Visitors to my house often asked the same thing: Why don’t you have any of your own art on your walls? There were two reasons. Firstly, I like to look at other people’s art. Secondly I had never made anything that I deemed ‘good enough’ according to my own criteria. Tonight that ended and we finally – after moving into this house 7 years and and 3 months ago, have art on the lounge wall!
Good enough is very subjective. My husband would have put up my art a long time ago but I refused to let him until I achieved the quality and a characteristic in my art I knew I was striving towards. When I had my Urban Scrawl Show I was utterly bowled over when people bought my art and I could no longer say that it was ‘not good enough’….and yet…. still not on my lounge wall…
Many times I’ve heard artists disparagingly say of potential buyers, “Oh, they just want something to match the sofa’. I’ve never understood that. I want something to match my sofa! Matching is very important. If you follow my personal Facebook feed you will know that my travel mug matches my car colour. My beautician has learned to save her breath and not ask if I want the polish on my toes the same as on my fingers. And don’t get me started on the topic of underwear. ( Although I remember with fondness being at an American quilt retreat when a survey was being done which required everyone to give a little peek of their bra strap as part of a survey as to whether the majority thought that its colour had to match not only your knickers but what you were wearing on the outside. OF COURSE!!) Ahem. So anyway, as soon as I started making the photo collages I knew I had finally achieved something I found interesting enough and different enough, to put on my wall. Except they clashed with the sofa. So, no.
For the Living and the Dead was not made to match the wall. It just turned out that way. Its name comes from the Elie Wiesel quote “For the dead and the living we must bear witness.” It was intended for a show in which all my work is tracing my family history. This piece refers to my mothers’ Uncle William ( Bill) Causey, (affectionally known to us as Great Uncle Billgaria after the Womble, Great Uncle Bulgaria, to distinguish him from a different Uncle Bill one generation down.). He was with the Royal Army Service Corps in World War 2. After being reported missing in action in France and then being reported found again, he supported the troops who liberated Bergen-Belsen.
The Holocaust may be an odd topic for art to go on your lounge wall. And yet it’s not because its something I care about. It’s something I don’t want to forget. For all the time I have been learning how to be an artist, I’ve been reading about ‘finding your voice’ and considering the dichotomy between making art that expresses what you have inside you and art that you think will sell. I’ve been battling the fact that the vision in my head of the kind of art I wanted to make was stronger than the ability to bring it to fruition.
it turns out that art that expresses your unique viewpoint, that shows how you see the world and not what you think the market requires will find a home. It will go to someone who finds their own connection with it even if you think it is so off centre you will never place it. Even if you think it’s you who is off centre for making it. Either they like the story you put in it or they use it to tell their own story. I recently sold an abstract graffiti based piece to someone who told me she didn’t like abstract art but that piece reminded her of jiving in Liverpool on her lunchtime in the sixties. Oh and the purple matched her lounge.
I made a very personal to me piece about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and didn’t even bother to list it as for sale because, who would want it? An art collector from Kent who is from an Orthodox heritage it turns out. I can’t explain how or why but I am learning that art that has a piece of you in it will sell. Or at least will be loved by someone online and making their day brighter and yours too when they tell you. Or, it will be the one that you can’t let go and want on your own wall.
As for the ability to create what’s in your head, that’s just time. It’s perseverance in making art that’s almost there, that’s creeping closer by the day. And then one day its being bored and dissatisfied and thinking, ‘Oh, **** it ,’ and taking a load of gesso, a credit card loaded with acrylic, a rotary cutter and a brush pen and doing something wild to a completed but boring work. OK the specifics are just for me. Your specific of how you find your own unique way of working will be different. But it will come if you keep working towards it.
And if you are very lucky, the first or second time you do it, it will match your sofa.