Sunday, April 20, 2014

Heaven and Earth - Revisited

Bluebells - Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c.  April 2012

May, I taste the proximity of summer, all the while walking through the oaken wood, soaked knee-deep by thick, green grasses and bluebells. A narcissus bobs to the beat of my heart. It is here I unite with all of life, known and unknown, as I stretch into the unfathomable depth and breadth of the universe. Stars tickle my fingertips as they tattoo the universal truth upon my hands. 

"You are here," they pen upon me and I whisper my understanding as I bring my arms down to caress the Camas lily at my feet. It sparkles with dew and stardust. In this moment I need for nothing, in awe of the simple perfection of life. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. May 1, 2012.

 Narcissus - Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 2014

 Daffodil - Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Shipwreck Beach - Lana'i, Hawaii
Gillian Cornwall, c. December 2006.

Choice. Most of the time, we have it in one form or another. Sometimes, we say we don't have it when we don't want to make a difficult choice. Sometimes, it is taken from us and we can only make choices about how we handle an imposed situation. 

For instance, if our freedom is taken from us and we are held captive, we can only choose the impact of that captivity. What freedoms can be found within the mind when the body is held?

Too often in my past, I have held to choices made for me by others or those I made for myself that no longer fit. Historically, I believed myself to be trapped. Now, I have grown more autonomous with age, more capable of changing what no longer fits. I am capable of moving forward with less fear of loss or change. 

The unknown is probably the most terrifying thing for people to face: "What will happen if...?" 

I guess, having been without a home in my past, seeing all manner of relationships come and go, experiencing a variety of careers, holding creatures (both two-legged and four) in my arms while they pass from this life and choosing immense changes in how I live my everyday life, I have less fear of the impact of change, regardless of the kind of choice that occurred around that change. 

A downside to choosing a life with less fear of change can be isolation - not finding like-minded folks with whom to go through life. Trust me, it's not that I don't think about what would happen if my job were taken from me or if someone I cared about passed away, but rather that somewhere, deep in my cellular make-up, I know I will not only survive, but I will flourish because I choose life, truth and love over fear. When all is said and done, I will not succumb to fear. I won't let it be a self-imposed shackle to wear through my days.

For those of you who read my blog weekly, first of all - thank you! Secondly, I know you must sometimes wonder if I am a bit dim or if I don't realize that most of my posts have a similar theme and why the blazes I call it Gillian's Art Blog - what the heck does fear have to do with art? Well, partly it's because I have had this blog since 2005 and I want folks to be able to find it easily and I feel that there is no greater art than how we choose to live. Our experiences and creations all stem from how we choose to live our lives. Thirdly and selfishly, I need to remind myself regularly that a life lived fully is the greatest life lived. I don't want to regret not saying "I love you", not taking that adventure or not holding my ground in the face of equity and human rights or sustainability issues.

My wish is for all of us to live well, to live big, to live with an abundance of joy, love, peace and experience so 'take a deep breath and smile' (as one of my dear friends says!) and enjoy your day, with love. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. April 13, 2014

Gumby and Pokey - Victoria BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. December 2006.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Life of Words

Shovel - Victoria BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2014

Some days it comes more easily than others, this business of writing. There are days when the pages fill as though the lines of the story are forming queues in my mind, awaiting their turn to travel from my brain down my neck, across my shoulder and down my arm and through my hand where they travel down a river of black ink in my eco-friendly pen and out through the minuscule opening onto the pages of my notebook. Imagine them as workers awaiting the subway at rush hour or as foot passengers, anxiously awaiting the opening of the single lane gate to board the BC ferry to the mainland. They are players on the sideline at the football match: ready, trained and poised to do their part to bring the game to an acceptable result. I'm sure you get the drift. 

Conversely, there are times aplenty when the story plays a game of hide and seek: the words, the plot, the reason is out there, or in here, somewhere, evading my search. Perhaps I wasn't clear about the boundaries for the game and the words have run over hill and dale, escaped across a border for which I do not hold a current passport. Just as easily, there is a chance they are around the next corner, down the hall, giggling under a pile of coats in the hall closet, holding back a sneeze born on a whiff of mothballs and dust. 

This week has held both experiences for me, as is often the case; nonetheless, I will write. I write. I have written. This is my path, my need, my feed, my breath. It is not choice. Whether parading the queue out in orderly fashion or letting it spill out in chaos, whether stumbling over hidden roots, far from home in a forest previously uncharted and unknown as darkness gathers, this is what I do. 

If I had no need of cash, it is all I would do. I love it. It is my closest companion and the conduit between me and the world. It is possibility and passion, fear and triumph. It is Peter Pan and Captain Hook, wine and water. It matters to me and I hope you can tell.

I am grateful to you for playing alongside me. Thank you for reading and expressing your thoughts. I hope it brings you something: inspiration, thought or learning. You are integral in this process. Thank you for sharing your time with me here, for walking beside me each week. 

If you have ever wanted to write, I hope you do it. Pick up a pen and scratch the surface. Keep digging - the treasure is there. If you require a nudge or an all-out shove, consider a course offered at a community centre or a school. Pick up one or two of the many books available. I turn to courses and books as often as I can when I need a push back to my desk (which is actually a dining room table). Here are a few of the guides that help me reset my bearings:

 Happy reading and writing. Enjoy the journey.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. April 6, 2014.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Art, Home and Voice

The Hands of Time Sculptures - by Crystal Przybille
Photo by Gillian Cornwall - Victoria, BC 

Having just moved my home across town, thoughts around place, creativity and belonging have been swirling through me. It was of concern to me to ensure that the party with whom I live is fully aware of my need for time and space to write and the freedom to work uninterrupted for hours on end. This is no small task for two people in a one bedroom apartment but, thus far, all is well.  

