I’ve been asked to give an artist talk, so far I’ve created three power point presentations and I’m still not clear. Do I talk about my life? This project? How much do I tell? What do I leave out? I recently asked a group of artists “What do you want to know when you listen to an artist talk about their work?” “Their starting point” one said, “What sets them off.” I begin thinking about another way to tell my story .
Identity. How have we created and continue to create our present idea of ourselves? What are the twists, the turns, the important people, the early influences, the unconscious motives, the economic context?
Time to reflect.
Last week I found myself bidding on Ebay for a vintage old Silver Cross Pram . I had plans to take it apart and rebuild it with car parts taken from vehicles that had been written off. I have shelved this idea for a future exhibition, I’ve given myself permission to not immediately follow every idea that comes into my mind as I write my morning pages. A part of me is rushing, panicking, wanting to make a big statement, not believing in the work that is already steadily emerging at its own pace. I return to it, like returning to the breath when ones mind has wandered during meditation.
The “Pram”idea came about with a vague memory that my mother had had a car accident when she was 6 months pregnant, she had never told me & when I asked she confirmed that this had actually happened. I found myself drawing newborn skulls and becoming interested in the fontanelle.
I obtained a piece of sheet metal, the sort used to repair cars and wanted to make it into the shape of a skull with a space at the top for the fontanelle. First I had to cut a depression into a log and then beat the piece of metal into shape.
This took ages and it did not turn out as I expected, I found it hard to make the fontanelle space at the top smaller than I wanted. Panel beating was physically hard work.
However, I do like the shape and now intend to make some lace to attach to the edges of the opening. I have been learning how to tat, something my aunts did when I was a child. I find it immensely soothing and like the idea of juxtaposing the hard metal shape with soft, intricate lace. I guess I will have to drill holes into the metal to attach it.
Sorting through my new found source of scrap metal pieces I find one and put holes in it with an awl and a hammer. Again I intend to “repair” it with lacemaking.
Returning to the earlier wire and latex piece, I make a frame out of wood, drill holes in the sides then sew each piece of latex to the uprights. As I sew I listen to the abridged version of the book. “The Rule of the Land” by Garrett Carr on Radio 4. The book is an account of the author, a mapmaker, walking the border between Northern and Southern Ireland. It is a meditation on borders and how those that live near them negotiate the imposed separation & how it moulds their identity. He describes how Barry McGuigan, who lived in Clones, a town in Southern Ireland located on the border, was able to slip into Northern Ireland thus being able to have access to greater resources. Later he took on a British identity to enable his path to becoming Boxing World Feather Weight Champion.
Carr also talks about the Peace process that led to the Good Friday Agreement & how Senator George Mitchell utilised vocabulary that encapsulated inclusive decision making in order to involve paramilitary organisations in decommissioning their weapons. It was the use of words as an initial bridge so that groups on opposing sides could choose to walk towards one another without a loss of face. I thought a lot about how skilled Mitchell was in his sensitive consideration of honour, autonomy and choice in order to build trust & how this was essential to enable agreement and consequent peace. The ultimate goal was to use participants’ words to create the agreement, differences may still have existed but a symbolic unification had taken place.
I re read this article about reducing the sense of separation that some aspects of modern life create. http://www.refinethemind.com/facebook-eye/
As I stitch the latex to the wooden support I think about the edges of each material & how different they are, as I handle the latex it it feels like I’m sewing skin.
My other plans are to make some small simple weaves that will be inserted into a piece of broken fencing. These will replicate darning & will represent the act of reparation.