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I became impatient.

Those readers who know me, will know this isn’t unusual.

I had intended the layered piece to be a piece on its own, the research, the experiment from which other works would follow. But actually, in itself, it wasn’t that interesting. As a material to be used for something else, it became far more so. So after all that time of layering and stitching, I have started to cut into it.

Now the layers can be seen it is like a serving of lasagne, as opposed to a dish of lasagne.

I cut a circle, and cut two slots into it, and buttoned them together to make the baby mask.

This is an interesting thing now.

It has become a sinister thing.

A protective item, soft things layered into an unyeilding whole. Definitely protective, but perhaps also smothering. This is getting me somewhere. This duality of protection and harm is where I at least, am comfortable… but uneasily so… you see…. Ambiguous. An attempt to protect that goes too far.

I put this photo on my facebook artist page, because Bo said he’d quite like a photo of it being worn, so that he could manipulate the image. His work with viruses and bacteria is developing very nicely, so the link with my protection issues is obvious.

Both of us grin in a sinister manner…

No takers… no artists with babies wanting a photo of their little one wearing this delicate piece… When I post photos of work I usually get a fair few likes and shares. This has hardly been looked at, it hasn’t been liked or shared.

I think I might be onto something.


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Today is an Elliot Smith Day.

Some days are.

Perfect music to work with… I can tune in and out of it.

Some of it washes gently over me, barely making a ripple on my consciousness, my brain carries on working and thinking. Here, it masks the noise of people passing by in Birdcage Walk below.

But then I find myself tuning back in again for occasional lines

“The moon is a sickle cell, it’ll kill you in time…” (Coming up Roses)

“The enemy is within, don’t confuse me with him…” (Stupidity Tries)

“It’s all about taking the easy way out for you I suppose…” (Easy Way Out)

And I wonder what effect if any these lines have on my work, or whether the rhythm of the zoning in and out is like a sort of brain-breathing thing? Sometimes, I sit back, sing a whole song, then go back under again.

I always seem to come up for Waltz #2…

Then back to work…

“in the place where I make no mistakes, in the place where I have what it takes…”

Then occasionally I come out somewhere unexpected, disorientated, wondering who it is that’s singing, convinced I’ve never heard this track before.

I don’t always work with music. Sometimes only silence will do, or the outside noises that today I’m trying to drown out. It’s just a mood thing.

But the first thing I installed in this new space was the capacity to play music. Everything else followed that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBxYfLqKyew

Things are going well in the making. I still layer these scraps up, plugging gaps while trying to leave areas exposed. It is instinctive, the size and shape and positioning of each little bit. It might look disorganised, random, but I have a strict set of mental rules about what is right and works and what is totally wrong.

I have a few things in mind that have to be made, to satisfy this urge of work, these protective items I feel compelled to make. But in the distance, I see a rising dust cloud of something different approaching. I don’t know how long it’ll take to get here. But it will. I think it might be something big… what I’m making now are tests and trials, and experiments in preparation for something yet unidentified….


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I drink my third cup of tea here in my studio, contemplating my middle class greed. I have a delicious lemon tart from Costa. I watch a woman through my window, downstairs in Birdcage Walk, sat on the wall outside farmfoods. I have ten bra drawings on the wall in front of me. She isn’t wearing one under her stained grey Cambridge University t shirt. I can tell. Either that or it is so old it is no longer doing its job. She has grey hair four inches from the roots, the remaining four inches is orange. She is wearing slippers. I watch as she methodically peels a creme egg. She then, with a cheery grin of gold, black and gaps, pops the whole thing in. Now she has both hands free, she rolls a cigarette, lights up and smokes it through the goo in her mouth. I turn away wondering which she will finish first… Or if she relishes the joy of making them both last as long as each other…I pop the last mouthful of lemon tart into my gob, and drain the last gulp of Lady Grey tea from my V&A mug. My hands, now free, type with sticky fingers.


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The recurrent theme then: Parents and children, the wider family, protection, guidance, strength in the group. Living a life affected by what has gone before: affecting what comes after.

Always present, my mother: loving, clever, funny, singing, creatively cooking and looking after us all, gathering us in at every available opportunity, sarcastic, not suffering fools… she had class my mum. I still see her, 18 years after her death, in my gestures, in the mirror, and, so I’m told, in the withering look I give a group of 30 eight year olds who aren’t doing what they should be.

But I am also myself. Affected by how I live, affecting those I live with.

Brought up a catholic, bringing up my own sons as catholics, and working in a catholic school, I see this as my culture. But I no longer have belief and faith in God. I have faith in those around me. I believe in people… their strength, goodness, empathy, altruism, creativity, humour, and ingenuity…

I am an eternal optimist!

This whole system of belief is why my practice is as it is. I blog, I spend an inordinate amount of time on social media. ALL of the opportunities I have had in the last 4 years have pretty much come through social media and my blog, and my collaborations.

I work best in collaboration I think, or even just in the spirit of camaraderie by emailing work backwards and forwards with my friends.

The work I make is all about people, even though they are figuratively absent from the pieces… it is all about the bits between people. The way I work is about the bits between people too.

So why am I so deliriously happy shut in my new studio working all on my own?


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