Here are a few ideas for gifts for teachers as we draw to the end of term here in Scotland (although English teachers deserve thanks too!)
I have had a few conversations in the last week about buying a gift to say thank you to the teacher, and it set me thinking. When I was little, a bunch of bluebells or catkins was what our teachers use to get – we received some hedgerow flowers recently following the death of Chris’s sister and they were beautiful, but perhaps there is ony so much room for flowers in your teachers house…
If, you want to gift something longer-lasting, perhaps we can help.
These jars of love contain tiny-weeny ceramic hearts, a little treasure. See the wee jars here…
Some people have already ordered these ‘words to see you through the week.’ We have set this up so you can choose words for your teacher – or we can choose them for you. In fact, we have just recieved this from a satisfied customer; “I was just looking over my “words to see you through the week before sending them on to my son’s teacher – a perfect selection of words, thank you!”
Our poetry plaques are very popular too – each one is unique so perhaps can might see one here that would be meaningful to your teacher?
We have a range of prices so do have a browse at the website shop and the other thing we can offeris a voucher – that way your teacher can choose their own gift or book themselves in for a potterysession once we are up and running again!
We can post out orders for free or arrange collection if you are local. Enjoy browsing – and a big thank you to all the teachers out there!
https://seatreeargyll.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/LOGO-website-colours-340.png00Michaela Goanhttps://seatreeargyll.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/LOGO-website-colours-340.pngMichaela Goan2020-06-23 08:14:592021-03-26 20:44:50Thank a teacher with Seatree…
We’ve had a very up and down time during the lock down, probably like most people. One of the definite ‘ups’ has been being a part of the Secret Regatta exhibition at Tighnabruaich Gallery. Please do check it out.
There’s a link here with an introduction to the exhibition, and a video tour of the gallery with a lot of the artists work on show, including ours. It all looks so beautiful. Ros does such a good job of showing work to its very best and we feel so humbled to be a part of it.
You can also get involved yourself, which is really exciting – your memories, stories and even an art challenge!
We were among a group of artists invited to chat with the local primary school children about the work we were creating for the exhibition. They were lovely, engaged and attentive. The idea was to help them with the challenge to create something for the exhibition themselves. A couple of children cited us as inspiration and it’s wonderful. It reminds me of entering an art competitions as a child after visiting a museum. I remember the joy of that. Check out the children’s work here
This piece was a commission earlier this year for one of our tiled pictures to be sent to Australia but unframed due to customs. The customer wanted something for a gift for a family member who loves the sea and sailing – a perfect opportunity to use one of my favourite of Chris’s poems – If hope raises up these tattered sails will you send for me a fair and steady wind? The customer had seen a framed tile with those words and on when at a Christmas fair we were exhibiting at in Glasgow and contacted us in the new year. We made two and that allowed her to choose the design she liked the best, or in case one broke in the kiln firing. It was sent to the customer and she put it in a parcel being sent by all the family for a birthday treat, for someone who loves sailing. We love to make something that is specially commissioned – so much thought has already gone into it by the person making the request and we can add to the thinking and designing. It makes it a very special thing to do. Recently, we’ve had requests for ‘words’ to see you through the week’ for people in different circumstances that needed cheering along, requests to make certain items with pieces of Chris’s poetry on, when the words have resonated with them, lovely gift messages to be added to items ordered from the website. It’s so lovely to make those connections with you all. Keep them coming!
Coirsdan, from the lovely Blairmore Gallery, is running a number of on-line art workshops over the next period, and we are delighted to announce that Chris will be running one on poetry. This will be on the 16th of June, from 2PM.
We called the workshop ‘poetry appreciation’, because our aim is not to write our own words (this time) but rather to take a journey through some other wonderful poems. In doing so, we we hope to gather some insights into what poetry is for, how it connects with us and what makes some words so much more powerful than others.
Here is the blurb;
Immerse yourself in words, by taking part in this new and exciting live-online workshop. Poetry has never been more important in our lives, because it is the way we say things that matter. If you have an interest in poetry and want to learn more, this workshop is for you. Led by Chris Goan, a local poet, we will talk about poetry & explore a wide variety of poems that are moving & meaningful, in a small group. You will discover the tricks & techniques that give words power. It will be £30 per person.
Book your place now by emailing Ciorsdan at firstname.lastname@example.org
The strage thing about our new reality is that even though this workshop is local (to me) participants might be from anywhere, so if you fancy an afternoon sharing poetry with a small group, then it would be lovely to see you, if only on a screen.
