Horizon at Sandy Point

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Conversations with Pat

Pat Bishop says that she has spent the last 30+ years saying the same thing. Having read a few of her speeches, I am now challenged to find out what this single thing is. Is it the plight of the artist in the modern world? Is it the difficulty of securing the singleness of purpose that is the pre-requisite to the making of art?  I will read on and let you know.

For myself, I have never considered myself an artist, or making art. I have remained pretty confused in life about what I am "good at" and even more indecisive about "what I want to be, or do." In school, I was a quick learner, and the logic of arithmetic and reading and science came easily. I was not fond of physical education  or sport - I didn't see the point of it, and maybe there was enough play - and work -  for me, growing up on a farm to make sure that I ran, moved, walked small children, stretched for fruit or climbed trees.

I followed my mother as a nurturer and care-giver to younger brothers and sisters. By sixth form, my day started before five - not studying - with the making of school lunches. Fresh squeezed orange juice. An array of sandwiches - sardine, egg, ham, cheese paste with mustard, luncheon meat (aka Spam). In the evening, I followed my father into the hatchery, washing and grading eggs, twice a week packing eggs for the incubators. it was not a "normal" child's life, and I don't remember when I had time to study. Of course, the results showed in the "A" level exams. But, most likely on the basis of other things - being a "goody goody" in high school as some like to say - an opportunity for university came my way and I got a degree. Still not knowing where I was bound - didn't want to get married; no doctor lawyer teacher ambitions; no art - I graduated in being. And that's probably where I am still - a generalist, jack of all trades. Going where the wind blows. A leaf on a river.

So what is this life of others? Anchored to ideas. What is the singleness of purpose that produces painting, music, mas bands, plays that speak across centuries, great poetry? Is it in each of us, waiting to be mined and nurtured? And why is it that women seem pre-selected to fail, or be less than, distracted by time-consuming child-rearing, care-giving, maintenance activities?


  1. “ … women seem pre-selected to ..” ? Perhaps there was a time when, Pat … but, why is it then that with much of what you wrote before that, not the details but the metaphors, I identify ?! M.

  2. I can hear a cry here.......

    But YOU ARE writing all the time. And after ten years of it, when you start to sift through, you will begin to see patterns emerging, usually of something that never crossed your mind. It might be patterns of questions or words in quotation marks. How the short sentences of three or five words sound when you write them down as a poem without all the long ones in between. Look at the visual pattern they make on the page. Listen to the sounds when you read them out loud - for this you need a recorder. Or you may need a printer and then scissors to cut them out. Put them in a hat and shake them up then select one sentence at a time with your eyes closed and glue them in the order they come out onto another piece of paper. Don't cheat! This is how to approach the God of creativity, with the heart, leaving the intellect behind. Randomly. And then you accept. This IS Me, Pat, whether I approve or not. That's the way it is. So keep on.

    You could call it "the Hatchery".


  3. well said, but You understate your accomplishments. From our point of view, You seem to have accomplished so much more. Looking back at the farm, and the many hours of work that we all put into it with Dad, and all the early hours and late days ...... it instilled in us the very strong work ethic that we all have today. Was it enjoyable then, probably not, but then again, it is what we grew up with and had nothing to compare it to. Would I do it all over again? Most definitely! I look at Jonathan, and see how easy or less stressed he is and I wish he would have had to do some of our "chores" ..... to appreciate that which we all take for granted now.

    Life is short, but we still have the time to do what we want ...
    God Bless

  4. wow. a gail. you always end with some thought provoking questions. hmmm...

  5. Women can produce great art, but you have given the reasons why so few do. Those long uninterrupted periods of time when one can go deeply, subconsciously, to the wellspring of our creative impulse. Men also compartmentalize their lives much better than we do.