I often want to borrow from my friend and object art colleague the brilliant artist and a.n blogger, Kate Murdoch. I’d very much like to call my blog keeping it going too at the minute! I think it’s a genius title as it is so difficult to keep up a professional creative practice. There are often so many pressures in our lives that work against us.
Though on second thought I realise that this post fits perfectly here on Barcelona in a Bag, however hard it is to keep things going right now creatively speaking. Writing here helps me anchor current creative developments to the overarching vision I have for my work. I’ve been building a body of work which responds to the Spanish Civil War since 2013, and my subject remains constant.
But life can take a turn, it frequently does, and some turns are sharper than others. I sometimes compare the sudden need to care part time for my 93 year old mum with early motherhood, and there are some obvious parallels. Broken nights, the plethora of new equipment cluttering the home, a necessary focus on bodily functions and ‘feeds’, the cycle of medical appointments, and the growing sense that you’ve dipped out of the ‘mainstream’ of life and become a bit invisible.
The walls shrink in and your perspective changes. It takes time to establish a routine or to feel ‘in control’. I think that’s where I am right now, though I am definitely not complaining. I do this gladly and, like early motherhood, a little besottedly, to be honest.
That said, there is a definite sense of needing to recalibrate – I have to find ways through the radical change that splitting my week between working and caring brings. My ‘productive time’ has been halved and I find myself living in two locations, which can be disorientating. It’s early days in this arrangement, and I’m still trying to work out what works in terms of keeping my creative practice going.
So this is where my budding photography and collage practices come in. I find I have a transportable studio! My break-through this week came in finding spaces between caring (mum’s naps primarily) to play around with ephemera, and take some photographs. This is a sign that she’s more settled and having better days. Win, win.
I can remain close at hand with my gentle desktop pursuits, and the care setting in this instance was our family home – the site of our exile during the last 20 years of my father’s life. It’s rife with possibility as subject.
My growing Etsy obsession (where I pick up a lot of my Spanish ephemera for collage) has suddenly paid off. I have folders of images to work with and a rationale for what I’m doing. I’m equally obsessed with the minutiae of the domestic spaces we shared as a family in exile – and any remaining traces thereof. My re-immersion in my childhood home could actually provide an opportunity. Mum, if she’s feeling up to it, can join in.
There are been days when all I can manage in the gaps is to trawl online for resources, and to research. It’s an essential part of my practice but it has it’s limits. At some point you’ve got to get making.
So it’s been lovely to find that space and time this week, and to emerge with a new idea. As I played with the ephemera and a found upholstery button I caught myself muttering, small, improvised, subversive…over and over.
Again, it’s early days but I feel a series of small paper based works coming on as I adapt to my new circumstances.
Thank you for reading!