Now that the work is living in the Bioscience Centre, I have turned my attention to creating the pieces I have been commissioned to create. Busy. Keeping busy.
There are also efforts being made to secure a big space in Edinburgh as I would really love to display the work in its entirety in this fine city.
I’ll let you know how I get on.
I am… hesitant. There are things that need to be written, things that I don’t necessarily feel like writing but know I should. The blog for this project is to tell an honest account of the life of The Connecting Thread. To stay true to that promise to myself and to anyone following the journey, to maintain authenticity and honesty, I really ought to write about Sunday.
Sunday was the day I packed up the artwork and drove it down to Newcastle. The gallery space was ready with necessary wall structures in place. Hooks needed to be added, as well as the string, sheets, pillowcases, information boards and information pamphlets on the side. A beautiful vinyl with the project name and my name in black lettering had been created. My good friend Ian and I, along with two helpful and delightful men at the Bioscience Centre, put everything in place and that was that. The artwork was set out in its new home. (The two worker men reminded me of Fraggle Rock’s Doozers as they seemed to come out from nowhere, quickly did their work, then mysteriously disappeared).
The reception was low key and celebrated with Cava in hand. The Lady Boys of Bangkok provided us with thumping tunes as their tent is set up just outside the doors of the Bioscience Centre. Oh, Centre for Life, you are so varied in your entertainments. Good conversations were had, but honestly, by the end of it I was completely shattered and just wanted to find my bed, wrap up in warm blankets and put the day behind me.
Throughout this project, it has been interesting to hear people’s reactions to the last pillowcase – the blank pillowcase. You start with big, swooping, green hills, stone bridges then move to Georgian houses then a house made of mud. Vibrant and deep greens, golden yellows and touches of blue take up the visual space and then of course there are the details of the stitched words. You walk along and follow the story, you finally arrive at Newcastle and see the Bioscience Centre. You shuffle passed that big sheet and end up staring at an empty pillowcase. Most people have seen this as something positive. “Oh. There’s nothing on this one. Oh! I see. It’s the future. It has yet to be written.” This is the usual reaction and one that I am pleased with because the viewer is ending on a high. One girl that viewed the artwork on Sunday said that she felt sad about the last piece; it had brought a tear to her eye.
Initially, I had seen that last blank canvas as something positive and hopeful. Now, I see it as a big, empty expanse. And it, too, bothers me in a way that I had not anticipated.
Because the thing is, and this is the thing, when this project began we were living in a lot of hope. It was my final attempt at IVF and you have to live in hope that it’s going to work for you. This time. This is the time when things will happen because you think you deserve it, because you’ve suffered enough really and it would be nice for life to shine down and smile on you and your happy dreams. Well. We know how that ended. It took 9 months for me to process that kind of loss and to be honest, it will never be fully ‘gotten over, ‘ it will be something I carry with me through all my days.
After awhile, we took the steps to apply for adoption. Again, there was hope in something good, in a nice sunny outcome, something to look forward to. A difficult step, but a choice met with excitement and anxiety, sometimes in equal measure. That blank pillowcase would be filled with a different outcome, but something wonderful and shiny and brilliant. Unfortunately, the much hoped for and anticipated outcome has resulted in something quite the opposite. I have somehow ended with less than what I started out with. Instead of a family of two and a dog, it is just now me and a dog.
I found Sunday difficult. I found it difficult because all of my emotions were pushing their way to the surface and I couldn’t contain them. I found it difficult because now when I look at that blank pillowcase, it makes me feel raw and broken. It’s a feeling of being stared at by the nothing that is a result of dreams that haven’t turned into anything tangible.
“Isn’t it common for artists to suffer for their work?” a friend of mine asked. Or was it “because of their work”? I can’t quite remember the wording. I suppose it would be ridiculous to think that I could make this and be unaffected by it.
Today I’ve been recreating a sentence I painfully removed before heading out to Nebraska. My mother’s name linked to my father’s name, held together by 1975. Their wedding day photo has been used in this blog and also occupies a space on the information boards. Removing her from my artwork, removing my mother, made my heart ache and I still haven’t forgiven myself.
So, why did I do it? I did it because life is messy. Untidy. Ended marriage and new parents added to the scenario. As the work was to be displayed at my dad and step mom’s house (I never refer to her as step mom, she is every bit as much my mother as Kathy), I didn’t want the work to offend. A former wife’s name flapping around in the current wife’s yard didn’t seem very nice. Out of respect, I took out the sentence, but by doing so I feel that I have disrespected my mother.
So, there you go. One of those decisions to be made where either answer is the wrong answer.
Now that Katherine is back in place, my mind is at peace with this sheet, this part of the story.
I hear that the setting up of the exhibition space at the Bioscience Centre is going swimmingly. Walls have been built, signs made. This is going to be something.
Can you believe that the final (ehem…so far….there are plans) installation of The Connecting Thread – a personal psychogeography is happening so soon?! After two years of planning and creating, it is time to string it up in the last venue, the last leg of the international tour.
5 – 7pm
Reception in the foyer of the Bioscience Centre (easily located off of Times Square)
There will be wine and me smiling insanely as I will be very pleased to see you there. It would be lovely if you could come along and celebrate this adventure with me.
Exhibition opening times:
Oct 3 – Dec 2
Monday – Thursday
8am – 6pm
8am – 5pm
I will be conducting collaborative Gocco workshops and a walk through of the exhibition on October 27th and 28th. Those specific times will be listed here closer to the days.
What is The Connecting Thread?
The Connecting Thread uses hand-printed textile images, bedsheets and pillowcases to create a living, tactile timeline. The exhibition is about realizing how decisions made hundreds of years ago affect who we are and where we are today. It’s about discovering another layer to our identity, appreciating the paths travelled by the people preceding us and giving life to the names on a family tree.
Spinning plates on sticks. Who was the person that thought of this as a form of entertainment? How does that thought even begin? I wonder what would happen if…? First there was the one plate, gyrating on the tip top of the pole. I just love the thought that thinks the one isn’t enough.
This month has been a month of trying to keep several plates balanced and spinning, desperately trying to make them whirl whirl whirl and me running like a crazy person between them all.
I nearly let the Connecting Thread plate slip. It was just whirling away quite nicely and I took my eyes off of it for too long. There is one last leg of the trip and I am leaving it to rather late in the day to promote it. So, promote I shall with Twitterings, Facebooks and Blogtasticness galore. There are invites to send and press releases to release. This is the finale – the final show for this year and it would be such a shame if I let it all end with a small whisper. Or a sound as insignificant as papers shuffling. Or an exhale.
I am also working on creating more artworks for shops, contacting shops and hoping to have a presence in all the major areas of Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Skylines are selling very nicely in the Grassmarket (Hannah Zakari) and on Broughton Street (Curiouser and Curiouser). I am now targeting New Town and Stockbridge. Spin. Spin. Spin.
Then of course there is navigating the foreign landscape of being a unit of 1 instead of a unit of 2. The plate is wobbling all over the place and to be honest, I have dropped that sucker, taped it together, dropped it again, glued the pieces into one, gave it another whirl and now seem to be fumbling along in a very tired, exhausted and haggard kind of way.