A long period of silence, but definitely not inactivity.
Loads of freelance work to grip the body and mind, mostly props and painting and some carnival work. The props are Stymphalian Birds, for a show in Chester about the labours of Hercules. They got that right, I made 8 of them.
I especially enjoyed doing the paintings. What is it about easels and frames and galleries that throttles the pleasure of painting ? There's something playful but purposeful about painting for the theatre. It's so rewarding because working towards a performance has to be more collaborative, less ego driven. The work ends up less polite and prissy than working for a gallery show.
Strangely all this activity left room for my heart and guts to think at their own pace. Guts and heart are good at asking the why questions, the questions you tell yourself you haven't the time to ask. To be honest I've felt dissatisfied with business as usual since I came back from Skye and Orkney. As my dear friend Bill Brody said :
"I'm tired of doing art that I'm supposed to be doing".
He heads for the backwoods whenever he needs to think. He's just back from a two week canoe trip in Beaver Creek Alaska. He's very good at using the rigour of proper travelling because he has the practical stuff sorted, and keeps working whatever happens. The first thing he does is absorb himself into the silence. This allows the questions to appear at their own pace, and then it's just a matter of waiting for an answer. It's been the opposite of the backwoods for me - I've been in the studio without a break for nearly two months - crowded, sweaty, dusty and anxious. I love all of it. I particularly love working on things people actually want.
Somehow the pressure of other peoples projects and deadlines means that the deeper bits of me carry on at their own pace without distracting themselves with making ‘Art'.
Art. I really dislike that word. Here we all are, queueing up for the last dance of the hominids. How can making eyeball pleasers be a priority ? How can desperately trying to get some airtime from the chatterati be a sensible job ? The trouble is, I never really got myself to believe that ‘artist' was a proper job, even though I really wanted to be one. When I was younger (small kids and big mortgage) people who said they were artists either had rich parents or were blokes who talked all the time, drank most if the time and saw their kids intermittently. Or they lied about it and were really teachers. Never felt I belonged there, however much I was drawn to the work.
So I'm liking this theatrical painting. Make the stuff I care about, work fast (it's later than you think), stick it in front of an audience and don't blink first. Don't need to perform, just need to mean it. So now I'm working for a local festival, a bunch of pre Christmas shows (Brighton art fair and Old Fire Engine House gallery in Ely and Open Studios in October).
I'm going to push the colour lithographs, do some more scenic painting and mostly I'm going to follow the stuff that excites me.