Whilst teaching last week I was asked about the processes I go through to make a body of work. I thought it worth noting part of what I wrote here …..
‘My working method harks back to the way I practised when I was playing the flute. This involved repeated playing of difficult passages to learn the fingerings or to decide what message I wanted to get across for that particular piece of music. As I practised, I got better; the notes and my playing of them changed and a performance gradually emerged from my faltering fingers.
Now I make artworks in much the same way using repetition to encourage a gradual evolution of ideas. I start with a thought and I make something. As I make other thoughts occur to me, so I make something else using the new ideas. The work changes and yet more thoughts come to me. Again and again I make things – some things work, others don’t. Sometimes I have the right colour or texture but the wrong shape so I cut it up and use the material in something else. Often things get smaller and smaller as the original material gets used and reused, but a link is created to what has gone before. Each step ends with a new work that has its own importance. I don’t make samples – everything counts whether big or small.
Repeated layers of thought and visual thinking build up on top of each other to create a body of work that meanders this way and that around a core idea. Like branches my ideas grow out and mesh together, each one linking to the idea before and the one after. I like to think that everything relates to everything else – everything I do is about everything I think.’
I’m sure this is the way many people work but for me the obsessive repetition of making is important. It is only by doing something and by being totally immersed in it, that new ideas can happen. It is a kind of thinking with the hand and eye.
I’ve been back in the studio this week starting a new cloth …. more at a later date.