Interrupts: The very first programmable computer, the ENIAC, could just run a single program with no user interaction. To cope with intervention by users with early devices such as punched card readers and paper tape readers, the “interrupt” was invented. This was a special code sent to the processor which meant “Stop whatever it is you’re doing, and attend to this other high priority thing for a bit”.
Life as an artist is full of interruptions: the making and displaying of art always seems to be the lowest priority in a long list of competing concerns. Once it was just the basic stuff of cooking, eating, phoning the landlord, shopping, etc.
As life has become more complicated with children, step-children, “other parents”, schools, universities, day jobs, etc. etc. the interruptions have become the norm, and the creative moments have become the interruptions.
30 years ago the succession of seasonal celebrations provided an endless excuse for ritual art-making and event organisation. 30 years on and the seasonal celebrations are now the rude and chaotic interruptions to an otherwise organised and regulated life.
I used to eschew the custom of sending Christmas cards. As a radical environmental activist the unrestrained consumerism and waste of natural resources offended my sensibilities.
However, last time I was creatively silent for a period of years – about 17 years ago – my audience began to forget me. When I’d meet someone on the street, instead of asking “Are you working on any exciting projects?” they’d ask “How’s the computer work going?”.
This time around I’m determined not to let my audience forget that, at the root of my life, is a creative process which is driven to engage with the wider world … and home-made Christmas cards are an excellent opportunity to provide an annual reminder to my old audience that I may have been silent for a while, but I’m not done-for yet!
Thus it was that I was stuck in the studio for the whole of last weekend with encaustic wax equipment, photoshop, my printer and a box of card blanks.
But what message to put on the cards? Personally I like to celebrate the winter solstice, but I’ve found that while Christians feel it is perfectly OK to send me “Happy Christmas” cards, they are deeply offended if I send them “Happy Solstice” cards. Years ago I did just that as a way of “getting people to challenge their preconceptions” and lost several friends, but now I’m basically marketing, so I need to pander to the customer’s sensibilities, at least a bit!
So I produce cards with a selection of messages, to suit the recipient: “Happy Christmas” for the Christians, “Happy Solstice” for the new-agers, “Happy Yuletide” for the pagans and “Happy Midwinter” for everyone else.
This year’s are still in the post, but here’s a selection from previous years: