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.

Artists’ Books

This week I had a sudden urge to revisit the poetry of T S Eliot, which I first encountered in undergraduate English Literature; I recall feeling baffled by The Wasteland and unable or unwilling to get to grips with its imagery and layered, fragmented meanings. Now, all of a sudden, Eliot’s snapshots of the realities of daily life speak to me; I don’t get the whole picture (am I meant to?), but phrases leap out at me from many of his poems which seem to articulate some of the ideas I’m grappling with and trying to represent in my work – physical presence, process, thinking made visible, fragments, memory. 

I have also been exploring the idea of artists’ books; the versatility of this medium seems to be a fitting way to capture both the fluid nature of what I want to express, and my ongoing obsession with writing by hand. 

I’m still struggling to put into words exactly what is inside my head, and I don’t feel that my writing is doing my ideas much justice at the moment; but I’m hoping you’ll stay with me whilst I try and figure it out.

Footfalls echo in the memory

Down the passage which we did not take

Towards the door we never opened

Into the rose garden. My words echo 

Thus, in your mind.

From Burnt Norton – first of the Four  Quartets by T S Eliot.

Show & Tell

Yesterday was the first session of the second phase of the Artist Teacher Scheme. We met at the School of Art in Margaret Street, and looked at the MA final show before sitting down in the basement to share some of our 100 pieces of work and talk.

I’m still attempting to get my head round what it is that I’m trying (struggling) to express, and I have no idea where I’m going with this, or what my practice will look like when I finally manage to locate it… all I can say is that I feel like an avalanche has been released in my brain (not that it was an tidy and uncluttered place beforehand) and I am frantically trying to capture thoughts and ideas and write stuff in my notebook and record things, and try to find ways to record things I’ve never even thought about before – trying to catch hold of it all before it is carried off like a wisp of smoke in the wind.

This afternoon I suddenly decided to wallpaper a large piece of packing cardboard that has been sitting in my living room for several weeks. Don’t ask me why. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with the bloody thing when I’ve finished it – it’s actually too big to fit anywhere. I am veering between amused exasperation with myself, and a niggling sensation that this is something to do with the emergency blanket piece that I’m trying to make for Sketchbook Circle. It’s about the physical manifestation of the process, the idea that it was inside me all along and all I had to do was look… or something.

Something below the surface is fidgeting to be let out, and all of a sudden that doesn’t frighten me. All of a sudden I think I want to take a look.