Interview with Ruth Allen
You have one life. You really do. You should live it responsibly,
courageously. Give more than you take from the world.
-Ruth Allen, Blue Eggs And Tea
Grace Gulley: When people ask you what you 'do,' how do you answer?
Ruth Allen: What do I 'do,' that's the best question! And the hardest, how long have you got? HAHA.
GG: We can take as long as we need!
RA: Good! Okay, well I think I mull this over to myself everyday, which I suppose means I'm still working it out. I spend most of my time (9-5 full-time) working in Higher Education helping students learn better, and staff teach better. But in my heart I'm still a geologist, so when people ask me this question, like you are now, this is exactly the convoluted story I tell them. I guess because I'm still getting my head around this narrative. But then recently (the last two years) I started drawing and now I play with the notion that maybe that makes me an artist. But I feel very uncomfortable with saying that out loud. Like a fraud I guess. So I change my IG tag line around all the time which is a personal joke between me and myself. I tend to opt for Educator, Illustrator, Geologist, Writer-because these are my main passions.
GG: Very honest! I have the same reaction to that question, I feel an urge to create, but have never felt comfortable calling myself an artist. And it's nice to hear you calling education a passion, as that is so integral to living and a passion I share! Next question! How do you balance all you different passions?
RA: Yes, education is the biggest enabler in the world. My next career move will be into the voluntary education sector if I can finally get my break! How do I balance? I cut out all the superfluous. I don't have a tv. I don't go out drinking. And since we relocated for our jobs, we don't socialize as we don't know anyone. I also doggedly maintain a good work life balance in my day job. So weekends we hit the mountains if we can (I'm training to be a mountain leader) and in the evenings I do my art and send out orders etc. I'm lucky that my husband Neil does all the cooking! Somewhere in between I try to read, email friends, Instagram. It just works somehow, but I am constantly on the move unless I'm asleep-I like it that way. I get very maudlin and melancholy about the state of the world if I sit down for too long.
GG: Productive! And committed! Very nice That's pretty amazing on top of everything that you are training to be a mountain leader, WONDER WOMAN! So do you find yourself most inspired by nature? What other sources do you find inspiration from?
RA: Oh yes, nature inspires me absolutely. But I don't suppose I'm a nature artist per se. If you look at my work it's a whole mix, and the ideas seem to come from my imagination, but being in nature frees me up. Too long inside or in urban areas and I wilt and have no ideas. So yeah, mainly I think I just look at the world around me, the news, the suffering, and I end up creating something that's an uplifting response. I desperately want the world to be right you know? But I guess we can only make our bit of the world right. So I get inspired to make things with a positive or ethical message. Inspiration is pretty random once you take out nature.
GG: That's actually a very beautiful response. I'm glad there are people like you who care about the world. And speaking of your art, what materials do you work with? How would you describe your aesthetic?
RA: I was working mainly digital until a few months ago. Then I started painting again and drawing on real paper. And it's been wonderful! I'm getting really into analogue materials again. But I am inexplicably drawn to mixed media things so I can see continuing in that direction. I also made a really successful range of necklaces last year so anything goes! At the moment I'm teaching myself to paint with a palette knife and paint from actual things rather than imagination. Life is one long learning curve and I love that! I'm just drinking it all in because before I started Blue Eggs I hadn't done any art since school. Anyway aesthetic! I've not a clue! You tell me?? I sometimes think my art life is one long series of Limited Editions. I'm very much finding my style and way. Taking my time. Pushing myself. Scaring and frustrating myself. I guess my aesthetic is cartoon. But I don't like that idea so much... but folks seem to like my cartoony stuff. The illustrative style. IG has been a great test bed. BTW I use acrylic mainly. Life is too short to watch oils dry. HAHA.
GG: It's great to be in that exploration phase. I'm there as well. Alright what advice has influenced you the most?
RA: Undoubtedly that 'time and tide wait for no man'. My dad used to say it all the time. He died very suddenly in my early 20s and it has always stayed with me. As memories of my dad sadly fade a tiny little bit with every passing year, the way he said that becomes more clear. You have one life. You really do. You should live it responsibly, courageously. Give more than you take from the world. It drives me on. To not hang around and wonder 'Can I do this?'. Well of course you can! So get on with it. The worse that can happen is you fail. And that's no big deal for me. Failure is learning right?
GG: That is so beautiful and important! I've been guilty of procrastination and I think it's important for everyone to realize the value/neccessity in just keeping at it! Failure is all a part of it. And last question, what's your favorite 90s jam?
RA: Oh how can I choose! I love the Prodigy so I'd say their track 'Breathe'. Was that the 90s? I have loads of things I loved in the 90s but they may well have been 70s-80s.