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In.

After eight months of looking, looking, looking some more, finding, losing, getting, losing again, will they won’t they? Yesses, Nos, Maybes…

…We have just… TODAY… moved into the studios. Exhausted but relieved… it’s like someone opened the window in my head and let some fresh air in.

I have no more words… for now…


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The nature of this blog is that is as much (if not more) for the writer as the reader. I try to capture those fleeting thoughts that affect my thinking… so that I can return to them to pin them down as they make themselves known in the work.

So here goes… this might be a bit of a ramble. When I get to the end I will read and edit for clarity if necessary…

I’ve just finished reading Mary Beard’s Women and Power. I admire this woman greatly, as we all should, frankly. She is full of knowledge and insight, her knowledge of the ancient casts light on the present. There’s a grand sweep about her writing that is deeply affecting.

Women and Power then. So far to be a powerful woman one has to be a parody of a man? We should be looking perhaps at what power is and how it manifests itself. Our definition of power being currently, inherently male. There is a passage in the book about the balance of women in government: our own being around the 30% mark, but that in Rwanda it’s 60%… indicating perhaps that the outward facing parliament is NOT where the power lies?

The power lies, says the wonderful Mary Beard, in being taken seriously.

Women being taken seriously is the issue then?

I look at my own work sideways…

Up until very recently my work has focused on the feminine, and the domestic: embroidery, bras, children’s clothes… my themes being the relationships between parents/adults/children…

I am still very proud particularly of the works “Are you listening?” and “Nine Women”. They still stand up well to scrutiny I think.

My recent work is more abstracted from these themes… concentrating on the essence of connection and touch. My materials have changed from the feminine and domestic to a more neutral, non-domestic pencil and paper (with a bit of ink or watercolour here and there). I have been wondering about the increase in Likes/Follows/Shares on social media by men since this change and why this might have happened.

Is it because the work of women is seen as only FOR women and the work of men is universal? This is where the power struggle is I think… when the creative work of women is also seen as universal we might be on to something? How can 51% of the population be seen as a “minority group”?

(“We’ve already had a woman’s play in the programme this year” – yes that really happened!)

By switching materials, is it now more universal in its appeal? Women (on the whole) really understood the previous work, and I have had so many amazing conversations about those installations mostly with women, all sorts of women, artists and otherwise. The conversations with men about these works have been men that I already know, most of whom are artists themselves.

The work I am now doing in preparation for The Tenth Woman is getting rather dark… animal… visceral… and men seem to respond to this more readily, and are happier to talk about this than an old bra embroidered with barbed wire, or a child’s dress embroidered with abusive hand marks… equally dark in my eyes… but… what is going on here?

I must admit it is good to have a wider following, and different conversations. I do now however find myself wondering if this change in materials comes from an unexpected place? I still think the drawings are feminine… but what is the nature of graphite that makes it more neutral/acceptable to the male gaze?

I’m also puzzling over myself and my own change in attitude. There is an element of Don’t-give-a-fuckery about this. I used to pride myself on the accessibility of my work, that people could relate to the textile, the stitch, the domestic… I could easily explain what it was about to those who asked.

I now find I can’t be arsed to explain. Why the fuck should I?


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I’m no athlete that’s for sure…

I admire the women athletes who have begun talking about how their menstrual cycle affects their performance. I admire the marathon runner who allowed her flow to flow to make the point. I think I am probably too old to make such a personal and public performance/demonstration, and I certainly had the sort of upbringing that continued and reinforced the taboos. But I’m older now. I am more of a feminist now. I see the importance of eliminating such taboos now. I think it would have been helpful to me as a young woman to know more about my own body. How I have come to know it is through my own experience. I could not have done, and would not make now, that public a stance. Some things are too ingrained. But I can support and admire. And of course I can write.

I am 57. Peri-menopausal. Every 28 days (or close, it’s getting rather more unpredictable lately) My heart sinks. Here we are again. Surely I’ve done enough?

Those things have an effect on my work. Of course they do. Many days in the month I have boundless energy, I am well up for life and art and gigs and fun…. but…. Yesterday, to be frank, was a fucking miserable day. Really. I dragged myself out of bed just before noon, having hardly slept until 4:00 ish, when I descended into a deep and weird-dream-filled sleep until 11:30… THAT day. My joints ached, I had a headache, my eyes wouldn’t focus properly, I had cramps… the whole box of delights.

