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Our Sacred Skills and Attendance to Art Practice during Covid19

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A yarn spinning wheel and intricately carved chair in a field

Magical Women are excited to introduce to you Magical Women artist Louise Amelia Phelps. Her precious and sacred skills spin threads of joy from fauna & flora to become works of art, that unravel warmth and nurture for all.

The Craft Life of Louise Amelia Phelps

“There is so much beauty and magic
in the processes of spinning fibre to yarn.
These symbols and metaphors run deep
in the psyche of our human hood.”

Never having an Art Studio

Phelps has never had a studio. “I have always created wherever I am with whatever I have to hand.”

Phelps has spent most of ten years living transiently. She has spent “months at a time in Sinai living simply in the desert, in Cairo, and the USA.”

In each of these places she exhibited her artwork and poetry. She says,

I wonder if this had made me work to a very small scale, work that can be packed, tucked and completed sketchbook size. I make tiny palm size woven bowls with hand-spun and plant dyed yarns. Each one has a story to tell about the trees, flowers and leaves that create it.

3 tiny woven baskets with intricate beads around the edges A cluttered workspace with an old wooden loom and lots of threads of coloured yarn hanging up

Phelps does intricate lace-like bead work around the tops in shining patterns.

I saw these glinting on the Bedouin women’s night black veils. Everything is small scale and made with dedication, each one is about 20 hours in the making. 

Living amongst art materials

A need to live among her materials is shown clearly where her yarn gallery hangs along the wall. Her “spinning wheels rest in front of the fire like family pets.”

In this way, her

home is a living space and studio combined.

In the back garden there are pans of soaking plant material and petals steeping in jars of ruby liquid in the front.

This love of life, process and materials infuse my work. 

Composite image of dyed yarn, the berries used to dye it purple, and the process of it being dyed.

 

Things get busy in the spring and summer. [There are] so many plants and leaves to dye with, you have to be ready. For me using plants to colour yarn is instantly precise to the time of season.

 

 

Hidden treasure

Phelps is just one example of a hidden treasure formed as a Neurodivergent woman artist who makes art using the old ways. Ways, that are proving more and more to be ones of solitude and trust. Working with the seasons and with the light, and darkness. And also within space, and time that is both intuitive is an essential part of awakening the very senses we abandon in our busy world day to day. 

Phelps is an artist who works to the heightened senses that all Neurodivergent and Magical Women artists possess and are often demonised for.

A saucepan full of green leaves in water

What the old ways can teach us 

In a world where so many people rush. This act of urgency pushes a workforce to becoming wrapped up in stresses in place of their senses. These stresses send so many workers on the brink of collapse. They might even lose any sense of their process and might never have time to enjoy produce or crafted essence.

Yet, it is through the showcasing of Magical Women artists that we turn our attention to the poetic detailing of their practice. In the graciousness of their sharing, Magical Women artists remember the value in the old ways and use them once more to attend to their practice. Our hands reach out and involve nature in all that we touch. 

Phelps continues,

Natural treasures are everywhere. This is a much longer discussion, but in short, conscious reciprocity with ‘nature’ within craft processes is a definite old/new path. We must remember that we are not working with ‘materials’ but threads of life that do not end.

How Art Comforts

On the day she appeared for the pre-recording of the Magical Women’s podcast, Phelps’ excitement brimmed all over her face. The day after made her reflect on just how much more there is to say, to explore and share about her art-practice. This pressure on herself was shared openly and vividly and she described how important this day was for her to take a gentle downtime day. She shared that revisiting photographs of her art brings her so much comfort. 

A white woman in her thirties with long brown hair sits in a field holding a some yarn

Phelps shared with her social media audience honest reflective truths during these sacred moments of self-care. Here, her work became so much more powerful than perhaps even she herself realised.

The artist, Phelps, turns to her art for comfort. This act is a gentle reminder of self-care for other Neurodivergent and Magical Women artists. The relationship between Phelps and her art-practice stirs an awakening of recognition that her art is so much more than an act of expression.

Whilst it is both exciting and important to be interviewed and invited onto various platforms to talk about our art-practice. These very acts can also be a drain on our energy. Many Neurodivergent artists attest to the impossibility of keeping up the momentum of masking. They recognise the harm of a burn out and how damaging it can be on our welfare and livelihood. 

Thus, it is in the simple act of being with and taking in our art, that we can allow it to self-soothe ourselves. We become even more aware of its importance to our very existence and story.

Pair of white hands clutching to some yarn

Bringing audiences closer to us 

Reflecting on how deeply our art affects us and supports us, helps us to realise that by sharing these reflections more openly, we can bring new and diverse audiences closer to us. 

During lockdown, there is a growing awareness about ‘being’ a Magical Women artist. We recognise that our art practice’s power to self soothe is as evocative as our expression is. Art reassures and brings us joy. It sings our song and ultimately spills out and honours our truth.

To all Magical Women artists and Disabled artists: 

May you feel the power within your art for your own sensibilities. In this way, your relationship with your art practice serves a deeper purpose. It is in the act of affirmation and resonance that we reach new and diverse audiences and readers. 

Written by Elinor Rowlands @ Magical Women. 

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Lesley Illingworth
5 months ago

Beautiful Article. Thank you. From someone who knows. ❤

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