Worthiness and Other Snobberies

We are all driven by our circumstances…

We might use blue paint because we have run out of red.

We might use cereal boxes because we have run out of paper.

We cut up old clothes that don’t fit us any more because we can’t afford new fabric.

We might use an old tree trunk because we can’t afford marble…

And so on…

I often wonder if I was really rich, what would my work look like?

Or even if I would be an artist at all? Because frankly it’s hard work.

I am constantly questioning my choices.

This week is another weird one. I’m within 7 days of finding out if another grant application has succeeded or failed. The Trousers of Time… I have entered at the waistband and approach the divide… and I steal analogies from Terry Pratchett.

In the meantime, the money has run out and I can’t afford any more of the expensive paper, so I’m scratting about. In my head I had (three days ago) an idea for another large scale drawing… but somehow the idea has dissolved. Instead, I am cutting up rejected drawings into much smaller, postcard sized pieces and I’m making collages with scraps of fabric (lace motifs mostly), words torn from really crappy paperback novels, and more drawing and the odd bit of extra paint.

From my side of the table these feel stupid. The occupiers of hands and time. Not noteworthy. But people have said they like them. I have used one or two actually as song prompts. Lyrics developed from other people’s words, selected because they ‘go’ together somehow. A scenario is presented by a poorly constructed phrase, the scene is set, and a verse written.

But they don’t feel worthy because they don’t feel as if they come from a real place. 

And I’m struggling with that.

I’m enjoying making them, in a haptic reward kind of way, in that there’s no pressure to produce a thing of meaning. They purposely don’t mean anything because the words have been stripped from their context and launched into something else.

(But words are sneaky aren’t they?)

Visually, I am finding they are creating a bridge between older textile works and my current drawings. They ‘fit’ in that way. There’s a palette, a visual vocabulary that seems familiar, and the songwriting is drawn in too.

But I’m not sure that I like them because they seem… Lazy. Easy. Simple. 

Are they just holding a place for the making?

Are they a way of using readily available materials?

Do they look like the result of an Instagram ‘craft’ video?

Am I being an artist snob?

Oh yes.

Undoubtedly.

I feel I have earned the right to be an artist snob. I’ve worked hard at it and I think hard thoughts and I make work that is hard to make.

These small pieces are falling between the cracks and I don’t know what they are. Maybe something useful will emerge from them, but at the moment I’m not seeing it. I like my work to have a bit of bite. I shy away from doing ‘nice’ work. And I think this falls into that category.

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