I read a little and drew a little. The drawing was grim. Fitful. Frantic. Vile. Cruel. It was a direct representation of my mood on the page. Bones and blood and gnarled forms. I slumped in a chair. I ate the wrong things at the wrong time. I snarled at anyone who approached, in reality or virtually.

Today is a different day. Throughout the awful days I try to tell myself that I will be ok tomorrow, or the next day. I try not to make important decisions or do important things. But of course you can’t always predict with accuracy which day it will be, and some things you have no control over. Sometimes the gig or the work elsewhere is on THAT day and I’ve spent 45 years just getting on with it. These days I do less, but it still gets to me. Every woman will have similar experiences, some more, some less.

Anyway… the point of all of this is that in amongst the abject fog of yesterday, an idea started to grow. It had germinated ages ago I’m sure, but I have only just recognised it. From under the quilt and hot water bottle the connections between the drawing, the songs, the sounds began to coalesce around The Tenth Woman. I knew it was there, I trusted it. I’ve been working through it every day for months now. And yesterday, overnight, and this morning it has become real.

My work goes in cycles as well as my body. Every part of those cycles has a purpose and meaning. One part relies on the other. I can’t have those periods of high energy and productivity without the periods of stillness and pain.

For The Tenth Woman, this is how life is made. This is how life is lived. And it is certainly how the Art is made.


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I registered my new project with the Arts Council and began to write the words in the letter boxes.

(Handy Hint no 1: DON’T type them in the letter boxes on the form, type them somewhere else, check the character count, then paste them in, then click save IMMEDIATELY)

About half way down the page concerning the quality of the project, where I describe in more detail what it is I want the funding for, I realise that Ive registered it under the wrong title. The stupidity cuffed me round the earhole. For over a year I’ve had two titles rolling around in my head, and for some reason I decided one was to be the project title. I was wrong! Big Time wrong! So I have changed it. Im not going to say what the wrong one was, as I might use it for something else down the line. But the right title is:

“The Tenth Woman”.

Now those of you who have been following this might recognise the title. Now I’ve changed it, everything makes so much more sense, is balanced and focussed .

*forehead-slap*

(if you feel inclined to look back, the dates of the posts are 03/05/17 and 12/05/17)

So this is the “new” project, with myself and my multifaceted, interdisciplinary practice I embody The Tenth Woman. Under her auspices I can gather these elements and work. I can allow myself to just BE The Tenth Woman.

Suddenly it all makes sense.


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Trying to write an artist statement while at a crossroads in your thinking is difficult, as you want to sound confident don’t you? My friend Debra Eck is currently in this place too. I feel empathetic as I sit here trying to write a funding application from a similar position of uncertainty. Changed work… Shift of focus… But this is precisely why I need a period of funding, to get me through that period of precarious perching to a place where I can commit to a body of work and plough through again to (hopefully) find a higher plane.

So I’m teetering on the brink again. Applying for funding is very much about speculating to accumulate. If they say yes, then it’s all worthwhile. If they say no then it’s weeks of work down the pan. Work that will never be paid for or offset against the joy of being given the money!

I’ve spent months pondering the amorphous blob of ideas, willing it to coalesce into something firm and focussed and useful.

Last week, thank god, I could actually see it. So it’s time to start filling in the form.

I’ve spent time helping and supporting other artists fill in their forms so I am now quite familiar with the format and the idiosyncrasies of the Grantium platform. I’m even now in a position to offer professional help if anyone wants me to, and if you have any specific needs in terms of accessing the forms (for example if you have a visual impairment) then ACE will pay for that support for you. They are wonderful people and it is an amazing organisation, but the application process can be a nightmare.

But however familiar I am with the process, writing my own bid is a different beast. the emotional attachment to the work creates obstacles. My own terror can too. I have decided that one of my targets for this project should be to gain the confidence and technical skills required for a solo performance. These words have been inserted, deleted, and inserted agin every time I open the application.

The glorious thing about being in a band, or even with one other person accompanying is the camaraderie. Dan is a wonderful man to have next to me on a stage. I swear that man can read my mind, and can certainly pick up on anything untoward, and steer it off! The band is great too. I have Ian, Andy, Lloyd and John all beside me, or hiding behind me. their support for me up front singing is palpable to me. I feel it properly. It is easy to “perform” the relationships between us all, and in doing so, immediately the audience know we are good people, they see it in those relationships. It is relatable.

But how do you convey that without the onstage interaction?

And this is exactly the point at which my thoughts about the project coalesced.

Those drawings about relationships and interaction rely upon there being several elements on the page/stage.

But what happens when there’s only ONE?

 


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