i recently got roped into exhibiting as an artist.
this is all a great honour and exciting, but there’s a small problem: i don’t consider myself to be an artist. still, it’s my friends’ gallery so i gave it a go, and managed to come up with something, while negotiating my concept of art and my opinion of my own work.
when i consider my creative work, i see myself as an artisan rather than an artist. i am interested in forms, processes, tools and techniques, particularly ones which come with history and tradition. it’s not about message or innovation, though these do have a place. it’s more about embodiment than representation. people for whom art is a primary classification have argued against any of these criteria being necessary, and that anything done in an art gallery, in the company of artists, is art. i see that something can be art when it is under such conditions, but the work may not continue to be art when it is not. what does that mean for my handiwork? i am not convinced that it makes me an artist.
i guess i need to hear more.
anyway, it was a fun experience, despite me not actually having time to put it all together to my satisfaction. i displayed a tableau of tatting, my own pieces along with what i’ve inherited from my grandmother, along with tools, materials and a nice collection of vintage pattern books, all as context for what was to be the main event – an installation/performance of giant tatting. on opening night i sat in the gallery window with sixty metres of climbing rope and a mess of other materials, and proceeded to tat from the middle. instead of wrapping a loop of cotton around my hand and passing a shuttle in and out, i stretched out both feet and passed a loop or rope around my hand and both big toes, and proceeded to manhandle the remaining thirty metre tangle of heavy rope around. i didn’t get far considering how exhausting each and every stitch proved to be, but by the end of the night i had a few rings to hang from the hooks in the window, which looked interesting, at least, as they lead down to the impressive tangles of rope. it was a fun evening, the exhibition was opened with a song from a sister of perpetual indulgence, and alexis and i danced out into the street.