tension and balance between
Hold let go
I am expanding
Black and wet
Coaching Homework = PLAY
‘I don’t want you to do anything or make any work next time you go. I want you to play.’
This sounded like a strange and forced thing to do – but after thinking about it I realised that playing is neither forced or a lack of doing – it doesn’t have to be dancing around or skipping in a playground (where I have plenty of horrific memories of anything BUT play) it’s not sitting with grownups doing puzzles or having to take part in games feeling lost because I didn’t understand the rules or get chosen for the team.
engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose
Play is about doing what I want to do, freedom….I don’t feel I have a lot of this right now because of my choice to have a family (3 boys 6, 8 and 11) and the demands on my time that this imposes, but it does provide opportunities which I think I can make more of by being more aware of my own capability to stop ‘doing’ and to begin playing.
I know my children frequently walk around the room with a plane in their hand imagining I they are the pilot sound effects and all – lining up cars with a running commentary, one said it’s about being mischievous and when the ‘feeling’ comes over you…when asked they said there was a need for playing in a solitary way with objects and a need for connection playing with others both were important.
So playing in Ashburnham was OK, I chose to do nothing more than walk and have no expectations beyond walking around the estate. I came across a low ropes course so had a go! perfect! got a bit lost and found lots of sawn down trees which gave me a few vague thoughts about circles and rings of time building up, recording external changes; traces of what had occurred before newly exposed…perhaps mirroring the self development process as it unfolds.
A few piles of things like logs, earth and sticks caught my eye and I was aware how I was looking at everything with altered expectations – excited that something new would appear to grab my attention and inspire. I think it is important to walk about with a sketch book and make drawings but equally to walk around and to choose not to record but keep going so that the brain can make connections without interruption. Enjoying a sense of freedom from ‘it has to be something significant’ and therefore made into work before a sense of play has been fulfilled.
I couldn’t resist taking photographs having recently joined instagram (trying to be hip and keep up with my 11yr old) and am intrigued at the freedom I feel just posting an image without having to contextualise it.
…having made the ash pile last week – after lunch I then went out and made the highest pile of dried out bramble twigs I could without gloves a bit like the game pick a stick. I carried on walking after that but got a bit conscious of time and trying to map read in the woods before having to collect the boys from school.
This week I had conversation with Vanessa Gardiner my artist mentor and she had some interesting insights into looking at my work – she was aware that there are 2 strands of work: quick physical action works like the ash and skating drawings and the more labour intensive series of boards – she suggested I might be able to combine the two facets of my work through the making process…I think this is interesting as I think they interrelate strongly with physicality, time and surface but through this process of self discovery I will discover how their relationship exists in much more detail.
We talked about residencies and exhibitions and how work should continue throughout rather than be dictated to by these events. Her feeling for me was to work on more pieces at once, more than the 5 Air craft carrier floor series I already have on the go; so there was less pressure for making mistakes (and to have different sets of work in process both in the shed and at Ashburnham) creating freedom to be able to lose a few here and there along the way, she also suggested that the boards were more of an anchor and would sustain me whilst I used the other action based work as play. This resonates strongly and I think that she will be able to help me delve further into the surface of the work with playing with new materials such as trying out mediums, using dry and wet on the same surface and combining straight line with curve (interesting to me after seeing Rebecca’s exhib and the piece on page 7 of ‘Along these lines’ Beardsmore Gallery exhibition catalogue F69 1990)