Timing is everything; I’d just been wondering about how much of this week’s activities I wanted to share on this blog when I came across one of Eleanor McArdle’s posts on ‘I’ve Been Told To Write a Blog.’ www.a-n.co.uk/p/2273788/
A conversation has started between Eleanor and another artist/blogger, Franny Swann about how much we ‘ought’ to share about ourselves, as artists – in public. Eleanor raises an important question: by uploading our ‘every thought’ she asks, are we ‘diluting the artistic narrative?’ It’s an interesting debate.
I‘ve always been conscious of not wanting to write for the sake of it and the old adage ‘If You Don’t Have Anything Worth Saying, Don’t Say Anything At All’ springs to mind; on the other hand, we’re all at liberty not to engage with the blogs and just like with twitter, have a choice of whether to follow or not.
I’m a great believer in sharing the truth as a rule but this past week has involved a certain matter that I’ve been feeling reticent about revealing. Something’s prevented me from hitting the publish button on this recent post, one of the reasons being that what I have to share is a little unsavoury….
… because it’s primarily about vermin – rats, to be precise; rats who have recently infiltrated and wrecked some of my art materials I’ve had stored in the garden shed. I’ve shared my dilemma with some other artists I know and the shudders, the looks of disgust on their faces says it all, really – I don’t blame them! Because rats are vermin = dirt = unhealthy =sewers = fear. I could go on.
I’ve been keen to emphasise my use of rubber gloves, the disinfectant, the scrubbing clean sessions – everything in fact that might convince people that I’ve taken this rat elimination business very seriously; that I’m aware of how abhorrent these creatures can be and the diseases they’re capable of transmitting.
But I still feel slightly unclean, not to mention a little paranoid that people might think that I live in filthy conditions at home – it’s the lot of many collectors, the fantasy others have about us that we all live a Collyer Brother kind of existence – eccentric and more’s to the point, in filth and squalor. It’s just not true!
And of course there are always certain issues that people just don’t want to know about. It’s not for nothing that the definition of rats and vermin include the words ‘pest’ and ‘nuisance.’
So, what’s to do? Gloss over last week’s activities and pretend they didn’t happen? Just present the ‘prettied up’ version of life as an artist and leave aside the real version of what for me, this past week, has been very grim indeed?
To return to Eleanor’s question: ‘How much of ourselves should we, as artists, expose to the public?’ And, as Franny asks: Do we feel inclined/pressured into editing ‘all the difficult and hard bits out?’ I don’t have any hard and fast answers. I just know that I’d like to portray as honest a picture as I can of my day to day practice as an artist.
But we’re hampered by constraints as Franny points out and it’s not always easy (or sometimes even possible) to tell the truth. Whether or not sharing too much information will be detrimental remains to be seen – for me, personally though, it’s as if somehow, writing from the heart will see me through.
I had the choice of course, of not sharing anything at all about the recent rat invasion – but the materials the rats destroyed are my work – and that’s pertinent to my practice.
Pertinent, too is the fact that the word ‘rat’ is an anagram of ‘art.’ This week I had to face up to a very sad truth – the rat(s) had eaten a part of my art.