If we were not going to do it now, we never would…
When the Great Silence began, we worried about all the usual things. Our income was based on three things; workshops, galleries and the big ceramics fairs. All three were cut off at the knees. What should we do? How could we survive? Michaela in particular, who has much more of a business head than I (Chris) will ever manage, felt a burst of anxiety.
But we are far from alone. Many of our friends are in the same situation- some much worse. We started to talk about other ways to do business. More than that we began to wonder whether this awful pandemic, which is coming at such a cost to so many, might also be a huge opportunity for many of us to sit back and take stock… after all, the the planet needs us all to do this more than ever.
In the middle of it all, I wrote this;
in the old way of thinking, change
comes only through Great Love, or
Great Suffering – but both are hard, both
will break us apart, if we let them
then (like third part of trinity) came
the Great Silence.
Anyway, the whole point of this post was to let people know, if you do not already, that we have been very busy on our website shop.
Previously we had used a plug-in that posted our Etsy feed onto the website. It was clunky, awkward and did not look very nice. It also made the process of selling anything laborious and quite expensive for us. In the end, after a LOT of work (because I don’t really know what I am doing) I used something called woocommerce, which actually is pretty easy if you have done anything at all with wordpress before. It all takes a lot of time though.
So, whatever the world will look like the other side of all of this (and I hope it will be very different) we now have a way to trade that is not dependent on face to face interactions.
Although we hope that soon, these will be possible too.
Here are some random pics of pieces I have uploaded. Get them before they go!
During these strange and dark days of lockdown due to COVID-19, our house has been full. Our son Will and daughter Emily both live on boats, in a boatyard that has closed, so both of them have come home, along with Em’s boyfriend James. We feel deeply blessed because whilst many of us are struggling with lonliness and isolation, we have our closest family around us. The unfairness in the world is being exposed by this virus, so I think it is right to be able to express our gratitude for the good things when they come to us.
Anyway, Emily has long helped out in the pottery when she has been around so is well used to clay. This period of lockdown has been the ideal opportunity for her to revive her clay creativity, so much so that she is planning to carry on potting, as part of a West Coast mixed income- in her case, probably including teaching fiddle, working on boats and goodness knows what else. It is the Argyll way!
We love the way that everyone brings their own personality to potting, and Emily is no different. She brings a riot of colours along with an almost obsessive attention to detail, which will be no surprise to those who know her. Emily also loves plants- and originally started making pots for succulents and cacti, so these theme will also come through her work.
You can check out and buy some of her work in our shop, as part of a flash sale, running for two days from today. Grab them while they are hot!
The way to find her work is to go to our web store and look for the category ‘Emily’s pots’.
That saying about the cobbler’s kids… I think it’s something like, ‘the cobbler’s children never have shoes’.
It’s a bit like that in our house with a half-tiled kitchen for many months, but it is now finished, even grouted. Tiles are very simple to make really, once you have a design. This is the water, hills and birds seen from our kitchen window but it my favourite red (ish) glaze.
I have a tile cutter, so there’s really no excuse for taking eighteen months to make these…
Once the clay is rolled out, using guides to make them the same width, they need smoothing, using a rubber kidney that is my favourite tool and a damp sponge for the edges. The design was etched in with a stick and then the tiles are layered between pieces of plasterboard – the most useful stuff, gathered every now and then when anyone does a house build or renovation! It helps the clay dry evenly and flat. Once dry and fired, they are glazed and fired again. And then, they make it onto the kitchen wall! Well, here they are anyway – what do you think?
What a time this has been. We are just days into the ‘lockdown’ and it’s been a whirlwind of emotion for me (Michaela). Chris has enjoyed the rise of Spring, loves isolation and having family around with projects he can help with, so he’s settled in well.
I’ve missed people popping in or coming for workshops or to chat pottery, but loved having the family home. I’ve lost my thread with no deadlines for orders, but loved having time to create without them too. I’ve panicked about money with almost all our income disappearing but then remembered how to share the little we have. Sometimes, life feels normal as we work at home anyway and then I remember, it’s all very strange indeed. I’ve felt overwhelmed by news but after deciding not to listen to radio 4 anymore, I’ve discovered wonderful dramas and hilarious comedies on BBC Sounds. The new normal – no visitors, no deadlines, no money, no radio – quiet family time, creative time, spreading kindness, discovering news things. It will do.
