audacity is one of my favourite qualities, in its positive sense of boldness, a willingness to take risks. to me it implies rising to a challenge creatively, with a flavour of quicksilver flexibility and often a sense of humour glinting through…of course to be too bold is to be without boundaries and that’s when the downside comes out.

talking to the other mixed media artists on sunday reminded me of an installation i hung in a dementia care home for National Mental Health Week 2011. i was allowed to hang as much as i wanted. except it also turned out that that was only as long as people could still use the TV lounge for keep fit, film night,a business meeting, a training session for 20 occupational therapists…oh my…

i kept my temper though i came home with my jaws aching most days discovering what people thought was ok to do to the piece, because it was made as a huge assemblage including  the memories of over 200 people from the local community and care homes, individually drawn or written on squares of fabric. these were then stacked in blocks or strips or as bunting, and hung across the huge room. because it was a representation of memories in the brain of someone whose memory was failing, there were fraying edges, unmatching blocks, long ropes and strings of freeform crochet weaving in and out of everything, bundling and coiling, all very tactile…i loved the residents coming through just to touch the fabrics and their families telling  me about working in the lace mills or lingerie factories, but i hated the way i’d come in to find it all shoved around for the carpet shampooing!  because it was a collaborative piece, because it wasn’t neatly framed, it wasn’t worthy of respect…grrr…

thank goodness on the main day of the event, a friend’s husband saved my sanity by telling me what he thought the piece was and how it changed his opinion of “modern art” (i think technically it’s altermodern, but let’s not go there 😉 ) he hadn’t read the statement he just ‘got it’.  and then he got how abstract art can be as true as representational! yay!

– called ‘pushing buttons and ringing bells’  it was partly about the dangers of memory work – helping someone remember being in an air raid is not healing unless you can help create closure, and when someone has advanced dementia that’s going to be very difficult…

but simply seeing how impossible it is to guess how many unverbalised memories a person may have reminds us of the need for respect and compassion in our dealings with everyone…how important it is to remember that the person who cannot communicate is still experiencing the impact of memories, or is now set adrift by the loss of memories that were central to their identity…

oh yes, why is this piece audacious?  i only learnt crochet 3 months before making it the centrepiece of the work,  i made an abstract assemblage with fine art elements and community input, that in the case of some of the participants was a scribble they couldn’t articulate and i made it mean something to a lot of visitors, who expected to be bewildered – ha! i held to my process against a lot of pressure to be more accessible (meaning drop the interactive element, the explanation of brain function etc) and by being bold i made something beautiful (thank you goethe)

Advertisements