I picked up my piece from the Surface Gallery yesterday. I always sense there is a strange feeling hanging in the air when taking down work at the end of a show. I'm not down about it as such but heavy and quietly contemplating. I had been on such a high when I was doing my performance; it was so immediate and spontaneous, now it feels strange to just be looking at a memory. Time moves on and work comes down…
But I have been excited to spend time looking over the drawings I have made. They seem to tell tales about the evening but also make up their own too. To me each outline represents a moment of contact with a viewer that felt at the time intimate, distant and strange all simultaneously. It was such a strange form of muted contact with another person and made me feel like someone else. I guess it gave me certain control of the situation although restricted my ability to be a part of the scene. I sat separate and anonymous, sometimes ignored, sometimes provoking intrigue, placed right in the centre of the room but contained in a separate space. I'm not sure how the drawings work out of their original context but there is something I really like. Maybe I'm just so deeply involved with the process? I love it when a piece of work surprises and opens up another trail to follow.
I had my first meeting about the solo exhibition I was awarded from Margaret Harvey open last year. It went really well I think, but made me realise it’s not that far away and I need to get myself organised. I need to have a rough outlined proposal by 2nd March. This shouldn’t be a problem but always this part of decision making seems to be the hardest bit for me. All these possibilities! We discussed what my options are and they are pretty open. I am free to experiment, free to make new work, free to perform and free to work in the space for the duration of the exhibition. On one side this feels me with bubbly excitement, but on the reverse it feels a bit like I’m balancing on the side of a cliff without railings. Sometimes restrictions and rules can be quite a comfort. I want to use this opportunity to its full potential but this thinking creates even more pressure. I’m sure there will be a few episodes of waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat on the horizon.
One thing that is a huge relief this time is the extra support that I will be getting, a technician to help me make things and an experienced curator to give me advice. After the stress and worry that came from doing the Red Gate exhibition last year it was a massive relief to hear that although it’s mine to plan, I will have a team to help me do it. Phew!
So now my mind is on over drive, mulling over the possibilities of the space. My practice seems to be growing into many different areas and mediums, with many different lines of enquiry. This has meant that there is probably a danger of trying to do too much or to confuse the space. I think it is vital to be very thoughtful when I make my decisions about the area I am going to focus on. This will be a very good opportunity to contemplate my practice and really focus on what it is about and where it may lead from this point. I hope that like the Red Gate was, it will be an opportunity that sparks further movement in my exploration and greater understanding of how my work is developing.
It was a bit touch and go on Friday as I sat staring out into the thick blanket of snow that was building fast and filling the whole village around our house, whilst at the same time the radio blared at me… ‘serious weather warnings throughout the south east, people are advised not to travel and Luton Council are advising people DO NOT travel into Luton’. So our options were getting less and less. Train to Nottingham….but can’t get to Luton to catch it….drive to Nottingham….will we even get out of the village? We even contemplated walking along the dual carriage way into Luton to the train station, until we realised this would take hours! In the end with spade, food and woollies we decided to just try our luck in the car and see how far we could get before skidding into a ditch or getting stuck for three hours behind a lorry. With the help of a neighbour we got ourselves out of the drive after that to my huge relief we crawled out of the village at a snails pace and then on reaching the A1 were freed and on our way.
Everything after that seemed to just slot in to place. We made it to Nottingham in perfect time, checked into the hotel, called Jo to see if she too had made it through the weather and sure enough she arrived about an hour after us. So we all set off for the Surface Gallery.
Because of all the stress and worry of just getting myself there I had had no time to get worked up about performing. I had about two minutes as I stood apprehensively kitted out in my suit were my nerves started to show, babbling nonsense. As soon as I started the drawing though I felt the adrenaline kick in. I couldn’t even feel the cold of the unheated gallery. I was in my space and knew my role. Once again I observed the interactions that came and went as I observed and traced. There was curiosity mainly I think, to what I sat silently doing. Some people braver than others and able to play with the piece, while more timid ones stood back and tried to observe without being observed, moving away when they caught themselves appearing.
I drew for two and a half hours and climbed out at 8.30pm blurry eyed but elated. I really think people were fascinated by the piece, and having peoples attention for that time felt amazing. I think you can never tell how something is going to sit in a particular place with a particular audience, but this time it worked well. I’ve come away now mulling over and trying to digest the feelings that the experience gave me. It has given me so much to think about.
Managed to get my stuff delivered to Nottingham on Sunday before snow seemed to bring all to a stand still! There was a particularly hairy moment but not from any weather force. My box ended up being about 2 inches too wide for the door of the gallery. After some teasing and panicy pushing and pulling, it popped through. Phew! So it's there and I'm here. (Hoping weather permits me to get back up to it again on Friday otherwise it could end up being a very disappointing performance)
I'm now back in the studio and attempting to carry on with other things… picking up ongoing ideas and trying to keep the making flow going. Apart from that nothing exciting to write about at the moment. It definatley feels like a funny period for me. I feel very inbetween.