As for creativity and pottery and poetry. We were working to a schedule that included getting some larger, new pieces for an exhibition at Tighnabruaich Gallery that was going to run alongside the Fife Regatta – not something I was aware of before, but they are the most beautiful boats. The regatta itself is cancelled now, but we decided to go ahead and create anyway, as we had done the thinking and the planning and the ideas were now there, waiting to be made. You can see the beginnings of some of the work here. Stay tuned for the finished pieces. We’re not sure yet how they will be exhibited or when, but the creating of them has been good. Chris wrote some new poetry for the pieces too so that gives me some new words to share with you all.
Meanwhile, we wish you well, and hope that you are staying safe and finding some good moments to get you through these strange days too.
https://seatreeargyll.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/LOGO-website-colours-340.png00Michaela Goanhttps://seatreeargyll.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/LOGO-website-colours-340.pngMichaela Goan2020-04-07 09:22:562021-03-26 20:47:15The sun sets but still uprises
Chris used to be a mental health professional and Michaela was formerly a counsellor, so mental wellbeing has always been part of our thinking at Seatree. This is a re-post from Chris’s blog (www.thisfragiletent.com), as we wondered whether it might be helpful to other frustrated and stressed creatives out there.
Understandably, there is a lot of fear around at the moment.
Most of us are living with background anxiety, which is almost unnoticed, a bit like the noise from a ceiling fan which we will only realise is there when someone switches off.
Then there are those spikes of things that approach dread and terror, perhaps when the threat posed by the virus comes closer to us or someone we love, or when we see empty supermarket shelves, or when we think about the consequences of our income security being undermined.
Some of us are suffering more than others- perhaps you are not sleeping, or noticing a spike in blood pressure. Perhaps the stress is triggering migraines or even panic attacks. If so, you are not alone. We are all feeling it, one way or another.
What can we do to manage this anxiety? I’ve been thinking about this a lot. It used to be part of my job to support people who were suffering from anxiety, back when I was a CBT therapist, so I really should know something about this stuff. In many ways this feels different though, because what we are going through is a shared experience, despite the fact that the lock down is putting is all into our own little boxes to suffer alone. It is like sitting in an Anderson shelter back in 1940, but the bombs are silent.
But that kind of thinking does nothing to dispell anxiety, right? And actually, the war analogies are perhaps being overdone. The comparisons between now and then soon come unstuck when you think about it.
What we used to talk about when we put together a plan of managing anxiety is identifiying things that do not help (in the sense that they perpetuate the anxiety) and trying to do less of them, and then indentifying some things that do help, and doing more of them. The realistic aim is never to dispell anxiety alltogether, rather it is to recognise it and reduce it when it comes in such a way that love and life becomes possible again.
So can we apply some of this thinking to our current situation?
Identifying the things that might be making things worse
In my old CBT days, we would look for two patterns; firstly, we would look in detail at some the last time an anxiety incident really spiked. We would consider what triggered it, and what ‘automatic thoughts’ arose in us at the time.
By ‘automatic thoughts’ we meant those ideas about ourself and the world that sit just below consciousness, shaping our actions and reactions. Most people struggle to identify these at first- after all, the are mostly subconscious. One tirck is to ask yourself some simple questions in relaiton to the incident; What does it say about me that I reacted like that? What does it say about other people? What does it say about the world? Pretty soon, what begins to emerge is a set of clues as to what is pushing us towards anxiety, and why we are being so hard on ourselves.
In coronavirus terms, some of us are more vulnerable to anxiety because of the automatic thoughts that we already carry with us. “I am not someone who copes well with things” “My mother always said I was weak” etc. The thing is, we can’t change these ideas overnight, but it can help to identify the pattern. Simply put, the universe is giving us a bit of a kicking right now, but there is no reason to join in. It is important to be kind to yourself, and realise that you, like all of us, are doing the best that you can.
The second pattern we would look for would be what we called ‘safety behaviours’, by which we meant those habits, patterns of coping and self managment that evolved alongside the anxiety itself. The strange thing is that many of the things we do to help us cope do not help at all in the long run. At best they stop our nervous systems from finding more healthy ways to deal with the anxiety, at worst they become a problem in their own right. Two examples that spring to mind from both ends of the spectrum are as follows; people faced with social anxiety will often use a mobile phone as a ‘fidget’ and way of distancing themselves within social situations. Nothing wrong with this, right- we all do it a bit. But then ask the same person to imagine going in to a social situation without their phone, and a pattern of dependency might be revealed that actually perpetuates the social anxiety, but does not make it go away. In this way, something that starts out to be a good thing, helping us enture the social sphere eventually leads us down an backwater which we find hard to escape from.
