the link it will take you to footage on YouTube where the work in bouncing.
Anna Atkins cyanotype that I've edited in Adobe Illustrator and now in Vectary with the print of the outline of the plant as a material. If you click on the link you should be able to see it in Vectary.

PORTALS

Portals are familiar tropes used as convenient plot devices in fantasy and science fiction stories. This convenience serves both the storyteller and audience by removing prolonged travel and any otherwise necessary scientific/technological/magical explanation.

The character enters a portal from our world and emerges into an unfamiliar one governed by different systems.

The moment of intense change between the two sets of existence is described as liminality. In sociology, liminality is defined as a civilizational shift. While in anthropology, it refers to undertaking a rite of passage. In architecture, it refers to anything from a doorway to an airport. In regards to the landscape, beaches serve as the liminal space between land and sea.

When used in science fiction, the portal is a device that develops themes that makes audiences consider the human condition through the juxtaposition of the old and the new normal. The use of portals emphasizes liminality as both a creative and destructive process. To enter the unknown, something must be confronted or sacrificed in the old self or the old world for the new self or the new world to come into being. Itself a symbolic abstraction that compresses and concentrates experience and meaning, the portal becomes a threshold of acute conflict.

pre-residency interview with Jamie

A still from a video. Two superimposed images in bright harsh colours, in the centre of it there is a wooden figurine/doll with a hula hoop on its hips. The figurine has blonde wooden hair in a bob, light skin tone, it is wearing a wooden miniskirt in dusty blue and a red crop top that says BALLS.
Film still from a video for Ping Pong Bitches / Mommies live performance, violet marchenkova.

Jamie Wyld: Thanks for being part of the Vital Capacities residency programme! Can you say a little about yourself and your work, perhaps in relation to what you’re thinking about doing during the residency?

violet marchenkova: So I am a moving image artist, writer, and community organiser. I make short experimental first person films, some people say they are like visual poems of sorts. I haven’t been able to make a film since 2019, when I had a residency at ONCA Barge, so I’m really excited to reconnect with that part of me and see where and how my practice can develop.

My roots are in being an art historian and documentary practitioner – so I’m hyperaware of the money and power that make artworks in history what they are, and I’m very critical of how realism is signalled and how the truth is constructed. That’s just what goes on in my head most of the time.

I’m currently thinking about the theme “Environment” in terms of accessibility frameworks, experiences of isolation, domestic spaces used for feminist organising (and how we lost that during lockdowns), UK’s hostile environment policy, the designed environment of the house that I’m currently in but being evicted from.

Otherwise, I’m looking at some Wolfgang Tillmans’ artist books I got gifted, I’m reading “No Bad Parts” about internal family systems, I’ve just received my copy of Ф Письмо by isolarii with Russian feminist poetry (that I’m too scared to read because it’s too close to my heart), and I’m watching Queer Eye to sleep because apparently, I’m not okay unless a see a group hug every 5-10 minutes. That is what’s in my field of awareness at the moment.

JW: One of the aims of Vital Capacities is to create an accessible site (so more people can use it) – how do you think this will be an opportunity to develop your way of working?

vm: I love that website. It strikes me as this luscious garden patch, where all kinds of pieces – from voice notes and unfinished thoughts to complete videos – can sit together, cross-pollinate.

I never had a real artist studio! And my whole adult life I’ve been stuck between art institutions and DIY art scenes – between the institutionally validated ways of working and rebellious acts – which is not the worst place to be but it brought a lot of inconsistencies to my life that I used to not know how to hold.

For my creative practice to flourish, and even to simply exist, I’ve always felt like I needed to first organise spaces and structures where art like mine could be appreciated. I think that is what drove me to put so much energy into community organising with Devil’s Dyke Network. Art needs to be shared and when you can’t see any contexts or venues or projects that your work could unapologetically fit in (or those are too out of reach) – you start questioning yourself.

So yeah, seeing this virtual space already set up for me, that is so versatile and served so many different artists before me – I feel held! and ready to express and document ideas.

JW: What would you like to achieve through the residency? Is there a particular project you’ll be focusing on?

vm: Honestly, I just intend to be the most neuroqueer artist version of myself that I can be and stop apologising for it, for being different, for any of that.

