Several people, astonished by the lack of textiles in my recent work have asked if the drawings would ever become sculptural/ textile. And the answer to that is “No”.  (At the moment?) The reason is that I started doing the drawings, or rather I discovered in the drawing process a way to join up my thinking and my doing in a way that the textiles couldn’t do. To make these drawings textile would be both a step backwards in terms of my thinking, and would also feel like I was merely illustrating the drawings, as if the drawings were not good enough, confirming that tenet that drawing is something you do BEFORE you do something else… Thank you Sarah Goudie for putting that string of words together for me… that is exactly what I feel… the drawings are not only enough on their own, they are exactly what they need to be for me.

Someone kindly pointed me to the work of Sonia Gomes:

And it started or rather refocused a brain train….

You could possibly put one or two of my drawings next to these and make a connection visually… interesting… and, if I was going to render this work textile, this is probably pretty close to what I’d end up with. Contained in the text of the link are similar thoughts to mine too. I’m sure I’ve said those words, or at least something similar when talking about mine.

One pair of words however, stood out: Visceral and Sacred.

Visceral, yes. Obviously. Here in my drawings we definitely have the visceral. But sacred?

I’m possibly going to tread on dodgy ground here. But I think it’s the right time. Sacred. How do I go about this?

I am a Catholic Atheist. By which I mean that my upbringing was Irish Catholic from my mother, with a strong streak of Orthodox from my Serbian father. But I no longer have that faith. It has gone. I spent a while looking for it, but it just isn’t there. Thing is, I don’t even now know why it was ever there. But it was… and that has profound effects on the formation of a person. Having shaken off the formalised worship, dogma, ritual, seeing my performance and behaviour within it as hypocrisy at last… Having shaken off the job that tied me to it by the last strands… I see the world differently now.

Or do I?

Do I see different things as “sacred”.
Do I “worship” different things…?

But ritual is hard to lay down I have found. I think perhaps we humans have ritual hard-wired… we develop habits bound up in circumstance and coincidence in order to pretend we have control over the world. We don’t. We cross our fingers, we don’t walk under ladders or step on the cracks, we make gestures invented by man to ward off a devil invented by man. We pray to gods invented by man. Now I want to make a distinction here… a fine one perhaps… the way that god* and faith exists within some people is a true thing for them. It is definite part of who we are to take on this belief and it shapes our lives. I am fine with that. If that is a choice, or a vocation, or your own truth, I am a little bit envious of the certainty that god exists for those people, that he makes them feel that they belong in a place, belong with a way of life. I have seen people who exist with god on a daily basis, who breathe him and live life by him. The goodness of how they live is honourable and I respect that completely. But I don’t think it was ever that in me. It was a social habit that eventually fell away to make a place for a different way of operating for me.

So now…
I’m not sure what spiritual means.
I’m not sure why we are all here.
I’m coming down on the side of chaotic, coincidental chance probably, and that our extinction will be the same… so make the most of life and don’t worry about there being an after.

To me, art is the way I think about these things, the way I try to make sense of the world, my position in the world and my interactions with other people.

While I am making these drawings I am looking inwards. But also I’m looking for those threads of attachment to other people and other things and my own mind/being. I am deliberately trying to include animal/vegetable/mineral in these works. Our atoms form the same patterns and the maths is relevant to every cell…
When I am drawing all day I reach a state of mind. It feels like prayer and meditation should have felt, but never did. The connection I feel to the world and the people around me feels stronger**. Those cells that connect us all to the world? It’s almost like I can see them. Religion was never like this. Faith never reached this deep.

I think that because I am an artist, these feelings are tied very tightly to the haptic. The making, the repetitive nature of drawing or stitching or whatever I choose to use is where my ritual now lies. I perform these physical acts over and over in order to achieve this state of mind, in order to make the connections between myself and the world. To not be able to do this would be like cutting me adrift in space. It is no coincidence that in those times in my life when for a variety of reasons I have been unable to submit to this or commit to this, my mental health has suffered.

I know that some people I know will read the above post and possibly be scornful. Possibly offended. Might think I’m losing the plot. But to me the plot has never been clearer.
I am human.

*I am not going to capitalise god or he/him through this, as that also feels hypocritical and I am referring to god as a general concept not a specific or monotheistic being.

**I also predict that some will label this as god. That’s ok for you, but I’m not doing that any more.


Since my last post I have taken delivery of a large roll of good quality paper… this was a gift from a very generous friend, who thought I should be drawing instead of moaning about how I couldn’t afford to order it yet. Bless her heart!

So I began to draw on it straight away, using those things I had learned from using the crappy paper. I don’t know how practical this will be, but my intention is to not cut the paper. It is five feet wide, and eleven metres long… I know the mixed measurements are unsatisfactory… sorry… but that’s what it said on the bit of paper! basically you just need to know it’s huge.

The rolled up end is propped at one end of the table, and I am unrolling it a table-width at a time. I don’t know how I’m going to manage the worked end just yet… I have already had to add a third table to my working space to take the width of it. I surround the table with chairs and I move from one to another while I work. This is how I wanted it. The motifs have increased in scale a bit, naturally, but the drawing is still happening within the sort of area encased by my arms when I adopt the “don’t copy my answers” pose. Each section of drawing takes about a day, and the choices are made according to mood, outlook and levels of belligerence. I think I’m getting somewhere. There is a tightness… I like that… but there’s lots of it… which lends a sort of relentlessness to it. It is a bit like a diary… a bit… each section a statement of the day. Each section a measurement of sorts, concerning sleep~pain~love~sex~death~joy so some days are dark and tight.

Other days are ethereal and wispy and loose. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Meanwhile… perhaps this is also included in the feel of the drawings… is the state of limbo. I wait.

This afternoon I met a printer, and we talked about this distant mythical publication that may or may not happen. I had this glorious conversation about bindings and mixed paper stock and stitching and hand-painted/drawn end-papers, and short run feasibility. And then I sighed, I said “I’ll let you know”, we shook hands and parted company. It was one of those pivotal meetings, but there is also a sense I might never see him again!

1 Comment