In current conversations with other makers, the same themes continually arise: feelings of helplessness and hopelessness about the harrowing of our planet and its people. A sense that greed for money and thirst for power are literally crushing the life out of everything else. Shame about continuing to make from a place of privilege when so many lives are being destroyed. A deep-down questioning of our practice, questions about purpose, triviality, meaning less, meaning nothing.

Those questions… as far back as I can remember I’ve struggled to believe that anything really matters. Not quite understanding even what it means to say things matter. Wondering how it comes more easily to some. I haven’t written about this before and it’s hard to admit, but apart from a few periods where I temporarily stopped asking questions, my experience has been that unless I intentionally create meaning and cleave to it, there’s a void at the heart, an emptiness of emotion that steals sleep and paralyses the everyday.

So now more than ever it must be my job as a maker to keep on creating, to take up every tool against despair, to make my meanings in the face of incomprehensible loss. I have to affirm that my ordinary life and my work and my love and my small struggles matter, or how can I believe that anything else does?

And I’ve been dwelling on how we as humans imbue not only each other but our habitats and our homes and the work of our hands with rich presence, deep symbolism. How we colour the world with legend and myth, how we bring artistry to the smallest of tasks. How I can call washing a bowl a sacred act. How much I want to.

I’ve been thinking about matter, and, if it matters, why it matters. In discovering that those two meanings of the word are related, I also learned (or re-learned) that they both spring from the Latin for mother (mater) and that ‘material’ is in the same family.

I wonder in passing if my delight in the meaning of words is related to the gap in my apprehension of meaning in the world.

As I explore who else thinks about matter mattering, I come upon Matter Matters by Elina Gertsman, and pathways open out in front of me, for my mind has been full of the relics of Brigid’s mantle for some weeks now. I think that maybe we are reliquaries of breath. Then in the middle of one of those conversations about making and meaning, someone suddenly says imbue and the word catches again at my attention, since it has recently acquired some new meanings for me.

So my thoughts are starting to coalesce around ideas of imbuement and agency. I can see that this is a deep well feeding my exploration of Brigid, my passion for enchantment and my idealisation of the domestic: this need to fill the void with meanings that matter. To touch mystery. It’s why I’m excited by sacred objects and eloquent functionality, paradox and ambiguity, text and textile. Why material is my medium, my element, a matter of holy ground.

mind mapping

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