During the second part of a writing exercise at school this week I had a rather startling (and wholly unexpected) glimpse into aspects of my practice. Last week we had been asked to recall a childhood memory that we could develop into a short text. It always takes me a long time to come up with things like this so I was glad when the teacher prompted us with the suggestion that we could start with a particular smell. I have a strong like for smells such as fresh tarmac, warm rubber, and also musty cardboard (sometimes I blame a childhood accident that broke my nose for my ability to savour these fragrances and be completely oblivious to many floral scents). The musty cardboard that I had in mind was that of the old trunk and boxes where we stored our Christmas tree and the decorations. So on my rather minimal spider-diagram for my text I wrote that I loved Christmas in a bubble at the end of one of my spider’s legs. This week we got our diagrams back from the teacher who had marked one thing that we should start to describe in more detail. On my paper she had circled “I loved Christmas” and added a question mark.
In answer I began to write not about Christmas Day or favourite presents but about seeing the illuminated Christmas trees in the windows of houses on our way home from grandma, and the excitement of my father taking those fragrant boxes down from the loft and erecting our faithful old artificial tree. My excitement was not just about the twinkling lights, the sparkling tinsel and the assorted collection of other ornaments, I think my excitement was in part about being part of something beyond my own family, my own town, perhaps I had a sense that putting this glittering tree in our living room window we were taking part in something beyond ourselves, something which (despite the secularity of my family and the materialism of Essex in the 1980s) was actually a sign of some kind of faith.
And suddenly it came to me – I am trying to do the same thing with my art. And now when I look around the studio I see how much of my practice now is about being part of something larger than oneself, and how I am doing this with increasing amounts of glitter and sparkle …
In my search (and research) for glitter I had a meeting with a man from a specialist theatre and event lighting contractor on Wednesday afternoon. I was surprised and delighted at how professionally and seriously he took me and my request for such comparatively small amounts of material. At the end of our conversation he said that now he better understood what I want to do (cover one side of an old door with glitter) he will contact his suppliers and discuss which are the best materials and see if he can get can some samples. I warmed not only to his professionalism but also to his lack of “hard sell”. Afterwards I wondered if in Sweden with its small population genuine customer satisfaction is worth more than a few fast notes in the till. Would I have received the same level of service in London if I had gone to a similar scale company there? What I want is not even part of their regular stock or business it just happens to be produced by one of their international suppliers.
I feel as though I am, by association and necessity, becoming more “professional”. I wonder where this will lead ….