Now I’m in my new studio, just ten minutes down the road, with other artists about for a bit of company, and a floor that isn’t carpeted, I’ve been spending a lot more time there. One of the unexpected benefits of moving studios, and sorting through piles of materials, sketchbooks and other artwork, is that you become more aware of what you have got, and how your work has evolved over the years.
I’ve been enjoying exploring the links with work from a long time ago (e.g. sculpture from my degree – 1993 to 1996) and more recent themes. Walking Bundles that I’ve made over the past 10 years or so have been unpacked, photographed and drawn, or combined with drawings of Body Spaces, themselves inspired by sculpture made over 20 years ago. Smaller cloth figures or Doll Bundles have emerged from boxes and bubble wrap to meet newer pieces, with unexpected results.
A lot of the work is body-related. My body is always at the centre of what I do, because that’s the reality of my existence, I am an embodied individual, who at the same time is a continuous part of a wider system. We often lose sight of that, and its the negative effects of that loss that I have aimed to counteract through my participatory work over the last 20 years.
What feels exciting about my work right now is the time I am ring fencing for my own play and making. My participatory work has always been really important to me, and I continue to take on projects and residencies that connect with my research interests and values, but now I’m clearer in myself of the value of maintaining time and space to make and to play.
In a time of great change globally, of climate change, biodiversity loss, etc etc, it’s tempting for me to respond to the anxiety I feel by rushing about, prioritising the needs of others in a quest to make things better. But that leaves me running on empty, unfed and disconnected. In the past I may only have visited and researched local neolithic sites for ‘work’ (i.e. to run or evaluate participatory activities), now I am coming back and responding through my heart and my body, working intuitively to gather together the elements that are most important to me.
The work I am making right now is deliberately experimental, both in the new media I’m using (see Walking Back to Marden for my forays into sound/video), and in the ways I am combining the different strands together. I’m trying not to over think it, not to get in the way of ways of working that have been waiting to emerge, and which are bubbling up in this newly created space of opportunity and potential.