I haven’t quite started the new year as hoped… after four years managing to avoid it, we both ended up with covid after the new year. Really annoying, and it halted my plans to get back to the studio as soon as possible. But actually… as often happens, the changed plans threw up a whole new way of working from home for the duration of the virus at least. After a week from the first test, I have now tested negative, and I do feel mostly ok… so ten days on, I’ve set up a little WFH nest at the dining table.

I am trying to wrestle with a new way of drawing, spurred on by the twig work for Five Six Pick up Sticks, and the observational drawing. I’m trying to find a mid point, a balance between the observed and the imagined abstract, so there’s an unease somehow. This is hard to capture. And also hard to express using words. I have been using the word metaphor a lot. This isn’t really the right word, so I find myself thinking about semiotics. I realised that if I was going to bandy that word about then I probably needed to know what I was talking about. So, tied to the dining table, I hit the internet (after consulting a couple of friends) and ordered myself some books. In amongst the semiotics books, I also have a Teach Yourself Swedish book, and Kae Tempest’s On Connection. This might seem like an odd combination, but I am finding all of them are feeding in to how I see the work. Kae Tempest’s book is about connecting to one’s own creativity, and making connections with others, and the world. I am always saying my work is about relationships, but maybe connections is a better, more appropriate word?

I’m looking at what I make as signifiers of connection… and I’m reading about how the connections are there to previous work, even if they are not recognised by the viewers/listeners to my work. Sometimes I don’t even recognise them myself. But that doesn’t mean they’re not there… also… people bring their own connections… and they look at my signifiers and find their own signified answers… that I know nothing about.  The permanence or stability of these connections strengthen over time, with each repeat. Which brings me to the Swedish: it had been my intention, for when I visit Stuart Mayes later this year, to have a little polite Swedish to trot out to show I’d made an effort: “My name is Elena, two beers please!” You know the thing? But after a couple of weeks repetition about “pingvinen är skrämmande” on Duolingo, I felt this wasn’t enough, and bought myself a book to supplement the learning, and I am loving it.

I am Assembling Utterances… according to the small book about semiotics, there is a store cupboard of signs and language open all hours, for the language user to select from, to Assemble Utterances. So here I am…

  • I am assembling new Swedish utterances…
  • I am cutting up words from other sources (the ever-open store cupboard?) and reassembling them into new utterances. I am picking the words that attach themselves to existing thoughts, but that then get expressed in a different way.
  • I am taking observed drawings, from my own store cupboard, then using what I have learned, to reassemble into new, drawn, visual utterances

I have absolutely no idea whether this really works for people who really know a lot about semiotics, but at the moment it doesn’t matter. It’s helping me get where I want to get. It is making connections between all these superficially unconnected things I do. Seeing things from a different angle always helps. Looking back on the question I constructed with Helen’s help (see post on 20th December 2023), I can now see how I might tweak this a little, as she had predicted, in the light of these latest Assembled Utterances.