In previous residencies, or while at uni, I’ve always struggled with my failing to “do things properly” or was insecure about my film practice, unaware how neuroqueerness draws me to new and unexpected paths that are equally as valid. There’s too much professionalisation of the artist that’s gone down in the past decades, and I don’t think I can perform that to any good outcome. And I think I’m at peace with that.

The thing is that many disabled artists are perpetually emerging, we are constantly stuck in being emerging artists because the consistency and progression that we expect in an artist’s career are jeopardised by barriers to access and the shortage of opportunities. Disability often directly relates to our capacity for labour so things like long periods of inability to work, and maybe just general ableism of the art world are major exclusionary forces. So, honestly, I’m just here to take this paid time, focus on my art and see what needs to be said.

JW: How do you see the next few weeks unfolding? Where would you like it to take you?

vm: My art practice never works out in a planned-out cause-and-effect way. I just love listening to Alexis Pauline Gumbs talk about receptivity and being a vessel, our practice being a portal. Whatever comes through us is a gift. No ego, no control, just receiving.

Usually, I just kind of sketch out ideas, listen to what asks to be made visible. Filmmaking is a space for me where I can speak in a language that is true to me, as opposed to the life of writing narratives on other people’s terms (disability assessments, funding applications, social media, stuff I write in my day job).

I’m looking forward to just sitting down to look at the footage I have accumulated (some important pieces from visiting Latvia and Scotland), playing around with editing, writing a bit more, maybe a new script.

Artists from Hong Kong & UK join Vital Capacities, April 22

April residents, from left to right: Jess Starns, Andrew Luk, violet marchenkova

For the sixth Vital Capacities residency, we partner with Videotage (Hong Kong) to work with artists from both Hong Kong and the UK. From 1 April, artists Andrew Luk, Jess Starns and violet marchenkova will join Vital Capacities, to undertake research and develop new work. Working with our partners, they will explore and exchange new ideas using their studio spaces, and create new work throughout the residency.

Got to artists’ studios to find out more about them and see what they’re working on: Andrew Luk, violet marchenkova and Jess Starns.

Reverberation – latest exhibition

Image represents four artists work, top left: a still image from Siphenathi Mayekiso’s film Echoes of Identity, which shows a man with bare chest and arms across his face against a blue sky; top right: a still image from Rebekah Ubuntu’s film Ecologies of Belonging (a Meditation in Progress), which shows a person standing in the centre of a sandy footpath with long grass either side, in the distance to the left if the sea and clouds in the sky; bottom right: a still image from Nadine Mckenzie’s film A Will, My Wheels and a Way, which shows a young woman sat in a wheelchair reflected in a mirror, a wall of windows shows buildings and blue sky outside; bottom left picture: a dirt track footpath leads into the distance through a field, the ground is a deep red, making the grass on the sides of the path almost black in colour, trees can be seen on the horizon in the distance with clouds and a little blue sky above.
All four artists’ work, beginning bottom right clockwise: Nadine Mckenzie, A Will, My Wheels and a Way, 2021; …kruse, Directionsgreat to Storyplace, 2021; Siphenathi Mayekiso, Echoes of Identity, 2021; artwork still, ‘Ecologies of Belonging (a Meditation in Progress)’ by Rebekah Ubuntu, courtesy of the Artist. Find Rebekah online @rebekahubuntu.

Our latest exhibition includes new work by August’s resident artists Nadine Mckenzie, …kruse, Siphenathi Mayekiso and Rebekah Ubuntu. Each artist has produced work that resonates with the work they did throughout their residency, reflecting on memory, personal narratives, experience, and movement. See the exhibition from 30 September at 11am.

Word drawings

It’s very interesting, going back and visiting old work. I tend to be consumed by new work, absorbed in my making and thinking. When my practice focused on drawing, drawing was all I wanted to do. For a while, a walk without a walking drawing was a wasted walk. My excitement and enthusiasm for the drawings gripped my mind totally.


So re-visiting the process of making walking drawings for this residency I expected to have that same consuming interest, and at first I definitely was excited and enjoyed seeing the work that was produced. Then as the days went on the work became frustrating. I felt stuck and I felt like I had gone backwards in some way. My focus has changed, my work is currently engaged with word crafting, I felt in some strange way that I was letting my practice down by attending to drawing, despite how much I love drawing as an art form. It was a very uncomfortable moment in this residency.

