Boxes

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This weekend I have been cleaning. Every so often I get a bee in my bonnet and go through the flat like a dose of salts; I have filled the communal bins outside with bags full of rubbish, broken toys, bits of sets which have become separated from the rest – and my beloved woollen rug, which met its demise at the hands (teeth?) of a suspected carpet moth. Or several carpet moths. Yesterday’s daily writing prompt on WordPress was hyperbole, or obvious or intentional exaggeration. This weekend I have cleaned our flat ‘from top to bottom’.

So I am now totally fed up of cleaning. In order to relax after my weekend spent up to my elbows in bleachy water, I sat for an hour on my sitting room floor with a box I am covering with decoupage. It’s an idea I’ve got in the back of my mind for next year’s Sketchbook Circle, so I’ll see how it turns out and then develop it from there. I felt like a child again, getting my hands covered in glue and enjoying the feeling of the paper yielding as it became damp. I’ve used old newspapers and pages from old books with images and designs which appeal to me. I love to work with recycled materials – cardboard, old books, newspapers – things with a history and a narrative, things which have been passed over, overlooked, discarded. Traces of the past. And what goes inside it will tell its own story, give a window into the minds of the artists who create it.

It has occurred to me that that was what I liked most about the Eva Rothschild exhibition at New Art Gallery Walsall; all of the elements in the exhibition pieces were once part of different pieces and combinations. I have been repurposing much of my art work recently; my paper tubes were made from torn up drawings (you can see them here and here) and I like the idea that a piece of art is an organic thing which changes and is reused and repurposed – almost infinite variations on a single idea.

Like myself; all the countless versions of my past self and my possible future selves, constantly changing, and yet paradoxically still the same. Identity, like art, is an ongoing process.

Clay Houses

Yesterday I went out on an art teacher’s CPD event organised through the Birmingham Artist Educator network, 4MAT UK. We took a trip on the Ikon Gallery’s barge to make clay houses, part of the Black Country Voyages art programme. The lead artist on this project this year is Mahtab Hussain and his project is called The Auspicious Journey. He has used the barge as a vehicle for exploring ideas about the displacement of people from his homeland in Kashmir in the 1960’s resulting from the construction of the Mangla Dam. Many of the affected people did not move on to the nearest settlement in Kashmir, but came to the UK to find work around the Black Country canals. You can find more information about the project here.

The day was a great opportunity to relax and spend some time making – it’s a long time since I last used clay; it was very therapeutic, especially throwing it at the start to get rid of the air bubbles. It was also a great chance to chat and network in relaxing surroundings with other artist educators from the region; Emma, a fellow sketchbook circler; Lisa and Karen from last year’s Artist Teacher Scheme; Emma from the Ikon Gallery; Philip, part-time skipper and art therapist.

The workshop started me thinking about my own work in new ways too; where to go with my tubes made out of drawings and written extracts; new ways of making my mark on paper and on the world; new materials to try. I am pondering ideas about making my tubes out of clay, and the interactive, inclusive element of asking members of the public to make pieces for a project.

Next week I finish my job and take a step out into the unknown; I will be a freelance artist educator. I am scared and excited but am looking forward to the challenges and the changes, and seeing how these manifest themselves in my art practice. I will certainly have lots to write about in my notebook, lots of thoughts to illuminate, lots of ideas to make into tangible objects.