Saturday, 1 December 2012

Dancing with Gaga….

No I am not going Gaga – I am just dancing to the beat and allowing her words to inspire me…

Rambling Blessay follows:

Is art fulfilling societies aesthetic “needs” or are celebrity artists such as Damien Hurst and Tracey Emin trying to manipulate it?

Recently, I spent some time in London, dealing with unpleasant stuff and difficult concepts, and afterwards blew a bit of an emotional fuse – which if I was truly British I would probably apologise for, but as I am not – well what the heck, I am not made of granite and I have feelings, which I spend an awful lot of time suppressing…

So when I was released from parental duties and concerns, I went off on a pilgrimage to find myself (and also sort out some much needed supplies for some stuff I am designing for Toby !).

As I think I mentioned briefly before, I went and found Loop and then after quite a difficult trawl through rush hour traffic visited Prick Your Finger. 

I am so pleased I did, as not only now do I feel that I can talk with informed understanding of exactly where these places are – I met such interesting people. 

One of those was Rachael Matthews and her Manifesto makes interesting reading if you can’t get to the shop anytime soon.

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(A picture of Rachel’s spinning wheels… makes me smile with joy every time I look at this piece…fully of whimsy and exists purely because it can)

When we arrived and whilst we were chatting, Rachael was spinning a textured and immensely tactile batt on her electric spinner and I commented that I struggled with using one.  It isn’t because I can’t, it is because I love the rhythm of the foot pedalling – the movement and motion and clicking of the wheel as time passes.  My hands and feet have to work in synchronicity and whilst they are, I find myself channelling peace and quiet from another realm, an excuse to “absence” myself from life.

Rachael pointed out though that whilst she is spinning she has her legs free and she can dance at the same time. 

I know this afternoon what she meant and why it is important to be able to do so. 

After dragging myself out of the pits of despondency this week (which comes from spending too much time away from home) I have found time to be in my craft room and able get on with some tasks. I finally found two/three or even four hours totally to myself. 

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I was therefore able to embark on a journey to the other realm, the land of fantasy, when I can imagine and be inspired.  I don’t have to pretend to be intelligent, understand the implications of something totally beyond my experiences and most importantly don’t even have to get dressed.

So in my dodgy nightwear, odd socks but clean knickers I was dancing to Gaga (as you do..!) and warping up some hand spun, hand dyed wool.  My mind wandered off, untethered, back to Art College days as I looked around me at all the clutter and test pieces I have collected. 

These pieces are my pride and joy – they are not good and they do not display exquisite craftsmanship and elite artistic knowledge.  They are simply pieces of textiles and paper on which I have tested ideas, colours, textures and used them to make decisions about what I need to know, construct or make to develop a piece.  They enable me to understand whether an idea works, if not, why not…

Some of them exist simply because it is illegal to murder people still in this world, intentionally that is. 

So all of these pieces hold value to me and are collectively an archive of pleasant hours spent in my own world, which is of my creation and therefore operating with my rules. 

They exist as mementoes of the journey and time spent in that kingdom. They are talismans and Reliquaries to remind me of another existence and life, which runs parallel to the day to day grind and unrelenting negative emotions of my current existence.

This place is a totally imaginary one.  Sometimes though real life people live in it with me, in flesh and blood that I can speak to, or through internet and podcasts or just people who inspire, such as Grayson Perry

I know logically and factually that I do not know him, have never met him nor he me (I don’t think anyway !!), but he has inspired my imaginary world and adds warmth and humour to it therefore he lives in it.  I have invited him to influence my craft practice through the medium of TV (but with out all the grief of social interactions and ceremonies of friendship).  I also feel as if I have reclaimed him from the cult of celebrity and repositioned him as an icon of making.  Visiting his exhibition The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman last year was as an eye opener for both myself and Mr Odin who was absolutely adamant that he had no intentions of paying money to go over the threshold – he soon changed his mind and was as mesmerised as myself. 

The work was exquisite, with thought and intelligence informing the very obvious craftsmanship abilities.  I just wanted to annex his world to my Kingdom so I could visit again – so bought the book (!)

The Heritage Crafts Association posted a very thought provoking link this morning about Modern Art with a quote from the piece

"a lack of skill and craft among artists is sucking the life and the gravitas out of the art world."

This statement has been at the back of my mind all day because I think it is a truism that underpins my thinking.  At Art College they were astounded (and said so often, much to my total confusion) that as a mature student I was able to write an essay longer than 100 words on a piece of art history, and equally confused at my ability to produce textiles to a good finish (you know the ends sewn in, etc). 

Somehow it felt to me that they thought I was there because I did not have the intelligence to be anywhere else?  That upset me a lot, as this was actually the place I wanted to be and had been my goal for many years to achieve.

The rejection of my craftmanship was equally mystifying. This was not what they wanted from me – there was not the time.  This was the position of the tutor, not the student. The emphasis for me was to complete the curriculum in the given number of hours, and therefore the drive was towards test pieces and written rhetoric to support it, not about a finished product. 

I then lost interest – if I couldn’t make something to a craftsmanship level I was proud of, what on earth was the point?  Yes, I was learning and I now use that knowledge every single day of my life, but I didn’t feel then that I was achieving or utilising the crafts and skills I had taken years to hone and underpinned my daily life.  This was how I expressed my thoughts and feelings and without this outlet I would have been a very different person and parent. 

I felt empty and the time wasted – and worse still totally disillusioned.  I had bartered hard to be allowed the time out from providing an income and security for my family – to do something I actually wanted to do.   

So I regretfully left the course, did not take up the place at a prestigious art “university” because I didn’t aspire to be one of art’s celebs, I just wanted to actually be an artist. I then retreated back to the academic world of argument.. it was safe, uncontroversial – somewhere I was paid to argue all day, and it did at least have some status, if somewhat unfulfilling. 

The two parts of my psyche needed joining up.  Hence now the knitting whilst I am thinking, spinning when I need calming, weaving when I am constructing and cold… etc.etc. 

So back to the question…

I haven’t got a clue (that confused you… !!! ) but whilst you are all chatting about it…

I am dancing to Gaga, crafting, creating and thinking and loving life in my Kingdom. 

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