The Intimacy of Not Touching

The first line of text on the home page of my website reads:

“People have an effect on each other.”

Don’t they just?

For the last ten years or moreI’ve been working around this theme in one way or another. Making work and writing about children and parents; care, neglect and abuse; the complexities of adult relationships and friendships; women with women – mothers, sisters, daughters. 

Most recently I have returned to drawing, in abstraction. I do this as a way to dig a little deeper than the textiles were allowing. Somehow, the concentration required for the abstract was allowing me to experience the materials, allowing me to let go (in some regard) of how something looked and let in the feeling… to experience the phenomena of one material against another. Effect. Graphite on pigment against pigment making lines and the texture of water on paper… 

I feel in some ways that textiles had become stale through familiarity and a level of expertise. We had been married for a long time and I was taking the stitch for granted. It no longer seemed to have the power to surprise me…

The drawing I am doing now, not observational, although influenced by half a century (maybe more?) of observation, is closer. It is more attentive, more sensual, more considerate of material subtleties. It surprises and delights me all the time.

And then…

Just when I think I am getting somewhere…

This virus arrives. This horrendous virus arrives. It throws a metaphorical hand grenade into my thinking – let’s face it into everyone’s thinking!

Because now we are wary of every thing we touch, every person we touch… and beyond that… who touched that thing before we did?

Who or what did they touch before that?

We are touching each other less. The touches that are made are fraught with peril. Yet they are simultaneously more precious.

So each intimacy becomes more intimate. Standing close, not touching, close enough to hear and feel someone’s breath becomes charged.

***********

I sharpened my 6H pencil and dragged the point across the soft surface of the still slightly damp watercolour paper. The point shattered and a shard of hard graphite flicked across the table. The jag had pierced the line I was drawing. I had wounded the paper with it. The paper, no longer smooth, had a small but significant push in it, midline. This will effect the next line I draw… unless I move further away…

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