Skip to content

The Devil is in the detail

May 24, 2012

Raw Ribbons

Raw Ribbons

 

This is the last couple of blog entries for the collaboration between Jilly Morris and Jane McKeating for the Pairings 11 exhibition. I know some readers have been eager to know how the final artwork and exhibition was received, so apologies for the delay in updating this blog.

Raw Ribbons

 

 

I don’t think we really knew how much work was created between us until our first dry run on how the ribbon installation should look. We wanted a really long and narrow plinth that echoed the format of the paper rolls. After some quick carpentry lessons, a plinth was constructed for our final meeting before we set up in Stroud.

Raw Ribbons

 

Raw Ribbons

 

As neither of us had seen the entire collaboration together all at one time, I think we were both shocked on how many paper rolls had been created. So instead of decisions of what to finish or hurriedly make we had the essential but difficult job of editing down our collection. There would be sections of a roll that Jane really liked and bits I did not, and visa versa. We spent ages separating rolls into different piles…..then hours and hours of fiddling into different positions…until of course we were satisfied. Even though we did have to negotiate, in truth this was relatively easy, I think at this stage of our collaboration we trusted each other implicitly. Raw Ribbons

This clarified for me the importance of trust, I believe it is an essential ingredient for not only ones own creative practice but it is paramount for a successful collaboration, along side of course, respect for the other persons skills/work etc. It is one of the most interesting, exciting and also scary aspects to working with someone you don’t know…..you really have no idea how you will get along and you have to build and earn trust together; at the end of the day you either will or won’t….thankfully Jane and I did, and I think it really showed in the quality and intensity of our final artwork.

 

Raw Ribbons

 

Raw Ribbons

I personally find private views quite nerve racking, I think it’s the part of being an artist I hate most. That point when I stand before an audience exposed with my creation, I find it quite overwhelming and uncomfortable. It was really nice to be part of a pair….I suppose the pressure of preview nerves was now shared. The private view was absolutely rammed, which was rather worrying as we had bravely trailed some of the ribbons onto the floor; on reflection this was not ideal to have such delicate pieces trailing. Although we did a brilliant job of protecting our artwork, I will now consider the footfall you tend to get for opening nights and how this affects not only the audience but the artwork itself!

 

Raw Ribbons

 

Raw Ribbons

One of the chief characteristics of our collaboration ‘Raw Ribbons’ is the power of our different drawing styles. Both our drawings hold hours and hours of work in them, the devil is in the detail, but you have to look really closely to understand this. I was relieved that lots of people did get this, and you could see them peering in all the nooks and crannies….as that’s where all the gems were hidden, however I was dismayed at how many people did not understand the invitation to look.

Raw RibbonsWe had purposely built the plinth at a height where one could look down on to the artwork; this viewpoint was a hint that there was more to the ribbons than the first impression. However what we failed to understand as artists, I think, is the different capacities of people’s bodies to bend and peer.  People did comment that they wish that the plinth was higher, what the audience did not appreciate though is a higher plinth would have dominated the gallery space, and a bigger plinth would demand larger scale rolls…wouldn’t it? An artwork has a lot of considerations to encompass for it to be successful, that devil and that detail again!

 

Raw RibbonsGenuinely though ‘Raw Ribbons’ was well received and I have to emphasise that I think our particular collaboration was very successful and I am proud of what we achieved. In some respects though I feel a sense of loss, we have worked so intensely together over the last six months, I miss our constant communication that we had.  I think both of us would like the chance to work collaboratively together again, and I think both of us have ideas to push the ribbons further, both collectively and individually. And most importantly we both leave the project with a fresh and new vigour for our own practice which stems form the inspiration of working with others. Thank you Jane x

Raw Ribbons

 Raw Ribbons

 

 

 

Blind Spots

April 14, 2012

Recently it has been hard to write the blog, hard even to think about the blog whilst the exhibition date draws nearer and nearer. We install the artwork in just over 10 day’s time; therefore of course, we are working flat out to finish our final artwork that will be exhibited for   ‘Pairings II – Conversations and Collaborations. Our finished combined artwork is a series of drawn and manipulated paper rolls that appear like ribbons, and we have called it ‘Raw Ribbons’.

