They are few and far between: the days when it flows, when the voices which belittle, humiliate, delegitimate, fall quiet, when vision is matched with skill, when things just work – like you hoped, dreamed. The task is simple, quiet, honest and the doing of it is almost a ritual, a duty, a joy. It is not less hard, it still hurts, of course it still requires the same focus and attention to detail, it still wipes you out at the end of the day but it doesn’t bring on the Fear, doesn’t let in the crippling doubt and the shame … and it shuts them up. They can fuck off. The “voices”. They were always wrong. Are wrong. And don’t matter. They have no power, whatever they believe.
So, they are little things … but they are true … that is what I wanted to say and I have said it as clearly as I could. Sometimes it is alright to sing … if only to yourself.
Skipping ahead a little … to my next project … but proof of concept and a way to deal with a gloomy, fog-shrouded Monday an’ all.
Yep. That will do.
Most of all I’m looking for a way to keep making images, to share, of inner states that, of course, relate to places and times and even events …
So I am doing a Hodgkin (and I’m neither a fan nor any enemy – just read a review of a show the other day so he’s in my mind, and I’ve never been convinced by the stories and how we read them from the traces, though they are lovely things) after all … bugger.
But that’s the whole point of working it through in public I suppose. I can only see what I’m doing, only find out what I think and feel, only understand, by doing.
So, am I just telling a story about the plucky little yellow triangles and their fight for liberty … and trying to disguise it with mumbo jumbo? I don’t think so. They might never coalesce into any sort of narrative sequence at all.
They have to stand on their own feet … aaargh … the plucky little etc’s.
Anyway, isn’t it likely that the story I tell, or you tell, today could easily be different from the one I or you might tell ourselves a week later.
Synthesising the nostalgia for the inevitable passing of what is right there, here and now with what has already slipped over the horizon of consciousness. They’re shadows burnt into the screen, images flickering across my closed lids, memories that faded just as I was reaching out to grasp them, the condensate of evaporating dreams.
Not so much Wordsworth’s spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings … recollected in tranquility, I have to painstakingly, forensically, reconstruct an imagined space from the dust map left by removed furniture, the didges and scuff marks on the woodwork, the stains on the carpet and the wallpaper, the bleached and vibrant plan left by pictures long taken down from the wall.
I’m not explicitly trying to tell a story but they do form a sequence for me … they lead on from what has come before and to what comes next … there is, in my head, an overarching structure, a pattern … but I’m leaving them without titles because I want you to be able to read them yourself and tell your own story, if you like.
I don’t think of these drawings as pictures of anything but other people do.
They are derived from images, often layered and collaged to “work”, to evoke a memory or a residual image or particular feeling that I’m trying to capture, to share.
But maybe I’m wrong to doubt and it would be wilful just to reject it.
There’s often a very tenuous link, if there’s one at all (and often there isn’t), between the source image’s content and what the final drawing appears to “represent”.
Apparently most of us cannot resist telling stories about the brave yellow triangles struggling against the fascistic red squares and allying with the noble blue circles in their fight for freedom … when presented with completely abstract animations of flat geometric shapes.
I don’t dispute the beauty or the power, just the story. I do see the wholeness, the inevitability, the self sufficiency, the rightness, the life.
I feel emotions, connections, the touch of another human being, just not the urge to tell a tale about it.
But most people do.
I’m baffled when art critics tell a story, infer a narrative from a painting … a story that led to, follows on from, implies, contextualizes or frames x.
There must be something wrong with me: I can’t buy Rothko’s grand dramas or even Hodgkin’s bitter sweet memories but I don’t dispute that people read their canvases this way.
In a way it seems to me that once you start, open yourself to the process, the image starts to creates itself, tells itself, writes, stages and directs whatever “drama” is going on.
Graphite and diamonds, soft and hard, and both carbon.
How can the same marks on the same piece of paper conjure up both a moment in a walk in a valley in west Cornwall at noon the other day and turning a corner on the towpath of a canal in Hackney just after midnight 25 years ago?
But they do for me.
Is it something to do with the mood, the feeling of being lost, hope and fear, anxiety and resolve, and or the fragility and relational nature of memory formation and recovery?
Part comic book, 36 views of Mount Fuji, graphic novel (or at least: short story), the fuzzy faded photographic leporello of postcards from the Valley of the Kings, scrap book and sketch book, dream diary, ritual, map, a wordless novel minus the melodrama, silent movie, myth, Pictish residue of a lost culture, travelogue, Rorschach test, zen shodo, fragments … shored against my ruins …
Individually, these drawings are both, at the same time, abstract and representational, city and country, industrial and organic, night and day, machine vision and fragments of a dream, indexical and artificially constructed. They are about how and why we make and share visual ideas rather than about their content.
I thought I needed to address these new drawings separately from the rest of my work so I’ve temporarily abandoned any attempt at a curated archive (which was in a permanent state of unfinished undress for ever anyway) and thought that some notes as I go might be more use. Thinking aloud.
I’ll try to find the time to put my other recent work up in an archive but just at the moment I’m consumed by this project.
These images are going up pretty much as I finish them which, though not exactly random, doesn’t represent the sequence I think I’m planning. That’ll have to wait until this lot is finished. So the notes will often refer more to what I’m thinking at the time rather than the images they accompany.