as I practice sculpting life & cosmic forces (1)
Updated: May 19
Before this residency began, I'd been thinking a lot about how to have a focused and process-oriented practice- one in which you actually "practise"!
For the last few years, I have been functioning in a deadline-based, distracted and perfectionistic way with a massive emphasis on productivity at all hours of the day, which definitely contributed to my burnout. One of the side effects was that it smashed my ability to focus. By October last year, I could hardly switch between tabs on my computer screen without forgetting what piece of information I was looking for!
Luckily it's largely come back, and lockdown has actually helped a lot to remember to live more attentively. Jenny Odell's book How To Do Nothing; Resisting the Attention Economy has also been instrumental for informing why intentionally cultivating focus this is important (and in our current epoch- radical!)
As a result, in my recent forays back into my art practice, I've been thinking in more depth about the importance of the process of making art, rather than the productive outcome. My feeling is that if you can't relish the process, you'll never be satisfied with the outcome anyway. In response, I'm embarking on a calligraphy project to remember how to learn again, and remember how to practise again, throughout this residency. I also anticipate that it will be nice to have a repetitive activity to do with my hands to help me integrate the big ideas I've just researched.
I've never done calligraphy before, and that's kind of the point. With a 25m roll of rice paper, every single attempt is going to be recorded on the one scroll (this recovering perfectionists' nightmare!) The resulting artwork will be the whole scroll- I'm not touching or "editing" it one bit.
Using my new ink-making book, I brewed a batch of eucalyptus ink from locally foraged leaves, with an iron mordant, making this gorgeous warm-grey colour. This is also a nod towards Jenny Odell's call for bioregionalism- living in context with the local natural and cultural world.
I also decided the phrase "as I practise sculpting life & cosmic forces" as my practise phrase. It was inspired by one of one of the group therapy sessions in my recent work 'cultivating reciprocity' (more on that to come), and it felt at once sincere, magical and a little playful- a reminder not myself seriously but not too seriously. It also seems to capture what I'm talking about this residency when I bring it all back to my own context and my own work- hopefully armed with new knowledge and direction, I'll continue practising to sculpt!