Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Letting go part 3 (or transformative space)

Clearing space is a much under glorified way of spending time.

There is an obvious usefulness in the activity of course, creating tidy, uncluttered areas in which to work without the distraction of too much muddling stuff.

But that’s expected.

Almost without fail whilst a-sorting, I will find a vital mislaid scraping tool or fabulously marked paper fragment that might enhance the next piece I make.

Fortuitous but not life changing.

This time though, this super deep clean of my studio left me feeling elated.

Unburdened.

The act of destroying my work was not some frenzied attack of self-loathing. (I know too well when that is the deal.)

This was mindful purpose.

I had created these pieces. I discovered, explored and honed skills. I developed narratives, questioned and challenged myself. All that could not be destroyed just by the act of cutting up, by removing the work from being.

It is not lost - I absorbed it all both good and bad. I made the commitment to progress during all the time of making and now I had just let go of the physical reminder of that transformative process.

Transformation might take a lifetime to manifest itself.

Recognising it might just take a random act of space clearing.


Photo from Kim Ayres Photography



Friday, 20 November 2015

Letting Go part 2 (or the art of making space)

What does an artist do when unsold work starts to dominate the studio?

If they were newer encaustic pieces then I might scrape the wax surface back and start again on the wooden panels.

But this work predates all my encaustic explorations. Numerous highly textured canvasses, some bubble-wrapped, stacked under tables, racked against diminishing wall space and taking up shelves threaten to stifle and ensnare me by their very presence. Somehow they don’t even seem relevant to what I do now, so immersed I feel now with my encaustic work. Would I want to put them on show and say this is what I make?

A craft knife rests on the edge of the table... I thought I had tidied my tools away.



Just one then to see how it feels...

I look down at the floor. It definitely needs sweeping again. A mound of torn, mangled canvas with wrangled staples and threads lies there.

I carry three stretcher frames across the floor. I know someone who will use these.

This is good and getting easier.

Another and then another.

As I slash and wrench, I inspect the years of making in my hands.

Interested, inquisitive, surprised even, but not dismayed and definitely not grieving.

By the end of the afternoon only two remain, reprieved with sentiment.

Exhausted.

Still breathing.

How to deal with lack of space…

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Letting Go part 1 (or needing clearance)

I would finish the piece I was working on then I would have a bit of a tidy up in readiness for all the new stuff I was planning to do.

That was the plan.

Space.

I needed more space.

The necessary clutter of work in progress is at once comforting and restrictive. I am oblivious as time passes and chaos creeps in like silken tendrils, first to caress reassuringly ( I am in my lovely studio, after all with my making treasures abounding), then to smother as I search with feverish frustration for that very particular paper, cloth or scraping tool amongst the mounting detritus of all that creative doing.

So to do a bit of sorting and reorganising is refreshingly restorative.

Open the windows, turn the music up loud.

Time to breathe and get moving.

Tables scraped and cleared. Tools cleaned and rehoused. Paints back in box. Painty rags pinned to wall for future possibilities. Papers, fibres and threads dealt into ordered bundles.

Floor swept (stopping only occasionally to wonder at accumulating patina).



This was it. Taking control. New beginnings again.

Stop.

Mmm, I could do with a bit more space.
There’s still a lot of stacks and piles…

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Adaptation

In the first days of the millennium, my oldest daughter had a stroke when she was just sixteen.


Six months later, after learning to talk and walk again and use her non dominant left hand for everything, her consultant said that the best we could hope for now was "adaptation". Brain repair as such was as good as could be expected and learning to live with it was the only likely option.


Adaptation rang hollowly then.

Adaptation was no more than a consolation prize.

Adaptation was the badge of honour on childhood sport's days proclaiming: "Well done for taking part!" when everyone knew you just weren't a very good runner.


I thought that it seemed such a small offering then, some amorphous invitation to embrace change in the wake of what had rampaged and dashed.


But this is not really about my daughter, though her story is monumental and complicated.


Rather, with the passing of so much time and life, I reflect and view adaptation instead, as one of the most desirable human conditions. The ability to accept change as inevitable and to bend with it allows us to develop in unexpected and delightful ways. Adaptation, as well as necessary for survival, can be gloriously empowering.


I don't believe in Fate or any grand plan.

There are no guarantees and there's no such thing as "fair".


I believe I make personal choices for how I deal with all this life stuff. Sometimes I make mistakes and feel stupid and hurt. But nothing remains the same for ever. Adaptation allows me to explore new ways of living so long as I remember to breathe as I limbo dance through challenges.

And remind myself to be grateful.


And the art stuff is just another part of that.


This is what this blog is about.

... there's been a change of plan...

A change of name then... things don’t stay the same.

That’s all.