I made it into the studio this week – finally! Virus behind me, sons’ exams over – a clear day for myself and nine solid, solitary hours of sorting and rearranging. Just a few stray bits and pieces piled up in one part of the studio, but overall, the floor space is clear and a lot of stuff has been put back into some sort of order. My desk is tidy, bar a couple of items I left placed on it – seeds of new ideas for work to come, perhaps?
Whether the end of this massive clear up signals the start of developing new work remains to be seen but whatever, I’m already looking forward to finding the time to get back into the studio, to start playing and experimenting with the rediscovered objects, and see where that might lead. I have no idea which direction my work might take me in this coming year. Scary, but sort of liberating at the same time – I have in any case, numerous pieces of unfinished work to revisit and make decisions about.
But for now, a quote that the Artists Talking editors took from my last post and put on Twitter has got me thinking: ‘The Beginning of History’ exhibition ended in early December; this somehow though, feels like the beginning for me.’ Faced with it, I had to think about what I meant when I wrote that.
One particular piece of work, Here Today, which I created especially for The Beginning of History, made a big impact on me – stirred something deep in me which needed to be processed. Maybe it’s this that made me feel I was at the start of something new, right at the end of the show – something to give more thought to and develop further? My thoughts have kept returning to this particular piece of work – what made it stand out for me?
I remember my response to first producing it in the studio – one of those defining moments when everything seemed to come together and felt ‘just right.’ To my eyes, it seemed that all four selected items sat beautifully together and the visual effect as far as I was concerned, was so aesthetically appealing that it made my heart sing. I’ve been thinking about it a lot – that moment, when for whatever reason, I felt I’d created something that for me personally, was special.
On reflection, I feel that in ‘Here Today‘ I captured something that gets to the very core of my practice – the part that motivates me and keeps me interested and hooked into the work I make. I describe it in my artist statement as my work reflecting ‘… a fascination with the passage of time and the contrast between the permanence of objects and the fragility of life.’
It was the emotional connection to the objects that touched and moved me. Such intimate and highly personal objects, still here, physically present – in the flesh, as it were – while the hands that touched and used them, left their trace on them, no longer exist. ‘The permanence of objects‘ – the mirror, the powder, the make-up, the faded silk flower – and the powder puff, especially for me, so reminiscent of the skin itself – recollections of precious moments spent with Nana at her dressing table.
These physical objects, however battered and used, essentially all still exist, while the woman whose life was so intrinsically involved in using them, no longer does – that fine line ‘between the permanence of objects and the fragility of life.‘