Since moving house last summer, I was a bit unsure about how to manage the peer mentoring group now that I was no longer living in London. I wondered whether it might be best to coordinate the meetings around the school holidays, thus still meeting up though less frequently. I also considered handing the reigns over to someone else if I was going to be able to around. Following resounding support from some of the others I was encouraged to keep everything going myself. Last month was out first meeting together since the move and a strong reminder of the importance of maintaining support networks with other artists.
The peer mentoring group is made up of core group of 4 or 5 people that I’ve gotten to know well over the last 2+ years. They know me and they have an in-depth understanding of the themes that drive my work. Since moving to Surrey, all my art stuff is still boxed up (awaiting another house move). I haven’t made any real inroads into engaging with other art communities in Surrey and I have a limited awareness of what opportunities there are for other artists here.
Meeting with everyone recently was extremely helpful and well worth the fare into London. I presented drawings and notes from my sketchbook and a new video piece I’d been working on. In keeping with the theme of identity I presented a couple of doctored self-portrait images that I’d printed from my computer. The images were black and white but, due to my altering of their opacity, were barely visible to the naked eye. The group struggled to see them, holding them up against the light to see a faint grey halo, perhaps the contours of my face or hair. The images sparked a lot of interest. It was originally my intention to print 100 of these images onto acetate sheets to make some sort of composite image. I hadn’t planned on printing them onto paper, but others like their translucent quality nonetheless. Through discussion we talked about the difficulty with being able to visually register these images and see ‘me’. I commented about how these had been themes within my own personal therapy – a sense of being unnoticed. This was certainly my perception when I was younger even though I enjoyed my childhood in the main.
In the weeks that followed the group discussion, it has been interesting to revisit some of these thoughts and feelings I had about myself when I was growing up. I thought about whether this feeling of being unheard might have spurred me on to become an Art Therapist with children – to be to clients what others hadn’t been for me (consistent, attentive). I’ve also thought about my position as an artist and, like other artists, wanting my own artwork to garner more attention then it does already, viewing the artwork as an extension of the self.
These thoughts and ideas are in no way new, at least not to me, but I’ve been surprised by how these themes are now emerging through my art work. I feel that whilst some of the things I’ve made before are crying out for attention, others (like the image above) are hard to find or are seemingly invisible. Perhaps that says a lot about my own ambivalence about being an artist.