Love Balloon: an introduction to my blog design and artist in residence

by Emma Trotter
Picture by Emma Trotter

It must be a mixture of things: April’s fifteenth birthday, the blog design Pixie Lee emailed me yesterday evening and all this talking and thinking about appreciating the girls that turned me into a weeping jelly last night just before I went to bed and then first thing when I woke at 6am meaning to do something entirely different and constructive but instead I took out the photo albums from when April and Fox were small and I grief-sobbed my way through every single one of them, missing those pretty, funny, squashy limbed gentle things.

Fox’s hair that used to be curly and wild. George called it “art student hair”.

April’s sweet giggliness.

Where are those girls?

Fox asked me so many times: “Mum, do you miss us being little?” and I never got it.

I always slightly pulled a face and told her: “No. I love being with you at every age – and, anyway, it was so hard when you were small.”

But today: wow. I miss them badly.

April comes down to the living room in all her five foot nine inches of elegance.

I am tearful but get up and go to kiss her. She bends down to make it easier for me.

“Happy birthday.”

“Thanks. Why are you crying?”

“I miss my little girls.”

Fox with her thick, glossy waves joins us and I explain my tears again. I say: “Where are my little girls?”

Fox taps her chest and says: “They’re here.”

April is smiling. “They’re inside us, Mum.”

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just suddenly struck by the realisation that the years have whizzed by.

And Pixie Lee’s design for my blog is only serving to make me feel even more wide open to feelings. It’s a mess of black birds like solemn, soaring warrior spirits and balloons that remind me of swimming sperm on a journey to impregnate whatever comes next. Although some are bumping along backwards, generally there’s evidently good motility going on and it’s chaotic and vibrant and noisy and they’re all of them engaged in this unstoppable and ever expanding sky procession towards a vast whiteness – an inviting, exciting blankness.

She emailed it to me yesterday hoping I’d like it. She wrote: “It’s Loud like Love”, which I thought would be a brilliant title for this blog post but then I googled the phrase she’d used because hooray we can google absolutely everything now and I saw that that’s a song title. Pixie Lee probably imagined I’d get the reference, but of course not.

“Please tell me if you had something else in mind. Maybe it’s too colourful? Too many balloons?”

And in the centre of the spirit warrior birds and in the centre of all that dynamic creativity, look: there’s me and the girls, brimming with wonder and anticipation, joyfully inhaling the views – those glorious mountain scapes – with the wind on our faces and rigorously ruffling our hair. We are protected and at the same time we are leading the whole show in a hot air balloon with a majestic red bird of no identifiable sort on it although I kind of think it looks like a falcon, and the balloon itself is the shape of a giant heart.

Me, April and Fox are riding towards our future and it’s a future and a world that we will fill with our colour and our noise and make LOUD LIKE LOVE.

So, this morning, I got out of bed at six and then I cried a lot and kissed April happy birthday and then we showed Fox the blog design.

The problem with having a vivid imagination is that things get into my head and I find them hard to shake. So, as I dressed and had breakfast and brushed my teeth, all I could see was me and the girls flying in this red silk love balloon. I could practically touch it. Rich. Cool.

And that was a problem because I had to go to work and do my job and fix my mind firmly on the day’s tasks.

I sent Pixie Lee a quick email from my office:

“I’m anonymising myself and everyone else because I prefer not to be identified or identifiable. Accordingly, I’ve given you a different name in my blog – but, as this is your work and it’s going to be out there, would you like me to use your actual name? I’d really like to honour your talent in the way that feels best for you and maybe using a different name for you would be taking something away from you. It’s really fine for me to use your actual name and my feeling is that that’s the right thing to do – but, totally up to you.”

The thing is: I’ve gone for anonymity mainly for reasons to do with my work. On a totally different scale and in a sort of very different field, the role I play in my organisation is the equivalent of my being, say, chief of crime prevention in the NYPD or deputy head of the CIA. You know I’m not saying I’m either of those things, right? But, I am engaged in a fairly intense and serious job which is not similar to either of those positions but also neither is it twenty million miles away from them. I can imagine a scenario where I’m sat around a meeting table with those figures more readily than I can picture myself working with a living Marcel Marceau for example or Donatella Versace or Usain Bolt.

So, for professional reasons, it’s probably best I stay in the shadows, but that doesn’t mean everyone has to.

Pixie Lee replied that she’d be happy for me to use her actual name.


So, here goes ….

Introducing ….

The beautiful in every way and world stage talented Ms Emma Trotter!

(The kind of applause that causes ripples in the fabric of space-time)

You know how you can never really properly grasp what someone else’s day job actually is even though they explain it to you clearly? So, my understanding is that Emma works as a designer or something in the fashion industry putting together books of textures and fabrics and colours and shapes and influences that inspire other designers and then all of that together somehow sets future trends and then after a while we’re all walking around in clothes whose feel or exact shade once appeared in a dream Emma enjoyed about feathers or sparkles or cheese scones. Something like that.

“Emma, I have this idea of featuring an artist in residence on my blog. So, as well as your amazing blog design, d’you fancy letting me show one of your other designs per blog post? Assuming I write any more?”

“Yeah, good. I’m really enjoying being part of this journey with you… So …” She hesitated. “… D’you like what I sent you?”

“I love it loudly.”


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