‘Lucky Beads’ – On Artists, Art and Intangible Connections

A box of ‘treasure’ – found objects, ceramic and glass work received from Alison Bournes


I am a subscriber to ‘Kolaj’ magazine – published in Canada and dedicated to the art of collage.  It is a fascinating periodical, full of interesting images, articles and comment.

In the current issue (23), Ric Kasini Kadour has written an editorial entitled ‘Lucky Beads’.  It is a thought-provoking piece in which he compares the purchasing of a lucky bead from a street person, to the sale of artwork. He argues that “both street people and artists use mystique as a defence against ‘petty meanness’.  Both are living outside societal norms. Both struggle to eke out a living”.

All this is true but, more to the point, Kadour concludes that “sometimes, when we are lucky, we make something magical that speaks to someone else.  It says, Do you want to buy a lucky bead? and the person it speaks to says Yes”.

As artists and craftspeople we often feel alone – isolated, in our heads and our own creative confines, as well as physically removed, as we toil away in splendid isolation in a studio or makeshift workspace.  Often, full of self-doubt, we question our own sanity;  are we crazy to be thinking, making, let alone trying to sell, the things we do?  Because, along with our creations, we offer up a little sacrificial piece of ourselves.  So, when our work is not well-received, misunderstood or rejected, it can seem very personal.   And, with each knock, we toughen up a little – start to build a protective covering – a thin but still permeable shell – an invisible defence shield.  Over time this ‘armour’ can get so heavy that we have to take it off and leave the field of battle for a while.

But, occasionally, we meet a kindred spirit and, as if in order to offset the negatives experiences, there is a meeting, a coming together, a mutual understanding, – something intangible but deeply reassuring  – a “little connection” which, to quote Mr Kadour once again, “is a lucky bead.”

It is something to be savoured and enjoyed – to be cradled in the palm of the hand and turned over so that it catches the light. To find someone who ‘sees’ your work, who ‘gets’ what you are doing, who shares an aesthetic, who understands the mad, sometimes seemingly pointless task you are engaged in, who enjoys the end product and wants to engage you in discussing the background, thought process and physical technique of making. That is quite rare.

So thank you, Alison Bournes, for enthusiastically agreeing to swap paper clay shoes, for taking the time to read my Journal, for communicating your thoughts with kind words and for the generous package of carefully selected ‘treasures’.  Today you have been my ‘lucky bead’.