Raw Ribbons is a visual conversation between both Jane and myself. Each voice is expressed through mark-making. I have marked the outside of the paper coils in bold abstract drawings and then Jane responds by marking the interior of the roll with her beautiful delicate narrative drawings. Because of the nature of how I draw, the paper gets marked on both sides, whether it be seepage, score marks, holes etc, the interior holds a slight presence of what the exterior displays. Jane responds to this inner (and outer) dialogue.  I love this example where I have burnt the outer and Jane has beautifully responded to it; reflecting the colours that seep through and I find her figure so haunting. We have tried to make each contribution have equal value in this visible dialogue. Drawn and painted lines sit alongside stitch and mixed media. Both of us use stitch throughout, almost as a binder, visible on both sides of the interchange; stitch contributing to our drawings, interacting and changing both our drawn conversations.

We are still finishing our rolls; lots of these images in this blog entry are unfinished pieces that we are working on. Jane and I will be meeting soon to go through all the rolls to date, selecting the ones that will form our ribbon installation, deciding what needs finishing, changing, mending, altering or making again etc. We are both looking forward to making these final decisions; evaluating and editing will be an important part. I imagine it will also be an interesting stage for both of us, and hopefully in the main we will be in agreement.

What has been very strange for me in this final process is that I feel like I have been working blind. I’ve been in what I can only describe as a ‘blind spot’. In general, I start the paper rolls then they get posted to Jane, these ribbons have been accumulating with her. I’m used to being surrounded by an artwork that I am completing, therefore watching it grow and develop around me. I enjoy this stage, it makes you continually reassess, develop and evaluate.

Therefore bereft of the finished pieces growing around me it has been interestingly weird, almost uncomfortable even. I have missed that sense of completion and checking. I spoke to Jane about this and she has been kindly posting them all back to me, not only for our meeting but for me to get a sense of them again, to reengage with them. In an odd way though, without their continual presence it did stop me worrying about them as much, I did find it easier to let go….but something felt at odds and truthfully, I really did not like the disconnection; I felt like a mother pinning for her children.  I think also with a feeling of disconnection it was even harder to write the blog entry that I kept promising Jane I would do. I had no idea how everything was coming together, it made me feel a little lost. I did not help myself either as I kept forgetting to take photos; I got so obsessed that time was running out, that whilst working on the rolls and posting them to Jane, my documentation sometimes slipped.

This has been a really enjoyable collaboration, Jane is fantastic to work with, we both share a similar drive and a passion, but I think for me, the hardest part of the collaboration is getting to the finishing line. I am still staggered by what it brings up about me as an artist; the feeling of disconnection is a case in point. I find it all really interesting. I love that I can sometimes see my influence effecting Jane’s work, the use of staples for example, or her drawings becoming more abstract and minimal makes me smile. And I know that Jane’s work has had a great influence on me, particularly regarding stitch and the want to consider drawing more.

Sometimes though, I still find it difficult when I find Jane’s interaction with a roll that I have started different from what I might have imagined or what I may expect; and of course really, I have no idea what Jane will be doing to them, she has been surprising me left right and centre. Mostly I love the rolls that Jane does, but sometimes I may not like them….and that’s difficult to confess to. Jane has always said if I don’t like something, she has no problem letting it go.  Jane did mention one roll, worrying that she may have covered up to much of my drawings, and I admit, when I first saw it, I felt a little rebuffed visually, but the longer I looked at it, really looked, the more I liked it, it is now something completely different….in a good way, and that’s one of the greatest essences of doing a collaboration.

