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As my Mum would have said, “There’s no side to Sonia Boué”

This is very true. Sonia is easy company. Words are thoughtful, carefully used. Sometimes slow and deliberate and serious, sometimes fast and animated and hilarious!
A few weeks back, we had a flurry of emails between us, something had sparked it off, a blog, an article, an image… I can’t now honestly remember what. What we decided to do was fix a date in our diaries to get together to discuss this excitement face to face. We picked a venue about half way between us and did it…
(As an aside here, I can recommend picking out half way points… Leamington Spa was lovely, and I’ve had pretty good half way meetings in all sorts of other places with other artists too)

Our excitement at meeting was laughed at by the coffee shop staff. It had been an adventure that included an underestimation by Google of the time the journey would take; a small detour as I chose to ignore the sat-nav; road works; not having enough money for the car park, and a misunderstanding of EXACTLY which coffee shop to meet in. I actually ordered a pot of tea and sat down in one, then realised I was in the wrong one, and abandoned it! Sonia’s adventure included flooding on the line, a replacement bus service offered but not needed, and a completely oblivious selection of National Rail staff which resulted in her getting off a train, then running to get back on it!
Consequently when we did meet, it was as if we had travelled half way round the world to achieve it!

Anyway, we caught up on personal gossip, ordered more tea, both Earl Grey. We decided it was a little cold here, and that our work required hot, substantial sustenance not provided by a cheese n ham toastie, so went in search of something better and ended up in Cafe Rouge ordering the same things off the menu (this has almost become a tradition for us now) fish cakes, fries not salad, elderflower cordial to drink…

Our friendship, we decided, is slow. Trust between us has come about over the past few years reading each other’s blogs, commenting upon each other’s work and the work of other artists, sharing articles and research. And slow is how it still is. We had tentatively agreed in the email exchange that there might be some work in this, there are crossing points and points that briefly touch then move away. This is why we decided to get together. So when we moved to Cafe Rouge we asked for a large table for two, so we could work, and somewhere warm please! So we had a squashy leather bench under the heater, and a table for four between us and spread out the paper, pens, laptop, iPad, sketchbooks…. And we talked and looked at the sketchbooks and the photos and so on. We scribbled words of note onto big bits of paper.
We still don’t know if there is any work to come of this, for a collaboration, but the discussion was very meaningful, helped us both identify areas that are important to us, and possibly put words into each other’s mouths, for ease of understanding. I found it a hugely useful exercise, and has had the effect of “sharpening my pencil” of ideas….

I’m not going to reveal all about our conversation, as it is, I think, the way in which it happened that is interesting, and transferable, not necessarily the content.

But having said that, I think there are many readers who may be able to add to the discussion that could move it on even further…

These words were hastily scribbled all over the paper, not in a list as I do here. I had wondered about photographing the paper, but then also wondered whether a rewriting might give me more insight into the connections we made:

If you present something differently then you feel it is
Association of the garment with the persona
Dignifying justifying being serious <~~~~~>humour playing being silly
Garments are people
Why now?
We don’t have time
Kicking off, not
Game over
“Are you looking at me?”
Is performance disguise?
Do we have to go in disguise to find ourselves?
Belief in self
Can’t believe I’m performing
Performing makes me believe in myself
Who is performing?
Is someone else performing me?
Where is the fraud?
Fraudulent bit?
A presumed authority
Transformation/being transformed
Truth hiding in plain sight
Becoming visible – invisible
Are we invisible because we are in role?
Are we visible because we are in role?
Doing something that is not “normal”
finding context in which it is “normal”
“Passing” – appropriating the vocabulary of other groups to aid understanding of a social process?
Formal is normal
Social context of performance practice
Art and non-art

Who is Norma Normal
Where has she been hiding?
Norma Normal is not normal

Yes… An interesting exercise… More thoughts occur…
Sonia, I’m wondering which one of my aprons would suit Norma best?

And do you sing?