Thursday, 25 May 2017

seeing the sea


These are my first ever two-colour lino cuts. My first - last week's single colour - of a minke whale - did not work well enough to share beyond the workshop, so this week I decided to move to the other end of the oceanic spectrum: phytoplankton. A few drops of seawater contains about a million bacteria and about 10 million viruses naturally, swarming and multiplying. And while my registration is not as accurate as it might be, I am rather pleased with these six editions. I don't know what I'll use them for, if anything, but will content myself with being pleased for the meanwhile. It is a rare sensation.

From these two weeks I'm interested in how slipping into the microscopic realm, attempting to represent what I've not seen, has proved itself easier to convey than the huge. Although I've not seen a minke whale in its entirety I was lucky enough to see the fin of one off the Northumberland coast a few years back, Yet what I produced via lino was, I think, too insubstantial to convey the wonder, the fluidity and musculature of the creature and my emotional experience of it. The unseen frees me from the shackles of subjectivity, to explore patterning and abstraction that then is released to become something other than my intention. How many of you recognised these as phytoplankton, after all? And it doesn't matter that you didn't -- that they don't really look like anything that actually exists -- they have a new sense of becoming -- snowflake -- crystal -- doodle -- wheel hub -- it doesn't matter now, beyond their cohesion within the frame they're in.

This is interesting to me given my current writing project: which is notes towards a stranding, working off some fictions I wrote a couple of years ago, auto-writing, "facts" and other - as yet unknown - stuff. It seems to me the only way to approach stringing these thoughts and experiences together is through a kind of abstracted patterning, maybe also to fuck up the registration so the layers do not lie neatly in sync with each other but create a tremor, a blurring, or, as was suggested in class this week, a three dimensional effect. So I think this means writing tons, mashing it up, writing more, cutting away and seeing what is left.

I feel a renewed sense of confidence for my anti-methodological approach to my work since being shortlisted for the Ivan Juritz prize. I wasn't expecting this at all. I was happy enough to have made an interesting piece of work to submit to it in the first place. And now it's sitting alongside all this other amazing work. 

This confidence means I'm prepared to work on / muck about with / write / read / walk / linocut / faff and ignore these ideas, accepting that much of what I'm doing just doesn't work, get excited by small moments of illumination, and keep on at it because I trust this compulsion that is interested in how these things do connect: a compulsion that has brought me back to thinking and wondering about them again and again, that probably won't leave me until I'm vaguely satisfied that I've got them out -- in a form that something in its own right -- distinct from me -- with a pulse of its own --