I suppose at the end of the day it’s the idea of how something should look when it is finished I find difficult at times to grapple with; and really it is only sometimes considering our styles are so different. The ratio to what I like out ways greatly the ones I don’t. Whether it is something I have done or something Jane has, between us we have created some beautiful pieces for ‘Raw Ribbons’ and considering neither of us knew each other at the beginning of the project, I think that’s pretty remarkable.

I believe now I will look at collaborations with a new light and respect. And I will try to remember….’blind spots’ are there for a reason……they can teach us something valuable.

Right back to work….some more rolls to finish…………………..and one roll to sit and ponder Jane started it, and I love it so much…I don’t want to touch it….as this is a balanced collaboration; she is of course insisting that I do…blimey here goes!

Simple dialogue

March 26, 2012

  

Jilly arrived laden with rolls of drawings in the Amazon box, which has become our transportation container. We quickly got down to discussing some basic questions. What did we think of it all, how was it progressing, what were the pieces telling us? I had sent Jilly a narrow roll 10 metres long, which it had taken me a week to draw on. I knew when I sent it that it wasn’t right. Talking together and reading the rolls in front of us it became very clear. Too much! I needed to be much, much simpler, and interestingly so did Jilly. We realised that we had both tried to pack too much into each bit of the work, so the simplicity of the statement became too crowded. I suppose like both talking too much. No space to breathe. Jilly had cut up some of the lengths and this helped but they still needed breaking down more.

The machine mark had a big impact. The rolls I had stitched on had affected Jillys drawings and changed the surfaces. Threads were bursting out of the sides of some of them in a hairy kind of mess and I was very prepared to chop them off if Jilly felt they were too much, but I quite liked the raw quality of them.

   

 

A few nights ago I couldn’t sleep, so I had come down to the cellar where I work and taken a roll and simply started to wrap it. I wrapped with a shiny black thread and when I started re rolling the paper it created an inky surface. Then another sleepless night had me attaching cloth to the end, could I take a spiral and move it gently from paper to cloth to thread? Not there yet but I want to take this further.

 

It’s a good job I had some sleepless nights last week otherwise little would have got done, so the third one had me introducing a gradient, starting at one end of a 10 metre roll I started cutting diagonally and amazingly I got to the other end with a lovely gradual gradient and started drawing. I had a funny email conversation with Jilly that night. Gradients were out, I promised!

We experimented with the shapes and the forms, looking at the relationships between them and the glimpses of one image behind another. I like the way many of the images are hidden and can disappear altogether. As you move around a piece different elements become visible.

  

We both felt reassured that there was something really interesting starting to happen, the forms were raw but honest, simple but containing complex juxtapositions of surface. They both contain and open a dialogue. They represent the openness and freshness of this collaboration. Now instead of posting new objects we will be posting the rolls and opening them should be just as intriguing.

 

 

Postal withdrawals

March 20, 2012

Tick tock…tick tock….

There is a point in a project when your focus is centred to the deadline, the nearer it gets the more the adrenalin flows, it is part of the process. The ups, downs and doubts are also part of that progression towards the finishing line. We have both got excited about our final piece for the ‘Pairings 11 Conversations & Collaborations’ project and have also worried and questioned….”what are we doing, is this right?” ….and of course the ultimate fear, of what if it looks dreadful?

 

 

Our postal dialogue has been a vital part of our relationship; we have learnt about each other and our selves through this correspondence of mark making. Without it we would not have come up with the idea for our final piece. With only five weeks to go before our deadline, we have been finalising our idea, putting all out energies into working on samples to test it out. This means that we have stopped responding to our random items that we would normally post to each other. I am now beginning to miss our postal conversations. We are still using the post, but it’s in a different way, the focus is altered and I miss that total freedom of working on our experiments. I also miss the shear excitement of not knowing at all what I may encounter when I open a parcel up from Jane. I hope with the pressure of a deadline that we do not lose the liberation and freedom that has grown through these experiments in our final artwork.

