Yo Yo Yo Yo!
Just having some little gift biscuits and a cup tea in my hotel room as I pack cards into 6's for my talk tomorrow. There will be 450 ladies listening so I better be on form or they will be packing me back to Blighty.
I suppose you want to know if I am nervous … which I'm not really … I don't get nervous speaking in front of people very often because I have done it so many times and my philosophy is the more the merrier! My darling parents started me in drama and public speaking classes at nursery school at the age of 8 as there was a fabulous lady teacher called Mrs Dickson who had us all learning poems and doing talks about ourselves. We entered exams every year. Topics I covered over the years were, farming, types of cows, Disney characters and Styal Village, where I am from.
It has certainly paid off and I am here in New Zealand to do a talk. Bizarre … Still don't know who suggested it so must ask.
The last very large talk I did for about 250 people was in Belfast for their EG regional AGM and it was a hoot. They were such a jolly lot and found me hilariously funny which is always a surprise and a delight. I took a huge risk when talking about 'velvet vaginas at Goldsmiths College in front what was possibly a pretty religious audience in places but they loved it.
My talks are often a roller coaster ride of emotion which people don't expect… certainly keeps them awake though. I am such a soppy old drip when I start talking about my work and often excruciatingly embarrassingly shed a tear one minute and get over excited the next … its pretty dramatic stuff I can tell you. And you thought embroidery was dull!? I must admit though, I hate it when I well up in a talk it s so embarrassing but I just have to go with the flow and really pull myself together which usually involves some heavy deep breathing, lots of snot, some pretend hysterics and relaunching myself into some kind of angry or head strong story about how I want to take over the world on my Bernina. I must make sure I have some tissues tomorrow. I am ridiculously emotional at the moment ever since I went to that god dam mission in Saint Luis Obispo and I was in absolute floods on a pew with only a crappy 3 day old paper napkin to mop up. I suppose its to be expected as I have left one life to start another and this is the 'finding myself' again bit ... oh bloody great, what a laugh. Thought Id done that.
I also did quite a biggy talk at Alston Hall in Preston, which was ticketed, open to the public AND included roast beef dinner which makes me laugh! Anyway … I had already been teaching for 3 days and was pretty tired so decided to have a glass of wine before and during the talk. It was brilliant! I told the crowd that I was the Keith Floyd of Embroidery. For some bizarre reason (I was half pissed maybe?) the evening had a certain magic about it and I was very very funny. ;)
However, there came an awkward moment when I was talking about the project I did in a mental health unit at Blackberry Hill Hospital in Bristol. I was being extremely frank about the experience and the patients that I had worked with. Suddenly a woman at the back stood up and as she marched past me, I asked her if she was OK? She said a very curt 'No, I am not.'
The talk had been going with a swing so knew I couldn't stop or falter. My head was all over the place and I was extremely worried that I had crossed the line this time with possibly a few swear words and offended this lady which to me would be devastating. I carried on regardless but my mind was swimming all over the place. In the end when she didn't reappear I stopped and I said 'I am so sorry ladies, but I just cant go on till I know that that lady is OK and that I haven't seriously offended her.' Somebody agreed to pop out albeit reluctantly to check, she was in fact a friend of this lady but had not volunteered herself thus far.
I completely lost my form for the next 10 minutes but carried it along with images and titles of work etc. EVENTUALLY, the volunteer returned, there was a long hush in the room. She came up to me at the front and quietly explained that the lady in question had had a violent reaction with the Yorkshire pudding and had had to go home very quickly.
At the end of that talk I sold out of cards, sold 4 pieces of work and gained a commission. Magic.
It made me think quite seriously about what one can and cant say. Are there boundaries as a public speaker? Should you edit your feelings and thoughts or should you go in there wearing your heart on your sleeve, guns a blazing which is generally my approach. I bet Tracey Emin doesn't worry about what she has to say in public or does she? We all edit ourselves in some form or another … I am doing it now on this blog. I can't travel through the world publicly writing what I want about the people I meet … I don't really have the right. I want to find the balance between sharing experiences and feelings without spilling my whole self into the world wide web. That could get messy. There will be times on this intensive teaching trip that I could probably throttle the odd woman, usually the know alls, (actually that has happened only once that I killed someone). there wil be times when all I want to do is go home to see my Mum and Dad or get totally drunk and abandon embroidery forever.
I don't really look forward to teaching that much, never have but feel it is a necessary cog in the wheel of promoting my work and embroidery as a whole. Once I get going it gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction to be encouraging creativity and individuality in the women I teach who in some cases have really lost their mojo I can tell you. We all lose it from time to time but you just have to keep looking for it.
Generally I teach women between 30 and 90, it's tremendously educational experience for me about what women are like of that generation … what they have to go through and how they survive, live their lives and cope. I have taught women who have lost everything and through embroidery have gained a life and special friendships again which help them through. Ordinary everyday people who like us all, have to cope with loss in so many ways from identity to family to creativity.
Oh I could go on…. but I must write my talk. I usually ad lib it bit I think I need to limit myself tomorrow or I might go off on one.
Thanks for listening!
Lou Lou Bla Bla.