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By: Catherine Cartwright
this blog appears focused, but it is in fact strictly meadering
# 49 [10 May 2011]
Here are a couple of monoprints I made recently. Beginning to explore the flow of light and shadows in and out of doorwarys and window panes, as a metaphor for the freedom/containment theme I have been exploring.
# 48 [21 April 2011]
l looked at the European Union of Human Rights website today. Informative but soo unimaginative. Vital, integral human messages, told as blandly as they possibly could.
I want to do an art/education project looking at articles 1-30. I want to see how they can be approached in as creative way as possible. With children 6 yrs +.
Any ideas where to look for funding? I'll keep an eye out. I'm not ready just yet anyway. I need to keep on with the learning and research. I've been looking into artists working with social motivation/protest/activism. And looking into the law system, and how change happens.
# 47 [17 April 2011]
These are the prints I was making on Friday, when I posted I was in the studio.
any feedback, critical or otherwise, is welcome!
# 46 [17 April 2011]
Aung San Sui Kyi, this quote is from her in Saturday's Guardian
'"This word 'free'," she says of herself and the other prisoners, "we all think that we are freer than the people outside because we don't have to compromise with our conscience. We are doing what we believe in. We are not locked in by the bars of guilt. So I think this is what made us choose imprisonment rather than to stay – in quotes – 'free'. For us, that is how our lives are."
Those wise words encapsulate something of what I was thinking about in creating these works. The print monotype of her home, particulary, and the 'house arrest' piece.
# 45 [15 April 2011]
Today I am in the print workshop (Double Elephant, Exeter) working on monotype drawing prints. Its going ok. I started with four. I think 2 or possibly 3 may work out. I am overlaying images of boys running, their silhouettes, with urban/country scapes. Some of these images are from photos sent to me by a good friend in LA (who regularly sends me pics, thanks Kim!), some are my own... Avon Dam (Dartmoor, Devon) Cowley Road (Oxford) Treehouse in forest (somewhere near Lyon, France).
Through this I am exploring their place (by 'their' I mean, my boys and by extension, children generally) in our environments. It is significant they are without adult company or supervision.
# 44 [14 April 2011]
When I talk about my practice, I say I am exploring the concept of freedom and what that means, how we can visualise it.
I think what I am really saying is that a searching for freedom is a searching for yourself. Because only when you have accepted yourself completely, have full self-belief, can you be free from the searching for this and that, and 'should I' 'when' and 'how'.
What interests me about people imprisoned unjustly, for 'freedom fighting', for their beliefs, is how they hold onto these beliefs, i.e. their self belief, when their physical freedom is gone, when they are separated from family and friends who give us love and reflect onto us our self-belief, when they have only themselves, no distractions, and just their mind.
Because in our daily lives we distract ourselves all.. the .. time. It is so useful! and I can like it a lot. But it is so much more useful, when you allow yourself to be, to hear what you are when you are 'being', settle the outside world and let the emotions, senses, inner thoughts bob to the surface and breathe.
# 43 [28 March 2011]
Time for a post, to post something, some words. Its been a busy month of March.
March 8th - International Womens Day. Myself and fellow artist Nicci Wonnacott led some art actions at Exeter Phoenix. Mine was 'print a protest postcard', to raise awareness of the massive cut to funding families, women and men affected by domestic violence. Their funding from Devon County Council was to be 100%. Its incrediable isn't it. Picture them sitting round a table with their budget sheets and imagining that their funding (some million odd) could be completely wiped away. Also in light of the fact that DCC's own funding cut is 23%. So there was great campaigning from a core group and the cut is down to 42%. But it is still so bitterly disappointing for the groups involved who know so acutely the impact to individual lives these cuts will have.
It was a small action. We printed 'Not so SAFE anymore' onto tens of postcards. But it provided a place to talk about. And it provided me with a place to consider how action can be made. I am new to this.
# 42 [27 February 2011]
I'm not sure if this blog is getting a bit stale as its a once-monthly update, and not focused on a particular theme. But I do find it useful for my own records, to look back and get an overview. To sit along side my sketchbook. There, I've answered my own query.
Today I read "Laughter is not a simple overt act, as the single word suggests, it is the spectacular end of a complex process. As speech is the culmination of a mental activity, laughter is a culmination of feeling - the crest of a wave of felt vitality... Laughter is a song of triumph"
Suzanne K Langer Feeling and Form (1953) pp 339-40
Its easy to feel the heavy weight of other's oppression and suffering, to be dragged down, and although I want to bring notice to human rights issues through my work, I am keen to find ways to do this effectively that catches a positive 'can do' effect, rather than adding another layer on the layers of emotional guilt.
I'm not a comedian and I'm not great at irony or sarcasm. But I do like laughing, so there's a way there somewhere. The quote above by Suzanne Langer gives me more understanding, more articulation to these thoughts.
Toronto-based performance artist Tanya Mars suggests, 'the ability to laugh at something allows you to finally demonstrate your control over it'. She also says that graphic and disturbing images of violence, tragedy and oppression reinforce a 'culture of victimisation'.
(from Vol 23, n.paradoxa - journal for international feminist art)
# 41 [20 January 2011]
A frustrated young man in Tunisia is driven to self immolation and the protests at his death spark a revolution.
His brother Salem Bouazizi was quoted as saying: "Freedom is expensive and my brother paid the price of freedom"
I've done a drawing (monotype print). It helps me to think about him. His impotence in the face of oppression - echoed for millions of people around the world.
What use is my drawing for others? I can hope it draws attention to these happenings. I'm not sure what else. For me, it draws the issues deeper inside myself.
Is the drawing a celebration of freedom? A bitter sweet celebration of death and flames precluding release. Its very sad. But I am hearing so many Tunisians proclaim their freedom from fear, their finding of their voice. So many individuals sparked into a state of hope.
Looking at the Wikipedia entry, there is a table showing 'copycat' self immolations since the death of Bouazizi. I'm seeing ten cases of self immolation! In Algeria, Mauritania, and Egypt.
(I know that Wikipedia cannot always be verified, and it can be very loose, but still some of this picture must be true)
# 40 [17 November 2010]
Standing with the Mandela statue outside the Royal Festival Hall, London, plenty of people rushed passed and through and in front. I wouldn't blame them, the wind was howling and it was winter-dark.
Mandela meanwhile stood monumental. Definitely at one in this space, letting the world carry on around him.
Its such a great statue of one our world's most inspirising public figures. Here are my two tributes to him.
Primarily my work explores freedom and containment, and the tensions between them.
I mean, freedom and containment within and of ourselves, and also in its more literal senses.
I'm a printmaker, artist educator and my background is in gallery education.