So, in Year 3 of this MA process we are ultimately working towards an exhibition. A coherent body of work. It seems logical to follow the path that started with breaking our practice down, questioning it on fundamental levels, and then building it back up again. Yet, in the process of doing this I have encountered some unexpected crossroads. It appears that my interest in community and collaborative art has increased ten-fold, whilst my desire to take the world by storm in galleries has faded to almost non-existent. My original BA (TWENTY years ago) was called ‘Art for Community’ (“Is that a REAL degree?”, I was once asked – by an arse – at interview). The BA reached out as part of the patchwork blanket of creativity, collectivity and cultural awareness which we ALL benefit from. Twenty years on and studying for an MA a light has been switched on: to take this out to the local hospice or to my friends or to make art with the homeless is the most rewarding thing I can do. It pleases me to to touch the last vestiges of hope (whilst collaborating with someone who has written themselves off as #ican’tdrawtosavemylife); to bring them back to the joy of a wax crayon, a felt tip pen, clay, plaster, making, moulding, touching. To see the enjoyment written on their face as they create, and become one again with their true (unrefined) artist ‘self’. What standard is it we are trying to achieve? What targets have we to meet? Who’s judgement are we awaiting?
Yet this practice is nothing if not unexpected. My work is embossed with unfamiliar marks. I occasionally hold my breath as I encounter these special (and often predictably naive – eg. the stick man) dialogues in collaborative works. I breathe, I consider, I know that it is the experience over the outcome that matters most. Yet, I am wanting the outcome to be beyond my volunteer’s expectations. I want them to be reborn. I want to experience being reborn vicariously. I am turning into some kind of Art evangelical. I even hear my own ‘sermon’: feeling the joy of making; without boundaries. I am aware too often that each collaboration is a relationship of sorts. That I am a polygamist with eyes peeled for the next encounter.
So, how can my exhibition take shape when the process is so constantly unveiling itself to me? I imagined today a long cardboard tunnel I was lying in, facing another person, drawing together; hidden yet exposed. We (the volunteer and myself) are the event. We ARE the art. And it reminded me of painting my models in Year 1 of the course.
So, now to record these encounters; to be the voyeur of my own collaborations, of these one-night-stands. To record the sounds and film the marks being made. To diarise it, journaling as though one experience could too easily blur into the next. There is an addictive personality here. It is slowly being revealed as the courtesan, the lover, the ridiculously meth-high devotee of all things that are touched by, or with, the paint brush or pencil. As scary as it is at this stage to be lost, it is also as wild and intimate as it gets. My practice is not ‘safe’. It is touched by other hands. It continues to be surprising and refreshing and I am pushed to know myself better: to have the scales fall from my eyes. I don’t know what I make of what I am discovering but I am loving being lost.