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.

Textile Landscapes

I’m currently reading my newly-arrived copy of Tim Ingold’s book ‘Lines’; it’s having quite an influence on my thought processes – in fact I feel like someone needs to open my head up with a tin opener before my brain explodes.

All the things that have been rattling round in the corners of my mind are suddenly all connected – walking the dog, being outdoors, walking and thinking, drawing, sewing, writing, making new things out of old pieces of work, things I’ve read quoted in something new, circles and stories, marks and traces, squares, a sense of presence and place, journeys, landscape, process…

This is my story, the story that has been handed down to me through generations of women, the story that I will hand on to my daughter. I’m not sure I’ve grasped the plot yet, but I’m getting there, and I’m definitely not sure where it’s all going and how it’s going to end.

In and out, like the stitches sewn by my mother and my grandmother… even the back of the stitch, the part you can’t see, is inextricably woven into the whole.

Another Circle Closes

It’s that time of year again… I’m working for the last time in the book I have shared over the year with Ben, before I post it back after Christmas. I’m feeling a sense of achievement as I look back over the pages we have shared, and the visual conversation we have had. I have been lucky enough again to share with two talented practitioners who have made me think, and have challenged my own practice.

My experiences on the Artist Teacher scheme have inevitably found their way into my sketchbooks this year, and vice versa, reminding me how different aspects of my practice all inform each other and are influenced by each other. Having the sketchbooks on the go alongside the ATS enables me to put ideas on the backburner and work on something else, or try things out in a different way, allowing me to explore and experiment in different contexts.

I have sent my sketchbook back to Louise for the final time, and I’m excited to see how she responds to my final additions. I have signed up for another year of the Circle, hopefully one sketchbook partnership and one digital partnership; I am already excited about where the experience will take me next.

Liminal

Liminal: adj, technical, i) of, or relating to a transitional or initial stage; ii) at a boundary or threshold (Oxford Concise English Dictionary).

This is a word I have come across fairly frequently of late; it appears quite a lot in artists’ statements in degree shows and galleries, and I’d read it a few times before I happened across it in this post by Andrea Liu. I looked it up, forgot about it, forgot what it meant, and then it cropped up again a couple of days ago on the WordPress inspiration site, The Daily Post. So I looked it up again. This time the word resonated; I don’t think I’ll be adding it to my artist statement any time soon, as my style is a bit more down-to-earth that that, but I’m definitely at a transitional phase in my personal and professional journey as an artist.

It’s also another transitional phase in the Sketchbook Circle cycle; I have made my last contributions to the book I have shared this year with Louise, and will be sending it back for her to put in her own final additions; and Ben’s book will soon be on it’s way back to me for the final time. I’ve signed up for another year’s collaboration, and am hoping this time to push myself out of my comfort zone and enter into a digital collaboration as well as a sketchbook partnership. Sketchbook Circle has and continues to be a pivotal experience in my artistic and professional life; the group is vibrant, creative and supportive, and I have connected with some amazingly talented individuals. It has inspired me to take my work in new directions, and combined with this year’s experience on the Artist Teacher Scheme, I have been motivated to take my practice out of a sketchbook and work in new, and sometimes surprising ways. This excites me and scares me in equal measure, but I continue to put myself in situations which challenge me. I have been inspired to leave my regular job in order to pursue a freelance career, and I am making connections and discussing projects with new people. I look back on my first hesitant pages in my first shared sketchbook two years ago and reflect on how far I have come.