Skip to content

Posts from the ‘art’ Category

Strange Opening

The gap you left
Must be filled
With a new kind of love
Your body
On my body
The perfect dance
Of how it should be
But things are
What they are
And we twist and turn
Caught in the knot of reality
How to surrender
Breath by breath
Without giving up?
A dive into dark
And a longing for life
Leads the way
Unknown
To a strange opening
Freshly lit
By a light touch
And a fledgling trust
That something
Will
Happen

 

 

Autumn Self

My autumn self is walking
Not knowing where it is going
But feeling
The outstretched arms of orange trees
The empty expanse of a damp cold field
Reaching inside to a place that is tender
An aching seed of shaky surrender that says
This is it then?
This isn’t half bad
Or half good
Don’t try and be the one you think you should
The gaps between things are trying to tell you to slow down
Stop even
Breathe in the Saturday afternoon gloom
It’s only going to get worse after all
So why not start small?
Admit that success is a tiny fire in the heart
Nothing more
Nothing to roll over and die for
And this dull absence of everything you want
Is simply the vacuum from which all is created
Even as long as you have waited
It was only ever the beginning
Of endlessness

Wandsworth

On the eve of my big trip to the States I take a walk to my beloved common to say goodbye to the ducks, and feel genuine sad joy at leaving them, knowing that if I return there are some reliable sources of happiness awaiting me.

Back home ostensibly packing, sifting through notebooks decorated with unsent letters to old non-boyfriends, inexplicable cartoons and provocative notes from dharma talks, I find a poem I must have written by the pond in Winter.

I just keep breaking through
more walls
falling through floors
a hard no becomes
soft gel mush
weeping waterfall
proximity of dogs is bewildering
missing you
in the perfection of a duck’s beak
the cold clear evening
never to be shared
and still believing
in love like a wise warrior fool
clinging to the skimpy
edge of a crescent moon
reclining into dusk

Wandsworth Common

let me explain

let me explain
i’m a warrior
non-violent
bleeding in all the right places
heart, womb, mouth
heavy and light
i like the warm days
and the cool nights
sweat on your back like daisies
smile of a dragon
don’t believe in nothing
for a reason
everything happens
or doesn’t
but i’m a warrior
still and moving
forward and back
hot train on a spiral track
can’t be found underground
but flying
open and wide
free as a moon
balancing on the dark tide
i’m a warrior
woman all over
brighter than pools
of rock faced sea
just being what it fits me to be

Heart Break Gap

 

Heart Break Gap from Annalie Wilson on Vimeo.

 

Tax Return: A Spiritual Guide

Business description:

This is my favourite part, every year!

There is a limit of 42 characters.

Describe the indefensibly chaotic way you have chosen to just about survive in this world, in 42 characters…

“Pain causes art which sometimes pays bills”

“Waiting tables while dreaming of big break”

“Watching all my illusions slowly crumble”

It’s a fun game! HMRC is helping me to lighten up and enjoy life. At the same time sharpening my mental agility and integrating my heart and mind.

And not only that, it’s a profoundly spiritual exercise.

Enforced brevity is making me think long and hard about what it is I’m doing with my time.

This year I am going to come up with something really blinding and succinct that I can also use to describe myself to people at parties.

I find myself fantasising about a recognisable job title that does not provoke further questioning.

Ah the misty-eyed myth of the artist – so lucky to be doing what they love all day every day and making millions from it

Oh the dreamlife of waking at midday, lounging in cafés, sauntering round art galleries soaking up inspiration, occasionally injecting heroin into one’s eyeballs

HMRC tolerates no such frivolity!
Self-employment is a serious business. A sobering term that suggests responsibility, stability and independence.

Self-assessment is the annual retreat of the self-employed. A time for inner reflection. What’s working? What’s bringing me down? What’s totally bankrupting me?

Of course if one were to get into a true assessment of self, the ultimate end point would be utter dissolution into complete space and openness.

Only it’s hard to convey that to the tax authorities. In 42 characters. But I’m game for a try.

Describe your business:

Birth, something something something Death

Gaily wasting time in blizzard of eternity

Living, loving, learning, longing, losing.

 

Abraham Cruzvillegas’s installation at the Tate Modern – as a self-employed person I could literally stand and stare at this all day.

Abraham Cruzvillegas’s installation at the Tate Modern – as a self-employed person I could literally stand and stare at this all day.

