I can get myself so tightly in a corner that all thought is circular; my brain struggles like arms in a straitjacket. As the arms attempt to escape, the brain’s claustrophobic panic proceeds. I stopped working when this piece was completed for ‘The Send Off’, a show at Knole House based around two poems, one by Wilfred Owen, a second by Carol Ann Duffy, curated by Franny Swann. The piece was hard work to make, and rather wore me out. I became estranged from it. It, and I, felt contrived, laboured and weary. As a serial doubter, I probably shouldn’t be surprised. I still dip into looking at stuff, reading things. One thing that has impressed itself upon me, I think, has been that no matter what the backstory to work, this or that artist’s stuff tends to have a consistency of ‘style’, for want of a better word. It is possible and frequent for me to listen to or read what an artist tells of a piece, and remain utterly incapable of connecting word and object. That bothers me. It is too simple to blame the work and immensely discouraging to blame oneself; and the mind’s arms slip into the jacket. Conversations can be had. Rational statements can be made. As long as sentences make sense, the backstory, contextual landscape, however it is described, makes sense because of language. I wrote a review of ‘RECURSIVE’, (posted on a-n Reviews) a show curated by Jane Boyer. It was difficult to write for some of the reasons in this piece. I began to wonder if I was engaging in the kind of exercise to be found in school writing classes, where students are given a visual image, perhaps a photograph or a reproduction of an artwork, and are required to base a story on it. The differences between the work displayed by the various artists in the show were quite marked. Meeting them with their work made me think that as well as being somehow about something describable in terms of research, engaging with contemporary questions and so on, the work was intimately also ‘about’ the artists in a structural sense; what was in gallery was not only the content of the work, but was the form of the artist. Notions of ‘style’ stain my brain; style indicates the general way in which an artist is disposed to work. But ‘style’ really goes beyond the notion of signature, to the core.( Style is also the signature form of some kinds of bad art, non-art-pretend-art, dishonest art, consistency conflated and confused with substance.) And notions of style, disposition and self, in their repetitive sense, can make vulnerable this thing named artist, style being both surface appearance and essence of self. What the straitjacket facilitates seems necessary to the person, in order to maintain the continuous unresolved struggle which is misrecognised as art. Being the artist is a distraction from the business of divesting oneself of the jacket-need. The possibility that one is only behaving like an artist, giving the impression of being an artist, maintaining a neeeded self-deception, is infused into daily life. I’ve kind of said all this before, and this is the grey time of year. As greyness repeats so does a greyness of the mind. I like to draw, though.