 

The last package I received was the Paris envelope. It was such a delight to open, it was like a game. Jane had said to me don’t get excited about the Paris package, its not much etc, etc. But the sheer simplicity of a drawn serviette with folded bits of paper and cut up words that fell out was so powerful, I loved it! A separate envelope contained elements that made me laugh; like a small candle and the back of a button pack that I fell in love with. I do miss these treasures that we have spent months posting to each other. I certainly want to finish some of the ‘responses’; some of the objects I knew exactly what I would do as soon as I saw them, as always, I just need time.

It is intriguing that some of them have been through so many transformations, and have remained with us from the start. After playing with some mono printing (for the final artwork) I picked up a piece that Jane had unwrapped from its tubular form (that I had previously created) making it flat again, as I held it, I could not resist responding to it. I really enjoyed reconstructing it into a three dimensional form again, sealing it with the new prints and some dripping wax from the Paris candle. I have liked this sample at every stage of its journey, whether by my hand or Jane’s.

 

 

As I worked, I tried to slow down, to take it all in. I was conscious that these may be the last ‘random’ postal responses I do. I thoroughly enjoyed working on them, particularly a bandage roll that I pinned alternate (Jane /Jilly) elements to. I felt it was important to acknowledge that these postal experiments are a fundamental part of how this project has grown. Sometimes they have been a real test for both of us, but mainly they have reminded us of the importance of freedom, play, and the power of the unknown.

For the samples for our finished artwork, I have been happy with the drawn surfaces that I have so far created. The stitching however, is another matter altogether. My brand new sewing machine is really being taken through its paces, or rather I am.  I am conscious Jane’s stitching is so professional and conscious that I have little practice and that I am a beginner. As the sewing machine feels quite alien to me, I find it quite difficult to manipulate the paper rolls that we are working on. I often get myself in terrible pickles, in fact; it took me all of seven days to break my new and first ever sewing machine! Bless my partner, who took it apart and saved me the embarrassment of having to go back to the shop after only one week!

 

Even though my stitching is a little naive to say the least I am working on the principle that it is a mark, it does not matter that it is not a perfect stitch; it is still a mark that Jane can respond to. However the lack of skills can play with your confidence levels at times and I am hoping Jane can give me some stitching advice when we next meet. It is interesting that I find the paper difficult to manipulate in the machine, and Jane becomes more comfortable the more she stitches onto the paper because it becomes more like cloth.

The meeting at the end of this week is a crucial point for us, and I am really looking forward to meeting and assessing what really works and what does not.

Time is ticking away…..tick tock!

New plans

March 9, 2012

I went to meet Jilly loaded up with a case of objects of varying stages of production. Some of the early ones were now looking very raw, but as a collection they signposted possible directions. Today was about making some choices, identifying which were the ones that communicated something that we jointly wanted to say. Fortunately we had both been inspired by the same elements, which seemed to be the ones that had a balance of inputs from us both.

We kept returning  to the simple coil of paper, an off cut from one of Jilly’s large drawings, which she had sent to me wound round like a vessel.

                

We had both worked with the process of coiling in previous projects so perhaps this was why for both of us this sample became key. I had made some neckties for an exhibition currently at Platt Hall and had decided to display them coiled as I had become interested in slightly hidden images and the way it distorted the sequence of a narrative. As the images spiral the drawings are revealed and covered at intervals. The process transforms the flat to a form in its simplest way, by bending it. It doesn’t require sophisticated equipment.

       

As we experimented by cutting long lengths of paper we both liked the way they related to thread, ribbon like and knot like. They cut through space like a line of yarn that might knot into a form. We talked about the qualities we liked on the sample that had been deconstructed and reconstructed so many times. Using the machine to run lines of stitching through the paper would create marks that went beyond the egdes of the coils.

