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It’s about confidence isn’t it?

Or maybe I mean bullshit?

A couple of years ago, I had very little on my cv, so put everything on it, hoping that volume of words would speak for me, would fool people, but really they were there to give me strength.

I now feel able to drop a couple of the lesser events, that were, to be frank, fillers.

Just because I put my work up somewhere, doesn’t mean anyone saw it… or thought much of it.

I’ve now got a few really good bits on there. But it is still all about the spin isn’t it?

“I have exhibited in New York” being a case in point. I feel this very humble/overly modest urge, before people even comment, to say “Jamestown, not New York City”. This is ridiculous, because in terms of our experience as artists, I sure we had a better time in Jamestown than we would have had drowning in NYC. Jamestown doesn’t need to be excused, it is a perfectly marvellous place! But people make assumptions, and I suppose part of me doesn’t want to be “found out” at an embarrassingly later date, in a public place, that it wasn’t NYC… (akin to the dream of being discovered naked in Sainsbury’s). So I blurt it out.

But the thing is, the other side of it is it gives ME confidence. Having “Events of Worth” on my cv helps me stride into places with head held high. (Who bestows the worth is another conversation, Grayson Perry discussed it beautifully and hilariously in his Reith Lectures).

I’ve recently been working in the New Art Gallery Walsall, doing a small research job on the education team. Later in the summer I’m going to be delivering some workshops with them. The thought of working in this, my favourite gallery, a few years ago was a pipe dream. I’m doing it, in a small way, but I am. It makes me feel alive to be doing something new again. It makes me excited and happy, in a ridiculous way that isn’t really dignified for a woman of my age.. But you know what? I don’t give a damn what you think. I’m not cool, I’m a 53 year old woman, now doing something she loves. I am deliriously happy to do it. And I don’t care if it shows. I do have something to offer, I am confident that my weirdly diverse experience seems to be quite useful at the moment…

So… the spin is there, but most of it is for me, and if questioned I will crumble and confess.


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It just happens to be the way that things have fallen this week, the week that would have been half term week. I don’t live by that calendar any more. I’ve got something planned every day, work (paid… woohoo!), training (paid for… woohoo again!), a trip to Liverpool, to see my youngest son (hurrah!), and calling in at the Tate to see Wendy Williams for the first time since COLONIZE in Jamestown (yippee!). Good job I’ve got my voice back, because I have lots to talk about on all these occasions.

Never happy though are we? I am positively ITCHING to get into the studio for some serious making time. I have work to finish, and work to start, and some experimenting to do with some baby clothes and wire. A friend (the aforementioned “H”) peered over my shoulder in the charity shop (she can do this easily, I am short, she is tall) and muttered “Is there something you have to tell me?” as I bought baby clothes. “No,” said I “I’m just one of those mad old bats that buys baby clothes”. I was given a strange look and served quickly.

Certain types of baby clothes must be bought when they are seen, because they are rare… I call them blanks. A while back I bought a plain white cotton shirt for a 9 month old… no adornment whatsoever. This is the one I have used for heart protecting purposes. The event above made me extremely excited… a plain white knitted jumper, two buttons across one shoulder. No adornment of any sort, for a six-month old baby, 70p! bargain! I am unsure what I will do with it… I have a couple of ideas, but it will sit folded neatly on my studio table, next to the neatly folded bras, until I find the right thing. I am experimenting with all sorts of wire framing to make these garments stand up on their own. Three dimensional, but uninhabited.

I don’t know why uninhabited has become important. I have in the past made headless stuffed bodies to insert in the suspended garments. Now, being able to see inside seems relevant, but I know not why… I expect that will turn up later. These things usually do. And I don’t want these garments suspended either… no movement, still, standing independently.