All of this brought me to reconsider a piece I wrote a number of years ago. I have reformed it and brought it forth once again for your consideration:

Imagine you live on the street. Where is your venue for self-expression? Do you care or is it entirely off your radar because your focus is grounded in the most basic elements of survival? Perhaps you are cold, hungry, afraid, ill, addicted and desperate in the act of surviving another day. Some people are without society's concept of home by choice - but I would dare to say that this is a very small number. Some people on the street have homes but cannot go to them because they are less safe than the street. Those homes represent abuse - mental, physical, sexual and psychological. 

I do know that many people who are living without the construct of walls and roof are not seen by those of us who do live within these constructs. I do know many housed people who haven't been in the downtown core for a year or more and they have no concept of how or why anybody could possibly be living on the streets. 

"Aren't their services for 'those people'? Aren't 'they' taken care of with our tax dollars?"

Well, 'those people' are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers and our children. They are our community elders. They are victims of violence, government cutbacks, mental illness and addiction. 'Those people' are of the universal energy that makes up every one of us; they are us. 

Living outside the boundaries of  what we deem to be normal society can come with the price of not being seen - by anyone. You are outside the realm of others vision of acceptability. You are incomprehensible by the nature of your situation and too difficult to look at, so passers-by choose to select you as unseen. If you are not seen, do you question your place in the world? Do you drift outside of yourself or do you drift progressively inward? I imagine each situation is as individual as each one of us.

I do know that, for me, art (be it writing or visual art) allows me to examine my interconnection with the world through self-expression. I would love to see everyone have the opportunity and safe space to engage in this kind of self-expression, the opportunity to be seen and heard through these media if they choose. For far too long, I have been toying with the idea of getting some art and writing supplies donated to Our Place, just to give people the option of giving it a go if they so choose.  

I think it would be totally cool if they were willing to have their work posted on-line and on walls. I do not want to speak for others; rather, I think it would be great to hear the voices of those who can utilize a safe way to speak. Could this be a conduit through which we might all become a little closer to one another, a little more understanding of each other's paths?

I do believe that self-expression is integral to our well-being and as necessary to life as the act of breathing. A picture truly can be worth a thousand words and there is poetry in them there streets. Let us be conduits for each other's voices. Let us stand together with our hearts, ears and eyes open to one another. Let us love without fear. 

If you have thoughts on this post and ideas on how to facilitate it or, if you want to help out, please leave a comment and I'll get back to you in short order. Alternatively, contact Our Place directly if you want to help out in Victoria, B.C.. If you are in another city, there are organizations everywhere that desperately require your help - be it financial or in goods or services. 

May love flow freely as a fountain and may you always be full.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. March 30, 2014

The Hands of Time Sculptures - by Crystal Przybille
Photo by Gillian Cornwall - Victoria, BC

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Change Comes

 The Blossoms on Meares - Victoria BC
Gillian Cornwall, March 2014

Magnolia Life - University of Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, March 2011

 Change, like breath, comes. It happens, with or without us - regardless of our like or dislike. I find solace in the minutiae. I pass a tree, plodding to a meeting, its fuzzy buds full to bursting with coming life, pregnant like pussy willows on steroids. I pass back an hour later, finding half sprung forth, like myriad silk tongues, paper white and still wrinkled from the cramped wombs from which they have been released. I wonder who saw this tree birth like popcorn all a-sudden and I wonder, if I stood stalk still, a tree among trees, could I sneak a peak at this arboreal miracle of life? But no time for miracles, I'm already late for my return and I trundle dutifully back to my cubicle, a giant playpen without the play, without sun, without natural light from sky nor spirit.

I push homeward down my street, lined with deep green grass and replete with a blossom blizzard as the spring winds chase through the cherries and the plums and I wonder how we do not fall to our knees with the wonder of it all, in awe of the miracle of life before us and within us.

These are the moments I cherish, with each and every breath, in this sweet, sweet life where even as I write this, the cat stretches, deep in sleep, exploring a universe that is hers alone to wander in wonder. 

My heart soars and I am in need of nothing. I offer my love to all from the fountain of life that knows no bounds.  

-Gillian Cornwall, March 23, 2014

Princess in Dreamland - Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, March 2013

The Wonder of Spring - Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, March 2013

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Opposite of Love

Time to Blossom - Victoria BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 2011

The opposite of love is not hate.
The opposite of love is fear. 
Hate is a bi-product of fear.
These are not emotions.
They are states of being.

You may choose the state in which you wish to be
for we are energy; we are the state.

Love will bring you fluidity, freedom, fullness and well-being.

Fear will still you. Fear will keep you brittle.
It is a state in which you can find yourself broken, trapped and unwell.

Move into love with your doors and windows wide open.
Let a gentle breeze glide through you in your house of love.
Shift and flow as all things in nature do.

Every moment is a miracle to live and be love.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. March 16, 2014.

 Over the Rooftops, Spring Flight - Victoria BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April, 2011

Saturday, March 08, 2014


 The Treetops - Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2011

two birds top the pines
alight on the day

they sway

where to from here?
they chirp, they cheer

the world bends an ear
awaiting a hint
in the event
that they know 
a damn thing

when they sing

they swing, splay, stay

fly away

this thing
this life
it's enough

it's just fine
not to know
it's okay
it's okay

a breath
a breeze
this heart
this mind
this bird
this day

Gillian Cornwall, c. March 9, 2014.
West Coast Sunset - Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012