Fashioned from Nature…

Fashioned from Nature…

A thought provoking exhibition at the V&A: Fashioned from Nature (FFN). I felt it important to take the time to visit. It truly opened my eyes to the close relationship we have with fashion and Nature: good and not so good.

My partner was unable to attend the show so I had a spare ticket. I found it impossible to give the ticket away to people within my social circle, which kind of viscerally emphasised a disconnect with the subject…(even if that was not the truth of the matter!). The show was eerily quiet when I visited, but it gave me the space and time to connect with the material. I’d like to think that over the duration of the exhibition there will be an acceleration of people coming to view it. It’s a new exhibition and it’s wonderful!

The show covers the global journey of British fashion from around 1600 to the present day. The lower floor is mainly covering 1600-1900’s whilst the upper floor continued into the present times. It appears that ‘everything we wear, from clothes and accessories to jewellery, is ‘fashioned’ from matter found in the world around us. Nature inspires us for fashion ideas, provision of the raw materials and also in the energy used to produce and transport them (FFN)’. If you cannot get to the London exhibition, then I highly recommend the accompanying book ‘Fashioned from Nature’ (FFN). It is extremely informative and beautifully represents the exhibition. It is full of useful facts from the widely known to the more obscure.

I was particularly shocked to read how our human relationships have developed with Nature. One example is the effect of cultures where Christianity was the dominant religion. ‘It was justified by biblical teaching, particularly Genesis I, verse 26, where God granted man dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth (FFN)This God-given mastery over the earth fits well with our economical approach to the environment. When I read this, I caught myself thinking… ‘and over WOMEN too!’. I can see why religion has never sat comfortably with me; maybe that is one of the reasons I am so fond of the tarot. Nature is seen more as a commodity or playground for man to use for economic gain. Another example is our historical fascination with adornment where we wear animal fur or, say, iridescent jewel beetle wings (I kid you not!) stitched into textiles. Where starling-trimmed hats are contorted, dyed and painted from our desire to improve on Nature. We have historically had an instinct to ‘impose a human aesthetic of beauty on Nature through artifice (FFN)’.

An issue for us in the twenty-first century is fashion’s global demands on Nature which directly threaten the flora, fauna and human environment. ‘By 1800 the processes that supported the fashion industry and its rising demands for raw materials were beginning to have an impact on the environment and some animal populations. Although there were concerns about the spread of industrialisation, particularly in areas of natural beauty, but for most people these were outweighed by its economic benefits: turning a blind eye (FFN)’. It’s a similar story today! I cannot quite believe how long we have been abusing that which sustains us. This includes the hunting of animals to the point of extinction, the pollution of air and rivers, cutting down ancient rainforests and, of course, slavery.

In recent times, there has been a more environmentally driven clean-up of the fashion industry. But, this is counterbalanced by a more pernicious force which is our hunger for consumption of commodities and having fast fashion at low-cost to the consumer and high-cost to the Nature around us: turning a blind eye again. On top of that is our rapidly expanding population and demands for finite resources.

There seems to be disconnect that is hard to reconcile: Nature comes first argument verses the pursuit of globalised economy at any cost. The economic argument appears weak when we no longer have a sustainable planet to live on. How can we shift our focus from short-term gains to a more long-term solution?  At the moment, particularly in recent world-wide political times, it feels impossible! Progression feels more like regression….

sustainable dress - Emma WatsonV&A exhibitionFerns V&A

It’s not about returning to the old ways, as they too were harmful to Nature. Plus, our population was a lot smaller back then. But, it’s about finding a symbiotic relationship between smart modern technological solutions whilst living within the finite boundaries of our planet.

An example would be reducing the amount of water used in fashion. Resources are stressed to the extent that ‘if we continue on our current path, demand for water by 2030 will outweigh supply (FFN)’. If solutions can be found where water is either not needed or can be recycled then there is more water for human consumption. Or, another example is, tracking data as to find the supplier details and journey of fashion items. In May 2017, a London-based designer Martine Jarlgaard and technology company Provenance launched a pilot collection to provide completely traceable products vis a ‘smart label’. There are so many more forward-thinking examples to read about within the exhibition or the book.

