I've not talked about this for a bit as we were very busy behind the scenes post-event. You might already know that as well as doing illustration I have a gallery which shares the same floor as the studio here.
And we have a review of the Gentleman Practice show, of creative responses to Buddy Wakefield's show, on our Factoryroad Gallery website at last.
I'm not going to add much as both Buddy and ourselves have written just about all there is to write about the experience of the creating, curating, hosting, mounting and debriefing of the show. It was one of the most exhausting and emotional things we're ever undertaken - perhaps it comes close to the Write Off The World shows - well, actually, as I begin to recall that, maybe close, but not the same - but It feels correct, however, to write about the piece that was my contribution to the collection.
I am a guilty person. I feel guilt. Most of the time; from all angles, guilt comes at me in assorted guises. It is usually my fault. Even when it's most obvious to other people that it isn't. I'm not Catholic, so can't blame that stereotype. I've never had pressuring or pushy parents. I've never done anything terrible to anyone. I always pay my bills on time. I've never exploited or bullied anyone. I give money to charity, I make cakes for people and I look after my sisters. I make coconut flapjacks for my boyfriend and sometimes he doesn't even need to ask me for them. And yet, my head tells me I'm never good enough, clever enough, kind enough, hardworking enough, friendly enough, relaxed enough...you get the picture. It's boring. It even bores me. But it's there, and actually, I feel a bit guilty right now, for even writing this and not doing my 'work'.
So when I read Buddy's poem 'Healing Herman Hesse' - one I've listened to a lot but never actually read - the following lines cuffed me around the back of the head:
‘Spends his time falling from the weight.
Got a lead brain.
It’s a battle magnet.
He carries it round by the guilt straps.
My own Battle Magnet was created by night, alone, from pure driven desperation to make manifest this source of negativity and mental collision. It was made from canvas, calico, a safety helmet, insulating fabric, tapes and straps, paper, ink, Sugru, ear defenders, a glue gun and some sewing. It had just two tiny pencil sketches beforehand, and whoosh, eleven hours later, it was there. Right in front of me. My own brain. Staring back at me in the mirror atop my own head (I made it to fit of course - the theatrical props maker of old Mole will look for any reason to force herself through any available gap). When on my head, the piece obscures my vision, makes it impossible to hear anyone properly, and adds real weight to my shoulders. Funny that.
So there she was. I didn't know whether to embrace her and soothe her, or set fire to her. The final part of the project came in the dead of night again - I simply had to pose wearing the beast, my own pale and worried body supporting the literal and metaphorical weight (it's very heavy, and not very stable when on). It has been thought that this photo shows the Battle Magnet atop a 'white mannequin', which I found funny, as I had clearly disguised myself sufficiently for people not to realise it is my skinny arms and chest underneath.
The Battle Magnet is still in the room and I don't know what to do with her. She is part of me, even though she's externalised now. But where will she live? Well the answer is easy, actually. Where I can keep a goddamned eye on her, and her destructive tendencies.