Fiddle Faddle Fancywork

I can’t always explain my compulsion to do it. Germaine Greer asked in her article for The Guardian in 2007 why women wasted their time on it, describing it as ‘heroic pointlessness’. Why didn’t they just paint? she asks. Is this where my doubt, my discomfort about it comes from? I need to do it nevertheless. There is an inner quality to it, a domestic, interior-ness that painting doesn’t possess. I am doing it for myself, as no doubt those women throughout history have done. There is something so fundamental to it. I stand on the shoulders of those women, I sit amongst them. And yet I do not have their skills, my hands cannot do what theirs could do, almost without thinking. I want to learn. Do you hear me, I want to learn and then see where it takes me. I want to subvert too, but the skill must be gained first. Always. To that aim a parcel came yesterday. I open it and the red thread is luscious, a thick coil of it. So many new stitches to learn, my back tenses at the thought of it. Stain the linen with tea they suggest. I don’t think so.

A beautiful morning. Ah, but there was so much to do. I chase my tail most of the time. But the walk was worth it. The moon is still out casting its silvery beams and no wind, everything so quiet. A few stragglers and Chicken Lickin’ was open emitting its salty smells of roasted meat and one man slept in the shelter. How must it be to succumb to sleep en plein air with no protection from the cold, wind, rain or none-too-kind strangers? He was lost in his sleeping bag, a blue, headless form.

Ah, I’m late. Time to make coffee and get down to writing. It is hard going at the moment. I have to lift myself to reach it. Up those big stairs. I will keep at it. It will become clear where I am going. I am sure. I think.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.