30 Nov The self in the centre of the investigation
I explore gently tethered things. It is done through the objects I make, the drawings I create, the collaborative workshops where I mediate. All work is a form of self reflection, a visual collection of anecdotal references (to reach and bind with the audience?) sometimes verbal, sometimes reflective/reflexive. It can all begin in the notebook, take form, manifest in the project, process documented in the blog and return again to the pages to write after the event. Consider and respond.
Extract from a notebook: “I’ve collected the wipes* from wk3 session and want to sew them together. The cleansing, the trace, the samples – sampler, the patchwork blanket of example stitches used to learn sewing. Women’s work. Wipes are the material (byproduct) of parenthood. The invisible labour of family life. All the meals, the clothes changed, washed, the hidden tasks so well depicted in the words of the Holly Mac Nish poem that Jenny read to the group. Or the Steven Wilson lyrics that bolstered me on the housework playlist”
*The wipes were the byproduct of the printing exercise.
That wider place of culture, social structures, realms of identity is always present within my work, and for me making is a way of being with these things. Asking questions, accepting that things are messy, embracing unknowns together and co-creating collaboratively.
In the aftermath of project it takes time to understand what has occurred. It is a multi sensory experience. I have been talking with, printing with, making sound with participants. A flow establishes and I wait in the tide of unknowns for one element to pull and emerge. To use Sarah Pinks phrase, I am a ‘sensory apprentice’. Joining others temporarily for an embodied event. Establishing connections and considering my own self consciousness in the process.
I think upon the transaction of the wipes.
Mum: What are you like? (to baby) all covered in it [Both smiling at each other] I pass wipes from the packet to Mum. Damp, soft and lightly fragrant. She rhythmically wipes the feet of baby removing the paint. Squirming. I pass baby a wipe, squirming stops. I remember how I had to do this for Lily, she wanting agency in the act too. Having her own wipe leveled the interaction. I take the painty wipes from Mum as she passes them back to me. Baby rubs wipe from one hand to another, Mum responds with encouraging noise. Performing the act of cleaning, wiping, the embodiment of care.
My interventions are nearly always hand made. I sewed the wipes together after I dried them out in the studio. A patchwork of wiping moments. When we printed the feet, the mums stripped the babies to their vests. I remember feeling that there was gentle comfort in that, for the babies the freedom of movement and also a level of trust in the space. That it was ok, warm enough and safe to do so. It showed me that the space was ‘right’ in that moment, voice of the process speaks through action. I suppress the connection to risk, exposure to contact, all related now to the presence of covid and how we deal with touch. I don’t want to give it voice and loose our momentary freedom.
I am looking now for a pattern for a babygro -my hands want to respond and make. I would like to sew and shape the wipes into a form that nods to the embodiment of the activity and the unique context. I consider that I may need to visit my own ‘archive’ of baby things to hold and examine the shape of the garment, and that the feeling of the cotton, the size and smell of it will take me back to another place, a moment when the garment was animated and filled with life. Many selves stitched into the babygro, all in the centre of this current investigation.
Pink, Sarah (2010) What is Sensory Ethnography. In: NCRM Research Methods Festival 2010, 5th – 8th July 2010, St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. (Unpublished) https://www.ncrm.ac.uk/resources/video/RMF2010/pages/18_Sensory.php [Accessed 30th November 2020]
According to Wilson, the album is written from a female perspective, and the concept and story are inspired by the case of Joyce Carol Vincent, where a woman living in a large city dies in her apartment and no one misses her for over two years, despite her having family and friends. [Wikipedia]