April Sketchbook

Suzanne’s March pages have come back to me; this time there is a strong emphasis on the unnoticed, the ordinary, the overlooked. I am quite fascinated by the idea of psychogeography, and through my own practice have become more aware of my own surroundings and the effect they have upon me and my thought processes.

I live on a large council estate at the outer edge of the city; it is a place of contrasts. Detritus, fly-tipping, run-down garages, graffitti are all commonplace; and yet there is also a profusion of  opportunistic wildlife and greenery – urban foxes, kestrels, ancient woodland, bluebells. This place on the cusp, where farmland meets the bypass, has undoubtedly had its effect on my internal journey.

I have been working on my response this week. Sitting in my studio, the idea for a new direction in my personal work has dropped into my brain; inspiration exists, but it has to find you working, in the words of Picasso. Fascinating how the creative process works – how different projects feed and enrich one another.

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New Inspiration

Mary’s contribution to our book arrived through the letter box yesterday morning, full of colour, inks and prints. I want to add to these pages of loveliness, but as yet I haven’t formed a clear idea of how to proceed, so I’ve left it to percolate for now.

Mary also sent me a book made from photocopies of portraits drawn by students. This resonated deeply with me; my own work is intimately concerned with personal narratives, landscapes of the mind, and journeys, and the portraits reminded me both of my teenage self in art class at school and my young daughter currently growing into an adolescent.

 I dismantled Mary’s book and reassembled it to include some recent photocopies my daughter made of her own hands; both seemed to be deeply evocative of a stage in a life, a memory, a snapshot of a moment in time.

I am now considering how to work in and around the pages Mary and I have contributed to this next book in the series.

I have also been working on another project which I am thinking of adding to this interesting conversation; this book is in a scroll format and follows on from some of the ideas and techniques I developed in response to Suzanne’s bold and bright prints.

Again, a work in progress; I don’t want them to be finished pieces as I want to leave room for Mary to respond, to keep the conversation open.

I’m enjoying working in this very open way; I can work on pages Mary has sent me, and I can also work on new ideas as they crop up. We’re also not confined to a single format, which I’m finding liberating. I’m relieved that Mary has responded so positively to my January pages, and has embraced the less structured, experimental way of working together. 

I am inspired and excited; the conversation has started well.

Walking and Thinking

I’ve been making movement drawings this week; recording my path through life in little hand made books. I’ve finished reading The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane, and have started About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory by Barry Lopez, along a similar theme; exploring ideas around how landscapes shape us and enter our imaginations.

Stitching also seems to be important at the moment as a way to express ideas about movement through physical and internal landscapes; the thread weaving in and out in a single unbroken line, even though it can’t all be seen. I’ve started a series of mixed media pieces based around textiles and paper collage, recorded daily, like a diary, alongside the movement drawings. 

Wandering… wondering… walking as an essential component of thinking, collecting thoughts and ideas and weaving them together…