If any of you have read my other blog, Threads, you might have read about how I work… Fairly instinctively, stitching obsessively and slowly, waiting for the thought to catch up with the deed. A conversation occurs between me, the materials, the ideas, and the collaborators, and it slowly unfurls while I stitch. It has taken me about ten years to trust that this will happen. I don’t need to over-theorise before making, I just get on with it, and the connections turn up during the conversations.
The songs have been trickier. For a while they sat on the edge of the conversation… At the corner table in a noisy pub on a Friday night. I kept telling myself to keep going, that all would be well and the link would happen naturally. At some point between finding that first bra in Cambridge, and writing a song about a train to Crewe, the songs joined in. Gradually I realised they were no longer at the table in the corner, but we’re talking to each other, talking to the bras, talking to me, and now to other people. This is where the really clever bit happened…..
It dawned on me over the space of a day spent with Dan and Nicki Kelly at her flat, recording, just three days ago. Actually it dawned on me in the length of time it took Dan to get a music stand from his car, and for me to give Nicki a hug. It must have been a mutual pivotal moment, because she mentioned the hug in her blog too. You can find Effing and Blinding here…..
Nicki was feeling overwhelmed by it, and stressed by it all… Felt responsible for it going wrong. It wasn’t going wrong at all, it just wasn’t going how she had expected it to. I remembered that feeling I had had four years previously, hence the hug. She said she wouldn’t be offended if I just paid a better pianist to come in and get it right first time. That simple sentence slapped me round the face and made me realise that the people were as much part of the work as the recycled fabrics and threads I use. The same reason I use old bras. It’s all about the story and the conversation. Dan and Nicki are as woven in as those threads…. A new pianist would not be right at all, and the so called better pianist would oh most definitely be worse! My entanglement with Nicki has been brilliant fun, put the two of us in a room with a piano, and something to record on, and we sparked off each other from the start… Instant involvement! And you think I can cast that aside for a “better” pianist? No chance! My learning, Nicki’s learning, the new ideas, all are part of it. I don’t write songs like other people, for the same reasons as other people or in the same way as other people.
A new pianist would be about as useful to me as a new bra.
Did you read that article the professor of Art History at Oxford University wrote about Tracey Emin’s bed not being authentic, as in, he could tell by the creases in the sheets? Hang on… I’ll find a link….
Most of the contemporary conceptual artists I know just shrugged, said “so?” Called him a bit of a twat, and dismissed him. The authenticity lies not in the bed, but the idea and where in the artists head it was sat, waiting for her to articulate it. Whether you like the work or not, I don’t think there is any doubt that is an authentic piece of Emin’s work is there?
So… Back to me if you don’t mind….
If I had booted Nicki out, and got in some virtuoso usurper, THAT would not be authentic.
In a few years’ time, when Nicki is “better” at playing the piano, and we write another song and the improvement shows in both of us, it authenticates and validates the new as well as the old, and those nine women? We’re in with them too