Musings, Personal Practice

The Art of Vulnerability

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

About us:
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.

www.notjustcollective.weebly.com
www.facebook.com/NotJustCollective

 

 

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Personal Practice

Reading Alan Bennett – a fellow sensitive observer of the human condition

“That was a very clever and bold move you made there”

“What was?”

“Leaving the cannon of working class writers and academics out of your bibliography…”

“Leaving the what?”

My examiners looked at me in disbelief, and then they look at each other with wide eyes and then curiously back to me again

“You mean to say the only books you have read are the ones you’ve listed in your bibliography?”

“Of course I did – you’re not allowed to leave books out are you? Isn’t that against the rules?” I asked – quite unaware of what it was they were alluding to.

The examiner from Bradford takes a piece of paper and starts writing slowly. He folds it over, hands it to me and tells me I’ve got plenty of reading to do.

“Your contemporaries” he says with a smile as I take the piece of paper.

Shamefully I now admit – I’m only just getting around to really reading from that list – some 5 years later. Life did that thing where it got in the way. I made excuses – put other things first, stopped myself from following my true passions, from being who I was born to be.

But I was always immensely proud of that masters thesis and I’ve put a snippet of it here for anyone who wants a listen – it’s called The I AM story – and the rest of the thesis will be uploaded once I move house and find my hard drive. It was very well recieved, I had several pieces of it published and I even presented parts of it at a conference for social change in Vienna!

My own work had ALWAYS been about the human condition – I just didn’t quite know what exactly it was that that mean even though I was told often that this is what I do – and what I do incredibly well.

But recently I found that list, I’m currently reading Alan Bennett and I’m head over heels in love. I’ve found my ouvre, I’ve found my place in the world – in the book I am reading Alan Bennett calls himself a “sensitive observer of the human condition” – I finally understand who it is that I am and what it is that I do.

Thank the universe for mine and others ability to read, for mine and others ability to write AND for mine and others abilities to understand our place in and the world that lives all around us.

The I AM STORY

Personal Practice

Body casting blasts from the past…

In 2008 I finished my fine art degree. That year I cast 6 female bodies – one of which was my own.

“Hold your body in the way you feel the best and the way you feel the worst” – the two sides of the body cast on separate occasions and then a new body formed out of a blend of the two.

The piece was called An Intimate Distance – a nod to Rosemary Betterton’s seminal text.

It was displayed at leeds university, leeds library and then the Saltaire arts trail. Then it went into storage followed a few years later by my own practice.

Seems fitting then that on the 10 year anniversary I will not only resume my own practice but also recreate the piece – asking the same women to be cast but this time hoping the postures will be different.

I myself no longer have the body, mind or soul hang ups I had 10 years ago – and coming face to face with my own plaster casted body today while having a meeting at The Artworks in Halifax (where I studied for my masters and where a couple of my casts have lived for the past several years) I smiled to myself. The body next to my cast is now probably bigger, more droopy, definitely aged further – but MAN am I happier inside it now!!!

The return to An Intimate Distance and the original will be exhibited side by side it is hoped some time next year and it was lovely to meet myself once again and to be able to really see the transformations that have occurred within myself over the past 10 years.

Personal Practice

How I became an artistic auto ethnographer

Autoethnography – research through the self.

Visual Autoethnography – Art based research through the lens of the self.

For any of you who don’t know – my personal practice is an exploration of my human condition – always has been – but in 2010 when doing my masters I discovered the correct term for what I’d been doing for many years – that term was autoethnography and oh how I fell in love!

When at college I had a glorious tutor (he has featured in my work many times) and he told me that ‘Art is Philosophy with stuff’ and I never ever forgot that – it resonated deeply.

When I was 17 – 18 years old. I, like many others at that tender age had no idea what I wanted to do with my life – but I knew I had to go to University. My mother joked with me but I knew she was deadly serious. University had given her a notion of much-needed independence – much the same as learning to drive and she had instilled into me a definite desperation for independence as I grew up through my life. So when I’d said I was going to ‘just get a job in Kwik Save’ instead of going to university and she had told me in no unquestionable terms that unless I went to university I’d be kicked out of the house – I figured although I wasn’t ready and didn’t know what to do – clearly a full-time job in a supermarket was NOT going to be accepted. So – upon completion of my A levels I promptly enrolled on a free Art Foundation course at Liverpool Community College – and I got EMA payments for an extra year too! Bonus I thought – I can mess about with art for a bit until I figure out what I REALLY want to do…

Yet, once I got there – my life was changed forever. I met Issues Led Art, I felt the power and magnitude of what an art practice can do for a person and I created my first artwork entitled ‘Effigy’. It was an UGLY little thing, but did I LOVE that piece of work for it held my entire life up to the age of 18. At 18 I was for certain reasons filled with self loathing and I desperately wanted to be reborn – through this piece of work, thankfully I was.

It’s skin was made out of patches of the jeans I had worn stitched together with the fake hair I had worn in my own hair when I had it in braids. Any sellotape used had been first stuck onto my own skin – picking up my cells and putting them within. It had my baby teeth – my piercing jewellery was removed and placed into its face and its innards were made from letters, mementos, ‘precious things’ I had saved over the years and its brain was automatic writing I had created about the project, about myself, what I was dealing with and about my life.

I felt a great release with the making of Effigy and I was reborn – I was reborn into an artist – an artist who could finally admit that they questioned the reasons for our existence, an artist who could admit that they struggled sometimes with life, with being a human, an artist who had started to become self-aware and realised that things, their way of thinking, of interacting with the world was starting to change.

When I find a picture of it – I’ll post it here – my hard drive is in storage at the moment due to my imminent house move! YAY!

Personal Practice

el santuario del arte

Soon I will be getting my new house – my new house with my own giant studio and today while showering and visualising all of the colours that will go on the walls and all the locations where my treasured possessions shall reside I decided something.

El Santuario Del Arte will be not only my sanctuary – it will also be offered out to people – family, friends (both close – distant – old – new – work – childhood) as a place to come to get away from it all and make some memories. You can either visit with me there and create something together OR you can take it for a weekend or a couple of days when I am away being an artist or visiting with friends and YOU can also create!

My studio, my materials, my space, my sanctuary – will also be yours – for each and every one of you has brought something to my life and now – I shall give something back.

EVERYONE should have access to the arts – and I shall enable that to happen in my own little part of Bradford.

Namaste/ Namascray dudes!!!