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.