Maintaining this blog, as I’ve mentioned many times before, provides me primarily with a record of my work. It also provides me with a space in which to reflect and think back on the things that are easily forgotten and overlooked: the highs & lows, plus all the bigger, real-life issues that inevitably get in the way of being an artist.
Life really has got in the way for me recently. I’m aware that I’ve been talking a lot about my ill health, both in this blog and on social media. Hardly surprising, given that it’s pretty much all life’s been about these past few weeks – months, even. I’m glad that I have this space to talk through such issues – it’s cathartic and helps compartmentalise things. It also feels just as important for me to account for the gaps in work productivity, as it does the busier and more creative times.
One of the original 10×10 objects (photo credit: Wendy Mszyca)
An original 10×10 object (photo credit: Wendy Mszyca)
It was a big deal for me not to be able to get 10×10 up and running in time to coincide with the Deptford X fringe, not least because it’s the first time that I’ve been unable to honour a work commitment. Being reliable matters to me, but it really was unavoidable – writing this here is a way of reminding myself of the very legitimate reasons for having to withdraw.
I ended up in hospital for a second time in September – this time, for two weeks. Feeling so unwell and being in such excruciating pain, revolved around ongoing issues with my right ear and a subsequent infection which spread to the bone. I have, as a result, been seriously ill.
The staff at my local NHS hospital once again proved to be amazing – administering pain relief as required and nursing me back to a level of health which means I can function in the world again. Treatment is still ongoing but I’m better than I was and virtually pain-free. Rather than feeling ill all the time, I now feel like I’m recuperating. Recovery is slow and very much following the pattern predicted by the ENT consultant with good days followed by bad days, one step forward and two steps back – I’m not out of the woods yet.
Psychologically, it feels important to take advantage of the good days and to engage myself in the things that interest me. I’ve recently managed to get to some art exhibtions and events; it feels important to document the things I have managed to do.
I’m pleased for example, that I was able to acknowledge October 10th 2018 as being the 10th anniversary of my 10×10 project. Just a small gesture, but writing a post on here and posting images of some of the 100 original objects from 2008 on social media, gave a nod at least, to 10 years collaborative work with many different audiences.
With the brilliant support of close family & friends, I’ve also managed to keep up with a few other work-related events. I’ve missed a lot of the exhibitions I wanted to see, but one of the positive things about not being up to scratch health-wise is that people have rallied round and offered to do all sorts of things to make me feel better. Aside from the amazing nutritious food I’ve been provided with, I’ve also been driven to places, friends & family recognising that I’m not quite up to taking public transport yet. And so, I did manage to make it along to see ‘A Woman’s Place’ at Knole House last weekend. I’m so pleased I did – a first ‘big’ day out for me in weeks and the chance to see some great art by six artists, whose work I really like, presented in a beautiful setting.
‘Flag for Grace’ Lubaina Himid
Lubaina Himid’s flag looked brilliantly defiant in its setting, flying high on the flagpole of a building from an era so frequently associated with women’s oppression.
The second trip out involved being caught in a horrendous traffic jam and arriving at my destination almost an hour later than anticipated. But being driven into central London, meant that I was able to make it to the launch of Michael Petry’s book, ‘The Word Is Art’ last Wednesday evening. Sadly, I missed the opportunity to hear Michael speak, but I’m glad that I made it and was able to at least, meet some of the other artists who have work in the book, the author himself and his assistant Roberto Ekholm. I’m now the proud owner of my own copy of ‘The Word Is Art’ authored by Michael Petry and published & launched by Thames & Hudson last week.
The book includes images of the work of a diverse group of international artists who have used text in their work – and for me personally, the inclusion of an image from my ‘HAME’ series. It’s a lovely tribute and a wonderful, lasting legacy to a much loved and missed father. I’ve only managed to skim read Michael’s extensive writing so far (about the use of text globally in art, as well as information on each individual artist whose work is included), but I’m looking forward to having a more in-depth read soon. The book’s release couldn’t be better in terms of timing – perfect reading for an ongoing period of recuperation.
‘HAME’ Kate Murdoch
This photo was taken in the Ayrshire village of Muirkirk where my father, Alexander Murdoch, was born – ‘hame’ as he affectionately called it. This particular ‘HAME’ image is a tribute to him and conjures up happy memories of numerous visits to the homes of his vast extended family, many of whom still live in Muirkirk.