I've always got real joy from being a part, however small, of someone else's creative journey, and as such I have taught, and mentored, both budding and more experienced artists for many years. So when Karen, from the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate, approached me during my 'Imaginarium' exhibition at the Harrogate Theatre in August 2016 about working with the gallery in 2017, I was excited about the possibilities to say the least.
“Not all who wander are lost”
(Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring, 1954)
As many of you may be aware, I have had my head buried in books, lectures, theories and so on for the last two years whilst I have been completing a practice based Masters in Creative Practice. I have been creating too, it is a practice based programme after all, but the theory and contextualisation becomes so crucial to the practice element that every spare moment of brain time is consumed. It’s been EXHAUSTING.....
Any half baked complaints aside, the process has been invaluable. I have wandered and lost my way. Found the trail, promptly lost it again,
2016 has, in it's short four and a bit months, proved to be one of the most challenging years of my adult life.
And, I have ummm'd and ahhhhh'd at length about whether I would write anything on here about the emotional rollercoaster that has been 2016. But, the reality is I don't really have a choice. Writing an update about my creative journey where I edited out experiences or thoughts that have been instrumental in shaping that journey, wouldn't be honest and would inevitably lead to it sounding contrived. So, here goes......
About one year ago, I was working away in my studio, and I had an unprompted recollection of a recurring nightmare I used to have as a child. I have had it a handful of times as an adult during times of enormous emotional stress but as a child it's was, at times, relentless in it's regularity.
It would start with a black, starless void. It may of been black but I felt it's infinite vastness. Into this void, an immense piece of multi coloured open weave fabric would gradually materialise and float horizontally a little below my eye line. Then a needle and thread would appear and start languidly stitching it's way in and out of the open weave of the fabric. The thread never caught or made stitches and the movement of the needle was always smooth and implacable. Gradually the speed at which the needle moved would increase, my heartbeat, breathing and overwhelming sense of terror increasing along with the speed. Eventually I would wake, heart racing, terrified and covered in sweat.
My sudden recollection of this, my very own personal fairytale came at a time when I was ideally placed to appreciate elements of the story I had not been fully aware of as a child. I have for years, circled around needles, stitching and thread as concepts within sketches and compositions, without ever really acknowledging their importance to me personally - always situating them within a wider, external context. Stitch and thread has now, through an understanding of it's importance to me personally plus it's significance in the wider context, become an important and consistent element of my work. In addition to using thread and stitch in my unique suspended paper cut pieces, needle and thread will also feature in my stop motion animation short which is currently a work in progress and will feature in my end of MA exhibition at the Harrogate Theatre in August 2016.
The image below is a screen shot from a test for the 'stitching in the void' stop motion sequence, the open weave grid has been created with cut paper.