What happened was interesting to me because it demonstrated that not everything can be achieved or realised by drawing and planning.
My last tutor feedback encouraged me to draw more, this was not a problem: I love drawing! In the last set of samples I used drawing before and after sampling to great effect. Drawing helps me to record my ideas, sampling helps to realise them, then more drawing refines the discoveries. I was happy to have found a rhythm of working:
This thinking on paper, helped me to discover a way to make solid joins to link three dimensional stacks of paint chips:
This developed and suddenly ‘The Scumption’ appeared:
‘The Scumption’ is an oddity. It is a strange and curious object that came to life when instinct banished planning. I allowed the materials to become what they wanted to be, reacting almost unconsciously to what was forming before me. This method of working is not unfamiliar to me, I would consider myself to be quite a process-led ‘artist’. I like to try a technique, then see how I can make it my own. I don’t always have a finished product in mind when I begin. Even still, I was surprised and excited by what I made.
I began to consider what I had read about Judith Scott and other ‘Outsider Artists’. Personally, I don’t like this term and reject the constant classification the Art world seems to require. I could look at my new sample ‘Scumption’ and questioned: Is it textiles? Is it Sculpture? Applied Art? Which label fits best? -Am I an Outsider?
Like Judith Scott, I sat at my desk, totally engrossed in my work. I intuitively selected my materials from around me. I didn’t have a plan or any preconceptions. I worked until I was finished. I knew I was finished only because it felt done.
What had I made? (This is where the name came to being) What was it? I didn’t intend for it to be anything. When my husband looked at it, he said thoughtfully “It’s a Shaloppy” -neither of us having any idea what a ‘shaloppy’ is and that seemed to suit this little curiosity. The next morning when I woke up I couldn’t remember what he’d called it and my brain leapt to ‘Scumption’ as I understand it an equally nonsensical word.
This was where the similarity to Scott fell apart. I too had created an object, for the objects sake. BUT the ‘artist’ in me had given it a label, a name, some clue as to what it was or wasn’t. Judith Scott couldn’t do this but am I doing her a disservice suggesting she had no intention? We will never know.
What I do know is that I went from saying I rejected classification and labels, to naming my work and making assumptions about other people’s intentions. I am not an Outsider, my need to communicate and justify is too great. The question that constantly follows me is still: “How much do we need to know?”
Judith Scott seems not to have referenced her previous work, dismissing it once finished. I however, looked and looked at this little oddity. Deciding the more I looked, the more I liked it. If it had a purpose, I supposed, it would be to demonstrate methods of joining and yet it is one object that doesn’t join to anything else! I needed to do another:
I decided to make several cork blocks and join them together, I planned in my sketchbook and decided to reference Jane Bowler by using a similar palette to her most recent collection. Things fell apart. I simply couldn’t recreate the ‘feel’ of that initial sample. I couldn’t make the materials do what I wanted, I felt clumsy like I was working with mittens on.
This felt quite dispiriting. I left the pieces alone, thinking I could return to them. I struggled with the belief that I had to fix this. Part of me says: “You can’t abandon this half done. You have to see it through” Eventually, I decided to walk away… the moment has passed. I don’t even want to develop this idea anymore.
What had happened is I over worked the idea. I over planned it at the drawing stage in my sketchbook. I lost the spontaneity. I stopped letting the materials lead me and tried to made them do what they didn’t want to. What I learned from this is not to become too dependant on any one way of working. Drawing is a valuable tool but not the only one in the box. I need to be open to using a variety of processes to develop my ideas.
This post and the ideas within, feel a lot less resolved and considered than I would like. I am trying to use my blog to work out what I think and feel. Previously, I would have perhaps written it on paper, reworked it and then added it here. I am trying to move away from that duplication. As a result this feels more ‘now’ but less ‘definite’.