Why has it taken me so long to get here? To recognise connections and to see what must have been glaringly obvious to so many about my work. This whole ‘art in a birdcage’ thing. It’s all fantasy. It’s all about thinking I have to artistically meet certain criteria or objectives, or be profound or appropriate (whatever that means). It is about wanting to be seen and feeling trapped simultaneously. About wanting to find myself whilst in plain sight and needing the space to run away and do it in some hidden corner. And then I am in conversation with Alison about the way we work and we’re discussing whether it is part of my practice to be on show. And in stating that it is, I am suddenly more aware than ever that my birdcage is only fictional. It doesn’t exist. It is my perception of what others ‘see’ of me that matters. And as Caroline and Angela (my MA tutors) have constantly been trying to tell me, I do not need to be literal. I do not need to tell the whole story. I do not need to explain myself. I can be entirely secret and private whilst being utterly exposed.
Deconstruct the most recent paintings at your will:
I completed both of these paintings this week. They are autobiographical. But who cares. I mean, who really cares. They are abstract enough that I only want people to see what they want to see in them; not some theory on what it ‘means’. And my plans for my ceramic work, broken figures; again it is autobiographical in many ways but it does not need to be spelled out. It can as easily represent Emma (woman of this era, desperately saddened by the state of -and inequalities in- the world) as it could Emma (sad about having run out of biscuits) or how Emma imagines Angela feels about having to mark another MA essay, or how Maire feels about blackbirds. And in the dark places in my mind (those that I believe exist in us all), the acknowledgement of such thoughts are no more autobiographical in abstraction than the clothes I have selected or the make up I have applied. So whilst I continue to be exposed I am also mindful that my practice has veered towards protection, yet with absolute permission to depict thought and emotion completely unfiltered. This is where I am. Essentially to stop making it pretty and palatable, but to be truthful; to see the paintings as the documentation of, rather than the method to relieve anxiety and other emotions. I am looking at plans I have scribbled down for an exhibition of such blissful exposure and completely lacking in any accompanying autobiographical detail. This is also where the collaborations are helping me to see myself more clearly whilst simultaneously distancing my ‘self’ from total authorship. It is an embrace of sorts; a sharing of marks, familiar and unfamiliar. Unusual forms dancing amongst my own. Connection and tandem practice: a togetherness that is at the heart of the impulse to make (whether it is me and my canvas, or me and my companion and our canvas).
It is comforting to be finding a place of honesty in what has previously being a practice of self imposed rules and regulations.