Above: black and white tissue and chalk picture by Veena from Spurr House Care Home, Bury 2014
At long last the first images for the Fold project have arrived. They were so different from anything that I had seen when I worked at the Bury care home a few years ago now.
The first set caught me by surprise. I was delighted with them and spent some time making some notes and realising immediately that these would change my initial ideas about what I might make. I could tell from looking at the folders on the screen that the care worker and the resident had worked extremely closely together.
The images had a powerful 'repeated' pattern within them and exploring them with an old colleague I realised that the images were provoking a completely different response to those I experienced in Bury. These responses I realised were prompted by my own recent and personal experiences of spending time with my beautiful sister-in-law, Pippa, who died last month and who had lived with early onset dementia. I talked with Ela about this at length.
My own feelings about my her were somehow projected onto the images that had been sent to me from the care home. I need to make sure that with the work I make that this experience is explained. The first step of this is outlining as best I can these very profound feelings on this blog. The inclusion of the concept of a Deleuzian Fold allows I feel for the 'sandwiching' of experiences together and I will be thinking more about this as the work progresses.
The impact of seeing the ‘spaces’ in the chalk and felt tip coloured patterns was the first thing to strike me as I opened the online folders. Also the large areas of blank black tissue which surrounded the small chalky motifs. This was a different type of image from those made in Bury when the same materials had been used. The carefully drawn flower shapes on one of the images made me think again about spaces and holes. About lace. About loss but also containment.
The other conversation we had concerned the difference between my initial idea of making a series of 2-D pieces to making a series in 3D. Ela and I discussed some of the reasons this why this might have occurred...
As I had explained to Chloe Asker when she interviewed me for her blog entry on the CutureBox project, I feel very much that it is the response to the ‘process’ of the making in the care homes that I want the work to reflect. This was how I had approached the work in Bury and I want to continue this.
There is a complexity to this commission because with this new work I am not able to be ‘in the room’ with the participants. So I am unable to pick up the nuances of the gestures or conversations or movements during painting, drawing or modelling. And importantly the discussions between resident and the care worker.
So I can only glean from looking at the images through the filter of the screen what that might have been, and in so doing I realise that there are also gaps or 'holes' in my understanding of the process.
This is part of the process of working from a distance or within a virtual network and I will aim to reflect this in the final work. It doesn’t mean to say that the pieces I make will be any less responsive or less distinctive or less profound. It will mean that I am responding to the work the care homes create itself and the different processes.
As I explained with my initial proposal for Fold the nuances in thinking that would occur as we all move through the project might change the eventual materials (from those initially envisaged) and the final realisation of the pieces. Allowing the process to ‘unfold’ and responding to it. Rather as a jazz improvisation.
The impact of my reading of the images that I have received via the screen now are folding together to create something different to the work I had initially imagined. That difference is taking the form of a desire to make the work in three dimensions rather than two.
It allows me to look at the imagined conversation or the imagined gesture or the imagined emotional discussion. And also to integrate the experiences of my time with Pippa and my thoughts about memory work.
Binding it together within a small three-dimensional sculpture forces the viewer of the objects I make to have more time when they see it at the care home and experience the sculpture.
In a two-dimensional piece the reading is different.
This project has forced me to spend time reflecting on the filtering or ‘translation’ of ideas. If you like it may be considered as ‘walking around the idea’ in the same way that I might walk around a three-dimensional piece of work.
I will work on bringing together some of the beautiful motifs found on the screen possibly with some of my own recurring motifs made after my own care home visits. So they might recall or respond to the individual images I see on screen (so far grids, patterns, spaces, numbers and words) and these will be folded together with my own experiences.
So the whole piece is looking at the way that we might come to see memory loss like a canvas where holes may appear against a vista of dark or light. But these holes contain a distant memory which may not be fixed or clear. They create another space of intricate and beautiful images which Fold will try to make visible.
I began writing this blog to share the 'process' of making a new project that brought together the research, collaborations and issues as they arise in the making of a piece of work.