I’d like to report about a brief but blissful visit to ZAP-Open on Saturday, but that will happen with a longer than usual time-delay as 1) I’m still exhausted, if elated, 2) a hospital-outing needs preparing, incl. ensuing modus non operandi, and 3) a bit of not-so-light reading awaits me, in bits and pieces as and when able, of the G4A-application the The Arthouse has been working on for me/with me. So here’s a slightly amended extract from a talk I wrote a few years ago. In spirit it holds true, alas, although I’ve acquired a very long and comfy sofa on which to stretch out. I still mostly lie on the floor, giving in to the earth’s gravitational force which seems to increase with my levels of tiredness (I’m just grateful it doesn’t suck me down to its fiery centre). Plus here my body feels supported best, and it’s easier to have everything around me.
And while I’m getting ready to post this I am struck again by how little I recognise my physical self while knowing full well, in every cell, that this is me, now; by how much I want to present a different self, in motion, in the world, in touch
I have often worked … while lying on my back, only have to sit up for the final precise form-making. This possibility has been vital for my art-practice, as it allows me to continue making work even when I’m very tired. So imagine this: I am lying on my bed of blankets on the floor in the living room and around me I have everything I might need: papers, pencils, letters, stamps, lists of things to do, people to call, crochet hooks and wools, sellar tape, masking tape, sketch book, glasses, remote controls for the tele, scissors, scalpel knife, an art book or two, telephone… Everything needs to be at hand, within reaching distance. This is not my studio, but it is. This is my living room, but it isn’t. It is really the room where I live, I spend most of my days in there, even the really bad ones, on my bed of blankets, as I don’t like lying in bed during day-time if I can help it. The mess created by having everything around me, esp. when I am working on something, can drive me crazy. There is no getting away from it. But art-making is my life-spark, even when my body hurts, even when my limbs don’t function. In its worst stages the illness is a blunting instrument, totally debilitating, mind-numbing, it closes you down, you have to shut yourself off, as everything becomes overtiring. During these times I hang on by a thread literally. If at all possible I need to have even the tiniest thing on the go: one squiggly line describing a knee on the back of a bill, a thin strand of hair threaded through the eye of a needle, a fluttering cut-out tissue-paper figure with arms extended, a small dress cut from an autumn leaf, its curly stalk making it dance… Or I defer and write a note, put to paper the flash of an idea, which I might or might not take up when I feel a bit more energy.
Yesterday I wrote to Kate Murdoch, an artist-friend whose vibrant studio-life I much envy: one day, when I grow up, I want to share studios there too…, half in jest, half in hope: that this M.E-shaped life is just a (long long) passing phase, as if it were something to out-grow and leave behind one day. In the mean-time three foundlings wait for nimble fingers, and another piece, which knows its shape but not its meaning, grows next to me on the carpet. And here’s hoping that biomedical research into M.E., which needs more funding, will bring the longed for steps towards a cure or improvement of symptoms sooner rather than later.