Plato's AtlanticStella McCartneyHonest By

 

Centre of Sustainable Fashion.

We are at the edges of many planetary boundaries and some have been breached already. ‘Prior to the mid-twentieth century, the earth experienced around 12,000 years of stable climate during which human civilisation developed (FFN)’. Since human industrialisation, there has been a hastening of effects on carbon dioxide emissions, rising sea levels, global extinction of species, and the transformation of land by deforestation : the age of Anthropocene. The Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Australian National University have identified nature’s limits in quantifiable terms. In naming the earth’s nine planetary boundaries, we have already crossed four (climate change, species extinction, waste pollution, land use and biochemical usage). Fashion is a significant contributor to many of these boundary breaches.

 

This exhibition has impacted me and left me deeply reflective in my decision making around fashion. Historically, I have not really invested much in fashion (let alone thoughts around it), choosing instead to direct my finances and time elsewhere. My ethical choices have been a bit hit and miss depending on the urgency of my wants and needs. But, I am at a pivot point where I now need and want to invest in my wardrobe. I am taking things slow and choosing second-hand or a ‘less is more’ approach often at more financial cost: e.g. looking at sustainable fashion brands that have more ethical credentials.  For example, I am hoping to be married in the near future and have recently invested in a simple 1970’s vintage wedding gown. Simplicity of style and what suits my body shape whilst deliberately not buying into the seasonal trends: avoiding the ‘cathedrals of consumption’ department and online stores where possible! It will take time, but informed awareness is hard to ignore in the face of our global problems. 

Finally, clothes express who we are as individuals but are also ‘lived as a process (Kate Fletcher)’…so I am excited to start reading ‘The Craft of use- Post-Growth Fashion‘ by Kate Fletcher. It looks at the fostering of sustainability in the fashion sector. I am am confident it will be interesting so I will keep you posted.

Onwards and upwards!

 

The Textured Tarot update #1…

The Textured Tarot update #1…

Hello!

This is a little update on where I am at with The Textured Tarot… I have disappeared from view lately. This is partly through moving house and location and also partly to provide myself with space to recover from a personal health challenge.

I have also been busy completing my fourth deck of cards (yes fourth! I cannot believe it). I had the courage to start and finish my own tarot deck (The Textured Tarot). Wow, what a journey I have been on with it. Through research and spending time with the cards, I have developed a deeper understanding and respect for what the tarot is about. To me, it depicts the common experiences and mysteries of being human.

The creation of this deck sprung from a desire to make something for personal growth that is accessible to understand and fashioned in a way that felt more in keeping with my values around Nature, inclusiveness, compassion and kindness. I approached this project with an open heart, as an artist interpreting the information before me.

With a beautiful mix of visual ideas of what it means to be human– it is an eclectic fusion of traditional, contemporary, symbolic and quirky illustrations. This deck taps deeply into my vulnerability which leaves me with the sense that many people will benefit from this source of inspiration. I like to think that it is an approachable gateway for people new to tarot (particularly those who fear it), or a collectors deck for the tarot card lovers. I can also see it complimenting many other tarot and oracle card deck readings.

I have just sent my final tarot deck fronts, backs, tuck-box and booklet to the printers. They will print a single copy for me to check and to  photograph for my Etsy shop. I wrangled for ages over whether to start a Crowdfunding campaign. To be honest, it feels too overwhelming for me right now, especially given my long absences from social media. The thought of a campaign became an obstacle to me finally completing the deck. I let my Instagram and Facebook audience know of my difficulties and they came to my rescue with all sorts of creative suggestions. I am so pleased that I was able to reach out.

So, I have decided to place The Textured tarot in my Etsy shop (which is now re-named as Lisa McLoughlin Art) as a pre-order advert from mid-March 2018. Once I drum up enough interest, I will be able to complete an initial print run. A more slow and organic approach feels more resonant for the introverted and highly sensitive soul that I appear to be.

I plan to share a bit more about the deck once I have the full initial print copy from my printer. I look forward to working with them. So, I hope you will join me on this tarot journey. I thank those of you waiting patiently in the wings this past twelve months. 

 

 

 

Mullein and me …

Mullein and me …

It was around 2009 when I had my first ‘intentional’ spiritual experience with a plant.

