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The work feels best when it intersects with life – for me anyway. Those moments when I suddenly find that my response to real life has an impact on my practice and ultimately the concepts behind it.

There have been a couple of incidents lately where people have exploded into my little art bubble. My self constructed mental and physical space where I can work and think uninterrupted was invaded.

I live in a precariously balanced place where I need to interact with people, but also shut myself away from them. I am not always able to control how this happens although I do try.

A particularly emotional interruption a couple of weeks ago left me angry, and I felt invaded. I brooded upon it, and stomped around, trying to find a way to prevent it happening again (during which time it did happen again).

Then it occurred to me that this is exactly what my work is about, that rubbing up against each other, in a non-physical way. Touch without touching.

Emotional intelligence and literacy… recognising emotion in yourself and others. To a certain extent you can, once it is recognised, deflect it. Otherwise you stand no chance, and everyone else’s anger and hurt rub off on you.

I am notoriously bad at deflecting. I am hugely affected by the emotions of others. Sometimes to my downfall. I try, if I am aware, when I feel in a bad mood, sad, angry, to try to work out why, so if I discover it is because of someone else, I can let it go. And conversely, if I do the same when I am happy, I quickly discover which people have which effects! So I try to step back from those who consistently have a negative affect on my own moods, which are pretty swingy at the best of times!

“My demeanour betrays my mood”… I embroidered this phrase on an old chemise thing over a year ago.

So the encounter left a smudge upon me, which I have since managed to brush off. It isn’t always that easy. First you have to notice. If you feel the pigeon poop land on your shoulder, you can wash it off before it leaves a mark. Sometimes circumstances mean you can’t always get rid of it immediately, even if you have noticed.

Other people sort of leech themselves into you, slowly, imperceptibly. This can be for good or bad. Realisation may not ever happen. I recently recalled an old conversation with my mother, which had happened when I was about 15. I can’t remember it ever sinking into me. But clearly it did, because I found myself repeating the same sentence, almost word for word. I had to sit down. I realised that a great chunk of my adult behaviour had been ruled by that conversation. It had become part of who I am, a big part of how I operate and interact with other people. Scary. Hit me like a sledgehammer!

So my current work has been steered again, by chance encounter, and subsequent analysis. Those bits of “extra” from other people, making a mark on me. I need to work out whether the short term and the long term are the same thing. Short term: smiling at strangers… other people’s angry outpourings… Long term: the effects of family tradition, philosophy, genetic disposition…

I’m feeling close to something… but I still don’t know what it looks like.

In the meantime, I am dismantling one item of children’s clothing in order to harvest unwoven threads to stitch into an adult dress… I am creating a smudge. There are no knots, the threads are loose, and because of this, sit loosely in the linen of the dress. They could stay, unnoticed, or could be gently pulled and removed. Their removal might leave holes. The holes might close up upon laundering… Sometimes we choose to keep the stain.

 


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