Sustained by apples and cups of tea we moved on to practicalities. We created a set of parameters for the next step. Reassuring each other that we both wanted precision, sharpness, and quality. We had a plan. The plan is time consuming. It needs constant attention, but is also fluid, responsive and is designed to contain ongoing thoughts, ideas and conversations, rather than aim be a product to relate past ones. It aims to be a constructed space for presenting a meeting point between 2 separate creative paths.

 

The packages from Paris and Burma were still waiting to be worked with, so we agreed to run this alongside the production of todays idea, I felt sure they could be integrated as we went. We had set ourselves quite a challenge in the time we have left, but I couldn’t wait to get started.

    

Going in the right direction

March 1, 2012

 

Our third meeting was held in Bristol, after all our adventures away abroad it was time to knuckle down and decide what direction this collaboration was going to take. I was interested to see if both of us had moved away from our initial concept for our final artwork. I felt bursting to the brim of things I wanted to discuss with Jane. Would we go ahead or make a right sharp turn to a different direction. So much to discuss and only a day to do it in.

We had all the samples out which have grown tenfold in quantity, and to both our delights we seemed drawn to mostly the same ones. On reflection, the ones we like hold a deep essence of both our separate creative practices but are combined together, where we can recognise each others work but there is an overlapping, a coming together, and a unity of dialogue. The more we look at the samples the more we see ‘threads of conversations’; a statement we both like, which I think may become a pivotal aspect to our final artwork.

 

We decided that the visual conversations we have been having over the last few months by posting and responding through a dialogue of mark making, were a vital part of our collaboration, and therefore important to show at the final exhibition. We agreed that a selection would be made of the best samples and displayed alongside a digital display of images of all the samples in there various stages, so that our visual discussions could be viewed in full.

 

As the day progressed we became more excited as our final idea revealed itself to us, it seemed we were both speaking the same language. We had decided what our final artwork would look like. Although we were now heading in a different direction from our initial destination, the direction seemed right, it felt good, still daunting and slightly scary, but it was obvious that it was a harmonious route and one that we were eager to pursue.

It was a great meeting.

 

Although we have agreed to carry on posting and responding, I am now having second thoughts on this. I want to get my teeth into the final artwork and have become concerned with the time for doing both the samples and the final piece. I think it is something that will perhaps come to head at some point. However I did realise that I could practice and test things out that I would like to use in the final artwork, so maybe its just fear of a looming deadline?

Tomorrow I am going out to buy my first ever sewing machine…this collaboration is a real inspiration….and yes I will be using it for our final piece!

Hidden images

February 24, 2012

Being away in Paris was a good opportunity to stand back from everything and consider what I wanted to do with the next group of objects. While I was away I realised how important the image is to me. I decided I wanted to experiment with how images sit alongside or within the objects and surfaces we were making. Visiting the Gustave Moreau Museum in Paris reminded me how much I loved layers of images and intensified my desire to draw figures.

I began on return to explore how to integrate image and surface, gradually becoming more playful, especially with scale. So far only starting points, but definitely something to build on. A strip of drawing from Jilly had an almost architectural feel, adding first images of the objects themselves then tiny figures drawn on the Paris Metro introducing a curious quality. I like that they are quite hidden, so that if I join up the form again the way Jilly originally sent it to me the images are only just visible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three dimensional forms are a challenge for me and just as Jilly has her colour panics so I have my 3D ones.I had a destructive morning where I have to admit to taking my scissors to a rather beautiful wrapped object. I realised that one of my samples was inside it and decided to liberate it. I had a sudden desire to ruturn it all to the safety of the ‘flat’.

I sliced my scissors through the mass of white thread wrappings and now of course am full of remorse and have tried to make amends by reforming it now my sample has been released. Sadly I didn’t have jillys sculptural flair so have sent it back for repair. I felt a strong desire  to unpack and return things to a simpler version. I like the fact that I can do that but the marks of Jillys interventions remain.

