i. As a follow-up to my tutorial a couple of weeks ago, Jo told me to look at 'if one thing matters, everything matters', a catalogue designed by Wolfgang Tillmans for a Tate retrospective in 2003 that contained almost every photograph he had released as a piece to date. At the back of the book is an interview with Tillmans that I think has really helped me to make some sense of my work.
'From the day I recognise that something has meaning to me, I hold on to it, saying 'If this matters to me now, then I hope that it will matter to me in the future.'
'It's impossible to take a good picture of something when one hasn't consciously or subconsciously understood something of the nature of what one is looking at... it's always about having understood, or at least felt the relevance of something and wanting to convey that sense.'
'Like in the past, in the future I'll probably have phases of doubt and feelings of a lack of direction. However, working on this book has been a good reminder of the need to carry on, and of the fact that the bigger picture sometimes reveals itself only over the course of time. I'm driven by an insatiable interest in the manifold shapes of human activities, in the surface of life, and as long as I enjoy how things are pointless and hugely important at the same time, then I'm not afraid.'
So perhaps for now monotypes are going to be the most appropriate medium for me to work with. Perhaps I should just make images of the people, places and things around me. Perhaps I should, as Katherine Jones and Tom Hammick suggested, make some monotypes from my landscape drawings and paintings without worrying about them being staid. When I exhibited in Oxford in the summer I hung small sketchbook pages alongside framed prints next to finished paintings and I thought my work made sense as a whole. I need to start looking at my work as one practice, not several parts.
ii. The following text is from a press release from a past show of portraits by Claire Price at Mercer Chance. I love it.
'Over the past few months I have been asking friends and acquaintances to sit for me. Each drawing marks a specific time and place of a shared experience. For some it has been a repeated exercise, the drawings charting a period of our evolving relationship, changes happening in each other’s lives.
To draw portraits is intimate. It is a peculiar situation of mindfulness, particularly in our digital age. To be alone in a room together, still, not exchanging many words. To be actively invited to dwell on the playful pleasure of exploring another person. Taking in the way they hold themselves, the character of their expressions, their features, lips, hands. Becoming aware of the distance between you, their weight, strength and fragility. And to leave a record of this on your page – a record that can be surprising to both of you. It is a reverential process to try to make a truthful image of someone, whatever that is.
I know all the sitters, in one way or another, but they don’t all know each other. Some of them I had only met in this past year. I soon realised that I was interested in bringing their portraits together for this exhibition. They represent the diffuse social network that I experience living in a city. Versions of my own identity seen in the relationships that make it up. I enjoy the playful relationship which this gallery of characters has to the galleries of snaps that we see on social media.'
iii. I stumbled upon a poignant and quiet display of photographs by Craigie Horsfield at the Tate Britain. The photographs depict people (including portraits of family members and couples) in places where Horsfield has lived and worked.
iv. It's been a particularly theory-heavy week. I've spent a lot of time reading and writing and not a lot making. My dad sent me the following quote by Terry Frost: 'A certain problem in art schools is to cope with a surfeit of ideas, some new, some old... The great problem is to sort out your own ideas. Practice is the answer, experience is the catalyst between theory and practice. Always try to make, or a great danger is that you could think yourself to standstill.'
v. I also turned twenty-five this week. Below is a drawing of me as a baby made by artist and friend Ruth End in the year I was born.