Remembering Raphael Jago: Giving up on giving up

Whenever I dream of Raphael Jago, I know it’s about not giving up. In the sense of not giving up on myself. Mr Jago was one of those people that cut through my bullshit in a really healthy and jovial way. The first time I met him was my first audition at Webber Douglas. All the other auditions I had were pretty standard but this one stood out. It was about waking me up. He re-directed my piece right there in the audition. He called me out on a couple of my tricks. He got me to address the panel directly, as if it was actually happening now. Which it turned out, it was. I left that church feeling exhilarated, like I’d just been run over by a truck, creatively speaking. I loved it.

I was put on the waiting list for a place at the school. Group sizes were small, competition was fierce. I decided to pay him a visit to try and convince him so I took a train to London from Leeds where I was living at the time, and I went to the school unannounced and met him on the stairs. It was a true meeting. He seemed amused and impressed by my nerve. He gave an enigmatic answer with that mischievous smile of his. I knew we had connected.

During my time at Webber Douglas my relationship with authority was, as it very often is, somewhat rocky. Whevever I go, I seem to feel the need to shake things up, to question the way things are run, to point out injustice, to campaign against complacency. It’s not an easy path in life. There were times when we disagreed. But Mr Jago was someone in a position of authority who seemed to admire this spirit in me and in others. I felt he had a talent of really seeing the essence of each person and their potential.

I felt he saw my potential, in a way that I could not at the time. He saw what was unique about me, and he saw the challenges it presented in terms of the industry. He gave me an opportunity to try out for a big scholarship, massive panel audition, terrifying ordeal. We had extra classes together, he reflected on the unique set of qualities I had, that was nevertheless difficult to pin down in terms of casting. When it came to the crunch I crumbled under the pressure. Nerves, clinging, hope and fear – I am frequently crippled by nerves as it turns out. Perhaps this is exactly why I have chosen – or been drawn into – a life of performance. It is where I learn. It is where I burn up ego like a moth in a candle. It is where I die and am reborn in every adrenalin-fuelled moment.

Two days ago I attended a memorial service for Raphael Jago at the Actors Church in Covent Garden. A church full of former students, all with their own story to tell about this legendary man and what he had meant to their career. Music, words, contemplation and much Anthony Sher, Samantha Spiro, Julian Fellowes, Terence Stamp, Steven Berkoff, Hilary Wood, Alexa Jago and more wonderful people paid touching tribute, through performance or personal recollection. I had not up to this point known that Arthur Miller had been Mr Jago’s favourite playwright. I had always been obsessed with Miller and had written my university dissertation on his plays, which I knew backwards. Death of a Salesman, quoted so movingly by Alexa Jago, was a particular favourite. I often think of Willy Loman’s line, ‘I still feel – kind of temporary about myself’ as a heart-breakingly poetic expression of the experience of living.

What thrilled me most was realising that my experience of Mr Jago had been so similar to that of many others just like me. I felt joyful to reminisce over my time at Webber Douglas, to hear the stories of others, to be part of that blessed tribe. I saw my teachers again with renewed gratitude and love. It wasn’t always easy of course. Nothing in this profession, or indeed in this life, is without challenges. But to know that I belonged to an institution, or rather a community that fostered such a creative and anarchic spirit fills me with inspiration to go on, and never to give up on myself.

Giving Birth to Album No. 2

What the hell do I know about giving birth eh? I don’t even have any babies to show for it. Well if you do not like metaphors, stop reading now because the entire premise of this blog post is based on one.

And at the same time it’s not a metaphor at all. Giving birth in an actual sense is the ultimate creative act. There’s you, and then there’s all this other stuff that’s involved – genetics, DNA, environment, karma, and all of that belonging to the other person too.

Similarly when I make a song it’s coming through me but it’s not completely made of me. I’m a conduit (I like this word.) And when I make a whole album of songs, that’s a bit like conceiving and giving birth to duedecuplets. (I had to look this up, and there is not an official word because 10 is the greatest number of babies on record.)

Imagine then, if the passage from conception to birth were impeded by financial constraints, band breakups, vocal complaints, general confusion, tangential creations of other albums, tours, and the like. Imagine if your twelve babies got stuck in your womb while you waddled around pregnantly creating a whole bunch of other stuff. Would that be comfortable? I don’t think so.

What if, waiting in line behind these overdue babies was a whole other set of twelve in various stages of development. What if they started to overtake the older ones. Would there be a struggle? Who would win?

