Today I heard myself telling someone that I had not made my own work for 10 years, only moments later I wanted to shout ‘THIS SIMPLY ISNT TRUE!’ because it isn’t! I have MADE lots of my own work over the past ten years BUT I have not exhibited it – and therein lies the difference.
10 years ago – my subject matter was exactly the same as it is today. My work is about being vulnerable. It is about being human. It is an exploration of the human condition – an exploration of MY human condition and it is truly autoethnographic in nature. We are all humans, we are all trying our best to live this thing we call life and we are all going about it with our own complicated set of issues, foibles, wonderings and interactions or reactions to and with the rest of the world.
I stopped exhibiting my own work partly because I no longer wanted to be labelled a ‘freak’. I felt like a freak – for putting the personal into the public, for daring to tell the world how I was feeling about things in my life, I felt like a freak because I didn’t see anyone else struggling to hold it all together so I decided to grow up and stop letting any of it bother me. I decided to put my practice on a shelf, make it neat and tidy and consumer friendly, all the while feeling a little bit as though I had lost my precious artistic soul somewhere along the way.
A little while back I went to the Alina Szapocznikow: Human Landscapes opening night at The Hepworth Wakefield and the show hit me right in the heart centre. As I wandered around taking it all in I saw my own oeuvre If I’d have had the courage to create it. Her work was just like mine. Explorations of the female form – of HER female form, creations made as a way of her dealing with her own tragedies, her own experiences. Creations that perhaps on first glance make no sense to the viewer but that you could very easily weave your own meanings inside of should you so choose to. As I left the exhibition I vowed to myself that I would once again become an Artist. It was who I was born to be. And now, finally – some 10 years after shelving my public practice I am back once again.
I no longer care if you think my work is strange, self-indulgent or simply senseless tripe. I am making it for me – because without it I am empty. I was born to create, I was born to take my mistakes, my misconceptions, my human-ness and transmute it all into art. It’s a beautiful thing to once again find that my own opinion is really the only one that truly matters. Obviously, I would like other people to be able to relate, I would like for other people to walk among my works and find themselves in there too – because my work is about a human life that is lived – and where there are humans there are shared experiences. I don’t doubt this for one second. However – as an artist – I am not making my work for you. I’m making it because I need to. I need my practice and my practice needs me.
This year I realised something. I truly believe that in order to find inner contentedness, or even the other thing I have often sought (or at least mused upon my confusion about) within my work – ‘True Love’ will never find you until you are truly ready for them and the only way a person will ever be ready for these things is by becoming whole all by themselves first. You have to put the work in in order to self actualise. Life is not handed to you on a plate – you need to be the person you were born to be. And I was born to be an artist. My life is in my work and I no longer care if this is viewed as ‘odd’, it is not ‘odd’ to me. It is Art. The Art of Vulnerability and it is my exploration of being human. A glimpse into my journey of Becoming. For I am en route to becoming my best self and this body of work will document and explore that becoming.
24 negative patterns, behaviours or beliefs that I hold that I feel are holding me back will be being transmuted over the next 24 months. For one month at a time I will ‘recycle’ one negative pattern, behaviour or belief that I identified as ‘getting in the way’ of me being my best self when I took part in the Hoffman Process in September of 2017 and a body of work will be created around this journey.
Pattern number one I am working with is ‘Crossing/creating boundaries’ and will be exhibited as part of the Thresholds: The Adjacent Possible exhibition in February 2018 at the Tapestry, Liverpool with the Not Just Collective.
There is also a call for Artists – do you have a connection to Liverpool? The deadline is Friday 22nd December 2017.
Artists are invited to respond to themes of borders, barriers, doorways and liminality. Work confirmed so far takes inspiration from urban development and the cultural exchange resulting from Liverpool’s role as a port. Also considered are thresholds that are less-than-tangible – social, political and spiritual – and the well-established or newly-born practices and rituals that may develop during times of transition.
Work in any media will be considered. Please email Nicola Roscoe-Calvert at NotJustCollective@gmail.com with:
- Details of the proposed work, including medium and dimensions (where possible)
• Images of the work, or previous work if not yet completed
• Any other supporting information you feel may be relevant
Not Just Collective are a group of artists and creative practitioners based in, or connected to, the Liverpool area. The collective’s first exhibition was in January 2013 at Domino Gallery, Liverpool, and since then we have continued to grow, holding exhibitions in galleries and non-traditional spaces across the region, including Camp and Furnace, Arena Gallery, the Williamson Tunnels, and a terraced house in L8. The group is diverse, consisting of artists with varying levels of experience, and working in a range of disciplines. Because of this, we are held together not by common practice, but by a common aim to support and promote the development of art in Liverpool and the wider region.