Saturday, 26 January 2008

Small hairy thing

Took this out the other day, crocheted years ago very very slowly from strands of three (artificial) hairs. Surprise, surprise, it once was a tiny dress (!) which had been bugging me for ages as it never looked quite right. It still took some effort to snip off bits and make it become, well, just some thing. Not knowing what it is or what it’s going to be stresses me and delights me in equal measure. No, to be truthful, it stresses me more, but I can take it.
For now it’s a plaything, which I can reshape anyway like. It is very malleable, I can pull it inside out and turn it around, I can prod nudge tweak crumple tear fold unfold and every time it becomes something different. I remember the son of friends, I think he was three years old at the time, sitting at the kitchen table and with full concentration shaping a piece of dough. While his little fingers were moulding the dough he mumbled a kind of running commentary to himself, "…it’s a baby, it’s a ship, it’s a sail, it’s a …". I love the way he was absorbed in the process, the way he went with the changes wrought - his creativity unfenced, unfastened as only a child’s can be. I want some of that, please!
My wonderful hairy something fits loosely into the bowl my two hands make. It is almost as light as a spider’s web and yet, when I hold it in my hands, it seems to have real substance. It’s a drawing, it's a vessel, it’s a porous stone, it’s an organ, it's a doughnut, it’s a purse, it’s a …

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Orange clouds and orange arms

The sky was blue today, light light light! And just now the setting sun which has disappeared behind the row of houses opposite is illuminating the small white clouds that dot the sky and they’ve taken on the lightest of orange tints, glowing as if lit from within. What pleasure.
My mood is better too, still unsettled, but I can feel again. Have been thinking over the last week how best to reconnect with my artwork and decided to review some of my projects. This is the first one, loosely entitled octopus-girl. I love the colours (they’d go perfectly with the aforementioned clouds), that glorious fiery orange, the pumpkin-flesh-tint and the rose-tint. Bought the cotton-wool in autumn, to last me through winter and let its warm glow seep into me during grey-weather periods. It’s got its work cut out.
All my dresses, in fact all of my work, is inspired by the urge to make manifest emotional states and the experience of pressures from inside and outside, exploring them without writing them in stone. I seem to use arms/sleeves a lot to express something (see here, here, here and here again). This dress digresses however in that I’m trying to get firstly further beyond the conventional dress-shape, secondly more three-dimensional, and thirdly simply freer. I haven’t worked out yet how to make the octopus-sleeve shape, that will be a bit of a challenge, only know that I want to use the pumpkin-flesh-tint, maybe in a different yarn.
This is the dress to say goodbye to dresses (although I’ve still got the Suppenkasper-dress on the go), I need and want to move on into less-clearly subscribed shapes, still with crocheting as that is simply the best medium for me when I need to work lying down (which is a lot of the time), but I’m so-to-speak casting my net wider. More about that soon.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Tiny peaks are still peaks!

The weather - my mood, perfectly in sync at the moment, alas. Kicking against it, but weak kicks, as very tired. Against the rain’s drip drip drip my mantra I'm an artist, I'm an artist, I'm an artist, but it lacks conviction as I don't feel connected to anything much. Know it will pass. Hope soon. Wednesday was a bit better, sat in sunny garden in full winter regalia - coat, gloves, scarf -, drank in the sun and momentarily felt better. Thought about phrase ‘I don’t feel myself’ and tried to work out if I mean ‘I don’t feel myself‘ or ‘I don’t feel myself’. Both, I think. Thank goodness there is a part in me that knows how to push on almost by default (and hey, I probably have the M.E. to thank for that), a single vigilant cyclope’s eye open to minute changes in mood and energy, tiny peaks that can be used before greyness closes in again.

Thank you dear blogger friends for leaving such touching messages for me. To feel affection through the ether, that’s quite something. And it means a lot!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

This is what I am today

Given that my only new year’s resolution was to show more courage in everything, I feel I’m faltering at the first hurdle, the hurdle being the black depression that unfailingly descends on me at this time of the year and only lifts for occasional intervals. Every year I think: not this time, I take steps to keep it at bay, and then there it is again. Today is one of those grey, wet, truly unpleasant, only half-wintery days, it’s not really January-cold, even winter seems in limbo and it might be ever-lasting. Just now I don’t give a damn about a little red bud on a brittle rose-branch, it’s hard to see how I could get excited by it only days ago, as I’m being choked by, almost obliterated by something that I can hardly put into words. Its huge and heavy shapelessness is part of the problem, nowhere to attack it from. It closes in on me, clutches my throat, bears down on my chest cage, saturates my body with dull pain-not-pain, squeezes joy and reason from my brain and fills it with brown sludge. As it’s so familiar to me at this time of the year part of me knows that it will end, as it always has before. Spring will come too, and yet. The worst is that just at this moment even my art means nothing to me, I’m cut off from it. Still crocheted a bit this morning, going through the motions, this is what I do, this is what I want to do, but not feeling it.
This is what I am today.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Always becoming

This is a strange time of year for me, as much to do with the fraught changeover from one year to the next as with the fact that I spent a long Xmas-break away, with family and friends - good time, precious time, but time during which I half lost sight of my artist-self. And now that I’m back and have more or less recovered from the journey I find that I don’t easily fall into my mode of working again. It’s not just a matter of picking up the threads I left dangling, I have to actively reconnect, have to make an effort to reinstate myself. Is that weird?
I tend to feel weighed down by big dates (incl. birthdays), their charged significance and the affected cuts they make in the flow of time. M.E. certainly has brought with it the persistent sense of lagging behind and questions like: do I measure up? am I where I should be at this time of my life? distract me from what is crucial – just the business of living, of being in process, of becoming.
I want to have my own, living, breathing ways to look at, think of this time of year. And eventually yesterday, on my own, I found it in my wet sunny garden, reacquainting myself with the dark green bushes and hedges, checking for buds which I discovered in abundance and all kinds of shapes and colours. The ones that touched me most were tiny red ones at the end of dark, thin, brittle-looking rose branches, at first glance almost fleshy and close up revealing dense layers of minuscule leaves. Seeing old and new so inseparable and indivisible helped me realign myself with what I am and not with what I sometimes think I should be.
Good news: I will have several of my paper figures (some already existing, some yet to be made) in an exhibition this year. More details about the show at a later date.

The figure: work in process, dimensions: 51cm x 43 cm x 26 cm