A more extreme version of this is somone who uses substances to suppress comlex emotions and anxiety- this might range from drugs/alcohol through food and even the dopamine highs of sex or anger. Which of us can honestly say we have not done one or more of these things? Having a drink might even be socialy subscribed within our culture, despite the huge problems this brings in to the lives of many people.
So, in the age of coronavirus, what safety behaviours have we been reaching for? Remember, this is not intended to beat you up- we are all being kind to ourselves, right? But perhaps it is good to be honest, and recognise where these might be potentially problematic.
here are three common safety behaviours that I would like to emphasise that I think we have all been drawn towards at present.
Anger. Faced with fear and uncertainty, we humans have the propensity to look for people to blame. In most complex situations (such as a pandemic) it is hard to find a target for this blame, so instead we have this unfortunate tendency to scapegoat. We look for others who are ‘less than’- whose behaviour or attitudes can be seen as somehow reprehensible. This turns to anger because ‘they’ are ‘putting us at risk’ or ‘stockpiling food so that I can’t buy beans’ (the last one being one of mine!) Anger like this however is a dangerous drug. It reduces complexity to apparent black and white simplicity and it potentially makes victims in a situation where there is quite enough trouble all ready.
Infotainment overload. Faced with fear and anxiety, we are all glued to our screens. Of course, the internet is an incredible gift to us in lock down, allowing us to connect and communicate in ways inimaginable a short while ago. Of course, it can all be a bit too much though, right? Do we really need to rolling news to be on the TV all day, cycling though the same tales of doom? Does it help us? Social media brings an even greater mixed blessing, as it enable people to vent anger and strong opinion. Screen based communication has this way of not being real, but instead being ‘hyper-real’- a polished up, simulated version of reality. We are not ourselves on Facebook, we are our hyperselves. The virus is not real on Twitter, it is hyperreal (with a load of expletives thrown in for good measure!)
Stockpiling. It is not US who are responsible for the empty shelves. It is THEM. But how many of us have changed our shopping habits, even if just a little? This is not a phenomenon of the greedy careless individual (no matter how this might be portrayed on our screens) rather it is what happens when fear enters into the consciousness of every single shopper. So, I might buy 6 tins of beans when I normally buy 4 and then the twenty people after me do the same, which means the twenty first person goes beanless- which is a terrible place to be! I have also joked about panic gardening, because those extra turnips and courgetes might be the difference between life and death! Of course, there ain’t nothing wrong with a bit of veg planting, and actually I think we should all be doing it anyway, but I recognise that for me, this is a safety behaviour
Indentifying what we can do that will help
This emerges from the discussion above, because we are all different. However, I started to make a list of things that might help. Here we go…
Limit screen time. Not for everyone, because we are addicted. But what about those books you were going to read? Is it time to get the guitar out again? How about checking the news just twice a day, and limiting Facebook to once or twice too?
Switch off notifications on your phone. Related to the point above.
Look for ways to help, if you are able. One of the best ways to feel alive is to love. Love comes in many forms. It might be doing some shopping for someone else, or it might be a phone call to someone you have not heard from for a long time but you know will probably be on their own. Inversely, those who get the most out of helping others are often those who need the most help themselves.
Avoid worst case scenario thinking. There will be an inevitable time for asking ‘what if’ but if we stay there, it can become a worm hole into anxiety. Give yourself some time for these questions, then try to move on to something practical and positive.
Keep your communication kind. At risk of getting all soft and squishy, social media is often a race to the bottom. We all get sucked in to a good scandalised whinge sometimes. Now more than ever, resist. Let’s try and out-kind one another.
Divide your time into useful blocks. Particularly those self isolating or in lock down at home, the days can be very long. It can help to set a daily agenda- a bit like the morning ‘Parliament’ on St Kilda, where each day, the men (and it was just the men, the women were too busy) met to decide the work of the day.
Keep physically active. Did you see the story about the bloke who ran a marathon on his 7 meter balcony? That might be a bit extreme, but nothing reduces anxiety like aerobic excercise. Make use of this each day- if you can’t get out of the house, there are loads of other excercise options. Remember those old Jane Fonda videos on Betamax in the back of the cupboard?
Talk to someone. For intorverts like me, lockdown has some real advantages. I like to be in my own internal space, but I know too that if I am in there too long it is not good for me. If you are feeling isolated and alone, then reach out. Ask someone if they would be your virus-companion. A little can go an awful long way.
