My creative processes might be described as stages:
Stage One: light-hearted failure to appreciate the deadline, coupled with a hopeful presumption that everything will be different this time around.
Stage Two: agonising. Non-stop. Usually involves a critique of my life so far, highlighting failures, minimising successes and feeling very gloomy.
Stage Three: half-hearted attempts to 'start', because I know that if I start 'something' I'll be a few inches closer to finishing.
Step Four: backing myself into a complete corner by allowing everything to pile up around me, literally and metaphorically, until I chase myself into the studio in order to avoid the mayhem on my desk.
Step Five: make something, re-make it and remake it again until I just can't take any more and then feel a small amount of relief. Usually this will be accompanied by technical failures and a realisation that I don't have the necessary equipment or materials and several frantic visits to the shops.
Step Six: deconstruct everything up to this point and slump. Start going round in circles and, after a while, profer whatever it is I've come up with on an outstretched hand to the audience whilst covering my eyes and feeling a bit sick.
I'd like to think that every time I end up with something I'm really, really certain about, but that doesn't often happen. This time for example I have ended up with something, but I haven't got enough distance from it yet to be able to look at it properly.
So what do I have? Well, it's about my mother's death. The shape - a rotating tetrahedron* - evokes for me the sense of loss in 3 dimensions, as it rotates around itself and a central space. The substrate is koshi handmade Japanese paper which has a rough side and a smooth side, and I've printed on both. I very rarely venture into digital, partly out of sheer technical ignorance and partly through a bloody-minded insistence on autographic mark-making but this time I've used text. At the moment I just don't have the wherewithall to etch text onto copper and so I've finally made use of my lovely Epson Stylus 2100 A3 inkjet printer which has been languishing in a corner, and it's done a good job for me. The paper is printed on the back and the front with the text of Rosemary Dobson's poem and a catalogue of words evoking loss and associated emotions, over a photograph of my mother taken in her early 20's, I think, on holiday in Norway.
I wasn't even a twinkle in her eye when the photo was taken but it's how I like to remember her: happy, smiling, young, beautiful. She died suddenly, 4 weeks before my daughter (her first grandchild)was born, just before Christmas 2001. It's not as raw now as it once was, but I find her death and my daughter's birth difficult to process, and this time of the year can be hard.
Despite the fact that I am rarely autobiographical in my work this piece does have an antecedant: I first made a rotating tetrahedron in 2002, printed with photographs of the woodland where we scattered her ashes. So in many ways this piece isn't an aberration, it's just had a long gestation. I'm not sure if it is fully resolved yet, but I need to stop working on it now and say "this is what I've got". I still need to design a box ("slipcase") for it, but the form of the 'book' is finished. I just need to make 9 more of them!
* developed by Tomoko Fuse and illustrated on p16 of "Origami for the Connoisseur" by Kunihiko Kasahara and Toshie Takahama, published by Japan Publications Inc, 1987. ISBN 4-8170-9002-2.