I once overheard someone say that it was impossible to be a serious artist and a mother. The horrified listener asked sarcastically “can I have a cat?” And the answer came “ideally, no”. I am however, many years later, able to see her point.
Now, bear with me, this next bit might sound dreadfully selfish, but I come good in the end, promise!
Last weekend my eldest son got married. In the weeks running up to this I had been berated on a couple of occasions for forgetting. The Mother of The Groom was not supposed to do such things! I was supposed to be thinking of posh frocks and flowers! I did no such thing. I really did buy the first outfit I tried on. Nobody believes me, but I wanted to stop having to think about it as soon as possible. My decision to not wear a hat was made not just out of the fact I look like Margaret Rutherford in a hat, but also because I’d have to find one I liked. I hate shopping. My head was most of the time, elsewhere.
My work at the moment threatens to be all consuming. I long for it to be all consuming. I have days blocked out in my diary saying STUDIO until Mike reminds me I am supposed to be elsewhere, or have an appointment. The solid post-wedding studio week hasn’t happened. Next week is also blocked out, but other things have started to encroach upon it. I’m thinking of telling everyone I’m on holiday in Italy and can’t be reached.
This week, our cat is ill. She is 18 ish years old and can’t keep her food down. We pace and worry. And wait for the vet to visit.
The business of art keeps me away from the work too, to a certain extent, even when I’m at the studio, disturbing my state of mind and equilibrium.
I am an introvert living in the body of an extrovert.
I dream about living in a lighthouse on a rock…
But then what would the work be about?
Real life fuels my work.
The cat, ever skinnier, perches on my husband’s lap, purring loudly as he strokes her. She stares lovingly up into his face as he talks to her.
This man, since retiring, is basically running everything so I can keep my mind as much as possible on “the job”.
My family tell their friends about my work (and even tout me about to get me work). They turn up and cheer.
The wedding last weekend was an amazing event, “curated” by the new Mr and Mrs Thomas as an expression of their life, love, and belief. I, of course, cried. We all did, what the hell, go for it!
Next weekend we have another, smaller, family occasion. I will bake cakes and cook meals and make the tea and chat and be sociable, live in the outward parts of my head.
The conversations I have had, the love and care I give, receive and see around me, even the irritations and conflicts, feed my mind. I am grateful for them. The ideas are stoked up, stacked up.
But the “Holiday in Italy” beckons… Sometime soon these things will spill out, words must be written, things made, stitches and sounds weave their way though. I will make sense of the events and relationships, and through the work, gain perspective and balance.
The resulting work, hopefully, will then become something else. I don’t know what yet. I just have to make it and see what happens.
So, yes, in many respects, not being a wife, sister, mother, mother-in-law, friend and cat owner would enable me to spend more time in the studio. But I have no idea what the work would be about… And I probably wouldn’t like it.
PS Esme (the cat) is much better now, phew!