There are certain objects which are complete and I like just as they are . Jilly had sent some wrapped wooden pieces and they had a gentle quality which I didn’t want to disturb. I decided these were to be left untouched. I also decided that some of my samples that were beginning to work should remain as they were. I would then post  the ones which could be constantly reworked and its these that are the interesting ones, like an unresolved discussion.

Initially our conversations were like a visual chat, then more recently they have become more involved, more discursive perhaps. Normally the things I make tell stories and I think our trips away begin to add some interesting content. Paris was feezing, so cold you could hardly bear to be out on the streets. Jilly tells me the heat was intense in Burma. The resulting colours tell a story of opposites.

I continue to experiment with layering and transparency by putting some of Jillys wood inside cloth.

The images on the organza become quite abstracted as they are scaled up and combined with a red thread, selected to match Jillys red string looped through the wood, I make bigger and bolder stitches than usual letting all the ends of thread drip down inside the folded cloth. Jillys wood acts like a weight inside and takes on linear quality against the light.

A new package arrived as I worked. I opened it knowing it would be things form Burma. I hadn’t read Jilly’s last post so what a great surprise when out of the package fell not only reds, but yellows blues and greens – colour!

The samples are multiplying madly, shame I have to go to work.

Thinking about colour

February 22, 2012

I have been away on holiday for three weeks, supposedly to get away from everything. But I just can not stop thinking about colour, the lack of colour in my work and this collaboration with Jane. I was aware that three weeks away from this project is a long time, but it’s good to take a step back and reflect. I’ve been in Burma, a forgotten land, where it seems that time has stood still and democracy waits with baited breath on its doorstep. Apart from the noticeable grime and poverty in Yangon (Rangoon), the colour that stands out is the glistening gold of the Buddhist pagodas, they are everywhere.

No matter what part of the country, rural or town, the golden temples glisten in there hundreds. Whether they are small pagodas perched on craggy rocks (like something from a James Bond movie) or huge stairways leading to enormous temples, you can not escape them. Along with the gold are the thousands of monks in there deep burgundy and dark orange robes (male) and a beautiful light pink and dark orange for the females. Colour, colour everywhere….why have I been running away from it for so long? Will colour start entering my work more? Where will Jane’s colour and my neutral palette meet in this project?? I keeping thinking of strands of colour connecting our work together, we both use thread…would that work? Two pieces joined, connected…in conversation, by coloured threads?

The plan was to still continue to do our postal conversation whilst away, Jane in Paris, me in Burma. However buying a train ticket and even ordering dinner was so difficult at times that posting a package where the post is notoriously bad seemed daunting. I was advised that my package would never reach its destination, so I decided to collect things and send to Jane on my return.

I bought gold leaf squares that are sold at the temples for devotees to place on the allotted shrine. Apparently only men are allowed to place the gold, which rather annoyed me. The gold leaf comes in small packets, its looks like a teabag packet; they come in small bundles tied with a fine red thread.

I also purchased some red thread from a market where people had not seen westerners before, so with a lot of pointing, miming and finger calculations I bought three bundles. The intention was to send them to Jane with the gold foil. Now here is the rub, I got home and found myself so drawn to the red thread I could not bear to part with it, even though I knew it would travel between the two of us in our postal discussions….I just did not want to let it go. I want to make something from it myself, without any other intervention. Jilly, Mrs. Neutral palette…making something entirely from red thread.  Is it time to take a colour leap?

I do feel incredibly selfish about doing this, I did buy the thread for our project, but something inside is screaming to keep it, its not even very nice thread…but the colour…I just love it! Apparently the Burmese sayings for the colours I have are – chicken blood, broken heart and flower red.

Away from the project I can feel the influences of Jane’s work seeping into to my imagination, the colour is a case in point, I am questioning, thinking…moving. In truth I am quite envious of Jane’s drawing skills, her drawings are beautiful. I realised I would like to try and draw more….not my usual abstract drawings but things/scenes I see.

