new statement

I hate writing artist’s statements, just look at the work and figure it out for crying out loud! But conversely I love reading other artist’s statements, so anyway,kicking and screaming I have written a new one… feedback much appreciated please…

“One no longer knows right away whether one is running toward the center or escaping”

Gaston Bachelard

If I were good at linear thinking, no doubt my voracious reading habit and love of all things “book” would have lead me to be a writer… but it seems I have a magpie mind, that follows a shining course only to be distracted by something sparkly in my peripheral vision. So I fly from one thing to another, bringing back gems, nesting them in a bright tangles of ideas. This is not condusive to great scholarship, but it has formed the begining of an art practice for me.


This new series of mixed media works, books, prints and installation is about what happened when I pulled on one string and heaved up a whole mass of jumbled thoughts it had touched whilst lying there waiting for my interest. I cannot tell you what they are saying together entirely, they hav taken on a random life of their own, but here are the ideas I think I put in, in no particluar order except the first which dragged all the others in its wake…


String 1: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “The Yellow Wallpaper”. A few years ago while pursuing my Master’s I was listening to a lecture on design reform in the arts and crafts movment and I saw Charlotte’s wallaper and had an ah-ha moment. The language directed at the wallpaper was the same language directed at the “mad” women who had driven me to that lecture hall in the first place. Suddenly the choice of bad wallpaper as a vehicle for madness made perfect sense. Unfortunately this idea had to stew for a hile while I learned to think better and write my dissertation… so it sat


String 2: Vuillard’s Painting. Having been alerted to this link between bad women and bad wallpaper I began to see them together everywhere. In Vuillard’s work I thought it curious that only the young women vibrate to the same energetic pattern as the walls, the older generation seem to be holding their normal spaces. I thought about a generation of reform minded women literally changing their world, like the women of Hull House, remaking the spatial environment. I began to nourish the idea of the new pattern bleeding into the lived spaces of women.


String 3: Bachelard. The Zone of Sensitized Surface – the being fo man considered as the being of a surface that seperates the region of the same from the region of the other – on the surface being wants to be both hidden and visible… the wallpaper becam the possible location of such a surface, the narrator moving in and out of the marginal, negotiable spaces of the pattern. A space to investigate utopia.


String 4: Immorral Design: It is BAD wallpaper, evading the censors, embracing the grotesque and the frivoulous, not interested in the (design) reform party line. It rejects modernism, Pugin, Ruskin, Owens, Eastlake, Pusilly etc. It is a feminine provocateur, a counter point to the increasingly linear “machine-straight lives of middle class men” ~ Harvey Green (The light of the home). It is Woolf’s ornament and flourish that is the history of all women.


String 5: DeCereau. If there is no outside position, no outside the pattern then there is no purpose in escaping the pattern, only the possibility of reusing it tactically to subvert the message from within.


String 6: The Moths. I think the link is to Edith Wharton, describing her life as a house with the public rooms thrown open, only she has always waited in a small dark upper room alone for footsteps of understanding that never came… dark rooms made me think of moths eating words, being reborn, metamorphosis, dusty forgotten things, vainly beating against the  light, burning out.


String 7: Deleuze & Guittari. “a monument does not commemorate or celebrate something that happened but confides to the ear of the future the persistent sensations that embody an event.” “The monument’s action is not meaning but fabulation”


Lastly (?) Alan Garner’s Owl Service and the Mabinogion Series, women made of flowers, patterns that become other things, a deep love of myth and Welsh lore, and magic tangled through everything.

5 thoughts on “new statement

  1. I just wrote a plethora and erased it on purpose.
    what do i know?

    I guess I found it a little impersonal. After that 2nd paragraph you lost me. Maybe it has just been hammered into my head that artists statements should be very passionate sounding and coming solely from the artists intentions/passions in regards to the making of the work, the inspiration, the experience….maybe I got distracted by the other ‘people’ in the statement?

    It sounds very scholarly, so that too might be the problem for me. I’ve also not your experience in the ‘art world’ so again, what do I know?

  2. paula thanks for writing… unfortunately I’m a very bookish person, I live in books, all those other people are my inspirations, the little strands that became the beginning of an idea… I don’t know how to talk about that without being boring, maybe I am boring??

  3. to me it’s always seemed like artists’ statements are there to provide a “way in” to the art for people who might otherwise look at the pure visual object confusedly & think of themselves as “not getting it”. my mom is like that, much more on the verbal intellectual side than on the visual literacy side… she likes having something she can read that can then give her clues to build a structure of meaning or context for the artwork in her head…

    that said, I often get frustrated with myself in museums & galleries when I find myself (being also a heavily verbal person!) spending more time reading the wall text than looking at the art, responding to other people’s interpretations, more than to the work itself… I have to discipline myself to look away from the words.

    deb, I would love to see a web page where you use links to tie together and/or illustrate the different influences and inspirations (or counter-inspirations) that you mention in your statement: it would be great to see images of Vuillard’s and Alan Garner’s paintings (with which I’m not familiar), and of Pugin’s and Ruskin’s ‘rational’ or ‘natural’ ideas of embellishment, and links to wikipedia pages of Woolf and Deleuze and the other writers… for the people to whom all the names blur together, images and links would give them a visual “way in” to your statement, and some more context for understanding your work itself. obviously it won’t be possible to put all that in the gallery binder… but who knows, we’re moving ever faster into the future…

  4. Pingback: blog revisit, another great idea from the altered page! « Dryadart’s Weblog

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