Saturday, 26 November 2011

One of four

I can’t quite believe that the year is drawing to its end already. Time for a review maybe? On the good side: I’ve taken part in quite a few exhibitions, in the UK and abroad. Or I should say, my work has. The most important show was Extra-Ordinary at Core Gallery, partly because it was beautifully curated, partly because we (three artists) were involved in the processes that bring an exhibition fully into the world, i.e. press-releases, interviews, presentations, and I learned a lot. It also laid the foundation for a rewarding relationship with Core Gallery, and esp. Rosalind Davis, founder/ curator/artist/writer/all-around-the-arts energy bundle… As part of their DIY-Educate programme I had the opportunity to attend an artist’s talk, a talk by curators, a tutorial, and even presented a piece of work to other artists one sunny afternoon, when the sofa was made to move with me, so I could lie down when I needed to. Again, I learned a lot, had fun doing so and started feeling a bit more connected with other artists.
On the not so good side: my M.E. seemed to be on the brink of getting better and then got a bit worse – fodder for frustration and listless laments, as you can imagine. But something good is happening here too: there might be a new or additional diagnosis, and although I can’t know what that will bring, new avenues are being explored and that must be a good thing.
So looking back I feel like a Jackie in the box who was occasionally catapulted into the world for brief but dramatic instances and then, again and again, fell dimly and limply back with the lid closing firmly over her for a rather long time. That box has a little light though, and in its shine I continue to imagine and crochet new pieces. A stitch here, a stitch there...
How was your year?


Material: crocheted from a wool/polyester mixture
Dimensions: 50.5 cmx 38 cm

Friday, 11 November 2011

Something a little bit different (2)

It's complete! I wasn't sure to start with whether I wanted to have the piece introduced in my last post on its own, esp. as the second piece proved rather more difficult, but now that it's found its form I see they are good together. (You can't quite discern from the photograph that there's no opening for a head to push through, that I've made little pockets where the armpits would be and that the straps have been crocheted as tubes.)
It's more clear to me now too how much this piece is about puberty, that time-span when our bodies seem to hurtle from one change to another and we can't quite keep up, when we are torn between wanting to throw ourselves into life and its contingencies and hiding in our bedrooms, between boldness and brassiness and excruciating embarrassment, between thinking we know it all and being utterly flummoxed by being in the world.
A friend of mine who popped in this week burst out laughing when she saw the piece. She remembered menstrual pads the size of aircraft runways and so do I (yes, we're of that age!), pads which weighed heavily in our pants and felt as inconspicuous as if a dayglow arrow was hovering in front of us and pointing at our shame. Yes, shame is the instrumental word. The only good thing was to be exempt from PE once per month and allowed to sit on a bench at the side instead of being bullied by the teacher. I'm sad for us in retrospect but also wonder how much things have changed. Smaller pads, tampons, yes, but menstruation still has to be invisible. And scentless. The funny thing is it's something I hadn't thought of at all when I made the piece: my starting point was a more general feeling of awkwardness - the strangeness of being embodied (at all times, but especially during puberty), but I'm delighted that M. was thrown into recall and took me along with her.
I also think there's more to be seen in the piece, but leave that up to you!

Growing pains

Dimensions: 25 cm x 50 cm and 24.5 cm x 44 cm
Materials: crocheted from a virgin wool/polyester mixture

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Something a little bit different (1)

For someone who runs out of steps before she gets to the corner and hasn’t worn her hiking books in years a little callus is a splendid thing. I’ve got one on the tip of my left middle-ringer: not from poking it into the dense autumn sky, but from crocheting! Which is after all my most consistently maintained activity...
I’m trying to write a better artist’s statement and have been thinking about the formal aspects of my work, which I find much more difficult to formulate than speaking about its meaning. It made me more conscious of the fact that most of my pieces go flat on the wall, to be viewed frontally, like a painting: I’m reaching to find images, not sculptural forms. Which may or may not be a contradiction to claiming that my pieces are inhabited.
Isn’t this wool gorgeous? I bought it a year ago but did not how best to use it until the shape of this new piece literally demanded it. Compared to the muted colours I usually work with it has an almost garish aspect, brash, loud. Then there is the excess of form, which is strangely in opposition to and contained by the neat tightness of the crochet. Something here pulls and pulses and yet holds perfectly still. A bit like a teenager’s rollercoaster states of being: not quite sure of what one is becoming, trying to hide in the shadows and wanting to be in the lime-light. Standing there, bathed in anxiety, or is it the chemical glow of mutation?

Dimensions: 25 cm x 50 cm
Materials: crocheted from a virgin wool/polyester mixture

And by the by, but immensely cheering, read this: there's news from Norway regarding recent research into the aetiology of M.E., which is wonderful, but what really amazed me is the apology to M.E. patients that was given by a politician.