After wrestling with this problem and talking to artist friends I realised that I have definitely moved on from making drawings in the old style, with the drawing devices. But I haven’t finished making drawings per se, I realised that I have just changed the medium with which I make drawings.

I’ve written quite a lot during this residency and I was idly thinking about drawing, writing and the possibility of drawing with words. I wondered what the writing I have done for this residency would look like in a word cloud? I was thinking that perhaps I have used particular words very often and maybe looking at those words would inspire me to create something interesting for my final exhibition piece.

So I pasted my posts into some word cloud software. There were some interesting results, so I decided to copy and paste the words into Google docs and play around with them, trying to find some way of drawing with words. Surprisingly, when I pasted the word cloud words into the document I discovered that many of the words had somehow been stuck together, forming new and rather wonderful words. For instance, fungi and old became fungiold, way and road became wayroad, breath and raven, breathraven.

Reader, my brain exploded. Okay, not literally, but I was so excited to see these wonderful, randomly created new words. The process felt simillar to how I used to make drawings, in that I would set up an experiment which had an element of the unexpected and/or random process and then metaphorically step back and allow the outcome to generate itself. In drawing, that is effected when I design a device for making a drawing based on some input not deliberately controlled by my hand, as when the pen in the device moves because I am walking.

Using the word cloud felt similar. I wrote the initial words and input them into the word cloud, therefore setting up the conditions for something to happen, yet it was the way the word cloud software handled the text and the Google software handled the copy and paste process that determined the outcome of the combined words.

These combined words placed together in an arbitrary collection are word drawings, maybe even a poem. But I am the mother of a poet and I have enormous respect and awe for a poet’s effort and creativity in combining words and meaning and I feel that to call what I have created poetry is incorrect, even audacious. They are word drawings; odd, sometimes beautiful, nonsense in which we may nonetheless see meaning.

Just as I make the decision what type of pen or what colour ink to use in a walking drawing, therefore having some aesthetic control over the final drawings, so I took some control over the placement of words in my word drawings. Mostly, I left them as they were arranged by the word cloud software, but in some cases I moved them around and I sometimes inserted words, such as go, and or where to break up the list and improve the rhythm or flow of the piece.

Finally, I used some Open Source software called Twine to gather all the words into an interactive word drawing. Readers determine what text will be displayed on screen by clicking on the highlighted words, therefore having a different experience with each reading, depending on which words are selected.

I’m very happy with this result! I never could have imagined getting to here from where I began on this residency, back at the beginning of August. What is really exciting for me is that this feels like the start of a new way of working, a new stream to my practice, which is always evolving anyway. It was so good to pass through that uncomfortable place, revisiting the walking drawings, to come to this. Sometimes, being an artist is like walking along a path, one with switchbacks and branchlines and where the path ahead is often completely obscured by the trees.

Ten failed drawings

Okay, they are not exactly failures, in fact they are very lovely drawings I think. These are some of the walking drawings I have made over the last couple of weeks. Most are black ink on paper but three are on clear acetate and one is on a dried green leaf.

Black and white abstract drawing, ink on acetate. A tangle of short, straight and curved lines drawn with a brush pen.

These drawings have all been created using a very simple drawing device I made using wire, cardboard and a copper spring. I suspend a ink pen from the copper spring and take the whole contraption for a walk, the pen drawing as I move.

Black and white abstract drawing, ink on paper. A dense tangle of very short lines going in all directions but forming almost a circle. Small dots of ink decorate the edges of the drawing.

I’ve been attempting to film the process, with varying results. I bought myself an iPad, hoping for better film results, but it’s new technology for me and is currently proving quite frustrating, not least in the weird placement of the iPad camera to the far right of the device, which is really awkward in the drawing device. I might go back to my simple, but trusty mobile phone!

Black and white abstract drawing, ink on paper. Delicate, short, feathery lines made with a brush pen at the center and center top of the page, forming a roughly circular shape.

