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Updated: Oct 27, 2020

There has been a lot on my sensory dislikes so far, but I have so many sensory loves, seems only fair to list a few of my favourites.

A quick bear sketch by Lydia
Bear sketch

1: Bear hugs. If I'm especially anxious, it's as though my skin disappears and I don't know where my edges are. There is nothing like a bear hug to remind you. There are a couple of people who will give me a massive hug at the start of a show or a fair and it's like having a reset button pressed. Magic.

2: Perfume. I don't drink, I don't smoke, but my vice is perfume. I have lots I favour, and I wear it according to my mood, or how I want to feel. Most are from 4160 Tuesdays, and the creative splendidness of Sarah McCartney. Lush, who I've been a lifelong user of, and made the first perfume I fell fully in love with (albeit under their B Never umbrella; it was Keep It Fluffy) make some of them, and I've just been testing Simon Constantine's ånd fragrance. So what are some of my perfume staples?

For comfort: Has to be 4160 Tuesdays' Creamy Vanilla Crumble which will be used to perfume my 'Llaeth' piece in the exhibition. The warmest, snuggliest, most comforting scent. Perfect companion to an oversized jumper, cold weather and a great 'coming home' feeling. If a hug could have a smell, here it is.

For fun: Another 4160 Tuesdays offering. This time #MrsGlossMadeMeDoIt. Strange name (it relates to a Facebook group - find the story here). My daughter says wehen I wear this she knows 'something good will happen'. Beautiful, turkish-delighty, candyfloss, happiness that is never too cloying.

For melancholy: Commes des Garcons 'Avignon'. I'm not religious in any traditional way, but find a lot of comfort in cathedrals and churches. Llandaf Cathedrals is where I head if I want to clear my head. I love the smell of it; cold stone, old wood, incense. I love the feeling of the building, the glass and the hidden secrets (I always say hi to the carved mouse hidden on a kneeler). This is straight up high church incense scent, and does the job when I need it.

For bravery: When I have to go out and do something public (like shows or meetings), you can probably get me in 4160 Tuesday's Centrepiece. It's very comforting and grounding, and also makes me feel rather fabulous and expensive. It's a warm, dry and very beautiful cloak to put on.

For migraines: I've had them since I was small, and they are hideous. If I can feel one in the ether), I reach for Lush's Smell of Weather Turning. Petrichor and minty coolness.

For Seasons: Spring comes in with Our Modern Lives 'Aquamarine - waves/wi-fi/clarity', another of the strings to Sarah's beautifully scented bow. It's a hit of sea in a clean, bright fragrance that makes me think of the oxygenating wake up of a beach walk. Love it. Summer is Wash Me In The Water, like a cooling hand on the forehead, this does the job perfectly. I love mint and this has it in the cleverest, least minty way possible. Autumn and Winter I tend to dive straight into cold-weather scents. Creamy Vanilla Crumble, mentioned above is a staple. Lush's Ginger is fantastic on a cold day, it's huge and warm and very pretty. I first tried it in the Cosmetics to Go days loooong ago when it came in a little crate. I'm also currently enjoying Bare by ånd fragrance, this company are doing beautiful environmental work and well worth a look . I spend a lot of time walking in the woods with my family, and this is a lovely reassuring, clean forest scent. Grounding and calming. It has had lots of favourable comments, one of those scents that people want to sniff closer on you! Whilst we can't get out to our beloved woods during full lockdown, this is helping.

There are more that I love, but these are my current list of heavy rotators.

3: The Woods. We have loads of beautiful walks near where we live. If I'm ever completely overwhelmed, this is where we head. That's our Good Boy Sparky in the middle.

4: NASA image gallery. Visual joy.

5: Music, obviously. Whatever floats your boat. I'm on spotify as Lydia Niziblian (who knew!) if you want to see the same thing I play over and over again!

6: The most perfect item of sensory joy, and we're coming up to the season for it!

