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.

4 Responses to LOVE IS AWESOME

  1. Lara says:

    I love your love is awesome work. I have one of your prints in my bedroom and when things have seemed too far in the last few months, it has brought me much comfort and hope for the future. I love the badges (and I really hope someone who loves power tools buys a badge)… Big love xxx

  2. Meredith MC says:

    Thanks for sharing this post. Even in a happy LTR, I have very mixed feelings about Valentines day. It seems to put emphasis on the fantasy of a loving relationship, aka infatuation, rather than the reality, which in my experience encompasses all kinds of emotions and a willingness to share them honestly. Sometimes I am still infatuated with my partner, which is a gift in itself after 20 years. Some days we lean on each other it’s about comfort. Sometimes we challenge each other. It is difficult to pick a day and say to celebrate the romantic aspects of our partnership, because that might not be where we’re at right then. And it feels limiting, and false. Love is so much more than hearts and flowers. It’s chainsaws, and pokey pins, and like wool/silk tweed, beautiful and rustic and luxurious even as it’s a bit scratchy.
    Maybe we need Valentines day, because the fantasy of true love is so much kinder than the reality, which is that it changes you, and it hurts, even when it’s really great. I think this is true of important friendships too, not just “romantic” love.

    • What a thoughtful comment;

      I agree with what you say. For me Valentine’s Day has become an annual opportunity to reflect on “love” as I see it, which is far more complex and juicy and deep and mixed up and real than Hallmark would have you believe. Hence I always end up making things which reflect that complexity around this time of year – and I try to offer an alternative aesthetic for “love” to the sickly pink sweetness normally associated with the date.

      I really love how you have described the way that love is like wool/silk tweed – “beautiful and rustic and luxurious even as it’s a bit scratchy” – that’s how I see it, too.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it.

  3. colleen says:

    You have perfectly captured the preferences of the two people I most love. My order will be in your inbox by now.

    And we all loved that first set of Valentine cards – was it really so long ago I bought them?

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