Since I finished with university my life has changed in so many ways. I’ve moved away from Leeds, I live with my boyfriend, I finally have a day job and I’ve been working so hard to keep my practice going as well as applying for loads of art opportunities. My workspace has been dramatically downsized, now consisting of a small IKEA desk in our spare room. Obviously this isn’t ideal, but it’s allowed me to do some nitpicking about my practice and where I want it to go.
For a start, I was overwhelmingly compelled to draw. The idea for a series of small scale abstract drawn works started out with a tiny notebook and a felt tip pen, and continued simply as an indulgence in my sudden urge to draw and satisfy an interest in a combination of different kinds of surfaces like simple note paper, envelopes, graph paper, textured hand made paper, and board. That’s all I’ve been posting lately and I hope I’ll get an opportunity to exhibit them all together one day.
I’ve done other stuff like material tests with beeswax, stones and soap, and while they’ve been interesting, the conclusion for me is that I’ve not interested enough in exploring new materials yet. I’ve basically been on a high from the overwhelming success of the heat gun technique on my synthetic textiles ever since I discovered it, and I’ve been thinking about where to take it next.
Something that had stuck with me all through third year was something said by a recent graduate from my course when he came to give us a talk about life after college. Of course all the graduates stressed the importance of making work, whether it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is not the point- bad work is better than no work, and it’s this that helps us towards the good work. But the real wisdom he gave that day was to do with WHAT to make- always have a motif. It’s quite simple really- whenever you want to work but don’t know what to do, have something you always go back to. This guy would always draw a cake, and sometimes the cake made it into paintings or sculptures, sometimes it didn’t. But it was having something to start on.
For me, the knitted or crocheted tube form was responsible for so many breakthroughs, both conceptual (see Lippard’s Eccentric Abstraction, and Briony Fer’s Objects Beyond Objecthood) and sculptural. I used to joke that “when in doubt, knit a tube”, but that’s become less and less of a joke, and more of a mantra. What I’m trying to say is that experimentation is all well and good. It helps to expand thinking patterns, take my mind away from frustrations with what I actually want to do, but it’s not everything. Creative journeys grow like trees, and much of the time the success comes from revisiting the junctions where you took the branch on the right, and seeing where the branch on the left takes you. That sounds horrible but it’s sort of the only way I can think to put it..
Anyway, when in doubt, knit/crochet a tube. Or whatever your equivalent is.