Here I sit then, in a state of bewildered contemplation about the work.
For about five years now I’ve been working on things to do with relationships, mainly between children and parents. About two and a half years ago that morphed into work about one stitch, and many stitches, I felt I needed to tackle the materiality of my work… why did I stitch? I really didn’t know, but it is clearer now: parallels were drawn to family and society and group responsibility. I did work about opinion, identity, respectability… all the time with a niggling feeling that something was holding it all together.
I developed a sort of theoretical muse about the bits in between people. The bits that make a group of five people stronger than five individuals. I started to wonder about the extra bits. I wrote “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” on my wall (Aristotle said that before me). It became a sort of mantra, a watchword, a catchphrase… a tenet to work by… a filter that everything ran through.
The nine women project ran through it too. These women left much hanging around them when they were gone… love, faith, jealousy, joy, resentment… all those emotions which require at least two people to really get going.
Once the stitching was done, and the songs were written, I looked back again at my mantra. These women had had an effect on me, and a few other people too… through the stitches and the songs.
So I decided it was time to tackle it head on.
I have abandoned the last vestiges of any faith I ever had over the last ten years. Five years ago became annoyed with myself that bits of me were still pretending. I now even believe that perhaps my leaving the Catholic school I had worked in for ten years was also more than a little bit about the hypocrisy I was feeling. I now feel free to examine it, but worry that I have just replaced it with something of my own making. I am my own cult*. I don’t believe in life after death, reincarnation, an all powerful deity, a creator. I believe in people though. I believe in love. There is something between people that connects us, a common experience of humanity and inhumanity (there’s another thing… what’s the difference between those two? I think it’s like flammable and inflammable… they both mean the same)
Up until this point I have always stitched first and asked questions later, always saying that the “why” happens while I stitch. But this time, the “why” is the whole point. I cannot stitch, because I don’t know what to stitch. The stitching seems to have no focus…. I don’t know where the materiality is with this one. I have no idea what the work will look like. I don’t even know if it will have a “look” at all. I do, however, have some words, lyrics, and even the embryonic stages of melody. The “look” may appear out of that, or it may not.
I don’t know if this is a piece of work on the way, or me just developing a philosophy from which all subsequent work will come. I do know that this blog post sounds as if I’m preaching it from a place where the sun doesn’t shine. I hope you will forgive me for it… I’m just trying to make sense of the work, not the world. I hope (or expect) Bo Jones will have something to say about this… he’s good at prodding an idea until it either falls apart or shores itself up. He was there when all this Aristotle stuff reared its ugly head, and collaborative work with him formed its beginnings, so I wait with trepidation for either a decent discussion *cough* argument or a decent idea to turn up!
*Uniforms, ceremonial robes and celebration holiday wear will be brightly coloured and heavily embroidered… join up now! Bring your own sequins! Feathers optional!