Today I spent the day at New Art Gallery Walsall drawing on the walls and floor… an experience in itself, being allowed to do this in a high profile gallery! I like the floor drawing, but I’m unsure how I feel about the piece on the wall… the drawings look different in the new space, on a larger scale, using different materials… maybe I need to sleep on it and have a look with fresh eyes on Thursday when the box goes on the wall, and Sarah and Louise’s work is installed alongside it…
My personal practice continues to be preoccupied with internal journeys, and a term I found in Robert Macfarlane’s thought-provoking book ‘The Old Ways’:
The word Wittgenstein used for ‘thought’…
‘Denkbewegungen’ is a coinage that might be translated as ‘thought movements’, ‘thought ways’ or ‘paths of thought’: ideas that have been brought into being by means of motion along a path (weg).
I’m continuing to make long narrow books, which seem to me to depict these ideas. They always seem to turn out tied up in the same red wool, sent to me by a fellow Sketchbook Circler. I am fascinated by this wool and cannot say why it features so strongly in this body of work.
Yesterday I started making photographs of the wool itself. I am reminded of Magritte’s painting of a pipe entitled The Treachery of Images. This isn’t really a pipe, it’s only a representation. The images of the wool aren’t really the wool either, they are just images; but the wool has begun to take on a more loaded meaning, a subtext or meta message. It’s a representation of something that represents a whole raft of other ideas, if you follow me. It’s the continuous thread running through my life that represents the persistence of identity, my continuing personal narrative, the enduring trace throughout all the reframing, reinventing, rethinking, reconsidering.
It’s not just a piece of wool.
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.
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: 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.
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.