More Progress

Suzanne’s book is packed up ready to go back…

And the memory box is gradually filling up…

Mary’s additions have come back to me; she has sent me some lovely colourful sheets of ink and wax resist. I’m unsure what I want to do with them so I’m letting things percolate while I’m busy with work commitments this week.

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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.

Journeys

Journeys, landscapes, internal and external, literal and figurative.

The fabric background seemed apt; the creases and folds echoed the contours of the landscapes, and the traces left behind by other wayfarers.

..the suppressed memories of a more ancient archipelago.

Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places

The gif format lent itself to the idea too; it’s difficult to pinpoint the beginning or end.

The (carelessly cut) edges became curiously sculptural, like landscape formations too.

Little book of secrets.

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.

Sketchbooks

When we visited Louise’s exhibition at the Art Yard, I was intrigued by her collection of sketchbooks, which were presented as part of the show. I liked this – the preliminary thinking alongside the finished pieces on display. 
My own work is very process-based; it’s about the act of creation, the hand of the creator, the thought process as I make things, the journey both internal and external. So I have been considering the role that sketchbooks play in my own practice.

I have noticed more and more that my Sketchbook Circle books are a place where I test out and explore ideas that I’ve developed through the ATS. Bouncing these ideas off someone else, trying them out in response to someone else’s work helps me to push my boundaries, work outside my comfort zone, try out new things.

I also keep a textile/collage book, and I’ve started a ‘trying things out’ book for experimenting with processes and techniques; and then there’s my brain-dumping book, where I write stuff and park things for later when I’ve got mental overload.

I’ve noticed that, although I don’t have a consistent, signature ‘style’, the ideas that underpin my work remain consistent whatever I’m working on. I’ve realised that actually the ATS has helped me to begin to understand what I’m trying to say, rather than developing said ‘signature style’.

I’m starting to panic less at the thought of a final exhibition in the summer; I’ll show whatever best expresses where my thinking is at that time.

Circling

My personal work continues to explore themes around movement, journeys, and the spaces between physical and imaginary landscapes. I am drawn towards a neutral, subdued palette of browns, greys and black, reflecting the rather introspective nature of my current preoccupations.

In contrast, this month’s sketchbook, sent to me by Suzanne, is full of printing, colour and doodling; I am inspired out of my navel-gazing and have fetched out my acrylic paints. I might look out the coloured tissue paper tomorrow and reconnect with my inner child.