Friday 1 June 2007


I see the sea and the sea sees me.

I don't see the sea just now, so I've been needing to get my fix on Flickr instead, indulging once again in jellyfish. I am always astounded by them, they are so profoundly beautiful, so other-worldly. Nearly all the images shown are in aquariums as they are easy to take, but it is SO SO SO important to defend our oceans so that these amazing creatures, and all the other under water wonders, can be preserved. Our seas and oceans are under enormous threat from humans yet we have the power as individuals, as voters and as consumers to help turn that around. Also, see the end of this post for how your art can help. But first, the jellyfish!...

Portugese Man 'O War (i think)
originally uploaded by entertreynment

left pic originally uploaded by FlgCEH
right pic originally uploaded by rosswebsdale

My brother and I once swam in a lake somewhere in the East coast of America which was filled with 100's of 1000's of tiny see-through jellyfish the size of a 10p piece (or a quarter in US) a bit like these. They didn't sting, at least, not that we noticed, and it was better than being out of the water where the biting flies were.

You Tube has a nice clip of a
mass of jellies floating about, though these are much chunkier, denser, more complex jellies and there are far fewer of them - but they are in dreamy green water. I noticed lot of the You Tube jellyfish clips have innapropriate music with them but I did find one that worked, at least for me it did- large floaty see-through jellies wafting through blue water like ghosts with Enya singing Carribean Blue, very fitting. I like Enya, not the hits so much, but the other stuff. The ethereal ones.

both shots originally uploaded by mafic

Now I've got Enya in my head. I just found one of my favourite Enya tracks Exile on You Tube and noticed for the 1st time that Enya looks a bit like Ulla. Actually the Carribean Blue video (see here) is very 'Ulla'. My favourite track, usually, is 'Evening Falls' (lyrics here, short Last FM soundclip here and full track with video on here). It really reminds of how disconnected I felt when I was living with my crazy Aunt, but in my own house.

So strange to have your home, your things, your pets and your neighbourhood right there but to feel like you are in a strange and horrible place where nothing is safe, everything familar has been transformed into something threatening. You remember everything as it was, but it's not like that anymore (and never was again). I got through it by really going into myself, it was like there was an out of focus film between me and the life I used to have, but if I tried to have any of that old life she would try and destroy it. So I withdrew so that she couldn't identify anything else to attack.

originally uploaded by itsray

Portugese Man 'O War tentacles in a jar
originally uploaded by

That Enya song really reminds me of that feeling. I think I would have gone crazy if I hadn't withdrawn and become a 'Stepford Niece'. Not that it made much difference, my family seemed to think I was pretty crazy anyway. That was the hardest part of all. Escaping her to visit them in LA during holidays only to find that they saw me as being like her, the enemy. After that I think I pretty much gave up realising there wasn't anywhere where it was ok to just be me.

We all get on ok now but I have never felt part of my family since then. Not that I ever felt like I fitted in anyway, but I at least felt like my Dad used to understand me. But after living with his sister he never looked at me the same way, I was like tainted goods, tainted with her craziness. It doesn't help that I look a bit like her - which is why I hate my cheekbones even though people keep telling me cheekbones are great.

originally uploaded by kasiaeryn

originally uploaded by seancadzow

That's why I love blogging, you lot seem willing to let me be myself, all the sides of myself. I can do a post that starts off with me being all happy about jellyfish and then unexpectedly (I never saw this coming) slip into some bad memory, but I know you'll forgive me for it and that I'll come out of it feeling fresh and posting about my joy in what is around me, like today's freshly opened peonies (photo soon).

Blimey. What a mini journey. I just looked at where I started this post, I see the sea and the sea sees me. That pretty much sums up my love of the sea. I feel at home there (mermaid wannabe) and when I stand on a quiet beach with the wind tangling my hair into thousands of tiny knots and my eyelashes building up a layer of salty air
I do feel like finally some'thing' can see the real me.

originally uploaded by kyoten

originally uploaded by fiveholer
clearly not jellyfish but it's so very very 'me'

I never show you my 'serious' artwork. but a lot of it is work around that stuff. About not being seen, about people projecting ideas of what they think you are onto you but not actually seeing you at all. About the body being like a seed, all full of potential, like a shell with the inside often very different from what you see on the outside. I'm very interested in symbiotic realtionships and how amazing they can be and you see a lot of that happening in the ocean, another reason why I'm drawn to the water. There's a LOT of symbiosis in the oceans.