Get outside if you can. Green spaces change things inside you. This is not just tree-hugging cant, it is scientific fact. Check this out if you don’t believe me. We have the gift of spring bringing renewal all around us, go and immerse yourself in it. Celebrate it.
Do something new. Learn origami. Take up bridge. Write poetry. Use the time you have been gifted with for something new.
Look for grace, not grievances. To a certain extent, fear arises not only from circumstance, but from the part of that circumstance that you attend to. If you look for cynicism and anger you will find it. If you look for hope and stories of human goodness, they are there in abundance too. Which ones will find greatest traction on social media? I refer you back to the start of this list. That is not to say that we live in unreality, but rather that we choose to celebrate the grace that is all around us when we can.
Take moments for stillness. I read a beautiful poem recently in which the poet described what we are going through right now as ‘the great silence’. The best that could come out of this for our nation and for our planet is that we might take this time to pause and consider our path to this place and the road we might wish to take beyond. Perhaps meditation or prayer might help. Or perhaps it is enough to listen to birdsong.
Laugh as often as you can. Look for the absurd in yourself and the world. We Brits are supposed to be good at this, right? After all, nobody espected the Spanish Inquisition, or Coronavirus. The other day we went for a walk and met a couple walking down a track. They looked terrified and scurried by, hugging the fenceline, keeping as far from us as possible whilst watching in case we made a movement towards them. Unfortunately, the woman walked into a tree. You have to enjoy that, surely?
It has been said that the most often used command recorded in the Bible is this one; do not fear. Easy for Jesus to say, harder for us to impliment. Religion is certainly no antidote to anxiety.
But we humans do need to search beyond our current cirumstance into the beautiful beyond. Don’t lose your wonder. Remember the mystery that is beyond everything. The universe is not done with us yet.
Keep safe friends, and let’s meet on the other side.
https://seatreeargyll.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/LOGO-website-colours-340.png00Lloyd Hobbard-Mitchellhttps://seatreeargyll.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/LOGO-website-colours-340.pngLloyd Hobbard-Mitchell2020-03-25 10:23:492020-03-25 10:23:49Keeping sane and healthy in an age of Pandemic…
We are doing some new things, because in these uncertain times, the only way we know how to respond is to do so creatively.
Below are some details of some new on-line workshops we are planning. If you are interested, please get in touch!
Poetry for the sociably distanced
The human animal is above all a social creature. How do we make sense of a world in which every-day social activities are suddenly forbidden? How do we continue to recognise our shared humanity?
We would argue that for such times as this, we have poetry.
Poetry connects us in at least two ways; firstly, it connects us internally with a deeper version of ourselves. Secondly, it connects us with the vulnerable humanity of others. Like many human activities, poetry is often consumed alone, but is at its best when shared with others.
We have often bemoaned the way flesh has been replaced by silicone, but now through the wonders of the internet, we can be together, even at distance. To that end, we have been thinking about ways to share poetry…
Introduction to poetry; a short on-line workshop for the sociably distanced
Poetry does not belong to the elite few.
Poetry uses YOUR language, not someone else’s.
You have been reading/writing/listening to poetry all your life, even if you did not know it.
If you don’t like poetry, you’ve been reading the wrong poems for you.
Poetry is the way we say things that matter.
In this workshop, we will talk poetry and read poetry. We will decide together exactly which direction to take but expect to talk about tricks and techniques as we immerse ourselves in lovely words.
The workshop works in two ways;
Individual, family or household group, connecting with Chris on skype or facebook
Multiple venues/individuals connecting on skype of facebook (as a group chat.)
Chris will e-mail a selection of poems in advance that will give a decent spectrum of poems- although these are poems that he likes, so you might want to share some of your favourites too.
£40 For family/friendship group (either one venue or multiple)
Writing poetry; a creative workshop for the sociably distanced
There are no experts here, just people who love words who want to encourage one another. This workshop will be split into two parts and conducted over skype or facebook (whichever is more convenient.)
In the first part, we will discuss what it means to write- our personal experiences, successes and failures and what we have learned along the way. We will then agree some challenges and go away to do some writing of our own.
In the second part, we will share our experiences and the words that have emerged.
https://seatreeargyll.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/LOGO-website-colours-340.png00Michaela Goanhttps://seatreeargyll.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/LOGO-website-colours-340.pngMichaela Goan2020-03-22 16:59:012021-03-26 20:47:49Poetry for the sociably challenged…