I have avoided the idea of a blog previously – the sharing of the fears, the thoughts and creative process that keep me tinkering along as an artist. However having had a studio for 5 months that came to an end( where I was able to work with such energy and passion) I have had 2 months where life has pulled me in other directions and my creative mojo has been gasping for air – it is now time to get a grip. An opportunity of a residency away from home, for a month, culminating in an exhibition/open weekend is here for the month of August and I am bursting to get thinking and unmaking, destroying and recreating!
A time to reflect and remember why the process of making is what keeps me feeling human.
It’s challenging maintaining momentum over a month long residency it seems. The uncertainty about why I’m making what I’m making creeps in and as this is not a residential residency like I’ve done before, I’m still interrupted by real life. I’d thought being home based and travelling would be easier for family and me to deal with – less to organise etc – but it means a daily back to basics occurs and thought patterns and obsessive work are interrupted. Or maybe I am looking for excusses.
I realise my obsessive making and thought processes make it difficult for me to balance things out and share my life with others whilst I’m so involved in what I’m doing. The research in the lead up to the residency meant I had planned out some ideas and so I’m keen to see those through. Although of course those ideas are changing as I work on them and what I’m doing each day is becoming in some ways more familiar and others more strange. It seems I’m making 3 strands of work (plus another bubbling away in the background!) and they’re all clearly to do with process, ritual, repetition, learning, things that are changing in my life, things I can’t hold on to – a need for familiar things – a need for comfort. I’m finding the work intriguing and it’s unsettling me that it’s becoming something I didn’t invisage and I also still don’t know how or where I will put this work when we exhibit at the end of the month…….it’s nature is changing. I will keep making and trust the process – it’s an adventure with rules, conversations and an unknown future
First feel sure of idea then the execution will be easier
Eva Hesse – Drawing By M. Catherine de Zegher
A decision to save time and money and travel to the residency by train was made yesterday and so I found myself stressing unnecessarily, like in my old commuter days,about missing my train. Of course there was no need as I had 10 minutes to sit and wait – caught up on some phone calls and emails and then enjoyed my coastal journey to St Leonards whilst making a transportable piece of work which may or may not feature in the end of residency exhibition at the end of the month.
We have already discussed a little the curating of the space and that includes two internal rooms and a huge public gardens. There is undoubtedly room for all of us to show our work but of course I can always find a reason to get distracted with worrying about how it’s all going to work. It fits in to the same category in my brain about where the work will go after if it’s not something that stays in the surroundings – a chalk poem springs to mind that I did on a previous residency, that time train travel and one suitcase for a month really did impact the scale & style of work but that actually meant my work moved in new and different ways which totally enhanced my practice – I can see that now! At the time it was exciting but unsettling that I was going in new directions as this also overlapped with the final year of my degree so I needed some clarity of what my practice was/is.
This rambling is focusing my mind that these constraints – art in a bag – may actually lead me down new paths….excuse that pun – I actually did walk the paths of the park a few days ago and place my work there – away from the Lodge rooms, mantel piece, window sills, it transformed the work – and they (the objects I’d been making each day) started to make more sence.
Someone popped in to the lodge yesterday which lead to a brief chat about what ‘we’ – the artists in residence – were doing. As I started to explain my daily ritual of select,sew, select sew – an hour a day to focus the mind – I had that reality check of not knowing where this ritual was taking me. I was already distracted with the fact that whilst I had anticipated I might improve and make more (in this case longer) work each day as I improved my process, after 5 days I was finding the hour feeling longer each day! The monotony of repeating this particular task was already an issue. The reason for the task was to settle me in each day, give time to think, and get in to the zone of how ladies spent their days in the 1840s, entertaining themselves with stitching and watercolour. Clealy I am too use to rushing around and multitasking and needing more excitement! Also not knowing what I was going to do with these things ultimately has probably not helped. If they are not placed carefully they tangle themselves up in to a total mess – no order out of chaos to be seen! But…..the good news that I woke up early this morning with an idea on what I could do when installing this work…….and now I’m quite excited about going in tomorrow to test this idea out….and to do another hour of select and stitch, select and stitch……
And so yes, I didn’t make it in to the residency space today. I had brought some work back with me luckily, but firstly I felt exhausted after 5 solid days there – all that doing, thinking, talking, making, experimenting was having an effect! But also in walking back to the station yesterday we got distracted by a sign “everything outside £1′ at a haberdashery store. I could not resist the emerald green tangle – I’m currently making some work in emerald green velvet and thread – and this seemed too good to be true…..so today I spent 3 hours unravelling the bundle- order out of chaos – and the whole day went by with no time to travel to the residency….
Today the 5 artists plus me that are taking part in the residency met to discuss progress, thoughts, dead ends, fears.
Sharing ideas can make ideas seem both better and worse and today I think the group felt elated and insecure and unsure in different measures. We work as a crit group regularly anyway and we are comfortable with each other but not too comfortable for a crit to be too softly softly I hope. It’s been a while since we’ve each shared our current work together and this time it’s different as we are all reacting in some way to the residency location/history/experience and within that injecting parts of our souls.
What’s clear is that to have a dedicated space to just debate, share, discuss, place work in real surroundings, is extremely valuable and makes the critic process more valuable than around the kitchen table as needs must more often than not. It’s interesting to hear how we all are approaching the same thing – the ‘thing’ being the residency. All approaches different, all valuable and valied. Some using notebooks/sketchpads and others maquettes or carrying the journey inside their heads. We are all learning, growing artists and it’s a joy to be in a creative space. It’s exposing though to share where you are at with some creative ideas but not knowing why you are there exactly nor where it is going but knowing with an urgency that you just need to do it. That is art. Obsessive.
So I will be soon going in to day 3 of the residency and I’m feeling tired but buzzing! The ideas have been multiplying and have kept me awake for the last 2 nights – good and bad news!
To have some space to play again is so exciting – away from daily home distractions. I had decided to try and work with the concept of ‘art in a bag’ as the residency is over an hour away by public transport but potential to cycle and or lift share as well – however – I’m plagued by the thought of what will happen after the month of making and thinking? More work to store? Where? Hence, art in a bag – but I arrived on day 1 with 4 bags full of ‘stuff’ that I just might need – mad bag lady! I must I think try and just focus on the creative moments and not on the storage issues…….
Time and space for thinking certianly is helping the thinking. I had researched the area and history of the area in the months leading up to the residency and this is forming my approach to my work. I’m working within a frame work of rules and finding this is inspiring – it gives a daily routine which is probably more a ritual – order, thread, select, stitch, select and stitch, select and stitch – the first hour is filled.