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Making videos: sarah tells stories

Edinburgh Dream Factory has a brand new YouTube channel where we can post stories of what our dream factory projects are up to and travel around the UK bringing you inspirational stories from makers and performers and the things that inspire them.

Our first outing with the camera was to record a video for Sarah Agnew to promote her new crowdsourcing page on Patreon. This is a website that allows you to be a patron of the arts, and support people and projects you care about. Like Kickstarter, it asks for money in return for works of art, writing etc, but not for one project, this is an ongoing commitment. It will allow an artist to have a measure of independence and flexibility and go some way towards a guaranteed income. In return, you get special bits and bobs only for patrons.

Please subscribe to our channel and support Sarah!

An Advent Diary

Here’s something I wrote for the Gathering on 3rd December. Hope you enjoy.

8th November

I always buy wrapping paper first, before I’ve even bought a gift.

It’s my signal that the year has turned and I am ready to acknowledge its end.

I dream.

My presents will be glorious in their pile beneath the tree.

Perfect.

Wreathed in ribbon and crowned with a metallic bow.

I never buy enough gift tags.

26th November

Should I make a Christmas cake this year?

My favourite winter treat. Sugar, brandy, marzipan, fruit. The majesty of a hidden cherry.

No.

We won’t be home to eat it. We don’t have guests to share it.

Yes the first slice will be amazing, but I will eat half of it and put on seven pounds.

Just. like. last. year.

10th December

First sighting of the Christmas Radio Times double edition.

I buy it every year. Even though all the information is online.

Taken home. lovingly scoured. Thrills noted.

TV set to record.

14th December

I am up a ladder. Dust in my hair.

Searching for a shoebox of baubles.

Every year I must add a new radiant something.

Glitter dusted paper stars. Handmade in India.

Tense.

We assemble our plastic tree. Branches labelled A-F to be inserted in their rightful places.

Unravel the lights. Let out a breath as they illumine.

Spin our shining fantasies of coloured glass.

Shit. I dropped one.

17th December

I am at a German market. I’ve had a sausage in a bun.

A belgian waffle drowned in nutella and three mugs of heavenly gluhwein.

No-one will go ice skating with me.

Again.

19th December

The Christmas cake is in the oven.

23rd December

I am wrapping presents. This is all there ever has been

and all there ever will be.

I run out of sellotape.

Should I go out and get more? Or make do?

Blue-tak it is.

24th December

No more work for over a week.

We are on our way.

Car packed tight with blue ikea bags of love.

Slade is on the radio and just this once, that’s ok.

I sing along.

29th December

This is it.

This is the time I remember.

The time I long for.

Christmas has passed in a flurry of family, children, toys.

I am sitting by the fire, book in my hand.

Christmas specials all watched out.

I am wearing new socks.

I glow.

Thank you.

Jesus.

This is Methodism …

Last sunday I was at Kirkcaldy Methodist Church. I’m what’s called a ‘local preacher’, which means I’m one of the people who take sunday services. It’s not every week, maybe once a month, and I’m based in Edinburgh but I could be going out to any of the churches in the Lothians or Fife. ‘Local’ is relative in this case.

I decided this time to let the congregation create the service. I just asked them questions, and wrote down their answers on a long roll of paper I’d set up. I love the unpredictability of it. During the prayers I asked people to name something they were thankful for and one guy said ‘death’, I’m still not sure if he was winding me up or being incredibly deep and refreshingly honest. Maybe it was both.

For the sermon, I set the scene and they wrote it for me. Here’s roughly what I said:

The bible reading we used (Romans 13:8-10) suggested that Christianity from its earliest days simplified what religion had become. There was now one thing that was important; love. Jesus said that these two were the most important commandments; Loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and loving your neighbour as yourself. Everything else could be worked out from those two basic principles. Every so often the church needs a reformation to remember her important first principles. What are the key important and simple things about Methodism that will enable it to flourish into the future? What’s the one key thing for you that you value about Methodism.

I wrote down a summary of the answers that followed and made a chalkboard poster out of the best bits.

Here it is:

kirkcaldy_manifestoIf you’d like to print it out, click here for a 300dpi resolution A4 pdf of the same poster.

Doodling in Tongues

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For the past year I’ve been doodling, not just any doodling, but taking time to deliberately include doodling as part of my prayer ritual. I’ll usually read a bible passage, really slowly, and read it a few times to let it sink in, then I’ll put pen to paper and draw whatever comes to mind – whether it’s something recognisable from the passage or not. I’ve found it to be an incredibly helpful process. And I’ve incorporated other things to meditate on too – the feeling of sunshine, a field full of flowers, an inspiring view, a piece of music, a friend.

I’m holding an exhibition of some of these doodles. It’s opening on 5th April 6-8pm and you’re all welcome. If you’re in the Edinburgh area at all over the next month or so it would be great if you could drop in. The exhibition will be on until the end of May, but if you come in April you may get chance to doodle with me. Check the times below for when I’ll be around and doodling on site!

Opening night, Saturday 5th April 6-8pm

Doodle meditation workshops, Mon 10-11am, Wed 5:30-6:30pm & Fri 12:30-1:30pm from April 7th – 30th.

Doodling through holy week:

  • Join the Gathering for creative prayer and worship @ 6:30pm on Wednesday 16th April –
  • Maundy Thursday (17th April) doodle reflections 6:30-7:30pm
  • Good Friday (18th April) doodle stations of the cross 6:00 – 7:00pm

More information from Lou Davis lou@edinburghdreams.com. See more of my doodles at doodlingintongues.org

Covenant

A covenant is a vow or promise, made in all seriousness. I’m a part of the Methodist tradition and it’s common practice for us to get together once a year, either in January or September and to say this prayer together:

covenant

Every time you do it, it’s hard to say the words because you’re offering a difficult thing – the whole of your life – and trusting that you hear God well enough to follow him knowing that it could lead you into difficult, dark and dangerous places. It’s a risky prayer. But, the thing is, I love it. I love not knowing where this adventure of following God is going to lead me. So here’s to another year and another covenant prayer.

