It’s my nephew’s birthday today. He’s very artistic. Come to think of it, we all are.
From a distance, I’ve watched my family grow. I moved to the US before Luke and Lucy were born.
If I remember correctly, my sister was carrying Luke on their first trip to Orlando, Florida.
It was a Disney from the womb tour and it was also the first of many many transatlantic journeys over the next few years. I went home to London. The family came to see me over here. We had a lot of fun. Always.
I don’t go back to the UK so much anymore, for no particular reason. Perhaps just the cost?
My work lately has gravitated me towards the decorative arts and as I squeezed glitter glue out of a tube this morning, I couldn’t help but remember watching my Mum ice birthday cakes. Or for christmas. She could turn a dollop of freshly mixed ‘icing’ – you know, the real stuff, like wedding cakes used to have - in to the most novel and imaginary places perched on top.
In fact, it was much more than a cake. Everything she touched, became more beautiful. More alive. More bright. In the garden. Sew and thread. A soft lacy christening blanket to knit.
I never viewed or saw my mother ‘as an artist’. Whatever that’s supposed to mean or should I say ‘well, what’s one’s supposed to look like?’
But she most certainly was!
And a natural at it.
My Mum, Barbara Ann Bird.
She was also an amazing grandmother to my niece, Lucy and nephew, Luke.
My sister’s family. The Swanns.
Lesley Bird, my older sister by three years, married a Swann.
And a couple of years ago, they flew to San Francisco to visit Auntie Helen.
At the time I was knee-deep in art and photography, ramblin’ all over The City lookin’ for street art and graffiti.
Experimenting with all kinds of stuff. Stencils. Big canvas and spray paint.
Anyway, one of my most favourite places to go was up under the Golden Gate Bridge.
I knew a path off Crissy Field that led you straight up there. There’s a pretty steep shimmy up a gutter and then you’re there.
‘Oh My God, Helen. where are you takin’ us?’ ‘hey, hang in there – you’ll see. the kids will love it!’
‘I don’t know, this is kinda scary.’ ‘oh, you can do it.’
We all clambered up and looked around at the totally rad sight in front of our eyes. Wall to wall graff on abandoned World War II bunkers. A crazy cool clear look under the bridge. And turnin’ back, an incredible view of The City by The Bay.
Glistening in the afternoon sun. Bathed in color. Lots of color.
Luke turned round and said to Lucy ‘Auntie Helen’s wayyyy cool’. Nah, kids.
You’re the cool ones. Love you both. God bless.
Happy Birthday Luke