Pt5: Stage 7: Reflection

I’ve sat with my prototype from Stage 6 for the week, and having shared it on Instagram it has now gone out into the world unsupported by my words. Here on the blog I get a chance to reflect on the final outcome of part 5.

My initial line of enquiry gleaned from reviewing the previous parts of MMT was to consider how to impart Roland Barthes’ ‘grain of voice’. Could I create a piece that gave materiality to my body, my inner language? Could I create a prototype that conveys ‘the materiality of the body speaking its mother tongue.’

Further investigations into asemic text (first brought to my consciousness through the work of Joachim Koester, in turn inspired by Henri Michaux) in both 2d and 3d form, enriched this investigation into delivering the inner ‘mother tongue’. Sketching through a gestural form continued to deliver the materiality of energy and dynamism I seek,  my energy paintings. I continue to be curious about how to show sound and feeling visually – this inner language that is beyond and before words. Splattering and dripping became dominant modes of embellishing the surface with a look back at the bloodied pieces of part 4. ‘Blood’ splatters, drips and gestural drawing became essential elements. These kept recurring as the ‘mother tongue’ that demanded expression, yet the body seemed omitted from investigations, the samples seemed too uni-layered. There was a level of materiality lacking that I searched for. Various sculptural interpretations of these gestural drawings followed – was this it? There was still something missing as I searched for reflections – things seen but unseen, a peering into peering through. A thought tiptoed in on the sideline ‘re-covering’ an inner language rather than ‘dis-covering’. This hidden/reveal on-going interest played away on the edge of my subconscious whilst I explored an inspirational festival of arts local to me ‘Estuary 16’. It was one of the fortuitous yet unplanned moments. As was the timely direction by Jennifer signposting me to the artist Imran Qureshi. Here everything started clicking into place.

I’d been wrestling with my tutor feedback from Part 4 and had a significant problem to solve. How do I say what I want to say in the way I want to say it without being too embodied? Qureshi’s work offered a path. A bloodbath can be tolerated when it is disguised by the intricate beauty of design. Pain can be seen and unseen depending on what your eye chooses to focuses on. Here the notion of folding came back into sampling. Then pleating revealed a disparity of surface – there is more material below the surface, twice as much in fact. The final piece had found its form. A beautiful intricate surface (looking back through my feedback this accolade had been earned by my lace printing in MMT and previously in ATV) that hides the bloodied surface that no-one want to see. The pleating is a play on the notion of blind. People don’t want to see the hurt, the blood, the wounds of abuse. But, I learnt from Qureshi that ‘an element of attraction and repulsion at the same time…Something that invites you in and then repels you. Or repels you at first, and then invites you in later – working in both ways’ can be delivered. I still get the pleasure of the accidental mark in the bloodied splatters – there is still the trace of the unspeakable, yet there is some control and freedom in the surface lace monoprints. This satisfied making the work more complex, but it offered a further problem as to how to create these two layers as one without one slightly messy process contaminating or being contaminated by a significantly messier process.

This moved to the final resolution of the piece. Two discrete layers were to be made. The lace print surface and the blood-splattered under-surface. These were then sliced into mathematically precise strips – each blood- splattered section being twice the width of the lace. This left me with a number of lace strips that were not needed – I like the idea that the pain underneath dictated how much ‘surface beauty’ was needed to cover it up. The layers demanded to be stitched together, leaving loose threads. This took some time to get right!

The final piece demands handling by its viewer to be impacted by the pulling apart of the blind’s folds to reveal the hidden layer beneath. Both sides must be held and pulled apart. After it will not return freely to its closed state unless it is gently, yet firmly, pushed closed with the pressure of a hand or two. The secret, when revealed, has to be purposefully re-hidden. I hope this creates its own narrative as well as the visual questions the piece may ask.