Being an artist is to accept failure.
The concept has been plaguing my mind over the past few months since beginning this artist residency in motherhood. For some reason the self induced pressure of the residency, by imposing a label on my everyday life and practice, has magnified my already existing fear of failure. 'I'll write a blog post every two weeks' she said, 'I will carve out the time each day to make work' she said, 'I'll read more, research more, create more' she said...
I think failure and guilt go hand in hand and everywhere I look I can easily give myself a reason to feel both to the point where it can be so cripplingly overwhelming that I become stuck. I have hardly made any art in ages and each time I go to sit at my desk all I can do is think about all the things that I could/should be doing that I'm not. Have I reached the point that I have nothing left?
I searched #failure on instagram and was faced with a barrage of inspirational quotes that did not inspire me. I then searched #instafail to find some amusing videos of people and cats falling over as well as a bunch of culinary disasters, well, at least I'm not the only crappy cook. Instagram in itself is enough to make anyone feel like a failure though, especially a woman, a mum, an artist.
So here I am, feeling guilty for not being a good enough artist, for not being a patient enough mother, for not being more enthusiastic at my 9-5, for not providing a secure financial future, for not cooking home made nutritious meals three times a day, for not having a 'proper' studio, for having to do everything myself, for not being a supportive enough friend / daughter / sister, for wanting time to myself, for wanting to escape, for wanting to be present, and I wonder, why am I so mentally drained.
Where do I go from here? How do I turn failure into success? I've always been really intrigued by people who are happy to share their honest selves warts and all, I am excited by honesty, by truth, by real emotion and its something we see all too rarely. I've noticed recently (or, been made aware of) the fact that I am one of these people that often talks themselves down; my body language, facial expressions and ability to turn a compliment into a reason to explain all the reasons why I shouldn't be awarded it. "Oh your an artist, thats cool", "Yeah, well kind of, I mean I work full time to pay the bills and I don't have a proper studio, and i'm busy being a single mum so don't have that much time to make art, and I'm not that good really I mean I make some collage and stuff but nothing really amazing I mean I don't make any money from my art and haven't been awarded any prizes or anything", "erm....cool.... (#awkward)" Its easy for the feeling of not being good enough, those pesky negative thoughts to creep out into your daily life. I guess its time to figure out how to break the patterns, how to channel these thoughts into my work, perhaps the messy, anxiety ridden, jumble of things in my head is the kick up the ass my creative block needs?
'Being an artist is to accept failure' she said....
Take off your shoes and come into the garden
You can't make something from nothing
If not now, when?
A Travelling Domestic
I'll be your ship if you'll be my ocean
No New Work
Eat Your Peas
Make, Serve, Think, Repeat
Between you and me, there's everything
Why do tall men always land on their feet?
Shipwrecked: The Death of A Journey
The monotony of an ideal world
All the time spent making this, I was thinking of you.
All my letters about debt/money photocopied onto an A4 page and then scrunched into a ball times the amount of months it will take me to repay all my debts.
Work in progress ... there are lots more balls to be made (sigh).
Work in progress. 'This Is How I Feel When I Think About Money'.
All my bills / statements / debt letters photocopied onto a single page until I come to a pleasing aesthetic in the hope that it will make me feel less anxious about the fact that I can't afford to pay them.
So... yesterday was manic. I didn't manage to make anything yesterday so technically I failed my challenge, but believe me, I did try though! I even took a bunch of collage materials along to the skatepark I took my son to and tried to make something in the cafe! This morning I've been a swot to make up for it and made two collages.
I set myself this challenge for 7 days in order to get making again, to force myself to take time out of my life and make some art. It's actually amazing how much time and headspace I've managed to create for myself just by rearranging my priorities. I'm going to try and continue for another week, to make something each day, to keep up the momentum and see what happens.
A Collage A Day: Sunday 10:30 am - 12:30pm.
'Burn Baby Burn' [collage on paper 29x21cm]
'House Beautiful' [paper collage 30x22cm]
Friday, 7-8pm It's been a long week, i bashed this one out before dinner arrived (Friday pizza night because who wants to cook after a long week?)
'Signal' [collage on paper, 29 x 21 cm]
Day 4: Thursday 7:30 - 9:30 ( with a few breaks for random things like phone calls and questions about minecraft/ "mum i'm still hungry")
'Keeping Score' [collage and pen on paper]
Day three, Wednesday August 24th 7:30 - 9:30 ( I got carried away and didn't realise the time, the kitchen is a mess and Sol is only just brushing his teeth for bed)
Exhale [collage on paper, 29x21cm]