Friday, 11 April 2008

Following on...

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.


Catherine said...

Although we communicate virtually, we are all practising artists in our own way. On the blogs you can bond with people who work in a similar way or think, investigate and question as you do. I think the blog is a good additional source of communication, which allows us to approach when we have time to sit, browse and think. I look forward to checking blogs to see progress, change, challenges which are not immediately available in any other way. Keep blogging.

Cally said...

M, your comment on my blog was so very timely, as is this post that you have written here.

I'm very pleased to hear you have had sunny time in the garden, even the fact of needing less clothes helps so much with energy levels, and the warmth of spring sun is the best there is (in my opinion). Still mixed weather here but I'm sure it must change by May.

My mind has been almost exploding with creative urges since the holiday, but the body is utterly incapable of following through with actions. The frustration was worse than the inactivity itself so it was so good to have the feeling that you had somehow 'seen' my lamp dresses, that a piece of me was out there shared with another creative mind even when I am too tired to even unpack old work. I must show you some of my creamy felt pieces, they

I've been too tired to read blogs this week but it's been great to come here and read this post, everything you've written about the experience of showing work is spot on.

Apologies if this comment jumps about, I've been adding and subtracting sentences for several hours and I'm not quite up to reading through or I'll never send it!

But ohm nearly forgot to say I love the illustration with the post, especially how it ties in with your line "thoughts are trailing loosely in all kinds of directions", a perfect match.

Catherine said...

Hi marjojo,
wondered if you had followed this link from cally's blog:
At uni too there is a young man who started to knit to make sculpture. You all make it look so trendy. If I were to do that (i am now 46) it would be though of as old fashioned. But yours is so contemporary.

Kruse said...

Interesting post. I panic about blogging because I suddenly realise that my musings are going out into the real world. Because we do not have faces I sort of forget that the people who are reading my words or looking at my pictures are real! Also, I think that there are huge issues involved for artists regarding showing work, especially if the artist very personally identifies with the work; if it more than an intellectual conceit. Like Catherine I get quite a thrill when I see new work posted by you and other artists that I love. Yet I do not value my own contribution. Sometimes it makes me cringe when I realise how much I have exposed myself blogging and yet value that sharing in others. Eee, it's a funny old world!

Sascha said...

dear crocheting lady,

I am out of town right now but when I get home next week will start dreaming up and drawing your imaginary dog. I like this octopus girl.

maria sputnik

Catherine said...

hi, in response to your comment on my blog and age related I am very surprised. Never thought. I think the age comes from the inside; somebody said about my blog it was very young, I would say the same about yours. There is an insider energetic hope, even though your illness prevents you from doing as much as you would like, there is a immense inner fire. That come through in the work and the amount of work you actually do. Also the photographs, very clever. Something small happened a week or so ago when, a dissapointing decision from my son, a consequence of circumstance, I felt I had failed him too in some small way, and I felt rather sad. For a short time I felt a door had been closed shut to hope, felt a sagging, burden too large. I then realised that I felt old, that the difference between feeling young and old was hope in the sense that there are things we can do to make the world a different place, in a small or large way. When the door closed, no hope, no curiosity, no youth. It seemed as simple as that. So I will keep that hope flame burning, can't help it most of the time, am too curious!

mecamo said...

Hello there!

I found your great blog, but can't share with you all the "good" words, because my English is kind of lousy (?)...
Well, I'll check your blog now more out :-)