Connecting the dirt and the growth
So on day 2 of me trying to talk about my work I realise I need to start dismantling everything due to moving out of my studio in Marazion. I've been aware of this for quite a while now, just been in a state of denial, not so much sad to be leaving this space, but more what the hell am I going to do with everything whilst I seek a new studio?!
This studio is damp and cold (whose isn't?) but with that the outside seeps in. Ivy and brambles crawl through the walls and doors and I often walk in to find swallows up in the rafters, or sadly more often then not, dead ones tucked behind all my junk.
I think this studio environment has inspired my work over the years. I'm fascinated with mould growth and the intertwining forms connecting living and dead matter, where ivy grows through a building wall, where dug up roots begin to re-shoot and where fallen trees quickly become covered with crawling plant life.
I have recently been using a combination of synthetic and natural materials to construct hybrid sculptures, this has also involved melting some plastics (not good I know), mainly scraps I've found around the studio, both inside and out. Toxic environments are intriguing, out of decay and destruction life form usually finds a way. I wanted to continue 'growing' this work so it sprawled and hung and took over my studio.
For now at least it has to be all packed away.
A week ago today I met with Caroline Mawdsley Curator of programmes at Plymouth Arts Centre (http://www.plymouthartscentre.org) who thanks to VASW (http://www.vasw.org.uk) has been appointed as my mentor for the next year. I applied for the mentoring opportunity for many different reasons, I am acutely aware I'm in a comfort zone in West Cornwall and I'm not great at pushing myself in terms of creating new opportunities or even talking about my practice.
I work away in the studio, developing ideas, creating work, often not completing works and then they end up being recycled or thrown away. That 'what on earth am I doing all this for?' question rears it's ugly head far too often. Am I really only making work for me to see?
So, Caroline arrived into my cold studio last Wednesday and asked me that dreaded question, "Tell me about your work" . Such a simple question that as an artist 14 years from graduating I really should be able to articulate. It's not easy though and I interestingly found myself immediately responding with what my work wasn't about! However, after a while, and from gentle further questioning from Caroline, I spoke of my interest in Dirt and the soiled (rather that earth and soil) and more recently a love of mould. All matter that is often found repulsive in some way or something to be wiped over, sanitised. Dirt and mould linked with life, growth and death. It's the language we use around these things too, the negative connotations around dirty words and when exactly does the wholesomeness of soil become dirt? The layers of my interests in these aside, I can't help but just be visually inspired by the aesthetics of dirt and mould. I'm currently making some dirty pictures and enjoying the process and the results. I genuinely take pleasure in looking at the 'pictures' in my studio, (I don't often say that about work I make) each time I notice something I hadn't noticed before, during Carolines meeting with me the light changed considerably in the studio and I saw them in a different way again.
It was an interesting experience for me talking about my work and what goals I'd like to set myself for the year with Caroline. I'm not used to that, a lot of the goals I set for myself are usually around my 'paid work' that thankfully I'm passionate about, that of working with young people and engaging them with art, I'm all too aware that side of my work takes precedent and a lot of my energies and focus. Although I have some exciting plans in the pipeline around that work, which I would like to talk through with Caroline, I made of point of steering away as best I could, from that subject in our first meeting knowing full well it would take over (comfort zone).
I always love a peek into fellow artists studios, seeing work in progress and ideas being played with.