A Grants for the Arts funded period of research and development. Time, space and funding to unravel years of experience raising a large family, to lay out the dissected pieces of my past working practice, take up the bare bones of my creativity and set out again.
BYE FOR NOW
I woke up yesterday morning (Monday) at 5am, terrified and with a sense of blind panic at the prospect of another term. People are always saying ‘I don’t know how you do it with four children’, well the truth of the matter is – not very well at times. The thought of the stress of getting everyone to school with the right stuff, getting to clubs on time, making a fairly disastrous attempt at keeping up with homeworks etc, trying not to let people down, fills me with dread. In the end we forgot the violins, were late for fencing, took a 2hr journey to Southampton to refund some clothes only to find I hadn’t got my husbands debit card but did manage to take one mysteriously spotty child to the doctors. No studio time as ever.
But today is different. Today I will get some work done. This morning I had to do what turned out to be an excrutiatingly painful task. I am tentatively working on another film and have found the best working structure for me is to gather images and pieces of film etc etc and play about with them much as I do with materials in the studio. What I need for this piece are some short recordings of older women getting their nails painted. Now outside my door on a Tuesday my drive entrance is clogged up with old ladies, parking randomly and in their own endearingly thoughtless way, to get to the shin-dig at the Methodist hall opposite where they have a service, a chin wag, play cards and have lunch. Rich pickings I thought, and they may actually enjoy having someone in for a chat for half an hour or so. So I went over to ask if there were any volunteers. Table after table of rejection. Either they were out every day and far too busy or they just didn’t fancy it or, when I sat in Mary’s seat by mistake, they were downright hostile. Now I don’t mind really, I’ve worked on many projects with older people and they are my favourite group to work with and have earned the right to be beligerent. But it was hard work. Oh for a granny or an ancient Aunt I could call on for a favour, our family are somewhat thin on the ground. I wonder how other film makers find their subjects. Being a relatively shy person underneath I hate asking people for their help. In the end I got two, ‘Oh alright if no-one else will do it’ candidates so alls well in the end. But I’m glad that bit’s over.
I realise now that I no longer fit the description at the top of my blog. I have taken up my ‘bare bones’ and set out on the journey again although I’m not sure how far I’ve progressed. Either way the first steps have been taken, the funding has come to an end and I’m tooled up and ready to go. To say goodbye to the support this site provides though would be too scary so a new blog is called for. Unsurprisingly it will be entitled ‘Flesh on the Bones’. How far I survive in this landscape when my circumstances all scream that it’s impossible is yet to be seen. But if there’s one thing that will make me more determined, it’s the voice that says it can’t be done.
Thankyou for all your support and kind, wise and funny comments – see you on the next blog!
I’m sure this will seen rather fantastical, but less than a mile from my house on the edge of the village, down a secluded country lane, hidden from view and with only a small wooden sign pointing to the entrance is a sculpture park and (architecturally globally acclaimed) gallery, the sole representative of the Barbara Hepworth estate. With coach trips of wealthy buyers from London and beyond, and a constant programme of the biggest names in the artworld (Anthony Caros’ Millbank Steps, rejected for it’s central London position by the Westminster Public Art Advisory Committee, was welcomed here with open arms, and now languishes in the cow field nearby). Famous names seek out this peaceful retreat and the local vicar was once called upon to conduct a private marriage ceremony for one such artist, whose name I promised not to mention but who left a distinct line in the landscape when he went.
All this is weird -huh! When perusing the area of the country for a spot to live my husband returned excitedly rattling on about this place which I took with a pinch of salt but there it is. Strangely straddling the line between being open to the public with a strong schools education programme, while doing it’s best not to be found by visitors, it is bizzare indeed. Of course for most of the time life is too busy to remember to drop in, and the quiet comings and goings of Anthony Gormley etc don’t actually collide with my life at all but now and then I do.
Today was such a day.
The sculpture park has a kind of love/ hate relationship with children. Now I can understand that, particularly after our first visit when my Mancunian friends descended, and, distracted by our excitment at meeting up again and having access to great art we set off without realising that all our crowd of boys had found my son’s armoury of plastic guns (given recklessly at Christmas by my nieces’ swiss actor husband, known for his roles in cop movies) and had decided to play cops and robbers around the million pound sculptures.