I am not professing to be an expert spirit guide or anything, but more an example of being open in the moment to whatever comes up. Simply, an innocent encounter that has impacted my creative life and journey. It literally planted a seed (no pun intended) in my subconscious for a future time; an intoxicating imprint on my soul that moves me right to the bones when I recollect it…

and so it goes

It all started when I was volunteering at Garth Organic, a hillside Permacuture garden hidden in the hills of North Wales. The experience of working there was one of the most enlightening decisions I have ever made: as it was the initial small steps to reclaiming my artist soul. One particular day in 2009, we were invited to spend an hour or so with a chosen plant that was residing within the garden space.

Choose a plant that speaks to you…’ the shaman(P) advised. ‘Sit with her quietly and study her shapes, smell, touch; listen to her; draw or paint her‘.

Therefore, I diligently obliged without the foggiest idea of what I was doing and why. I chose a (sister) Mullein plant. At the time, all I knew was that I could feel a connection to my chosen plant–a kindred spirit of some kind. I remember the sun beams warming my face; I remember noticing fur-like leaves and yellow eyes looking back at me; I remember her standing tall and proud next to a Hawthorn bush–that had an old rope, shaped into a heart, on the ground below.

So, I continued to follow the instructions from P until we were beckoned into the nearby hut (which housed a cosy old stove, lit in order to make mint tea). P took out a drum and started to beat a rhythmic tune. She described a journey that she would like to take us on, supported by the gentle drumming beats. I had no idea what to expect from one moment to the next. I remember my heart thumping in my chest, thinking that I was possibly out of my depth…

Very soon I nestled into the moment and opened my heart to a new experience. I remember seeing an image of a tree and a path with various items and animals along the way. I remember the ground was red, dry and weatherbeaten.. I remember going down a long tunnel to reach a clearing…and then.

There it was! A dancing flicker of a ‘sprite-like thing’. I could see it, but I could not hear what (s)he had to say. He seemed to be moving quickly and with urgency. To communicate his message, he jumped up and down utilising his hands as signals. He had bright yellow flame-like hair that peaked and quivered towards the sky . He was wearing a dark green tunic and leggings. He was jumping in earnest and possibly aware of my limited time on the journey. Momentarily, he looked up to the sky pointing with both hands and then on his return to the ground, he would point to the earth. Repeatedly jumping and pointing and jumping and pointing until I acknowledged the message. By now the drumming had intensified to indicate a retreat back up to the starting point. I said goodbye and thanked him and then swiftly returned to my usual reality.

As I re-told the journey to my group, I noticed P was smiling.

Stay grounded and be open and receptive to the light‘ I reflect back to P.

Welcome to the spirit of Mullein, what a gift to receive on your first journey‘ P added.

I knew, back then, it would be one of the most influential moments on my lifepath; though I had no idea how;)

so what does this mean?

I am not a plant spirit guide, I am an artist. But, I do understand and feel the connection to Nature. I am not concerned with knowing the literal botanical detail of every plant … My art and creative work simply evoke the feeling and experience that I have as I connect in with Nature. I am ignorant of many of the written plants details (my memory does not seem to be wired that way). Yet, I know how they help me to heal and how they communicate with me in subtle ways.

I know that if I stay open in the moment, my art is channeled from somewhere that I don’t need to understand. I notice that I adopt this ‘beginners mind’ approach with all my work and just see what comes up. I accept each new piece no matter what my personal judgement may be and I freely share them on social media. That is how my artwork evoles. Additionally, experiences of Nature are an essential part of my creativity and that is how I approach all of my art.

So, thank you dear Mullein plant for your special message and healing wisdom. I often need to ground myself so that I don’t get too spacey. I also need to be looking towards the light! It’s a perfect evolving balance of receptivity and groundedness.

Oracle cards by Lisa McLoughlin

The Mullein plant card was the very first card I ever designed 😉

The mirror that shines…

The mirror that shines…

‘You will never set the world on fire girl! Look at you hiding in the shadows!’  (comment when I was 8 or 9 years old).

It’s funny how paying attention on purpose can reveal useful lessons in life. It’s funny how old memories can stick around in your mind.

