Meeting Sam Gayton

The day job took me to a presentation by Sam Gayton at our local library. What an inspirational and charismatic young man. He held his audience captive throughout (even drowning out the sounds of several police sirens wailing metres away from us, even the interesting smell of er… how shall I put it…not an e-cigarette, failed to penetrate the scene he had whisked his audience away to as he read the opening to his book ‘The Snow Merchant.’ He lacked all pretension and I caught in him an individual who notices. I sense he writes because the world sends him so much to notice and consider.

He talked about his writing process and demystified the entire matter by whittling it down to ‘questions and answers’. Bear in mind I had my day job hat on and my secret alter ego artist ears were pricking away – any more pointed and I think sparks would have started igniting. Anyhow, on the privacy of this my little blog audience who know me in my secret artist-shape and not in my day job form, I can divulge.

He was talking about how he’d found himself in a specific location which he detailed, consuming the hours and biscuit packets and cups of tea writing the pants writing that equates to the endless sampling we undertake until the gift of a breakthrough arrives. He’d looked up at silly-o-clock in the morning to find it had snowed and wondered, ‘Where did all the snow come from?’ applying his writer’s imagination turned this into a ‘What if…’ question and so the book evolved. (Needless to say I have ordered a copy as I was not satisfied with being left hanging on the first page). He mentioned that it was Einstein’s comment about his genius being nothing more that sitting with questions longer that most, which almost had me out of my seat cheering, “Yes, that’s how it is, that’s what we do when we’re creating.” But the day-job acting has been very practiced and refined and I can sit with my secrets too. This is where great ideas come from, whatever their final form: words, music, visual art, dance: we wonder and wonder and wonder and then consider what if… then follow the play.

It made me think. All those times when I daydreamed myself out of the hideousness I lived in during The Abuse Years, all those layers of myself I went and hid in-between, what if in this module on printing I could recreate that layering in reverse and piece myself back to a better new whole: fragmented layer by fragmented layer? Something somewhere gave me the knowledge that I had to ground myself by looking to the natural world for something beautiful to give my girls that couldn’t be broken or destroyed or tainted no matter what: a drop of water reflecting your face on a leaf, magnified and spectacular, the sound the waves make as the tide turns, the way a seabird dives resolutely and exactly…It made me notice. What if I turned my eyes back into myself and looked now in reverse. What if I looked for something beautiful inside of me that was never damaged or destroyed? What would it look like and how could I share it? What would the very fabric of the full sound of me look like? How could I write this language of the unharmed me? What colour would I need? What shapes, what movement? Again, what does the inner surface of me look and feel like? What does it sound like? What is written on the inner surface of me?

And what about the people still stuck there? The lost ones, the lonely, how could a piece of artwork help them read the secret writing and feel witnessed, feel really seen, feel touched. I think that was all I ever wanted. To be heard. To be seen. The surface inside is scratched and patched, buckled and worn, torn and stitched, taught and stretched, full of holes and crevices, but it is authentically me. The outer surface has been polished smooth and flat, and I suspect that is why I hold such an intrinsic distrust and dislike of 2D art forms that cannot be touched. They feel the false face.

Rather than wondering, like Sam did where the snow came from, perhaps my question to sit with is: where did I go to when the real world was wrong? Who or what can I find there to bring back with me to the surface. Project me becomes Project Rescue.

What if you could rescue something trapped in an inner layer and release it on the printed surface?

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