I decided perhaps I should get into the practice of drawing more. I tried whilst away but ended up making them into abstract sketches as they seemed so poor. Yes that age old fear that gets in the way…if you think your bad at something….scrap it….but that’s not really very helpful is it? Although this experience of trying to draw a scene in a street in Burma was quite disastrous it did make me think… it is good (necessary in fact) to step out of your comfort zone, but you have to remember it may take a while to reach the point that its good or it works…trust in leaping and trust in time.

Seems that even though I was struck by the all the gold in Burma, it is the red that has stayed with me!

Thanks for the inspiration Jane…and sorry about the thread!

 

 

 

 

Now I have an exciting parcel from Paris to attend to!

A visit and parcel in one

February 5, 2012

This time Jilly brought the parcel with her, a first visit  to Stockport and our second  meeting. Opening the parcel with Jilly here was a completely different experience. Previously I have waited until I have had an opportunity to mull over each item as I open it, taking my time, whereas this felt like at christmas when the giver of the gift is watching to see your reaction.  Jilly had brought all the conversation pieces so far and it was interesting to see how the starting points had evolved. It really felt like a conversation. We put some aside that we didnt feel we wanted to do more to. Interestingly we were in agreement about which ones those were.

What would Jilly have done with my favouite sample? Most of the things I felt very happy to trust to her hand, but I hoped this one was in tact as it had inspired me. It was not there. Jilly had said to me there was one she couldn’t respond to and this one turned out to be the one. Jilly had wrapped it up and hidden it. I didnt release it straight away but waited and was glad to find it inside.

Jilly had wrapped many of the samples with thread until they had become definate objects. The samples were becoming more refined and worked. They are fascinating, and I became much less inclined to interfere with them. There was an introduction of wood which gave a beautiful contrasting texture. However, though I really enjoyed them as objects they felt very removed from anything  familiar to my making process or my own visual language.

It was useful to keep returning to the ‘conversation’ . Initially in the first packages we were introducing ourselves, putting some visual information out there to let each other know our language . But now I feel its moved on a stage  to  a more interesting phase, where we are listening more intently to each other, not interrupting, but allowing more depth of understanding to emerge through the samples. So not interrupting the objects, but finding a way of responding in our own language whilst absorbing each others comment and ideas.

I had sent Jilly a rough little book I had made from bits of my notes and her notes and I expected that she might have drawn in it. I was very tempted to use it before sending it, but resisted.  I was interested that she sent it back attached to a sample. It had become part of something bigger but hadn’t been marked at all. I have decided to draw in it myself, but leave it attached. I am beginning to realise the potential of finding little ways to make my mark without it being very obvious, like interjecting a little comment into a bigger, expansive dialogue.

I think maybe, perhaps, possibly, I can see how this might be quite intriguing.

This process remains very instinctive and has given both of us a chance to explore new materials. Meeting up we started discussing where it might go in terms of the exhibition of pairings in April. We both felt it to be too soon to know what it might end up with and are keen not to let the opportunity for such freedom to be curtailed.

We did though, start thinking about how we might represent our conversation and we understood that the meeting points of our conversation could culminate in a piece of work that described us both as individuals and as a pair of artists.

We drew diagrams of possibilities as we talked and  played with suspending things, reflecting things, hiding things, revealing things, and we laughed quite a lot.

We made some plans which we probably won’t stick to, but it gave us some starting points and I think we both enjoy the uncertainty. Jilly is off to Burma and I’m off to Paris, so we both agree to post from a distance. I have spent time scanning and printing and reducing things back to the flat which felt good – it gave me back some control. I liked what the scanning and printing did to the colour, giving everything an orangy pink glow, I am missing colour! I printed them onto tracing paper which gave a rather ethereal quality and then screwed them up creating a leathery worn quality. Brimming with ideas now. Jillys influence is making me notice things that I wouldn’t have before.

Suddenly I can throw nothing away.

