Since returning from the Northumbrian coast in the midst of Storm Aileen I have been recovering and adapting to the seasonal changes, autumn is here and we had the first ground frost last week amid daily temperatures of 20C. Dusk walks have provided beautiful sunsets.
I have settled back into local walks and regular artwork. However, the transition from summer traveling to autumn artmaking has led me to review my practice. For the past few weeks, it’s been difficult to feel inspired or motivated about walking and artwork, probably to do with being exhausted and even more changes at home. Parts of me wanted to play without any theoretical input, books or words. My practice felt as if it had got ‘head-heavy” and as I played with clay as I set out to do in my last blog post, this is what happened!
There has been a huge desire to stop blogging and podcasting and delete both platforms, thankfully, I have rested and resumed my QiGong practice and realized that this is all part of recuperation after a manic phase.
What has been different is “doing” creative practice first without any writing or thinking, this is about allowing a part of me to play without any need to rationalize. It’s a bit like allowing a child to make things without the adult asking, “What are you making?” Too many words, too much pressure to explain when the creative work needs time to happen from a felt and /or subconscious realm. My creative part has been making its needs known and to good effect. If I could just learn to trust this part of me! It always takes me to the source of authenticity in my work than dry academic theory. So, there has been tension and finally a truce.
Here’s some of the process:
I secured A5 sheets onto some fabric with remount spray & using oil pastels I drew lines and shapes inspired by ancient rock art then used a water brush pen to add more marks and washes. These are the results.
This immediately inspired me to go for a local walk with my art materials and do some plein air work. I wanted to record the shapes in the rocks as the initial creative work reminded me of maps.
My intention is to take the shapes from the rocks and incorporate them into more of these “creative maps”, drawing them on acetate in order to move them around-old style photoshop! I keep saying that I will improve my digital skills but I prefer to work traditionally with art materials. The idea is to get an abstract representation of my walking experience.
Sitting outside and drawing has increased my engagement with the local area. Something has shifted and, over the past week, my attention has moved to the environment and I have seen things on my “daily constitutional” that I have never seen before. The focus of inner processing that usually takes place as I walk has given way to attending to the visual cues in the area. And now I can begin to engage in “visual research” than written. Hurray!
I had just passed Mount Cross on the Calderdale Way https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/mount-cross/ when I saw some old wire and climbed up an unsteady dry stone wall in order to contort my body to get my camera underneath it. It was like a found drawing.
I got quite a few shots and then had to carefully lower myself down without knocking down the wall or injuring myself. As I landed back on the path I heard a man shouting “Hey, you! What are you doing to my wall?!” I looked to my left and there storming down the field was a man with a long beard, long hair, ripped coat and dirty jeans. He looked like a homeless man but I could see that he was more afraid than aggressive.
I beckoned him over and showed him the images on my phone explaining that I was an artist. He sighed with relief, jumped over the fence and joined me for 15 minutes walk down the ancient drovers path. We chatted about local history and I told him about the Blackheath burial mound that is subsumed under Todmorden golf course https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/blackheath-circle/and the Celtic ceremonial site at the Bridestones https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/great-bride-stones/
The more I learn about the ancient history of this land the more I wonder at my subconscious that somehow knows about this stuff. In the last blog post I had the intention of making a bowl or casket, I wasn’t sure where this idea was coming from but after researching the Blackheath burial site in Todmorden I saw the urns that were unearthed from the site that are now located in Todmorden Library.
It isn’t a casket that I want to make, it is an urn! However, after using clay I have decided to make a fabric/paper urn either by weaving, crochet or coiling. I have booked on a short textile weaving course. Sun Smith Foret’s Trans-Tribal: Sculptural Object work really inspires me. http://www.sunsmithforet.com/new-work/
My final intention was to make work with found objects and after the storms brought down most of the acorns overnight I collected a bagful of acorn cases and made this piece of work. I like it and have other bits of found ephemera that I intend to mount and display.
There have been further developments, I collected natural materials and made them into mark making tools, I also collected berries and mud and used these materials to put colour onto abstract drawings, I can see the influence of the wire “found drawings” on the pieces.
I am collecting more photographs and intend to do some rubbings of tree bark and stone surfaces. From my photographs of rocks, I will draw more of the shapes and incorporate them into the next abstract drawings. I’m not sure whether this work will remain paper-based or make its way into a quilt. Perhaps the abstract drawings will be incorporated into the urn or vice versa, or not at all, watch this space.