Thursday, March 10, 2011

Trying too hard

* SIGH *

I think that's my problem: too much trying and too much sighing. I don't know what's got into me, but despite having spent longer in the studio than normal so far this year I seem to have made less progress. I know what the problem is: first of all I got (and have still got!) my knickers in a twist about wanting to make a "good" book i.e. one that I'm proud of, and secondly I was a bit thrown by Professor Woodrow's attack on all things sculptural in the world of artists' books... The net result is that I've spent the best part of 4 months dilly-dallying around, changing my mind almost daily about what I want to do and what I'm trying to achieve. In the process I am driving myself mad.

Ronnie's stellar success with the BAO Impact 7 proposal throws things into relief! I need to get my knickers un-twisted and actually do some work, so I shut myself in the studio for about 4 hours today with a (small!) packet of Cadburys' mini eggs (yum), a couple of tea bags and a severe telling off, having instructed myself to sort something out. After all, I reasoned, the ironing pile that had suddenly grown so attractive would still be there when I finished AND if I actually manage to do some work I will magically have time to do other things!

Oh, and did I mention I have a big show on in August/September and that I don't actually have any work to go in it yet? Another incentive to get my arse in gear.

These images are very much work in progress - it could all change (although I secretly hope it won't because I can't cope with changing my mind again). I was trying to work out what interests me about the Winterson text, and I think it's about knowledge: the known and the unknown. It's ironic that the Library of Alexandria was the largest collection of knowledge in the world of its time and its reputation survives to this day but we know nothing about what it contained. I surmise - since its first librarian was a student of Aristotle - that Aristotle's Metaphysics would have been in the collection, so that's the origin of the Greek text. I also find it ironic that the pinakes, the first ever library cataloguing system, contained details not only of the author's name, but also his or her place of birth and father's name, establishing their reputation and patrimony... and yet we know nothing at all about the slave boys who found the books. And the irony that knowledge sets one free, but was found by slaves. The owl is Athene's owl, symbol of the Greek goddess of knowledge: Athene, daughter of Zeus, who shared with her father the thunderbolt and the aegis, the goat-skin breastplate that protected them from harm. A seer had predicted that she would be stronger than him, despite Zeus's position as king of the gods on Mount Olympus, so he swallowed her before she was born. His consequent headache was explained when she sprang forth from his skull: knowledge was definitely equal to, if not stronger than power.

I'm posting these pictures as much to put a stake in the ground about my intentions as to show you what I'm doing! Hopefully you'll get something that has a vague connection to these photos in due course. Meanwhile, happy wrestling with your own books and I look forward to seeing the results. I haven't even started thinking about the Beynon poem yet!


Fiona said...

Stop blogging and get back to work!!!!

Carrie said...

A severe case of thinking too hard! The book in progress looks intriguing, have confidence in it. If everyone thought the same as Woodrow then the world of artist's books would be very dull.

Abigail Thomas said...

woo hoo! getting something out there and started is great. hope it continues.

alison said...

I have just emerged from "that place" too , good old dilly dally tags on our tails from time to time but it sounds like you have given it a good shake and are on the road again. good luck and successfull progress.
I also agree with Carrie re Woodrow.

Angela said...

"every sigh draws drops of blood from the heart and tends to shorten life...." From Hamlet. I remember this particularly from school and was sure that the girl sitting next to me was trying to commit suicide because she never stopped ;-)

And another Irish expression - I am full of them today - or maybe I'm just full of it ;-) This is the polite version and refers particularly to that man who made comments about sculptural books - feck the begrudgers.

And one more from Bruce Dickinson "sometimes you just need to get out of your own way" I'll shut up now...

p.s the images look great.

ronnie said...

I've always found that I think best with my fingers..... (that I think speaks VOLUMES about my supposed bookiness!)

I think there's meat on the bones of the idea you are pursuing here (lovely owly pic!) and I for one hope that you pursue this line of inquiry and see what it yields (it's looking noice!)

Fiona Dempster said...

Sara - it looks great and will be fabulous I am sure. I love the need for untwisting of knickers - and the solution of chocolate! I also love Angela's Irish quote and shall use it my self at times!
Best wishes for the next steps - the book may well unfold before your very eyes!

aine scannell said...


It gives me some reassurance to know that even YOU supreme book artist - are struggling so much with what you are doing regarding your book.
I have not contributed on here as to (what the hell) I am doing but I HAVE been making lots of technical research and doing a lot of thinking. YES I was thinking about knowledge and the quest for it too!!.

I get excited reading about the characters you mention as in Athene and Zeus. The slaves - that really grabbed me as in relation to those misfortunate boys clambering up the piles of books. The abuse of power being a long time underlying concern of mine ........the words of the voiceless.
As with Fiona, Ronnie, Angela, Abigail, Carrie and Alison ...........what you show here looks FINE and GOOD to me. Keep at it and it will be wonderful.

I will return now to my own pile of stuff and proceed with more confidence too one of the others has said that's the key

HAVE confidence in your own abilities ...after all we do !!



Amanda said...

Wow! this looks great! Aesthetically the images are beautiful and the meaning intrigueing and enticing...this looks like a great start Sara. I do sympathize - its an awful place to be in, but I do believe it is a part of the process of being an artist - these uncomfortable periods of casting about, feeling like clarity will never come. I encourage you to stick with this - it looks like a great start, I'm sure you're on the right path.

As for sculptural vs whatever else, what is a book if it isn't first AN OBJECT (historically at least). I think I'm perverse - I'm actually interested in moving my work more in that direction!!!