Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Alien take-over

After a brief period of improvement in July I have gone from bad to worse. Again. I should be used to this happening, but it shocks me every time anew and I deny and struggle and kick, inwardly that is, for as long as I can. Fatigue is now consuming everything, activity, movement, thinking, imagination. No more scribbling down of ideas for a better day – my head’s gone blank, my wings hang limp like damp dishtowels. During the days it’s taken me to write this the sky too has been the colour of unloved washed-out greyish-white underwear - just when I need the warm tips of the sun's rays to tickle me awake.
Time to give in, give up, give over, for a while. Back when I’m up to it.

Thursday, 21 August 2008


I expend energy by the thimbleful, scooped from a very shallow pool, a puddle really. A slow skirt-dance of ripples when I dip in, then back to mirror-stillness.
When I am tired I feel like a blurred version of myself. At the moment I go out of focus a lot. Imagine a photo developing in its tray of chemical solution in the darkroom, releasing its image slowly, steadily, as if from nothing. At my worst I do the opposite: flat as a picture, I fade into a fog of white.
Or is this when I am most in focus? Exhausted, unable to lift a limb, having let everything drop away, desire, thinking, book, pen, telephone, crocheting hook, I can only just be, breath in, breath out.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Changing places

In response to my post on 19 July Roxana asked why I chose ‘to write the explanatory text so objectively/scholarly’. First to the prosaic reasons: Writing for an exhibition catalogue was quite a challenge, but apart from the briefest mentions in reviews I have not had my work written about professionally and so had to write the text myself. I sure wanted it to be able to stand up with the other texts in the catalogue. But there’s more.
I find the change of position – from maker to viewer (to reviewer?) - stimulating. These positions are contrary and complementary and intertwined and here tied up in a kind of close-knitted/knotted bundle. Writing is a looking back, an assessment usually months after the work was completed, when some degree of distance from the impetus for the work and its production has been gained. It’s a fresh look, a changed look, and newly penetrating - I’ve often discovered elements that I hadn’t noticed while I was working on the individual pieces. Hopefully it’s also a more critical one (within reason, it’s still all about me me me).
Writing is as important to me as my visual art, and I enjoy trying it out in different ways. It is interesting to attempt to look at one’s work from inside and outside. Writing can be a different way in, at its sharpest it pierces open membranes which coat troubling facets like scar tissue. Something happens that wouldn’t otherwise - on the one hand it is a distancing process and one of translation maybe, but in a strange way it also allows me to crawl deep into the work, to inhabit it anew.
It was important to me to produce a text that wasn’t (too) personal. There is a danger of being pinned down on the personal / emotional / feminine and thus narrowly judged and somewhat dismissed. When you get personal or biographical, people often take the easy road and read the work just through what they think they know, looking for links to me, to my life, to being ill. That’s just too simple/simplifying. Explorations of difference and otherness have featured in my (practical and theoretical) work since art-college. The kind of critical thinking learned there is one of the most cherished elements of my education. So in the setting of a professional exhibition with a professional catalogue I wanted a professional text, even if I wrote it myself. Seeing it in print now I can only hope I’ve pulled it off. (Check out Roxana's blog The floating bridge of dreams - it is quite wonderful.)