You can find the words on the Methodist Website.

One Word 365

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been surprised that, possibly for the first time ever, I’ve been inspired more by the new year than by Christmas. I love Christmas. I love good food and sparkly things and spending time with my family and singing carols and everything that goes with it, but for some reason, this year Christmas didn’t have quite the same charm. I really struggled to connect with the familiar stories of angels and shepherds. I felt a bit out of it.

Then came new year, and everything changed.

That may have had something to do with a last minute decision to see the Pet Shop Boys at the huge Hogmanay party that Edinburgh hosts every year, with incredible fireworks, a jovial crowd and no rain or snow!

Whatever it was, I’m really feeling new year!

Today, a friend pointed the way to a new year challenge – One Word 365. The idea is simple, instead of making a list of resolutions that you’ll probably never keep (see last year’s resolution to sew something new each month – I didn’t even manage January!), you choose one word to focus on for the coming year. I think that works well with the way I think anyway. I usually find that there’s a word or phrase or choice piece of wisdom that follows me for a few weeks or months and I find myself repeating it silently to myself. Examples from the past twelve months have been:

  • Exhilaration – a reminder to myself that what I really enjoy is moving fast and being on the edge of control, exemplified in my love of skiing and ice skating
  • Style matters – how things look is important and communicates so much. This matters whether you’re dressing yourself, creating a piece of art, decorating a room, designing a website or a church building or planning a party. I don’t always get it right but when I do there is a huge sense of peace and joy that come along with it.
  • Just be you – this is something I have to say to myself on a regular basis when I start worrying that I’m not as good as someone else. It’s a consequence of knowing and working with such brilliant colleagues!
  • Settle – If there’s a word that sums up 2013 it’s probably this one. It’s been a year for grinding my toes down deep into the cobbles of Edinburgh, settling into deep friendships, settling in a new permanent home, transforming the new into the familiar.

So … what word should I choose for 2014?

Here are some from the list that grabbed me:

curious … determined … dare … freedom … possibility … risk … adventure …

All good words. But I’m thinking they’re very active, and yes, I want to be active and take risks and go on adventures, but maybe I need something that has a bit more balance to it, because I also want to pray and paint and walk along the beach and appreciate blue skies and not feel guilty about not being productive all the time!

I think I’m settling on a word. It can encompass all those things, the adventure and the peace.

Live.

I think that’s my word for 2014. Live.

So … I aim to join in, take part, don’t be a spectator, say yes often and relish each moment. Be present. Don’t get hung up on the past or worry about the future. Live.

And I remember that life in all its richness is the ultimate prize of faith, it is what heaven really is but to gain it you need to give it away. And so I choose to live to give away my life, so that I may gain it. Whatever that might mean.

life_to_the_full

I’ve created this image with one of my photos. It would make very good background wallpaper for your computer (click the image for the high resolution version). Please credit me if you post it anywhere. And credit the bible for the words – can’t take credit for those!

As I often am at this time of year, I’m reminded of the words of the Methodist Covenant prayer. As with so many things in life it is both very beautiful and very hard. Those of us who choose to will be praying this prayer together at our Gathering this wednesday.

‘I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.’

So have you got a word for 2014? Want to choose one with me?

Decorate Edinburgh Zoo!

Angela and Lou showing off their handiwork!
Angela and Lou showing off their handiwork!

A few weeks ago I received a very exciting email inviting Edinburgh Dreams to take part in Decorate Edinburgh – a Christmas Tree trail around the city to raise money for charity and bring a bit of festive cheer to some Edinburgh organisations and attractions. We were paired with Edinburgh Zoo – and it’s very easy to imagine what kind of tree we might be able to create – it had to have animals on it!!

The Make Space group that has been running in Leith over the autumn and winter set about designing animal templates that we could use to make the decorations. The zoo supplied us with felt and stuffing and we set to making pandas (obviously!) penguins, koalas, tigers and no end of other creatures.

Thanks so much to Angela for all her help. not only giving up her evenings to make cute critters but also coming to the Zoo with me to help decorate the tree. Thanks also to Hannah, Jean, Beth-Ann, Aran and Garry who all helped with the design and manufacturing of the animals!

You’re all amazing!

My favourites to make were the flamingos – we got to see some at the zoo and I came away remembering their beautiful coral and black plumage. Making the little felt versions was fun too because I got to add bling to them – sequins and feathers!

Decorate Edinburgh!

tree

Edinburgh Dreams has teamed up with Edinburgh Zoo to create an animal themed Christmas tree that will be on display at the Zoo from 9th December.

The MakeSpace drop-in group have been helping us design the animals to go on the tree and then we’ll need your help to make them!

Come along to a couple of animal-making sessions at the Well (25 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh) and help us make lots of koalas, flamingos, penguins, tigers and of course giant pandas to give the visitors to the Zoo a fab display.

This is a Decorate Edinburgh project, we’ll be part of a Christmas Tree trail and the whole project will raise money for charity.

Details of the make sessions at the Well to be posted soon!

MakeSpace

From this coming friday, I’ll be taking over the cafe at YMCA Edinburgh with paint and paper. We’re launching a new art drop-in group. No booking, no cost, it’s not a course, just a space for people to come and mess around with colour, line and texture. If you like, it’s a doodling space!

I’ll be on hand to teach some fun techniques that, if you’re there every week, will build up into a visual journal that can be a document for your creative journey. If you want you can work on your own projects and we’ll just provide some materials and company while you create.

poster