Not drawing but making

9 February 2011

When I was a child I was ‘good at art’, and my friends would get me to draw them things, and people would watch me draw.  I would help the art teacher help other people.  This of course makes one feel kind of special.  When I left school I did a BTEC Foundation course in Art and Design – this was a two year course, and although I didn’t properly understand at the time, it was a very good foundation – they taught elements of design back then, colour theory and so on.  When I did this course, I quickly realised that actually I’m not that good at drawing.  Don’t get me wrong – if I drew you a horse, it would look like a horse.  I struggled with Observational Drawing, as it was called – even though I seemed to have had a knack for three dimensional design – I felt like a substandard art student as so much emphasis was placed on drawing, which was a magical power.

It has taken me  nearly twenty years to ‘find my voice’ as a visual artist, and even now I feel a little shy about calling myself one. And I don’t know how to categorise what I do – am I a collage artist, sculptor?  I just put things together in boxes.  I don’t think I would have found this ‘voice’, either if I hadn’t started writing poems.  To some extent, poems are collages because they consist of ready-mades, or words.  Each ready-made has its own set of meanings and connotations, and when arranged with other ready-mades and their own signifiers, everything changes. In the boxes I make, each object is a word or maybe a sentence, and as Vasko Popa says ‘Some words are already poems.’  It’s the same with objects as far as I can work out.  This is of course not original thinking and it probably sounds pretty scrambled, but it is a way for me to understand why it’s taken me this long to start getting my act together!