Focusing on the journey, not the destination.
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Coming to the pointy end of my most recent series "A Drawing A Day", a project that began 331 days ago now. Completion is always a strange and awkward time for me, the final scene, the last stroke, the credit roll, the end of the trip, the conclusion. I have always found it uneasy finishing a single piece of work or a series, in fact, I find it very hard to even sign my artworks. I generally just turn them towards the wall and write some details on the back like; date, medium and some kind of title, and then don't sight the face of these artworks again until it is necessary. I'm not exactly sure why that is? Perhaps this is common within creative people? I do not live with a great deal of my art, however I really enjoy seeing them in other peoples spaces. I often wonder how musicians react when they hear their songs in different contexts? With that in mind, I need motivation to create a body of work, a project for a better word. I work better with a raison d'être. I enjoy the practice of the journey more so that the end result. The irony being, that I need that end result to drive me.
In 1993 I was invited to clad the walls of 200 Gertrude Street Gallery front room in a series of colourful panels from floor to ceiling and wall to wall. The project took a year and a half to create, working tirelessly day and night from a tiny studio (a second bedroom) in my flat in St Kilda (Melbourne). I measured the gallery wall space I needed to complete, and then divided the area into approximately 150 smaller more manageable panels. I then lined the panels with thousands of coloured mosaic wooden pieces, that created a "Gingham" effect. After each smaller panel was completed I turned it towards the wall and ticked it off the "map" that I had drawn up of the gallery space. Very quickly my tiny studio began to decrease even further in size as the panels backed up. Eventually, every room in my flat became the storage facility for the show. Finally after days and nights of painting, cutting, glueing, painting, cutting, glueing.... I loaded up my station wagon and drove several trips down Punt Road, across the Yarra River, my car filled with the colourful panels, ready to hang. The end result was pretty impressive (if I can say so myself?), both from an artistic point of view, in addition to the overwhelming volume of works created. I can still clearly remember the uneasiness that I felt standing in the space viewing the installation that I had pushed myself for over for 18 months, artistically, emotionally and physically to create. Viewing the project as a conclusion rather than a work in progress. I can also clearly remember the sensation I felt, at the completion of the exhibition (three weeks later), when I dismantled the show, cut the boards into even smaller pieces, and gave the panels away to friends and family. A very strange sensation of giving away your creation without any emotion nor attachment. Whenever I visit my friends and family in the city of my birth, I have a deep sense of satisfaction and pride, viewing the surviving pieces from the journey that I began almost 30 years ago now.
I began the "A Drawing A Day Series" on July 1 2019. In this series I use oil pastels (a new medium for me) and a small Moleskin journal. The inspiration behind the series came from my need to be creative on a daily basis whilst I travel across the country for work. I am currently working as a facilitator who delivers teaching programs to schools and community members. The work involves a great deal of travel (something that I have never previously done as an occupation), across all states and territories for a week at a time. To take my art practice on the road, I needed it to be practical and manageable, so the oil pastels and journal are the first items packed in my suitcase on a Sunday evening. Everyday since, I have created a drawing from an aspect of that day that resonated with me. A song, a thought, an outlook, a memory, a desire, an anecdote were all the sources of inspiration for my drawing of that day. My new studio morphed from a hotel room to a caravan, a school desk, a park bench, any space that became my sanctuary for that week. Dr Brené Brown defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” Brown says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity". I seemed to thrive on the vulnerability of being in a foreign place, away from my normal routine and environment. Tapping into my creativity grounded me, becoming the inspiration and motivation that I needed to bring some aspect of normality into an otherwise anomalous way of being. Very early in the series I decided to set myself a destination to work towards, and so the title "A Drawing A Day" was born, and an end date set. In 35 more days this series will be completed, 366 works on paper that tell the story of my year. Shortly after, I will again load up my car with artworks, only this time I will drive down the east coast of Australia, a longer 20 hour journey to Melbourne, across the Murray River. I will hang my show, and again watch from afar, as a years work is presented to the public, and speculate as to the journey that these artworks find themselves on.