Saturday, March 15, 2008


Friday’s post was well received – thank you. My subconscious went off and dredged up something that I had all but forgotten about.

This is a piece of work I did at the beginning of my final year at Art College. It was photographed by the hugely talented Kris Emmerson, who doubled as a student and technician while I was doing my degree (he went off to the Royal College of Art when he finished his BA).

We had to produce a piece of work to go into some promotional material for our degree show, or the website or something.

And guess what? I was having a creative crisis. This was, though I joke, extremely serious and a horribly bad time to have it. The work for the degree show is hugely important if you want to go on exhibiting, applying for MAs etc. It requires extensive research and development so that the result is as good as it can get. I was fairly certain that I didn’t want to continue – though I loved doing the degree – but I have always been a perfectionist and I wanted to do as well as I could. (Ha, that’s a mature student for you!)

This creative crisis was proper block. I don’t use the word very easily these days because having been there I don’t want to make light of what I experienced. I’ve had all sorts of ‘I’m bored /not motivated/think this stinks’ moments but this block was close to depression (yes, I’ve had that too, so I can make that statement.) For the first time in my life I got close to understanding what faith really meant, and I only knew it because it had gone. In fact I didn’t know I’d had it, until it had gone. It wasn’t a religious faith – it was a faith in myself; my ability and my process.

I couldn’t have told you faith was crucial to my process and ability to make art. I suspect it’s got something to do with writing too, but I’m not sure I’ve been doing that long enough to know if I have it or not. It’s close to confidence (I am SO NOT confident in my creative ability) but not the same thing either.

It’s interesting (to me) because my story is about faith (the non religious type) and I think may have been identified to me as part of my crisis in my last year at art college. So, anyway, I produced this for the promotional photo, and it is very quintessentially me; my work.

And no wonder really that the basket picture on Friday reminded me of my sculpture work. Now I’ve gone and done it, and posted some stuff I’ve made, I thought I might post some more too. Watch this space.


Yvonne said...

Oh brilliant, I was hoping that you'd post more about your sculpture work. I love your work in the photo, the material looks spindly and alien, like jellyfish - very strange and wonderful. (Sorry for the vagueness of my comment but I don't know much about art - I think great art is something that gives me an emotional response, which your photo did.) I'm sorry you struggled so much in your final year, it sounds so anxious and lonely. I'm sure you will find your style in writing too, I think you're very talented.

JJ said...

Yvonne, thank you. Your reaction is wonderful. I took daughter off to a friends and on the way I thought 'OMG, there'll be a resounding silence on that post because nobody will know what to say.'

Thank you for your response. I had lovely friends around me who supported me and when push came to shove and I had to have a half termly tutorial with one of the tutors, I sat there and cried all the way through it. I thought he was going to tell me to pull myself together, but he was lovely, and gentle and understanding. Julia Cameron's book helped me through too.


Lane said...

They're beautiful. They look so fragile and they look like they're breathing.

You've touched on one of my pet subjects here jj and I could bang on about it for hours (but I won't).
I suffered from (that's too strong a word but you know what I mean) crippling self doubt for years (and to a certain extent still do).
People are fragile, like your bubbles, and they need bolstering. They need affirmations. They need to be told loud and clear if you appreciate something they've created.
I'm going to shut up now.
I'd like to see more of your creations ... and I know you can write.

Debs said...

You're so artistic. I know nothing at all about art, I'm afraid but loved that photo, so delicate and fragile looking.

It sounds like you had a horrible time.

Carol and Chris said...

Those are absolutely stunning JJ. I love the picture - They look delicate and otherwordly.....gorgeous!!

Losing faith in your own abilities must have been awful!! I too think you are very talented!!

C x

Pacha said...

Thanks JJ. You are extremely talented! I loved this piece of work. The texture of it is incredible - I could stare at it forever. And there is a hint of hope in a pathway - a way in and out. The piece does breathe, it is so alive.

But I too am not an art expert. I just know what I like! And I like this. Thanks for posting it honey!
(btw I think artwork and degrees etc is SUCH hard work for perfectionists...they really shouldn't be allowed to study!)

hesitant scribe said...

I love the sculpture. I can't really better what Lane said about it, but I am wondering how big it was?! Or small? And what would it be like to be able to walk through it (maybe a bit scary!).

I'm with you all the way on the lack of confidence thing - I never even showed my writing until I was forced to on my degree! And it is awful being a perfectionist - maybe pacha's right and we shouldn't be allowed to do arts because it isn't about perfection is it? If anything, the beauty is in the imperfections.

Now there's a philosophical thought.

Anonymous said...

Good post; I'm sorry to hear you had such a hard time. I experienced something similar while at college, and it was a dark time.

The sculpture reminds me of bubble wrap, seen through a microscope: clinical yet comforting. I love bubblewrap - so tactile and immediately satisfying, and the texture really comes through in the work :-)

Perfection comes, IMO, from wanting to produce your vision the way you see it, and the real-life rendering can fall short of that. Then we start beating ourselves up, completely missing the point of creativity: it's about quirks, the subconscious, expression of self and your own unique perception.How can something so subjective ever be perfect?