Journeys are a continuous theme in one way or another in each collection
I've been toying for a while with the need to move on from the Army of Joys. I love it and there can always be more joy, but I am finding that some of the pieces can begin to echo others, and then I start to feel that I'm producing rather than creating. It's definitely a state of mind thing, but it does make a difference.
Part of the issue is always about the collection title being broad enough to evolve and not rule out little nuances, but if it is too vague it feels (in my head) “Fluffy”.
(Although even as I read this I can see that I am putting obstacles in my own way – it’s my collection – I can do what I want, why do I get so bogged down with everything ‘fitting’?)
I find that I need a title to hang my hat on, and then I can decide what it is I am creating. Probably because my work is often very colourful, full of sparkle and slightly ostentatious I can have a mind block that I am just making ‘pretty stuff’ and then I lose my confidence. Each piece works best if I have a focus to remind myself of - it could be names, a destination, a partial story, but unless a 'starting with meaning' is there I find my pieces seem flat to me.
A desk full of ideas
Using recycled materials adds another layer of meaning. A huge amount of the materials I use have a personal significance to me, often connected to my childhood memories, my sister or my family now. In fact what I tend to do is create a story inspired by events in the news/ current affairs/ world events, and then interlace it with my own connections and influences on that theme. So the Army of Joys was triggered by the pandemic, and everything becoming so heavy, negative and scary, with my personal need to spin the slightest moment into positive one. Living with a parent who suffers from depression resulted in my trying to always look on the bright side - for the light, however small. I realised in my teens that it would be quite easy to become lost in a negative spiral, and I was desperate to avoid this. (Of course there are other factors around mental health – it’s not a case of pull yourself together, but the impact of nurture, on me, was great and I needed to counteract that.)
At the beginning of a collection I am far more preoccupied by the concept of the collection than the technical details of each piece (although that obviously does have its own importance but that comes later). The early stages can be a real stumbling block though. I am generally quite a decisive person, but I am a hesitant imbecile sometimes and it takes days or weeks to cement the right ‘angle’ in my head. Almost to the point where I have to have a strong talking to myself to just decide and GET ON WITH IT! I think that does have a lot to do with external factors – our heads are so full with the world around us, there’s always loads going on and it can be hard to concentrate.
This is also because of the multitude of ideas I often have in my head – I could do this, and this, and this, and this… Pinning down which is the best can be impossible – and best for whom? The internal dialogue continues!
Horses all carrying passengers
Homelessness, displacement, finding new places to call home and looking for a better future are all linked into the next collection. These themes have been present in some way in most of my work over the last few years. I can remember in the 70s as a young child, talk about the ‘Boat People’ and news of makeshift rafts crossing seas with people from South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia seeking refuge. Homelessness in the UK has been growing and is something seen daily, and over the last 10 years the Syrian crisis has been hard hitting news, and now the Ukraine War.
Through all of these desperate situations, it’s the news of help, support and unity that focus me. It is so natural to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of any human crisis, but it is the tales of positivity that inspire me, and make me want to make a difference, even in a small way.
So to that end, my next collection has gone through a variety of titles, lists, word plays, including…
Exodus, departure, escaping, flight, migration, in-flux (an arrival of large numbers of things/people), assembly, collect, congregation, coming together, school of sanctuary, seeking refuge, Gather the Fallen, lost and found, Wander Rooms, Quest, Journey of the Masses, destination, footsteps, the journey of us, the travellers, lost souls, evacuees, fallen, helpers and helpless…
So I am choosing The Legion of the Lost and Found
I like the way it refers to many, it infers a sort of unity, it has a positive tone, and can be applied to the materials I use as well as the tales I tell.
That’s it then.
Let the Legion of the Lost and Found proceed......