Back in the spring I gave myself a 10 week hiatus from Instagram. Despite being a useful platform for visual artists, I found that I was being steered by my 'likes' or absence of them and the little love hearts were starting to alter my decision making in the studio. If a post didn't receive a bundle of likes I would find self doubt creeping in, (rather than a healthy and critical self appraisal of my work). I also found the app too addictive and having been a member on and off since way back, it is only recently that I've found myself compulsively checking the home page. This could be a result of other reasons and I'm sure the pandemic has changed my relationship with my phone but these apps are designed to keep us coming back for more. So anyway, those issues were my main reasons to give myself a break.
What happened really surprised me. I was hoping for better sleep - and it came. And with the sleep I had more spring in my step the next day. I found I was listening to my family more and was less distracted. I think my son noticed the difference straight away and I enjoyed watching his face light up when he knew I was really listening. Just that actually would be enough but, there is more. I completed household jobs faster and more thoroughly, which gave me more time in the studio. In the studio, my work evolved, became stronger and I was more productive. I also made my own decisions again, rather than being a bit too keen to share new work and waiting for some kind of validation or direction in either likes or comments. It would be true to say that my self confidence grew during these weeks away.
So that was all brilliant but the icing on the cake for me was the reduction of anxiety. I don't blame Instagram for my anxiety, it will always be there on some level but the benefits of leaving - increased sleep, confidence in own decision making, building a strong work ethic and routine without the distraction of my phone - all of these benefits decreased my anxiety massively.
Anyway, after roughly 10 weeks, feeling absolutely brilliant I decided that it would be a good idea to log back in. In hindsight I realise this was bonkers and that is partly why I'm writing this all down because I tend to forget and writing helps me work things out and remember. I decided I would rejoin with some rules...
1. Set an app timer for 15 minutes...which changed to 20, then 30, then 1 hour, then 90 minutes over the following weeks
2. Only check it once a day...nope
3. Not post everything I was up to in the studio - I stuck to this one
4. Encourage others - this is tricky when the Instagram algorithm only shows about 10% of the people you follow and the golden retriever reels send you down a rabbit hole for 20 mins whilst sitting on the loo. This is too much of my life in very small increments that I will not get back. And life feels more delicate and precious these days.
The rules didn't help and all my unhealthier habits have been quietly creeping in. So during one of my sleepless nights this week I decided that was it - and I have not just logged out but permanently deleted it (well they keep it for 4 weeks just in case you change your mind). I'm going to hold on tight to all the good things that came from leaving before and I am so looking forward to some better sleep.
Night night, Rae x
It has been so long since my last post so a few quick updates as to what has happened since then...
So that is quite a lot and now that I've written it all down, it is no wonder I haven't been maintaining this site. But now I have officially deleted my Instagram account I will use this more often. This is me today, sat in the garden stitching and looking forward to visitors for Hampshire Open Studios. This is my 4th day of being open and so far it has been brilliant.
In Morely's book 'The Contemporary Sublime', 2010 he writes -
“The sublime experience is fundamentally transformative, about the relationship between disorder and order, and the disruption of the stable coordinates of time and space. Something rushes in and we are profoundly altered." (Morley, 2010 p.12).
Artists and photographers; being observers and creators of visual and conceptual objects and ideas, seek to deliver an experience to themselves and to their audience; to ask questions and to some bring about change. Yet there is difficulty in representing a sublime or in the case of this essay a toxic sublime experience. The artist needs to ask themselves several aesthetic and moral questions about the work they are making and evaluate whether or not the work made addresses the issue of toxicity within the sublime and then continues to do so within a gallery setting; surrounded by clean white space and within a safe environment. Is the value of the toxicity reduced once viewed in a gallery setting? What is the artist saying about toxicity within the sublime? Does the toxic within the sublime risk becoming too safe and therefore creating a space for complacency?
My personal interest in this topic has grown from the increase of fly tipping within my community in Hertfordshire. Being witness to large amounts of waste piled up within beautiful forests, I wondered about the sublimity of the waste, having experienced something of the sublime when I encountered the scene. I wanted to explore this feeling and ask how we can understand the toxic sublime in art.
If you would like to read more please contact me for a copy!
We talked about the textile art scene / fine art scene and ways of developing work / finding work / developing profile which was hugely helpful.
Marian Bijlenga - thinking about gaps and missing elements. Using the wall as part of the work.
I began this week planning to make 3 pieces which would be around 80 x 80 cm. However, once I began work on one of the pieces, I found that there were two different things happening within the composition so I decided to cut the piece up and make 4 smaller pieces out of it. Each piece now measure 40 x 40cm. I find that I try to fit too much in, so chopping it up and moving things around naturally allows for more space within each piece.
Below left - the piece prior to cutting up and one of the sections afterwards.
Thoughts and ideas
Samuel Palmer 1805 - 1881
Work is sort of, very slowly and sporadically continuing despite the lockdown. During my last tutorial with Kerry in December, we agreed that much of my work held a large amount of joy. So I have decided to take that idea of joy and make work that makes me joyful about things that fill me with joy! I have an allotment and this is one of the places that I love the most. The work I have been doing is loosely based on planting seeds; organic growth; joy; texture and colour. I have been experimenting with different materials and have returned to textiles. The materials I am using in my work are a combination of puff binder, stitch, beads and paint. I use 3d paint and acrylic mixed with a fabric medium. I like to sprinkle beads onto the surface and build up layers of texture and colour so that surface looks like the surface of the soil, albeit a very colourful one! Another tutor, Sally tells me that my work is full of joy and energy and it is like I am painting with hundreds and thousands – I love this idea. I like to make surfaces that are “juicy”, that would make the viewer feel a hunger for colour and texture, to want to touch it and become lost within it. My aim is to overwhelm the visual sense of the viewer.
I would describe my process at the moment as organic and playful. I love to combine different techniques to provide an abundance of stimulation on the surface. The puff binder is exciting as it behaves in an unpredictable manner and provides me with an unknown terrain on which to work. Towards the end of this page are some pieces without the puff binder which I love too - I think for the final work I create for my MA I will work on paper using a combination of these processes. Considering the lockdown and lack of space and time I will aim to make 3 A2 pieces for the final work. I don't feel the need to defer for a year as I feel as though I am ready to continue by myself. The MA has given me so much to move forwards with and I feel as though I have already achieved what I had hoped which was to stir things up creatively and remind me how to be an artist again.