My mother told of a day when she thought she had won the football pools and excitedly told my father. He in turn pointed out to her that the document that she showed him was her record of results and was made after the games had been played, and did not match the failed predictions of her original crosses. There followed a period of bitter disappointment for which he was held responsible. I wonder whether this switching of forms was a simple mistake or was a necessary dream which created passing relief from disappointment; she dreamt the joy that she could not experience. It seems possible that the making of, and hopes invested, in artworks can be prone to this kind of necessity, and that it might provide motivation to live the life of this thing called ‘artist’. The ‘cashing in’ of an artwork in terms of meaning and quality is a more protracted process than the short term matter of collecting on the pools but retains the capacity to nudge what might be real to one side to enable a temporary suspension of anxiety.
My mother was something of a lost soul, never really finding herself, having to make do with the unending ebb and flow of disappointment and hope. She felt an affinity with the sea – quite a common thing.
Walking along the beach up and down between the tides is what I do, defined, channelled, directed, by the extremities of low and high. My beachcomber looks back over his shoulder, nostalgic, searching for purpose in his lines. And looking back might metamorphose like the pools coupon into a looking forward, hopefully knowingly.
Applying graphite powder like this is quite hard work, rubbing, smoothing, fixing and repeating the process over and over. The result is this mouthwatering skin. My skin. I traced the marks from the first tentative recognition of my mother’s presence in my drawings, formed the skin and damaged it. A loving damage? Wire wool rubbed a sore spot, a needle scratched and picked away at the surface. An erasion produced a surprising effect.