Long-term readers of this blog will remember the show I was involved in with Stavroula Kounadea, Rachael Matthews and Emmylou Laird, entitled Love is Awesome. The show opened on Valentine’s Day 2009 during a period in my life when I felt too heartbroken to acknowledge that date in the conventional, syrupy, teddy-bears-and-flowers fashion. Both Love is Awesome and Valentine’s Day became instead contexts for exploring the idea of the Awesomeness of Love from more complex perspectives. I spent that era thinking about how powerful love is; how love can destroy as well as create; how ‘awesome’ can mean terrifying as well as wonderful; and how uncomfortable and complicated our most important personal relationships can be.

One of the most moving things about that time was the quantity of private responses I received from people about how the show had touched them, or helped them to move through difficult feelings re: their own lives. It made me think that Valentine’s Day will always be for me a time to honour the broken heart as well as the happy one.

Every year as the inevitable Greetings Card Festival rolls around, I find that the thing I recall most keenly from Love is Awesome is the Card-Making Station at which people made their own Greetings Cards. This installation was a simple affair; a small desk with a cork-board attached to it, a stack of blank cards and ink-pads, and a random selection of rubber-stamps for people to use. It was a simple presentation of everything required for the creation of Greeting Cards. What amazed me about the public’s use of this interactive piece was firstly how very few people wanted to actually take their cards home with them, and secondly, how unsettling the imagery was that folks felt able to create in the privacy of the gallery, with nobody watching them. I have kept the cards people made and left in the gallery as a testimony to the complexity of the human heart and all the difficult as well as wonderful feelings that it can hold. Here’s a selection of anonymous creations:

I still have artworks left over from the 2009 show; 6 of the LOVE IS AWESOME letterpress and screenprinted posters (which were nailed to the wall in the gallery) and 2 full sets of the ANTI-VALENTINE’S DAY CARDS which I created back then.

In the spirit of these works, and in recognition of the idea that Love is Awesome, I have created 3 ltd. edition badge designs. There are only 15 of each, and they are now available to buy in my Etsy shop.

Each design features a shmaltzy Valentine’s Day image on the front of the tag – roses; the word LOVE; a heart wrapped with flowers, etc.; – and the image of a chainsaw on the back. Then the badge itself is covered in either pure wool or wool/silk tweed fabric. The idea is that one side is soft (the Rose-mantic images; the wool covering on the badge) and the other side is spikier (the chainsaw; the pin).

Buy them for yourself, for someone with a sense of humour who you love, or for someone who is really into power tools.

In other news, I have been darning socks and editing the Sonic Wallpaper interviews, and I am scheduling a Sound Diary focussed all around the sounds of sheep which I gathered in Cumbria, for March.

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