Tuesday, 4 February 2014

From Where I Am Right Now

Wow, it’s been a long time since I have written anything resembling a blog post. Where to start? Where to start?
Probably from where I am right now would be a good place. So much has happened since I last posted that a recap might be a long, dull and tedious exercise.
So, right now I am sitting up in bed (on top of covers so as not to get too cosy and fall asleep) attempting to write a blog post that I have been threatening to write for a couple of months now.
Gary is sitting beside me inking the third panel of our 188th web-comic strip. I've become a web-comic creator, writer and sometimes illustrator…..did I tell you??
Weird, huh??

I’m finding it pretty weird; weird, exciting, challenging, delightful and expansive; all of these things.
Pomegranate, our beautiful cat, is curled up asleep at Gary’s feet. Her restful THRUMMM fills the room. She looks so comfortable, I want to be shrunk down and nestle in beside her. She has become the golden star of our web-comic series. I think she knows it too; her diva-like tendencies have intensified. Gary has lovingly illustrated her in stories about our day to day lives and we have taken some fanciful adventures too. Our whole world has become available for re-invention. We are drawing a new imagining of life one panel at a time, on the page and off it.

I’m taking it easy today as the rest of my week is kind of full. I’m exhibiting as part of a group exhibition in the NCAD Gallery in Dublin at the moment. It is finishing on Friday and there is a day of meetings and programming I am taking part in. It all sounds pretty fancy and I have to say, it feels pretty fancy too.
I made it a goal a couple of years ago to work towards exhibiting my work in a gallery. I finally feel like I am on the road to achieving that goal in the way I imagined it in my head. I feared for a long time that I would never get there but taking part in this show has quietened those fears and I feel emboldened by the process.

I think being in an exhibition, much like anything that feels aspirational or slightly out of reach, has a dream like quality to it. I could imagine myself walking around my art work in a well lit white space. I could imagine feeling pride and a sense of accomplishment. What I don’t think you can ever really imagine is all the hard work it takes to get there. I mean I know it takes hard work; that is always factored in. But again I think that imagined hard work is always slightly more glamorized in your mind. I could imagine the hard work of self expression, of writing biographies and of promotion.

I don’t think I could have imagined running around Dublin city centre capturing photographs of a street art project I had papered town with the day before. I don’t think I could have imagined myself crouching on the floor of the gallery painstakingly measuring and cutting large sheets of paper for six hours (in the wrong boots that are making me hot and uncomfortable). My effort was so complete I actually smelled by the end of it. I don’t think we dream in that kind of awkward detail. The details of forgetting to bring masking tape or your USB stick not working or every bit of mounting board that you cut going off at an angle and having to start again. The kind of details that make you want to pull your hair out and scream and break things because of their inane simplicity, their everyday annoyance, their avoidable stupidity.

There is a large glass window in the front of the NCAD Gallery, so even as you are setting up your work you are on display. In the midst of my minor and major grievances, I could also feel the power of the moment. Here I was on the inside of the glass, I wasn't on the outside looking in at someone doing the thing that I really wanted to be doing myself. I have had plenty of experiences where I was gazing longingly at people fully engaged and participating in their creative lives while I observed from the side-lines. At those times I wasn't brave enough, happy enough, confident enough or I just wasn't able enough to do what I desired. I didn't feel I had enough internal or external support to put myself and my work out there. If it had been poorly received or criticised I don’t think I would have had the resources I needed to rally, to say “To hell with them, at least I tried!” and to carry on regardless.

After a long time of suffering this angst and slowly building some necessary supports around myself, I finally had had enough and I vowed that the next artistic, creative, crafty thing I attended, I would be participating in it also. That is how I started making for craft markets and sitting behind a table at the show rather than walking in front of them.

So here I am, another step taken down the road to my dreams. I have not only the experience of sitting behind the table now but also of being behind the glass. As I said, it feels pretty fancy. The harder realities of it are important too, I guess. The annoying details mean I have taken the idea or dream out of my head and the wild world has had its wicked way with whatever notion I was carrying around about how it would be. I did it anyway though, even with the crappy bits included and I finished what I started. In a really personal way, in an “only I can really know” moment, I know how far I have come; I know what it has taken and I feel satisfied.