Workshops are progressing smoothly and the machine rolls on steadily. I have decided to spend more time at my home (to centre my female energies!) and am reading a book about altars that women make at home. It is apparently a long tradition that has helped to maintain women’s spirituality throughout masculinely charged times. Women from the oriental East, South America and Northern Europe have all arrived at similar practises as a means to survival of the soul. In church , mosque, temple or synangogue, only men have the divine connection (apart from a little leeway recently), women often being kept away from sacred rites. At home, however women are free to exercise their instinctive spirituality.
A collection of favourite objects, mementos of friends, loved ones and dead relatives; symbolic images both personal and universal, amassed and arranged to inspire deep connection. An entire room may be given up to being an altar, or there may be several altars in a house, each for a different purpose; or else a single altar may suffice. I started to realise that without being aware of it, I had the makings of a few altars in my home. On the mantle piece a framed photograph of my Mother on her wedding day, an old Chinese carved wooden box taken from my Grandfather’s office after he died, and lower down on the woodwork, art postcards from a Great-aunt, my Grandfather again, and by Klimt and Schiele – 2 of my Mother’s favourite artists. Then resting by the gas fire the walking stick from 2 of my plays, beads from (when I took over) my sister’s squat, and crystals and candle sticks on the hearth.
By the computer a postcard from my sister with a painting that my Grandmother embroidered and hangs in my parents’ home, a small plastic polar bear to remind me of someone I call ‘Bear’, and a chipped mug given to me by theatre directors of a show I starred in a few years back. Small shiney stones and pretty shells, a pressed sycamore wing and a found lamp from my first home away from home. Some people like to put the past completely behind them, get rid of the old and start afresh. That can be healthy too, but I see a value in all my experiences and relationships and want to cherish the love and warmth they have given me, may still give me through memory. In my bedroom another two altars await activation! The dressing table beckons, as does another fire place bedecked with choice memorabilia.
In this evening’s workshop I want to bring attention to the beauty of a little assymetry in poses, and as well the way a subtle twist can add the right amount of complexity.
Here are some images from last week’s workshop, by Rade, and further down are some memories from the beloved Mortlake Christmas experience courtesy of one of the models.