WEEK 1 | The Fool Begins Their Journey
Updated: Mar 16, 2022
Week 1: Settling in|Structure|Aesthetic choices|Digital Documentation|Budget
This weekly journal will record my progress, share part of my process development, and allow me to reflect on what I'm doing and why.
Week 1 is all about getting settled in, finding an appropriate structure, and understanding the pace of each experiment. Oh my, I have a few I really want to get going.
First and foremost, it's my wearable art that I consider to be both a performative piece and a hybrid of various media. This is the first time I have actually had the opportunity to test my concept properly. I have drawn this piece many times and learned the skills I need to do it over a long period of time, but now I have a space to test it.
There's something cartoonish about my aesthetic, and I intend to keep with it. This painting uses acrylic paints from the same palette I use in my gouache paintings too. It instantly transports me to a different world: a world of mind and emotion, in which I can create a sort of visual poetry.
I'm making do with what I have since this residency received no funding. I only have £50 a month for essentials. I've also been making a budget, so that I can buy an electric hob and use food waste to dye some fabrics. I am crossing my fingers. Besides that, it's mostly foraging: donations and lucky finds. I am deeply saddened that artists are still expected to work for free, no matter what organisations say. There simply isn't enough funding to go around.
Anyway, week 1 has been hands-on and I've enjoyed every second of it. I have begun drafting the top that will go with the cushioned headpiece I am making. My visual research led me to crusader herald sheets - the thin red sheets worn above their armour with a painted red cross on them. I traced a basic pattern re-using a top I had in the studio as all professional patterns I could use required too much adjusting of everything. I will only be able to start painting it once the head piece is closer to its finished stage. Hopefully next week.
I have also spent a little time experimenting with digital documentation of my work as it’s something I have been planning on doing from the start. Making the work isn’t enough. It’s also about how to share it and present it in the future. To me this residency is a way to have a few more pieces developed enough that I’ll be able to invite collaborators to work with, to strengthen my conceptual, contextual and aesthetic vision, and as a way to initiate conversations on the personal experiences that drive these pieces to ground my work in community in as much as aesthetic quality. I care to find a way to share on these topics, not because I'm dying to let people know about my personal stuff (fuck no), but because, seeing the amount of taboos still existing, the toxic narratives, the poor social justice and ethical conundrums around the world of In/fertility, it feels urgent. Millions of people are going through the same diagnosis, dilemmas, treatments, grief and disappointment. Yet I felt deeply alone throughout the whole experience.
To me, the world of In/fertility has been quite claustrophobic, especially as a queer identifying person. And like many people going through fertility struggles, I became obsessed with it slightly. I have many questions around why a nuclear family set up should be better than another, and the world of In/fertility has proven to be so heteronormative and oppressive, it's been shocking. I felt there was very little choice for me and my path, whilst also becoming aware of how access to treatment is deeply unfair. Many difficult realisations followed in the last few years, some of which have informed the initial body of work. I began it because I needed to, and I trust it to be a good enough reason.
It gives me courage to know this work might at some point resonate with others. The work of artists functions in different ways: our processes vary, our reasons to make are disparate; our impact (a word so dear to all funding institutions and the bureaucrats often gatekeeping artists chances to make good work) is a complex thing that, I feel, the more one tries to calculate, the more it will lose its power. I believe good art is in the moment. How we intend to share our work can also be extremely unique or conventional and still relevant. So we shall see what will come out of this.
I could write and maybe, at some point, I should write, more about the queer and In/Fertility intersection I exist in. Not an essay, but some insights, expand on what felt like its limitations - the direct and indirect ways of crashing our dignity and wonderful humanity. It's a tough subject to delve into with words. I think this is why I'm working towards using images and hybrids instead. One medium can't possibly be enough for the complexities of these crossroads.
I guess part of this residency is also for me to figure out the ‘how’ of this body of work in relation to something so personal. I reached out already to a few different people whose knowledge will help my thrive during these three months and I have booked a day at The Bishopsgate Institute to do some geeky research on the topic of fertility and queerness together, but also expanding on my understanding of family in a queerer sense and with a look at queer futurity.
Research and conversations with people are for me an integral part to what I add with my intuition; it helps me connect with my work. It’s a way to improve the lens through which images and ideas come out to the world even when I don’t know the thread that connects them in the moment. To map the way in which my academic interest stems from my lived experience I spent a few hours writing down the different stages that I could recognise from the beginning of my journey struggling to become a parent, almost 4 years ago now. It reads a bit like chapters from a book that hasn’t been written yet, so perhaps it’s vague for anyone who hasn’t got the insights I have, but! It’s been a very helpful exercise and I’ll be using to loosely guide me in my research and conversations.
I’ll finish today’s sharing with my hopes for week 2 - though I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, not more than I already tend to do anyway, but: I’d like to see the first headpiece finished, one large painting started and have a clearer idea of how I’ll be getting people to join me and enjoy what my open studio will entail.
Hey, do you want to support my work?
WEEK 1'S GOOD EGGS:
Have you beed recently diagnosed with subfertility? Check Fertility Network for info and support. They also have an info like and a support phone line.
Fertility Network UK provides free and impartial support, advice, information and understanding for anyone affected by fertility issues.
We are the nation’s leading patient-focused fertility charity and are here on a practical and emotional level whatever your experience of fertility issues to offer support services, information and access to a community of people affected by fertility problems.
Fancy spending some time with a podcast that is both informative, tough and funny?
"Big Fat Negative is the podcast about IVF, infertility and the trials of trying for a baby. Co-hosted by journalists and friends Emma and Gabriella, the show follows their stories on the not-so-simple journey to motherhood, and interviews a range of experts on everything from infertility treatment to secondary infertility, infertility in men and signs of infertility. "