Monthly Archives: July 2016

Ferocious stitches: Louise Bourgeois



I visit the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition and the new Switch building. Buy three O’Keeffe prints and lie on the floor of one of the video rooms like an excited kid. Realise there is a Bourgeois Artist Room and make up my mind to come back the following week.

A week later. Hesitate on the threshold of the Bourgeois Room. Too many people. I don’t want to deal with them. In the end the spider draws me in. Not the giant one although this one is still pretty damn big.

Artist Room - Tate Modern

Artist Room – Tate Modern

Although a lot of the work is familiar, for some reason it all strikes me as much richer this time. Freed from the context of the Freud Museum (where I last encountered much of it) it seems more mysterious, more plural in meaning.  Takes me back to the unexpected intoxication of finding a small Bourgeois/Emin show in Venice some years ago.

I realise again – how do I keep forgetting? – how much she works with fabric and stitching (like Emin). The loose threads dangling from stitched lips fascinate me.

Couple 1 dangle from the ceiling. Like an adult ‘upside down doll’, two in one. The very thing I have been trying to achieve in poetry – voices sharing borders, scaffolding each other, permeating each other – done in stuffed fabric and blanket stitch.


I don’t know if this is possible to do in language – does it need this three dimensionality? Do you need to be a spinner, a worker in stitches, a spider?

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Long pause

The hiatus I mentioned in my last post has stretched on for longer than I had imagined it would. Illness (not mine), cuts in public spending (and ensuing expansion in work responsibilities) and then the painful, upsetting post-referendum turmoil have all taken me away from this blog. Some good things have happened – more details to follow! – and I have been privileged to participate in some anti-racism demos and protests that have restored a wee bit of my faith in people (although there are days when I feel increasingly like one of those Bond villains who wants to rid the earth of parasitical humanity- in an entirely peaceful way, of course!).

I rarely mention my day job on here, which is in the public sector trying to improve services for disabled children (including special educational needs)and their families, but the biggest change in my circumstance has been taking on the additional responsibility of managing a children’s race equalities and minority achievement team. I am awed by the commitment, skill and knowledge of the people I manage – including ninety bilingual workers who represent an enormous range of languages and cultures. I am not at all bilingual. In fact there are days when I am barely lingual. There is much joy in this work – not least the congruence between my activism and my day job (a rare privilege) – but post-Brexit, mid-public spending cuts, much challenge too. For this reason, I will disappear from this blog from time to time…and sometimes I will disappear just because I am being lazy!

Here’s a picture to make up for my long pause between posts – I wasn’t able to make it to a dear friend’s engagement celebration (for some of the same reasons as I described above) so to make it up to her, I sat at home and watched Bridesmaids instead. So if my posts disappear for a while you will know I am either too busy with work, writing hard…. or I’m watching Bridesmaids/the original Ghostbusters/Buffy (again)/Pushing Daisies (again), beer in hand, not missing you at all.



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