See the amazing jellyfish sculptural window display at Magic Pony, Toronto here.
Jellyfish street lighting here.
Cute painting of a jellyfish by Christel Weixelman.

And on the subject of art - Greenpeace are asking for your ocean inspired art which could potentially shown in their art4oceans gallery. Find out more here.


Anonymous said...

That is why I love reading your posts – it's refreshing to stumble onto little nuggets of information that lets me peek into what makes you tick.

And that is what makes you so special. :)

Ursula Achten said...

just want to send you a big hug!!
I love your story and I believe that lots of us are in similiar struggles, but they don't tell!!! I have an instant feel of love for people, who really speak of themselves.

the jellyfish-photos are wonderful!

deedeen said...

You are YOU, that's what I love. I had a lot of difficulties beeing me, and I still have. Sometimes, people just can't understand. Thank you!

Cally said...

Ladies, I can feel my lungs filling with air to hear you say these things. It's good to know that it's ok to talk about this stuff here. I imagine creative people feel this way a lot as we are not conforming to what society wants us to do. It's had to go against the tide, but I think harder still to go with it when every part of you deeply wants to do something different from what is expected.

lisa solomon said...

i love jellyfish - and love that you are comfortable enough to share with us [next your "real" artwork please]

and anna peach. crimey. amazing

Cally said...

Hi Lisa, lovely to hear from you. I'm thinking about you every day, every hour actually, after reading about M.

For you, when I do eventually unpack some work, I will show some pieces - scary. Maybe some of my Matroishka type works.

Anonymous said...

Oh Cally, what a wonderful post! It really brought tears to my eyes... You are an amazing woman and wonderful friend, no matter what others may chose to believe! I am sending you a 'jellyfish' hug, with lots and lots of tenticals... just for you!

Cally said...

Thanks Ulla, those tentacles better be long, there appears to be quite a bit more of me for them to wrap round this month!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being so honest.

Cally said...

Lyn, thank you for leaving that comment.

Anonymous said...

Oh Cally, you really struck a chord with this post. I have always felt that I could not allow myself to be seen; that if I was truly open I would be killed (a metaphor now, but once a real threat). The loneliness of not being seen, and the fear of being seen as something unacceptable are two sides of the same coin. Thanks for your openness, and thanks also for the jellyfish. (Aren't jellyfish becoming more numerous because they like the increasing acidity of the oceans?)

Cally said...

Hi Dana
It's a scary way to have to live isn't it. That horrible realisation that the situation you are in means that to be your true self could literally end your life.

I hope your a place in life now where it's safe to be yourself again. Though perhaps, like me, there will always be some distrust about doing that.

Jellyfish - gosh, I din't know that about them liking our acidic oceans. How strange. So maybe as the oceans are get more polluted they will turn to jelly. Freaky. I love the jellies, but wouldn't want the oceans over-run with them. Thanks for the tip-off.

julie said...

cally ive been saving this post for now...and i read most of it listening to Enya...i was nearly in tears...beautiful jellyfish (i have a special love for them too!!) and your story...always be YOURSELF!! You are not alone with these family stories (BIG HUGS!!!)

And i want to see your serious work!!!!!!!!! xxxx

Thanks for the inspiration sweetie...

Susan Schwake said...

dear cally - as always it is wonderful to read your posts and see what you are seeing... you are an amazing person with wonderful talents. i too can't wait to see your real art. when you are ready.. hugs and more hugs,

Cally said...

Julie & Susan-

Thanks ladies, you already know that you two are among my 'favourites', you never fail to bring a smile to my face.

I went round to my house today to see if I could lay my hands on any work to show you. Turns out I could barely even get the the room that the boxes are in - SO much stuff everywhere. A combination of obsessive hoarding and unfinished building. But one day I will reveal.

Dawn said...

beautiful post.

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