White Bow

I haven’t got long. Fifteen minutes, that’s all. She advises twenty. Just twenty minutes first thing every morning to write 500 words. Don’t think about it too hard, just write. I’ve got fifteen. So, I think it might just have to be a list. It’s all about paying attention, noticing, recording and seeing what happens. What will it be? What will I be? Mummy, what will I grow up to be? Did you ever ask that question? Que sera sera. So be it. But what is it? My first day today at or is it in the residency. I try to lower expectations, though what I am expecting I cannot say. She jiggled me with her threats of things being ‘borrowed’ etc. I will sit clutching it all. And yet, there is the promise of something. Might something happen?

Back to the list. What did I notice today when I walked? A white bow on the ground, on the pavement. A white leather, made-up bow with a dark dot in the centre. Had it loosed itself from a shoe? Or a handbag? The woman who smokes as she walks. She was on the Prom walking towards me, having just turned past the castle. Her ubiquitous bag for life flapped in the wind. She wears a pink anorak and heavy walking boots. Her eyes are always cast down. She has on glasses and is always smoking. Her gait is a heavy one. A farmer’s one. Her legs are wide apart and she clumps. I saw a row of sparkly stars in the glassed-off porch of one of the houses along South Marine. The moon was out, not quite full. A girl and boy were huddled together trying to speak into a mobile. Where are you? the girl was shouting. We’re on the beach, she said, though they were standing on the Prom. By the bandstand, interjected the boy. Her voice had a Northern Irish lilt. Noh, she kept repeating, Noh. The sign for the Pier restaurant had dislodged itself from its hanging. It swung haphazardly in the wind. Children eat free. Vegetarian options. Unrivalled views of Cardigan Bay. Open all day. Yesterday there was a lad striding towards me along North Road. His legs jerked about as he walked, his hips swinging. A sound. A discordant sound. He was singing. Singing along to his ipod. I couldn’t make out the words. He looked happy.

They’re only dreams, he says. Yesterday afternoon I woke from my nap and cried. It unsettled him. I couldn’t shake it off. You’re making me edgy, he said, it’s only a dream. I’d captured a little bird, I felt it’s heart beating in my hand. I wanted to cage it, trap it in one of my artworks. I made moving images, moving animations, the bird was to be part of it. It kept trying to escape and I would catch it again. I was so sorry, so sad to have hurt it, harmed it. I couldn’t see it later in this enormous art piece I’d created. It looked like Cae Melin, with buses and cars moving down it’s hill. See, I said to a woman regarding it, I made that. Where was the bird? I couldn’t see her. Nothing was real. Then this morning I woke from another. I was at an art school, and have been in many dreams lately, making room for my work. Clearing away other people’s work. The top was not level. Where are all the boards? I asked. Have that space, a girl said. There was room, there was a shelf. Yes, I thought, this will do. The studio was high up. A positive dream. I was wanted, welcomed but both students and staff.

Off now. Off to work and then to Hafan y Waun. Wake up sleepy head. Time to go. Time to go.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.