One of the many pieces of work I’m engaged in at the moment is a wonderful performance opportunity at University College Cork (UCC) . The invitation came many months ago as I was waiting for a response to my Arts Council England funding application for the Museum for Object Research, a major project which I’m now also in the midst of. Suddenly there’s a month to go and the long slow preparation for this piece needs to come together.
Other community projects and collaborations bubble to the surface and I need to find ways to divvy up my time.
At times this can feel overwhelming. One project spawns another – it’s a nice problem to have, but the need to process aspects of this busy spell means I wake up in the wee hours fretting. This is one of the most difficult challenges my autism presents. Never a good sleeper my nights are prone to getting seriously ropy when there’s a lot going on.
Nothing like the challenge my grandmother faced as an exile in the infamous concentration camps of France in 1939 – 1941, I tell myself sternly as I roll over for the millionth time. A fragment of her oral testimony, passed on by my mother (who also features in this work) is my inspiration and I am anxious to do her memory justice.
Yet there is something extraordinarily satisfying about gathering the strands over time. Elements have emerged and been added to as and when inspiration struck. To work in this way is a luxury you don’t always have in a busy practice, but one of the things I love about being autistic is that my brain positively cascades with ideas – pinning down even a fraction of them over time means you have a rich source from which to draw when a deadline approaches. My suitcase is full, and with my vintage teddy strapped on I will be suitably supported and equally encumbered for what will be a quite extraordinary (not to say eccentric) postmemory act of witness.
I also draw on my recent trip to France and Spain for Radio 4, to make. The Art of Now: Return to Catalonia. Understanding more fully the depth of testimony to be found in domestic ritual came from this journey. I am also indebted to Overtone Productions for their inspiring edit on my programme which has enabled me to experiment with sound in new ways.
This will Be my third trip to UCC. Previous performance work and film screenings at UCC have proved transformative to my practice. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to develop this piece for the forthcoming, All Things Considered…Material Culture and Memory Conference 9-10th Nov.