Tribute to George

Crushed by the news of George Michael’s death, I did what I always do and turned to my studio. Whilst listening to his greatest hits and allowing the feelings to be felt, I moved the paint around. Where I see sadness, rage even, and bruising, others will see colour, flowers, sunshine. This, perhaps more a response to the diverse range of his musical talent. Everything from Tropicana drinks, father figures, you’ve got to have faith faith faith, to: I can’t make you love me, and don’t let the sun go down on me. An emotional roller coaster.

These remain works in progress. RIP George.

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I’d like an explanation, please

Last week I went for my third appointment at the doctor after two sets of blood tests. When I arrived back home and sat in the car for a moment, I looked towards my front door and stopped still for some time, feeling the colour draining from my face. Alongside the door sits a plaster sculpture I made about 5 years ago. I have been allowing her to be weathered and have been enjoying the changes to her ‘skin’ surface. But what rather took me by surprise was the lump in her neck. One that I carved carefully, and then forgot about. Five years before a lump appeared on my neck in *exactly* the same position. 

I’m all for coincidence. But it slightly freaked me out! Perhaps there is an easy obvious explanation? Meanwhile, I wait for my mouth to fall off and grass to grow out of my bra!

Worn and weary

Using the leftovers. Finding clay that is not in perfect condition. Or working it so that it loses strength and falls in on itself. Working around unpredictable armatures: fruit in a bag, old dead branches, pushing the bottom of a worn clay vessel into a mould, using stamps so that they can rip the clay in unexpected places.

I cannot describe the fun of working in this way. Everything is torn and delicate. And once slightly harder I will be working into it again. These are all experiments. I have sketches and am building a plan. Tremendously satisfying stuff.

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And it no longer exists…

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I held this as a slab of clay, wrapped up into the shape of a baby. I rocked it, patted a non-existent imaginary sleeping child and walked around clutching it to me. As it tore apart. Breaking under its own weight: wet clay, it does that! I tried to hold it together. I tried to fix it, to make it all alright. But it continued to sink, to fall, to tear itself into anonymous pieces, falling away from the core. I kept each……piling them up, wondering how I could put them back together, how I could salvage it. I put legs on it: ironic really, to imply that it was ‘still standing’ in some way – that it could support itself: this inverted toddler distorted like a long dead corpse. And then, in drying, it became irreparable. It came apart completely, leaving only the legs and a few parts, indistinguishable from each other. It ceased to exist. In the fragile nature of it, which I had been wanting to explore, it became nothing. It literally broke down. The process, the clutching, the trying to hold it all together: that was all that was left.

And that I couldn’t control this….. there was something magical and liberating in that.

Bare

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Bare. Ceramic. Approx 70cm diameter. 

I have been working on a series of ceramic pieces combining themes from different strands in my practice. This collaboration used about 50 people making impressions into a slab of clay. I then continued to develop the impressions, ensuring that there were plenty of my own marks, including holes and tears. I then shaped the clay slab over a mould and worked on a smaller piece that had ripped itself away from the main body.  There is something grotesque and hypnotic about the work. The glaze refers directly to a fleshyness, to skin; it suggests life at the same time as certain death in the format it now exists in.

There is something about the title which has changed my mindset recently. My practice has increasingly become more about human anxieties and fragility – my own ‘wounds’. This piece is marked by numerous people who have ‘left their mark’ in the same way we alter people as we touch their lives. I will always be moved by the violent death of a former boyfriend, and feel that my study of psychotherapy, mindfulness and mental health has also been an avenue for me to acknowledge and articulate this emotional bruising. I am left with thoughts on the power of creativity to overcome, or at least assist in processing tragedy. I feel very much ready to explore this area now and I know that my collaborative work with those in vulnerable positions, such as the homeless and those in the hospice I volunteer as an artist in, will feed and shape my practice. It is an unveiling, I am sure. I am looking forward to being much clearer on the places some of these works originate.