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  • claregeeorkney

Big ups, even bigger downs, and the life saver that is music

So I have worked out a thing. My second to last blog I talked about being in the depths of grief and shit. And in my last blog I was musing on the fact that I felt more content, particularly with my artwork, but generally just feeling awesomely happy and how could that be when I had been feeling so bloody awful just weeks before. Well I’ve been back down the hell hole again in the last couple of weeks so I’m seeing a pattern. The ups are seriously up and the downs are really bloody down at the moment. A pendulum that is in its full throes from one end of the spectrum to the other.

At least now I get what is going on and can work with it, or within it, or despite it, or at least try to.

I have been making like it is going out of fashion. I can’t stop sewing. It’s like I’ve become a sewing monster. I literally crave it like a drug when I’m not making and it helps me feel like I am worth something when my brain is trying to tell me otherwise. It’s the best medication and the best solace to a lonely heart and a damaged soul.

The other thing that I’ve become fixated on because I can’t watch the news or let the nuts stuff that is going on in the world in to my headspace at the moment is music. I haven’t been able to listen to music for years. It’s been just too hard and too raw - too many memories wrapped up in it and too painful to contemplate. But back in the throes of grief I have been able to let it in and rekindle that particular love affair. Because let’s face it, I’m already screwed emotionally so it can’t make it any worse. What a blessing!

I’ve been going down musical rabbit holes and emerging feeling just a bit more alive than I did before. It’s the perfect partner to sewing, I can concentrate on both, equally, and I can sing loud and proud and out of key and play the music so loud it vibrates through me physically. It gives me rhythms, moods and emotions to sew to that directly become absorbed in the work. I need to thank the stoner rock bands, the indie bands, the new romantic synth bands, the traditional folk and those that saw me through my teens and art school, and the new old bands I’ve discovered over the last few weeks. You are all amazing and have saved my life. Literally.

One side effect, though, of listening to all this music is that it has made me think about how amazing it is that some people’s creativity is in sound, and others of us make physical ‘things’. I am so jealous of those who can create music. I was taught how to play the recorder, the piano, the violin, so that I could never just pick up those instruments and create something new with them.

I am in awe of musical people who don’t just follow other people’s compositions. How is it that some people can learn an instrument and then use it for unique and beautiful effect? How is it that I can do the same with cloth, thread, paint, but not with a guitar or a keyboard? What was different in the way I was taught these things that means I could only follow someone else’s rules when playing an instrument but I can take that learning when it comes to art and craft skills and produce something unique?

I don’t have an answer. My formative years in learning ‘art’ I was taught appallingly badly. Although that was remedied when I went to Art School at which I was taught curiosity, creativity, self criticism and resilience. I was mediocre and competent at both music and art at school. And everything else for that matter.

I was listening to an interview with Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age recently and he commented that if you showed him someone who was taught how to play the piano by having their knuckles rapped with a ruler when they got it wrong he would show you someone who doesn’t play the piano. He also said that two wrongs don’t make a right but forty wrongs make an interesting. It’s why the whole business of right and wrong in art is so dangerous. Play, exploration and making mistakes are the way not only to learn but to enjoy and continue to create beyond any kind of formal education.

It is far too late for me to do anything other than revel in other people’s incredible musical skills - and sing my heart out in private - but there is such a rich and varied world of music out there that I feel very lucky to have lived through the musical eras that I have, and I’m excited about the ones to come. I’m pondering trying to get to a rock festival next year, rekindling my love of live music and embracing the mid-life crisis full on. But I might have to take my sewing with me…

Images all Clare Gee, October 2023

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Nov 13, 2023

Sing your heart out girl, it's not like you're gonna annoy the neighbours. Never forget the words of that musical guru, Eric Morecambe. "I'm playing all the right notes, just not in the right order!!"

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