Apparently some of the pain of childbirth derives from the difficulty of the mother’s body in letting go. It’s hard to let go of your creation because how do you know when it’s ready? In the case of childbirth, nature wades in and makes that choice on the whole. In the case of an album you’re on your own. You could keep on tweaking ad infinitum. Is it ever going to be the shining masterpiece you hoped it would be?

I’m going to let go of album number 2 now. It has been an epic journey and I am grateful to those faithful people who have helped by contributing their time, energy and creativity. I can wholeheartedly say that I’m proud of it and I did my best at every step of the way.

There are even some bits that I like.

Open Heart Circus will be on sale Thursday 27th November. Come to the FREE launch gig at The Bedford Pub in Balham the same day at 8pm. Limited Edition CDs will be available.

https://www.facebook.com/events/878538085492152/

Drowning Cone/Glowing Cone

I’d like to share with you my latest work, Drowning Cone/Glowing Cone. It deals with impermanence and the fragility of existence: glowing one minute, drowning the next. Nor is this phenomenon limited to cones. The work could also be experienced as a metaphor. As part of National Cone Week I am giving away a mystery prize to anyone who can name the original location of each cone.

Light and Puddles

It is such a privilege to make music in this world, but please, never assume that it is easy. The challenges, disappointments, stresses and sensitivities involved in creating something I can be proud of are continually taking me ever closer to breaking point. But what I realise now is that breaking point moves a little further away each time as I progress, make mistakes, learn to forgive myself for them and carry on.

The level of sensitivity required to feel and express what I experience of this world in my own unique way can rub uncomfortably against the financial and worldly realities of making a record or a tour, of working under pressure of time, in conditions that are far from ideal, of getting on with others and keeping connection in performance despite external and internal anxieties.

I wanted to say this because I know that social networks are a place where you share all the good stuff that shows how well you’re doing so people can like it and be a part of your success. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but it is imbalanced and symptomatic of our culture’s insistence on denying that the painful, difficult, ugly aspects of life are inevitable and pretending that the right elixir is out there for your particular brand of suffering if you are willing to search and spend enough.

People often laugh at me for focusing on suffering or the darker side of existence, they say I’m negative or a perfectionist or perhaps I should just relax and be happy. Yes worrying is fruitless, yes we should all relax and be happy, but until you look into what’s making you miserable how are you going to let it go?

Contentment, I have found, is a live process, not an achievement.  The kind of happiness that is gained from ignoring suffering is of little interest to me, although of course I continue to be dazzled by its promising sheen on a regular basis.

For me it is laughable that the possibility of happiness could exist without acknowledging the existence of suffering, the suffering that goes on at a low level in all of us all the time. Embarking on a creative project is like turning up the heat on that suffering to maximum and watching myself burn. And yet that is what I do with my life energy and that is how I spend my time and money.

Maybe that makes me a masochist or simply an artist, but I think all I am really trying to do is get close to truth of things as they are because I believe that is how real relaxation is found, not by switching off or hoping for the best when things are clearly not going well.

Failure is such a dirty word. I’m terrified of it myself. It’s like I’m running a race, I’m the only entrant, and I’m also the judge who sets impossible obstacles and keeps moving the finish line, all the while providing a running commentary on what a disappointing performance this is and how we had hoped for better.

I’ve been reading a book called ‘Tuesdays with Morrie,’ leant to me by a good friend. It was just what I needed. How would we live differently if we knew we were nearing the end of our lives? We can all roll our eyes at that old cliche or we could contemplate it every day and see what changes. Revisiting the wonderful ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ recently after the tragic death of Robin Williams, I was reminded of this great teacher’s lesson to his students, considering the students of the past, whispering ‘Carpe Diem’ as an inspiration.

As Morrie says, echoing the Buddha Dharma, death is necessary for new life to take place. Death of a dream, an idea, a fantasy, a relationship, these are all painful but inevitable stages in any journey of the life of a human being or an artistic endeavour. Do we dare to look directly at our experience in all its excruciating detail? This is where the jewels are, the lessons that soften us and keep us moving forward.

One thing I will say for myself, is that while I really know how to suffer, I also really know how to have a good time. It’s not a coincidence. Those (including myself) who think they can have sparkly magnetic liberated dancing Annalie without dark brooding volatile chaotic Annalie are gonna be disappointed in the long run.  Maybe it’s even better this way. The light reflected in the puddles has a beauty of its own.