Let me explain…

Archytypes to ponder

I have a monthly check-in with the supportive Amy Palko. She is one of my absolute ‘go to’ people for wisdom and guidance in my personal and business life: through the eyes of the Goddess Archytypes. Actively choosing to reflect through monthly archytypes can provide so much nourishment and reconciliation with aspects of self; overlapping with the benefit of using oracle cards. This month was no exception. 

My archytype for the month is AmaterasuShe steps forward for women when it is their time to shine, and when they need to begin a process of reclaiming their light. I can particularly resonate with this as I am a regular hermit who will hide from any attention whether it is positive or negative. I can relate to the feeling of hiding in a cave. I have launched three card decks  and make beautiful pouches and wraps. I have the most amazing community of people who support me. There are live video recordings of  experiences working with my cards and products. And yet, I cannot watch them (when they are related to my craft). I dare not to look; I hide away. I acknowledge and then disappear into my creative cave.  It’s an unhelpful pattern, but I still really appreciate and value my community and their feedback. I drink in the kindness and good will. Something around the subject of confidence in my past history and my passion for what I do, inhibits me from looking too closely. This month I notice I am particularly hiding away.

So what lesson has Amaterasu got to show me this month?

I wasn’t sure anything would manifest, other than a stark awareness of my behaviourial patterns around being in the spotlight. Yet, I made an astonishing discovery that floored me a little (in a good way).

This happened…

I have been interviewed this month by a Book Detective Leda Sammarco. She has a healthy appetite for books and also the story behind creating them. After connecting with my Tree Wisdom cards in a face-to-face networking meeting, she purchased a deck. She could see correlations between the journey to being an author of a book and to the creation of a deck of cards. This overlap fascinated her, so she asked if I would entertain being interviewed for her Podcast. After a few personally awkward video interviews, I was a little apprehensive at first.

And yet I had nothing to fear, she was the most wonderfully relaxed interviewer and I could feel her genuine interest and curiosity about my journey. She teased out many truths that were also revelationary to me. You see, I may not have listened to the recording, but the process of being interviewed was a joy. I read her emails and her blogpost about my work etc. I thought ‘Wow, what a way with words she has. She really makes me sound just like the person I want to be and feel in my business’. Her response was that she was simply writing my words. Thats when I realised. I reflected on my answers to her questions, re-read my website, looked at the descriptions for my oracle cards and witnessed the truth of my work reflect back to me. Leda had been a very powerful mirror reflecting back those parts of me I am not claiming as my own.

I understand this happens a lot when we dig a little deeper into why we admire certain people more than others. But, this was a slightly different experience, as I saw my sparkling reflection through the interview with Leda. She provided the ingredients with the perfect divine timing, a comfortable space to actively listen to my answers, an inetrview without video and her passion for my cards.

If you would like to listen to the interview, then it is available through the link here. There may be things that I say that resonate with you too. I also highly recommend that you spend time listening to Leda’s inspiring Podcasts.

So what now?

I will most likely still feel awkward about watching video recordings in which I feature, or listening to my own voice, but I do know and feel one truth. I am living my life exactly the way I was meant to. I am living and evolving into an expression of my authentic self no matter how small a spark, or large a roaring flame that I may be at any given time in this world. I can shine. We can all shine!

Lost

Lost

I recently attended an event where Andres  from Way of Nature spoke. I plan to write about it another time.

However, I was particularly moved by a poem that was read out at the start. Perhaps you know it? I will place it here as I think it is beautiful…

Lost

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

-David Wagoner

 

** The picture  above is a cropped version of one of my cards from The Tree Wisdom Deck**

 

 

If my lungs are made of trees…

If my lungs are made of trees…

If my lungs are made of trees…

Highgate and Queens Wood, a clavicular breath to raise my shoulders high: a breath to remember who I am; a daily touchstone; a cosy haven.

Hampstead Heath, an expansive breath to fill my ribcage: an unfurling adventure; a journey of delight and enchantment; a pause in my weekly life.

The Open Countryside, a deep breath, with lush woods, open wildflower meadows, endless sky, caress of the sea with pebbled sands: a life-source for longing; an interconnecting web of wonder; a journey home forevermore.

Tell me about your story ‘if your lungs are made of trees.’