Colour Panics

January 25, 2012

Jilly’s response to Jane’s second parcel

I can not stress enough how exciting it is to receive ‘the package’ through the post. Excitement, anticipation and a slight anxiety all rolled into one.

What will Jane have sent me this time.

                                         

Thoughts whilst opening the package

Flat surfaces – everything two-dimensional

Enclosed

High quality of thread

Wish I had a sewing machine

Lots of red

Masses of colour

Lots of items

Jane enclosing hard items (I had sent copper foil)

Where was my pinned piece?

I found myself attracted to the pieces that I felt I could immediately respond to, like I knew what someone was saying, and that we were indeed speaking the same language. One piece in particular, a drawing of mine which Jane had enclosed in mesh, with a transparent print and swirls of white cotton, looked liked it had been made solely by me.  I instantly liked it and knew I would add black wire swirls. I was also immediately aware of the pieces that I knew would be challenging or I knew I particularly did not like.

I had sent Jane part of an old unfinished artwork that I was very fond of. I was intrigued what Jane would do with it; so intrigued that it was part of my heightened anticipation on opening the package. My rough fabric square with a series of regular but organic holes with pins through was not there. I was quite shocked by my disappointment. Where are my pins Jane? It felt like a broken conversation, an unheard comment.

Jane had created a little ‘book’ with odd pieces of written paper; the writing in different directions, different writing and edges that varied. It was a small item but very powerful, I absolutely loved it.

There is a poignancy of disjointed conversations in the book that might be worth exploring. It made me think – different thoughts/opinions melded into one. This device of using cut up written words was used several times and I found these pieces the most interesting.

Yet in my response I have only emphasised one of them and almost hidden all the others. I combined the little ‘book’ with a heavy weight tracing paper envelope square that had some black fabric inside (the remains of an original piece); I really liked what Jane had done here.  I stitched some foam package strips to the surface and painted white in places. It is the back of the experiment however, the unintentional, that I found beautiful, the process of one surface affecting an unseen surface (until you look). It is always a bonus when this happens; however I would like ‘this beauty’ to be the result of my first intention more.

I am now becoming more familiar with Jane’s style…getting to recognise traits. I was surprised and delighted by the paint around the cut up words and pleased more paint as a medium had been brought in. I sometimes find myself copying/reflecting Jane’s marks or trying to obliterate them. I would like to become more aware of my thoughts and actions whilst I do this. It does appear that I am trying to make the pieces more geometric, with more structured rhythms. Jane has a beautiful freedom to her rhythm, and I question whether I am trying to be too rigid? Trying to put myself into the work to much? Am I being to selfish?

Looking at my interactions and responses when I had finished working on the pieces it was interesting to see that I had whitened Jane’s colour away. In fact it felt like I had completely obliterated the colour…in some respect it feels impolite to have done this. On the other hand, am I just trying to stamp my work/view on to Jane’s…again this feels rude. I have shocked myself how large my desire is to neutralize everything. On reflection I realise there is actually a balance of coloured and neutral items sent to me; it is my panic of colour that has stepped into action. I love colour, so why do I dread facing to work with it? What is it in my subconscious that wants to take colour away?

I am glad that posting items to each other still holds a large degree of liberation; it forces me to play/experiment in a different way. Experimenting with something sent, which one may not necessarily choose in the first place pushes me out of my comfort zone. This feels both awkward and fascinating. I was quite overwhelmed by the quantity of items Jane had produced and found myself combining pieces to compensate for the number. I became obsessed with wrapping with thread. I realised that wrapping some items was a way to get out of a ‘sticky’ situation, having no idea what to do with them. Or it was a natural positive progression to the artefact. I wondered whether I was trying to end a conversation and kept thinking “it’s a wrap”, whilst in the motion of wrapping.

I try to speculate where all this posting objects will lead to, and although as yet I do not have any answers I do think it’s a fascinating way to get to know someone through visual interaction.