On finishing things, summer down pours and downtime.

summer 2

I think summer has arrived in the UK. I love spring, and autumn, and am fond of winter. I’m not particularly a summer person. I don’t particularly like the heat, and we don’t really seem to know how to do air conditioning. I seem to be particularly affected by fatigue, and struggle with lethargy when it is too hot, which may go some way to explaining why the blog has been a little under active of late. I have been taking lots of down time, lolling around on the sofa, and watching documentaries on Netflix. I was particularly moved by this documentary called Laerte-Se, and would recommend an afternoon spent with this.

Last weekend weekend we went to the Cotswolds, and went walking in the woods, one of my absolute favourite things. The trees, which are numerous in variety in that area, are an amazing shade of lush green at this time of year. While out walking this weekend we were caught in an amazing downpour. We stood for a while in a dry patch, surrounded by a curtain of these fat, heavy rain drops, saying to each other, ‘it will pass over in a minute’. It’s didn’t pass over, but instead settled firmly in. We ended up walking through the rain most of the way home. The air had been warm and sticky, and I found the delicious slip of water through my hair and down my neck refreshing and exhilarating. It has been some time since I have been caught in the rain like that, and I was happy for the experience. It made me think of how the amount of control we think we have other things is really an illusion. People make plans and Nature laughs.

However, despite all the lolling around and walking in the rain, I have been a bit productive. In the past I have always had a bit of an issue finishing things, as I have previously written about here. Recently, while not exactly finishing things, I have managed to bring two projects to a relatively satisfying conclusions. Last weekend I submitted a draft play to the Bruntwood Prize. I don’t really expect anything to come from that, but it feels a bit like drawing a line under the project, which means I can move onto the next one. In recent weeks, during my down time, I have had ideas for two new animations, so, patiently, watch this space on that.

I also recently opened an Artist Shop with Threadless, where I am selling prints and bags based on a series of artworks I have been working on for over a year. While the artworks themselves aren’t actually finished this feels like a satisfactory conclusion. I’ve even had my first sale, with I think was to my boyfriend’s mother. From small acorns, great oak trees may grow.

Working on my craft

A few weeks ago I watched a documentary about origami on Netflix called Between the Folds. The documentary covered a whole genre of origami called wet folding, that I had never heard of before. The premis is that you work with wet paper to produce fluid, soft form paper sculptures. The results were really beautiful, and the doc is well worth a watch.

Both my parents are artists and when I was young my dad taught me how to stretch paper when you want to paint to avoid it warping when it makes contact with water. I think this was probably the first time I’d encountered a way of working with the paper’s memory rather than trying to work against it.

I think about how I work now, which involves paper cutting and sculpture among other thing with paper as trying to work with a paper’s memory. Whatever you do to paper will change it, even after you erase a drawing there will still be a ghost mark of the drawing you first made. In my own work I make the paper or card silouette and then use objects to mould it around before applying more layers of paper and glue. What you get at the end of that is more like a hard shell than a fragile changeable bit of paper so it’s important to work out what the card will remember in terms of shape right at the beginning. Get this wrong and what you get is warping and movement in the wrong direction. 

At the moment I’m still in the process of experimenting. What works best? Which is the best way to curl a bird wing? How think is the paper and how long can I fuss with it before it will fall apart? It’s learning in a very physical, tactile and mindful way that’s quite different to other aspects of my life. I’m enjoying the journey so far.