The interesting thing about writing and tracking my thoughts on my making process is noticing the shifts and changes between intention and event. On revisiting my thoughts
in anticipation of The Garage residency in my blog, on my website. I read there an energy and ambition that has played out in different ways now that I look back on what was made.
I was keen to adopt a spirit of playfulness and also, following the certainty of the RWA Academician Candidate show in October, to release any requirements to create finished pieces. I was seeking freedom, play and ease. And what do I notice about what happened there? It takes both looking back as well as forward to see the whole picture, and even then, there may be gaps.
I called the writing before the residency, Active Withdrawal, and the transparent raincoat in yellow PVC with wired orange binding that I made from scratch during the residency took on that name also.
I heard the phrase Active Withdrawal at the end of last year, used by a consultant in an Intensive Care Unit. It is used when a patient is receiving 100% oxygen, entirely reliant on a life support machine, and they are described as ‘actively dying’. The decision is made not to resuscitate, and there is no realistic prospect of recovery once the machine is turned off. The patient was my father. He died on 3 December 2020. Like life, so in death: peaceful, calm and dignified.
There is a sense of parts being at odds with each other. The playfulness I spoke of, in wanting to release the responsibility of the neon yellow rope from its obligation to tether, tie and secure the ceramics, didn’t sit well with the wired, slumped yellow raincoat. Maybe, in hindsight, it’s not the time to be free and easy and playful. Maybe there is still a need for certainty, security and a sense of being held or holding. This time in a different way.
The ceramics I made were unfired: raw clay, first thrown on a wheel, then fitted and turned. It was painted with a white slip which, when dry, removed it from being recognisable as clay. Without the narrative function of the glaze this time, the unfired clay became precious when stacked. It was reminiscent of modular concrete cylinders by the side of the road or on building sites. Except: mine rise up.
I wanted to make the coat from scratch. Many Long Slow Waits (2018) utilised existing coats where I replaced the binding with the colours I had chosen. For the Garage show, I bought a short raincoat to take apart and to use as a pattern to help me learn about the design making process. The idea being that this will then lead towards the creation of sculptural forms for future, larger-scale works. For this coat, I kept it simple – no buttons and no pockets for security or possessions. You don’t need them in times like these.
The transparent yellow PVC and TPU material is reminiscent of the UV screens that used to line shop windows to protect stock from fading. The wired seams and binding in nicotine orange animate the coat into a slumped position, devoid of its owner. Have they slipped away? Or perhaps, the coat is like fallen shop stock, out of place and left where fallen.