A conversation with Joanne/Rhubarb in the garden

Time for a new conversation post in here my dear readers.
This time it is the lovely Joanne who has taken the time to share with us,

V: Tell us a bit about yourself and your life.

J: I come from a large and close family, that is growing larger every year! I am the eldest of eight children, and that is fine, but sometimes it comes with drama and crisis and high expectations that I almost always fail to live up to – I have two grown children, that for the moment still live with me (which is wonderful) but as for my life...let me tell you a quick little story, that does not give away too much detail, but a fair insight into how I have lived my life up until now...

My Great Aunt was the daughter of a Gypsy – her name was Sheila Snowdrop Christmas – (no, I’m not kidding) she had bright orange curly hair and was always smiling and laughing – she used to say how her and my grandmother would sit on the wall and pretend to be Lana Turner and Rita Hayworth! Whenever we visited our Grandmother, we would ask Aunty to read our tea leaves. We would have to turn the emptied cup upside down onto the saucer and turn it round three times – which we of course LOVED to do! She was always right, that was the magical thing about these readings, and the last time she read my cup (I had my three year old boy and one divorce behind me already at only 21), she told me that she saw lots of butterflies.
I thought this was wonderful, but she frowned and told me that it meant that I would find it hard to settle down to anything for very long, like a butterfly fluttering from one flower to another tasting everything...
I couldn’t see what would be so bad about that! I wanted to taste everything life could offer me, but now, twenty years on and I can understand why she frowned. It takes time to establish roots, to build a home and be rewarded with the sense of security that that kind of commitment brings – I’m just hoping that it’s not too late to begin trying to establish some roots at my old age!

V: How would you describe yourself as a person?

J: Well, we have a little joke at home – We have allocated each other characters from Winnie the Pooh.
My children decided that I am Rabbit!
My son is Eyeore (though he aspires to Owl,)
And my daughter thinks she’s Tigger, but is really Pooh!
We laugh because it’s so true! I AM Rabbit – I do think I ought to be Kanga (because she’s the Mother) But I’m not Kanga, I am Rabbit. I must be left in peace to potter about in my garden...

V: You are an artist creating both fabric and jewelry. I would love to know more about your work!

J: I have used many different materials since leaving Art School – and I used to feel guilty about that, as though I was betraying my art or something stupid like that! Now I know that it’s the expression of creativity that is the most important thing not the loyalty to the medium.
So if I need to paint, I’ll paint, if I need to write, I’ll work on a poem, and if I want to work with clay again, I’ll throw a pot, or make a mug. Right now, I am learning about the art of Silversmithing and discovering how wonderful it is to ‘paint’ with natural dyes on fabric! I sense a new direction for my artwork coming through this newly discovered medium, perhaps with clothing, or wall hangings. I’ve been able to knit and sew since I was little – taught by my wonderful Grandmother – and I’m so thankful to have felt her love for me as she taught me these skills. I miss her terribly.

V: If you were to learn a new craft what would that be?

J: Oh don’t tempt me Vibeke – I really would love to learn how to spin – which means graduating to weaving too – and then perhaps owning my own speciality flock of sheep....oh dear...the butterfly in me will not rest...

V: A part from creating what other things do you enjoy doing?

J: Yoga, walking, taking photographs, spending time with my nieces and nephews and family.

V: Do you have any designers that you admire the work of?

J: Jillian of the The Noisy Plume – she is always so surprising and sincere with her work, I love to see what she will conjure up next! I could not hope to produce work like hers, and would not want to, but she is very inspiring.
Agnes Martin – she truly feels like a sister of my heart – her paintings are perfection.
All Scandinavian Designers – FULL STOP – they just know how to keep it simple and right.
There are so many talented people out there – I discover more and more browsing through the internet, there are way too many to list.

V: How does a perfect day look like for you?

J: It has to have a blue sky – it instantly lifts me and makes me believe that anything is possible. And if the Sun is generous with her warmth, then that would complete the perfect day.

V: What inspires you?

J: Beautiful design, and images. I need my Tumblr – it acts as my “mood- board” - I used to hoard magazines, Art, Fashion, Interior design etc, but now I just browse through my Tumblr and am happy and always inspired to keep on creating.

V: What makes you happy?

J: My children and knowing how much I love them and will always love them.

V: What do you especially appreciate in your life at the moment?

J: Life, because it can be taken from us without asking for permission. So , yes, life.

V: Are there any places in the world that you dream of visiting?

J: An old friend once told me that I was the only person he had ever met with no internal compass, which means I have no sense of direction and get lost coming out of a car park! BUT minus the fear of getting lost, I’d love to visit all the old cities in the world, Prague, St Petersburgh, Vienna – I want to absorb the architecture, and colours and design, take photographs, write at old cafe tables, eat chocolate...

V: I think it so interesting to hear about the things people collect and why. You are collecting stamps joanne, how did this start?

J: Oh V, this is my secret obsession – it’s not cool to admit to collecting stamps...
but my collection is related to childhood – and Christmas (which is for Children too right?).
It began with a set of racing car stamps my Grandmother bought for my son when he was still a toddler – it began as a collection for him as a child – but now it’s mine!

I have only just today ordered a First Day issue and Presentation Pack of the Classic British Children’s Comics – The Dandy, Twinkle etc...I get so excited (see, I told you it was embarrassing!) I love my children’s illustrators ones, children’s books, and the huge Harry Potter collection, Lord of the Rings, The Magic Stamps, and the Thunderbirds ones...oh dear, answering this question is going to take up the entire space!

V: I know that you like to read, can you share some of your favourite novels with us and also a little bit about why you like them so much?

J: I actually lost the love of reading for many years – I tried and tried to rediscover this old love, but just was not in the right emotional state of mind for it. Then I joined La Porte Rouge’s online Book club this year to force myself to read, which worked! I have devoured – literally ate up dozens of book so far this year! Your recommendation was done in an afternoon V, I loved it so much. My son is the cultural deputy in our home, so recommended quite a few off the wall books, that I was surprised to find myself laughing out loud to. “A Confederacy of Dunces” to name just one....
I have read everything written by Virginia Woolf and I have re-read, countless times her short stories. Then when I discovered that she was influenced by Katherine Mansfield, I read her short stories too! They are perfectly constructed stories – no wonder Virginia Woolf was jealous...
On my bedside table there is always Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Bishop...

V: Do you have a favourite quote?

J: “if you can’t say anything nice – don’t say anything at all...”

Because after all – there is always something good to say about a person – even if it takes a while to discover it!

V: Where would you like to be in ten years from now?

J: This one is easy – sitting in a rocking chair nursing one of my many, many (I hope) grandchildren!

Joannes blog,
tumblr, fabric site/spoonflower and Etsy.


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