Half-formed ideas float around my head, trying themselves on with other ideas… eventually finding a fit…


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Interesting…

Having been totally overwhelmed by the whole job thing, with just one afternoon left to do, I find myself thinking about my own work again. I read Marion Michell’s blog

( www.a-n.co.uk/p/2157883/ )

with new thoughts, prompting me to look more deeply at my own thoughts, finding I again have the capacity to do so. I look at the garments, and fragments of garments, and hints of garments, they prompt memories, and they are occasionally false… and sometimes hold evidence of truth.

EVIDENCE… proof… available information… traces… beliefs upheld…

Evidence of what?

The layers of fabric I stitch become evidence of love, the more layers, the more protection I offer my child, the more I love them. And yet it is a paradox, as I disable them with the stiffness of the layers.

It is about the show: “Look everyone! See how much I love my child!”

EVIDENCE…

The word is also relevant as I handle and work with these bras.

Evidence of self-neglect?

Evidence of poverty?

Evidence of a level of self-unawareness rather than self-neglect?

Modesty? A virtue?

I have been avoiding the issue of sexuality in these pieces. First wanting to explore the self-ness… the intimacy of how the wearer feels about themselves. There is not an asexuality, more a denial of sexuality in these garments…

But I run their imagined lives through my own mind, through my own filter of middle aged woman head…

What was this bra finally discarded in favour of? What replaced it?

Was this hidden from a partner? Does the partner care what the bra looks like?

Can I find evidence of love in these garments if I look hard enough? Love, desire, lust, passion, affection don’t disappear with poverty do they?

I am being presumptuous. I am only seeing/imagining the evidence that fits the stories in my head.

I draw these items, and photograph them as they are.

Perhaps my next task will be to make them beautiful?


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and so… one job shrinks, as the other one grows.

The stress of the old fades, as I detach rather more successfully.

The room, as I remove my things and “tidy up” starts to look less like an art room and more like a classroom. No longer mine.

As the children find out I’m leaving, I’m getting slightly damp hugs in corridors, and on the playground.

The new job will expand over the coming weeks: there will be different children (and adults) to have fun with. I can’t wait!

Meanwhile, I’m still a woman waiting… two more afternoons to do. Friday, 3:30, or thereabouts, I will walk out of the school I have known for 25 years.

Feels very weird.


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When I look back over this blog, coming up to its third anniversary, there have been quite a few times when I have described a feeling of being in limbo… waiting for something.

Here I am again. I have three remaining sessions at school, during which I am basically removing my personal belongings, resources and so on. The shelves look empty because I have removed the books that are mine, The equipment cupboard has a few gaps in, and there are a few materials too, that I had taken in for Y6 specifically to use for their individual projects… all now reclaimed. I wonder if anyone will notice?

All that is left now really, is to clear up. I shall send the work to the children to take home. No one else seems to be that bothered what happens to it, and at this point I can’t see anyone else spending the time to get it up on the walls.

I got quite upset last Monday, as I went into the room to find a pile of work at the back of the room, looking dishevelled and creased. I have to detach now. My friends tell me it is someone else’s problem. True. And I (mostly) have now detached. But I am sad that actually I don’t think it will be someone else’s problem, because I don’t think I will be replaced. The furniture will be though.

Detach.

Meanwhile, in the middle of Dudley town centre at ArtSPACE is my exhibition. Sorry, OUR exhibition… Bo Jones joins his work to mine again for One(2). Both of us have moved on since ONE last October, but curiously it still works. I might have a bit of a think about why at some point. But it does. Today I had an open studio day. I didn’t have loads of visitors, but those I had were lovely, they stayed for cake and tea or coffee, and chatted for ages.

And on to the new…

Over half term, I start working with the education team at New Art Gallery Walsall. What an amazing opportunity! It is a great place, and the people on the team I have met so far are lovely. They seem very keen to have me there. That feels good.

It is a bit scary to not have a regular (albeit small) lump of money coming in. But, instead of that, I already have work booked at NAGW to cover the summer months. I will earn as much, but over fewer days, and it will be more sporadic. There are many “up” sides to this… I can be more flexible. I can say yes to things. I can say no to things too. The word “freelance” is exciting and terrifying.

I like it.


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