Friday, 11 April 2008
Finally the sun is out again (which does wonders for my mood) and the other day, when I was sitting in the garden, feeling the sun’s warmth spread through me, I tried to clarify some of the thoughts I touched on in my last blog, about the artist possibly having childlike qualities. I certainly did not mean any kind of innocence but was thinking about the feelings invoked by offering up for scrutiny what we’ve made - wanting, craving, needing appraisal, and the vulnerability that is built into that need.
Of course the wish for feedback is legitimate, after all art is about communication. It is akin to speech in that it requires an other to respond. However there is something in the solitary nature of the artist’s work, be it in the studio or at home, which makes the moment of exposure, when we present what we’ve engaged with and spent our energy on, a fairly dramatic one. Often we cut ourselves off from others in order to focus completely on the work and then, when the art is finished, it becomes social all of a sudden. It’s what we mean it to be, we do want to communicate, we do want to open up to the wider world, but the fact is that with our offering we invite judgement, which we fear as much as we desire it. There are different kinds of artists and maybe the degree of vulnerability varies, but I think on the whole we all hold our breath until… One of the contradictions of course is that through our art we communicate outside of language, but the response will mostly be in words. The very worst is no response, indifference; not far behind is a negative, condemning one, then comes being told what one has done looks ‘nice’. The best is a constructive response, including criticism, a response that is based on a deeper engagement with the work, that maybe exposes something in the respondent too. I have had quite a lot of that here, have felt nurtured and challenged by it in the best possible ways and am immensely grateful.
As ever I've only scratched the surface here, thoughts are trailing loosely in all kinds of directions and it's taken me ages to formulate this! But having asked myself (in response to a comment by Susan who makes me think like no other) if writing a blog is worth the effort, esp. feeling that I can’t do it often enough and that I usually lack the energy to read other blogs on a regular basis, and don't leave as much feedback as I'd like, I say yes. Trying to formulate my thoughts here makes me think deeper and further than I probably would if it all just stayed in my head. And quite a few of the ensuing discussions and exchanges are open and deep and relevant. Maybe if I was part of a lively group of artists and ‘naturally’ engaged in critical conversations about the making of art I’d not so much need the forum here, but that’s not the case. For years my art-making has been a kind of monologue as it didn't get out into the world much, and I've felt the lack of engagement with other artists acutely. And so there, here I am and here I stay, and appear whenever I can. And in any case I enjoy and value my virtual links with artists in other parts of the world too much to let go of them. I'm off now to look at some of those blogs I cherish, it's been a while and I can't wait. It's one way of stepping into the world and engage.