Please tell me your sensory joys! I'd love to know what makes you happy. Either post below, message me or email lydia@niziblian.com

Thanks for reading! The next post will be on a piece I haven't mentioned yet, and it's a happy one.


Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, I am unable to get access to the pictures of my brothers and I wearing the items described in this post. For which I imagine my brothers will be forever glad. When I was born (1974), my dad was working as a sales rep for BabyGrow. Because of this, my older brothers and I were often found dressed in the brand. Here's me and my dad in 1974, I'm rocking the very latest in baby fashion daaaahling.

Baby Lydia in 1974 dressed in babygrow being held by a very cheerful dad with mahoosive sideburns
Me & my dad

I don't remember going to the beach very often when we were little; less so to sandy places. I am not built for Hot. I am designed for forests and indoors and rain and Wales. Hot weather has always led to me having migraines and nosebleeds and being generally very pink and grumpy.

One day, we were headed to the beach. I was made to put on My Beach Suit. I called my mum and dad to check the backstory of my Beach Suit to make sure I hadn't gone mad. It seems I inherited it from one of my older brothers, who were lucky enough to own one each. They were an all in one zip up outfit, with short sleeves and legs, and a decorative belt. They were bright yellow terry-towelling (yellow was consistently the worst seller, informs my dad).

The sun
My mortal enemy

The beach suits were close fitting. Mine was old enough that the towelling was nicely scratchy. It was sandy. It was hot.

All I have to say about this, is I must have been a delight that day. Much too hot, in a tight fitting scratchy suit full of sand. Rudyard Kipling's 'How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin' sums up the feelings nicely.

My kids asked the other day if there was anything good about being grown up. I'd put being able to choose your own clothes way up on that list. Do let me know some of your sensory nightmares!

NB: Edited to add a picture of my dad holding me wearing The Dreaded Suit in Looe. I feel obliged to add that there are pictures of me as a child not wearing terry towelling outfits being held by my dad.

It's been an incredibly busy month. I am probably around a third of the way through making the pieces for the exhibition. I'm taking October away from commissions to focus on finishing (or getting close to) the pieces so I have time to collate everything. I haven't shared everything on here yet, as I want some reveals to happen after the pieces have been made.

Yn Barod means, in Welsh, 'ready'. It immediately gives me an open, trumpet like image, and if it was a sound it would be a trumpet blast. It is suggestive of up-straining, outward-reaching shape. It got me thinking of tiny mushrooms and seed pods, growing up towards light from the forest floor. They'd need to be opening up towards the sun, rather than umbrella shaped.

Lydia's sketches and notes on her responses to the word 'yn barod'
Initial sketchings around 'yn barod'

For this piece, I could see a number of these 'barod' shapes, in different stages, reaching up. I thought I'd try a ring for this; as none of the pieces so far were to be rings, despite them being my favourite thing to make typically. Rather than attempt these in metal directly, I thought I would give wax casting a go. It's an ancient process. The piece is carved in jewellers wax, then a mould made around it. The wax is melted and the mould filled with molten metal. I'm still new to it, and am much more used to building a piece up when making something 3D, and am finding it tricky to make something by removing material instead. It's all practice (and I've learned it pays to not let attention wander when working with insanely sharp scalpels!). I've sent off for a few to be cast in silver, so I can experiment with different finishes. I'm thinking I want the 'barods' shiny bright against a rusty/dirty patina, but we'll see when they arrive back in a few weeks.

The images below are the wax 'barords' before being attached to the main 'rocky ring' to make the finished model for 'yn barod'.

I'm excited to see how they'll turn out! The continuing current events have led to my anxiety to be through the roof at the moment, so my accompanying sensory issues are also at maximum. I'll be asking for your input in the next day or two so I can collate a list of sensory responses of others. As always, please do leave messages, or contact me by email at lydia@niziblian.com or via the contact page on this site. Diolch yn fawr iawn!