Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Gym turtle


I've been thinking more about childhood memories - mine are few and far between and usually bare of dialogue or movement - not really the stuff for stories. They come as still images, but their emotional weight is considerable. I see my artwork in that vein, each piece a compressed snapshot of being. Lately I've been trying to write stories. Initially I got bogged down in a literalness that was not only restrictive but diminishing. Poetry, like art, allows a different approach, in the concentration of language, but with stories I worried about how to be truthful when I remember so little. It took me a while to understand that here too it's not about the factual recording of an event down to the smallest detail, although that has its place, but that its distillation takes you to its centre, its emotional truth. Just in time I read a conversation between Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich, where AL talks about how it has sustained her to trust her own perception at any point in life, and I realised that I am only starting to do that. The sensory details that I recall when I allow myself to fall into the stillness of a memory breathe life into it, and slowly, steadily I feel the girl I was, and she, who often seemed off, just not quite right, and oh, so silent, has a voice.

Dimensions: 23 cm x 38 cm
Materials: crocheted from black cotton and white wool/synthetics mixture, bit of fur

3 comments:

redredday said...

gosh how do you always know how to express these things?? love what you wrote of distillation and emotional truth and stillness and a voice...

ahh your Gym Turtle speaks so tenderly to me. the name so awkward i want to hug her and protect her. is the black and white a uniform? i was taken aback by how stark the contrast is compare to the pinks and yellow of your other childhood pieces. makes me think of a world cold and too old. i see an egg shape to her, can't help connecting it to an eggshell that i just wrapped a few days ago...they are like twins! well, not really, but in my mind, the connection is there. :).

Kruse said...

Have you read The Bean Trees by Kingsolver? The small, awkward, unfitting child in that book is called Turtle. It sums up so perfectly the odd, clumsy awkardness many children must experience. I know I did. Still do. And I was most definitely a 'gym turtle!'
Naming that old self and giving it a lovingly made garment feels like honoring it.
I was also taken aback to see these stark colours in a piece of your making. Like all of your work this makes me think and think...

Marjojo said...

Dear Mien, dear Susan, I am glad as ever that my work speaks to you! The colours and shape of Gym turtle are inspired by the gym kit of my childhood - black cotton pants and a white singlet. I don't often work from such a concrete memory, but 'physical education' felt like a nightmare for a few years, with a bullying teacher who was sewn into her track suit and had a whistle permanently attached to her bottom lip. We saw no option but to accept everything she hurled at us. I marvel today that I never even thought to tell my parents - teachers seemed right by default.

PS. I don't know The Bean Trees, will look it up now.