This painting series has been incredible to work on. I have thought, and felt so much. Freed from the limitations of structure and representation, open to intuition, I have been extremely moved by the process. Recently I have bought some very small canvases to continue developing this work on tiny scale – a ‘whisper’. I have also emulsioned over (upcycling) postcard size flyers from previous promotion of my website. I will be painting on these and sending them in the post to people (friends, family and potential new contacts). The notion of modern-day ‘sharing’ is usually referenced virtually, but I want this to be an actual physical gifting process. Yet by sending in the mail, it asks all sorts of questions about value: what we perceive as precious. I have also bought some white clothing on eBay for models who have agreed to be painted in a similar style to the works above. This will be both in private and in public. The private painting will be shared only through photographs and will include models who do not want to be painted publicly or who would be unable to because they are being painted naked.
Over the weekend I was reading further chapters from a brilliant book edited by Theo Stickley called Qualitative Research in Arts and Mental Health. One quote which stood out to me was in Stickley’s reflections on being involved in a project which brought together different communities:
I have latterly reflected that by bringing together the Steering Group and the people who would later form the Lost Artists Club (in the following chapter), I may in fact have been unconsciously bringing together different parts of myself.
This struck a chord with me in terms of how the different elements of my current work speak to each other. Throughout there is a need to connect with others: to be part of something… bigger than myself. Bringing art to those who do not have easy access to it and are marginalized in some way, is represented in both my work in institutions for school refusers, with Age UK, and in working with homeless at Crisis at Christmas. I have recently offered to volunteer to work with youth groups in London – those who have specific difficulties in a variety of ways which hamper their access to and enjoyment of the Arts. In my practice I am wanting to literally touch people with my brush, exploring how I am touched by the experience of painting, helping others to feel the ‘normalisation’ or artistic creativity, connecting these strands together is to a certain extent explained by Stickley’s comment. His vision for community-based arts is inspiring and I am working out how this impacts on my current project.