Sunday, 15 February 2015

Originality? Technical Ability? Emotional Response? A discussion in 3 parts

Emotional Response

"Great art is that pure expression of our imperfection on the path to truth." I might never make great art, but I am seeking truth.

Sleeping or dying?  Life 3 - Switching Off (detail)

Not everything in the world is nice. It's a horrible place and we're daily surrounded by death and destruction, wars and cruelty.  We have people being beheaded and shot for daring to speak out loud, and being mutilated, abandoned, and bombed by invading armies.  Even if we leave war out of it for a moment,I'm frequently reduced to tears at the treatment of children. Some things make a raw hole in your heart, like the child who was force fed salt as a punishment and died.

You cannot forget these things, and they form part of who you are.  For me that means bringing my pain and that rawness into the work I do.  It could be cathartic, but isn't.  It's about how I feel, about my emotional response to something I've heard or seen and is my own personal truth. I don't sit and think how can I make this powerful, or more intense, I just allow whatever is there to come out and temper it into a story.

A lot of people would prefer to forget the grotty things of life and certainly not put them into their work.  There are more cheerful things in the world after all and much that is good and heartening, and whilst emotional response to a picture can be anything from it's subject matter to the colours it uses,a play of light on a face or a flower, my own work is about my personal response to life I lead, and things I can't get away from. They do also contain a bit or irrepressible humour sometimes, that sneaks in without me putting it there. I have no idea how it does that.

Life Stories - a funny old mixture of rawness, and sometimes humour, and an effort at truth.


  1. Annabel! It's Sunday night, I've just driven from Gosport ( Home) to MK (home from home) and ive read your blogs!

    I'm a bit blown away, to be honest, and not up to making a meaningful comment. But I will!

    Meanwhile, just here to say, well I'm here and need to cogitate!

    Hilary xx

    Ps so glad Sheila in Idaho is keeping you on your toes!

    1. Oh, I don't know about that Hilary - I think it may be more that Annabel has always kept ME on MY toes!

    2. (said out loud) "Everybody on their toes now - like a tribe of ballerinas"

  2. This is a good trio, Annabel, and you were smart to do it in three separate posts. This last one really speaks to me, this thing about emotional response to something that is your own personal truth and spills out into your art. I've had that experience too of it just coming out with me not doing much to push it. The three quilts I made in response to my friend's struggle with an illness, a struggle I got caught up in too and that she eventually lost, just had to be made and were not as cathartic as I thought they might be. Once made, I could barely look at them, was not sure I could keep from breaking down when I had to stand with them at an opening reception and talk to people about what they represented. On the surface, they are beautiful quilts and even full of hope, but for me they are a painful memory of a painful time and a painful loss. And yet, and yet...the visions came to me and I'm glad I played them out. As you say, not everything in the world is nice, but those not so nice things need to be looked in the face now and then. It's the only way we can hope for any change.

    Feel like I rambled on a bit there - these things ARE a bit hard to explain, aren't they?

    1. No you didn't ramble IB. That's a really sad story, and the fact that you couldn't look at the quilts, means that they were packed full of things you couldn't deal with right then. They must have been honest and true to your feelings or that wouldn't have happened. Standing talking to people about these things is very hard too but there is a need to explain to others when things are on show, but I can see where that was hard for you. I guess they will mean more and more as time passes, and you were right to make them. Why shouldn't things contain pain, as well as pretty flowers?!