So back to the drawing board (or drawing device I should say)…

Black and white abstract drawing, ink on paper. Delicate, lines and dots form an almost triangular shape. The lines crisscross over each other.
Black and white abstract drawing, ink on paper. Close up image of a very dense roughly circular drawing made with thick, short, feathery lines going in all directions
Photograph of a dried green hazel leaf decorated with dense black ink lines in the centre of the leaf. The ink marks mostly go in the same vertical direction and cross over each other in the centre.
Black and white abstract drawing, ink on acetate. The lines go in all directions forming a roughly circular, spidery shape. The ink remains wet and forms little blobs of thicker pigment along each line.
Black and white abstract drawing, ink on tracing paper. A small roughly square tangle of thick ink lines decorates the centre of the page. One single fine line is drawn from the right edge of the page, not quite meeting the tangle of lines.
Black and white abstract drawing, ink on acetate. two ink blobs sit side by side roughly in the centre of the page. The blobs swirl in roughly circular form where they have been wiped with a cloth or rag.
The Black and white abstract drawing, ink on acetate. The image is full of movement, lines made in many different directions. The ink has not dried and has pooled in blobs along the drawn lines and in the centre of the drawing.

Spinning the lines

Last year I began toying with writing a novel. It’s not gone anywhere yet and on re-reading it’s fairly dire, as all first novel attempts are allowed to be.

One of the central characters in this story is a wild, grey haired woman who may or may not be centuries old and profoundly occult. She came to me as a vivid image, a woman in a long yellow coat walking the lanes and roads of Britain constantly twisting her fingers, which others think is a mere tic. What her twitching fingers are really doing is spinning unseen lines of magical force across the land.

“We were important people us spinsters. An’ I was one of the best. So they made me what I am today. Did the ritual, gave me to Britain. Spinster. Spinner. Walking the lines, spinning the magic.”

So. I am at that lovely (sarcasm that) stage in making when I have many ideas and no resolution. Yet. I’ve been dissatisfied with the drawing device work, feeling like it hit a dead end, uninspired with my results but feeling somehow nagged by the work, like it still had a way to go, even if I couldn’t see how to resolve it.

At the same time I’ve been thinking a lot about paths and walking and at the same time continuing to work on a long term project I am developing, called AuTCRONE Chronicles, which attempts to voice my grief about the current global ecological stupidity humans are embroiled in.

Anyway, one of the characters in the project (it’s a speculative fiction project) walks. She is a near immortal nomad bearing witness to climate disaster.

I want to write about her walking and have been thinking about how to tell the story of her walking even as I have been walking paths for this residency. And at the same time I’ve been making and filming walking drawings. I’m thinking stories and making drawings and have been unable to resolve either work and it’s been driving me mad!

Then I read the words I wrote for that occult character in the abandoned terrible novel and I think I’ve had a lightbulb moment.

What you don’t know about me is that I started my art career working exclusively with textile. I’m still a regular knitter (because I make all my clothes. And that’s another story) and I can spin on a drop spindle. I can spin on a drop spindle and walk at the same time. And so maybe I can gather up the threads of my making and storytelling and work them into something that might possibly involve spinning, drawing and storytelling.

It’s getting late and I’m tired after a long day walking but I think this idea might have legs. I’m going to run with it, metaphorically speaking. Goodnight.

The path is

Multi-layered digital image of paths the artist …kruse has walked along, with text from the poem, The Path Is, written by …kruse.
Audio reading of the poem The Path Is.

This had been a week of deep thinking and much doing. Most of the doing has not been about this residency though, which has been frustrating. This has been a very ovewhelming month. I’m not a summer person and August is often a rather fraught month, maybe for others too?


Anyway, there’s been a lot going on and I have found myself on a couple of occasions this week walking on the few paths I can find near my home with a feeling that is like a little half dried out sea creature crawling down the sand to the blessed water.

I think about the people in Afghanistan and their desperate scrambling for sanctuary. I think about all the people who take to the road to flee terror and danger.

Going to the path, even in my privileged life, can be necessary medicine, sanctuary, peace. I wrote this poem while walking along a path, feeling a deep need for green spaces and the peace of trees. I wanted it to feel a little bit like a prayer, particularly the ‘celtic’ lorica or caim, which is a prayer for protection, asked either for the self, or as a blessing for others. These incantations contain a lot of repetitive elements. I think many of them were written or created (most come from a time when there was very low literacy, and the loricas may have been passed on by word of mouth). They feel to me like walking poems, that is, they fit the pace and rhythm of walking.