This was a mistake. I won’t go into details.
Anyway, I think five years later, relationships have been restored and as we whizzed past today with a half hour gap in our schedule, and with just one daughter (how much harm can one curly haired girl do) with me, Maeve and I dropped in to catch the latest exhibition. The main gallery had three glorious Gary Hume paintings, hung facing the huge glass windows and visible all over the park. On closer inspection the paint pooled in it’s coloured sections, glossy liquid lakes of perfectly still and shamelessly summery pink and yellow, lapping up to the edge of the ajdacent colour, creating a plasticy ridge that was, like the paintings as a whole, somehow deeply satisfying.
Anyhow, time was up and we took off again. Maeve remained mildly unimpressed but sparked up at the prospect of seeing the tree house on the way out.
Did manage to get to the Helena Almeida show, although it has to be said at break neck speed as my babysitter got the time mixed up and came half an hour late. The show didn’t disappoint and you can read my review on the interface section of this site. I met a fellow Salisbury artist there and the two of us mulled over the MA question again, (she also has children), how to obtain equipment (ie. projection, camera, laptop etc) with no funds and the need to fill in gaps in our technical skills etc. etc. We left alas without the very reasonably priced and rather lovely book produced for the show – the coffers are low in both our camps.
The next time we bumped into eachother was on the streets of Salisbury where I was being reprimanded by a Roman centurian. Thousands attended a re-enactment of the Passion through the city streets with hundreds of actors, Roman chariots, burning torches etc and finishing with the Ressurection in the Catherdral. At each stage the bishop narrated the scene with one particularly moving explanation of the importance of the Pieta in art etc with the composition reneacted with actors by torchlight in the cathedral grounds.
The wait on the cathedral floor for the final scene was well worth the sore backside and we momentarily forgot our soggy feet and damp clothes when everyone broke into spontaneous applause at the point of the Resurrection with the choir, I swear,sounding so beautiful it took your breath away.
Anyway, the whole shebang overran in time and alas the chippie was shut but I think even the children felt like this injustice was somewhat superflous in the light of what we had just seen and we went home without complaint.
oh – and the tile adhesive has dried at last so a great Easter all round.
Cleaned out the studio today – always a good feeling (and a good way to put off work – yet again.) Started the soundtrack to another film but the images to lead into it are giving me some trouble.
I discovered when I had to hone the experience into a talk last week, that making film has become a really natural extension of my studio work and hasn’t been as great a leap as I initially imagined it would be. The same processes continue, gathering materials around me, living with them for some time, letting them move naturally into my work. In film, this translates into gathering sound, photographic images, clips of fim, recorded snippets etc while in the studio it’s sketches words, objects and fabrics.
When creating work for an installation, presence has always been as important as absence for me and space becomes an equally integral element, in some cases more so, to work with. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but it seems naturally to have become a significant element when I approach film making as well and seeing how the two dovetail together as far as the making process goes feels right.
Tomorrow night I am desperate to get to the John Hansard gallery talk on Helena Almeida’s work in S’Hampton but babysitters are eluding me – still hopeful though.
The Arts Council report is finished – yeh! The last few lines typed up between listening to three reading homeworks and helping my son produce a three course meal for his scout chef badge – (don’t tell anyone but I helped a fair bit – when we got quizzed by the scout tasting team who arrived later we stood like two criminals in the dock – I denied everything and Samuel kept schtum, I think we got away with it!)
Last night was a screening of my ‘Night Vision’ film among others at Last Friday Shorts at TAP, Southend, curated by Michaela Freeman. After a horrendous drive through the Dartford tunnel – (not a good idea at rush hour on Friday night), I got there in plenty of time.The event was really well put together and I was sorry to have to leave early. An evening of film with three artists talking and open for questions etc.
Michaela contacted me via Axis and, much as I squirm at giving talks, I’m so glad I did. Planning the actual talk and addressing the questions caused me to reflect much more deeply on the process of making the fim than before and drew some really valuable observations out of it. And it only took me half the time to drive back.
Well, apart from the tile adhesive I’ve used on a permanent piece for Swindon hosptial not drying and it being overdue, all is pretty good. Off to our Scottish/Italian friends for dinner tonight – (the combination is a dangerous one, think the Italians love of red wine with the Scots capacity to put it away – too tempting for an Irish girl.)