With so much time being consumed with schlepping boxes and bags from my sister’s attic into my car, then transporting them to my home where I slowly sort through them, it’s been more difficult to get into the studio. But I have managed to get there, even if it’s just for brief, snatched periods of time – often to match up something I’ve found in the day which I know will be ‘just right’ alongside something in the studio – I can’t tell you what a thrill this gives me! (Sad, I know – but honest, at least).
My main focus when it comes to these choices seems to be colour, prompted by the amazing range of hues and shades of things I’ve found when sorting – all so evocative of certain eras. Colour has been the main emphasis in collecting together the various items and imposing some sort of order on them. It’s been interesting to work with different types of material and the 1960s plastic doilies, table placemats and flowers have opened up a completely new colour palette for me – all very symbolic of the passing of time, changing trends and fashions and the consequent physical changes I saw in my Nana’s home, in which she lived for over 70 years.
Plastics of the 1960s have their own distinct colour range and I’ve focused on bringing together the various plastic objects I’ve found in the assorted bags and boxes. I’ve placed them on the plain walls of the studio and onto different types of formica/wood effect backgrounds and photographed them, trying to make some sort of sense and order of them, in order to fully appreciate their appeal.
Certain things have transported me right back to specific moments in time – childhood days and memories of certain rooms – in my Nana’s home, as well as my own – the pictures on the walls, the placemats on the table, the doilies on the sideboard, the plastic flowers in a jug in the front room.
Plastic is mass-produced and robust – indestructable, at the same time as being throwaway, ironically – a million miles away from the preceding days of careful preservation and the ‘make do and mend’ way of caring for worldly possessions. Working with objects made of plastic is in sharp contrast to the materials I’ve worked with more recently – in terms of colour, in terms of their availability and in terms of how I handled and treated them. The mass-produced plastic items feel so much less precious than those from the 1930s/40s era; those I used in the ‘Here Today’ assemblage, for example – the handcrafted mirror, the handmade silk velvet flowers – have a certain aura about them – of being unique, one-offs, precious and in need of being preserved, respected and tenderly looked after. This contrast has made me think yet further about the importance and value of objects – how much they represent in terms of our identities – socially and politically, and also in relation to our cultural identities. And our place – our social standing – in the world.
I’ve felt invigorated and excited by the new ideas that the sorting has introduced, leading me to an ongoing work in progress, one which I’m excited to explore further. My current working title ‘Nana’s Colours‘ has become the collective name I’ve given to the various small, simple assemblages I’ve made during these short bursts of art making. It’s felt important to keep making art amidst all the chaos and upheaval caused by this past month’s massive sorting; it’s helped ground me. And I’m pleased with some of the results that the gathering together of various bits and pieces of fabrics, objects, books and other things has created.
Now I can’t wait to see what the future brings, in terms of getting back into the studio regularly again to make art. I’m currently negotiating a chunk of time in my head when I can be there for a good few solid hours – to immerse myself and see what comes of spending time with yet more of the new material I’ve recently taken into the studio. And I’m already looking forward to reporting back – there’s a grounding effect to writing this blog, too.
Half an hour or so after publishing this post, this film came to my attention, sent by a friend: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/107292…