I’ve been trying out different ways of layering some of my written pieces into the drawings. Some tests today – screen printing my writing onto small drawings and photo prints:
working on these gilded photos again…
(Thanks to Roz Moreton for showing me how to make this a few days ago).
What is simplicity? Not something narrowing, or closed. In the context of multiplicity, abundance, a full universe, what do we mean by looking for what is simple, longing for the simple? Is it elegance: like the use of Occam’s razor say – a direct route? Or is it to do with leaving behind that which is not needed, with paring back? Is this what simplicity is?
Thinking about this, feeling uncertain, I took the step of looking up the word in a beloved dictionary of word origins.
The word ‘simple’, it turns out, is not itself without complexity. It comes from root words meaning ‘same’ and ‘fold’ (‘ply’). And the meaning is described in the dictionary as “not multifarious”. Sameness runs through the word then, linking simplicity it to the idea of unity: perhaps we can understand that the underlying meaning of ‘simple’ has to do with unity in multiplicity.
But to me, the loveliness of the word is in the surprise of the element ‘ply’, which the dictionary says comes from the latin ‘plicare’ (or ‘fold’): this is the part of the word that pleases, touches the heart. This is because I feel this word, this folding action, in my hands – and that means that this word carries inside itself a way of thinking with the hands.
Imagine folding clothes or sheets, or a sheet of paper or putting a letter in an envelope.
And then, notice too that the words multiplicity, complicated, and implicated are also built around this word root ‘ply’. How wonderful.
I’m now running out of space in my studio for my body – every surface is heaped, including the floor, the chairs, the tables, the shelves, the drawers…
The picture shows the pile on my desk which is touching my left elbow as I write.
It is a few of the things I am putting together in my mind today: I had very many photos printed, glossy ones with twilight views of the mountain, and I want to try and find a way to integrate them into an artists’ book form with my drawings and writing.
So far so good – although really speaking, this is basically a slightly formalised pile. So at this thought there was doubt, and a light despair, and then a good friend of mine suggested that I look at the work of an artist called Helen Carnac, and I found that she has said the following wonderful and enlightening thing in an interview with ‘Norwegian Crafts’, about the work of moving things around, putting things next to one another:
‘I’m interested in combining things, showing how they move or change in relation to each other. In reality, this is a staging of the relations between things. To move things around has almost become a mantra in my artistic practice. This movement also includes me, whenever I leave the studio to participate in various projects.’
Today trying out words and drawings together.
I’m quite hopeful about this, these are three test pieces that I made with some small drawings that were lying on the workbench – I’ve written them with moveable-type letterpress letters that I’ve borrowed.
You can see the metal moveable-type in the picture. You probably have seen these – they are little metal blocks with a reversed letter on one end which used to be used for printing books and magazines, by setting them out into blocks (trays) and then inking and passing through a printing press.
I printed from the blocks directly and by hand, by coating them first with oil-based relief printing ink. Just the smell of print-making ink makes it a good day for me.
Just spending a moment tonight looking through what I have made earier today, and wondering where to start next tomorrow. (Answer – one thing at a time, one day at a time, start with colour mixing.)
Aims for tomorrow and the week:
To explore. To step outside of comfortable. To not be precious. To not hold on to things. To step towards my audience. To begin. To carry through. To immerse myself in the work. To enjoy the process.
Drawing doesn’t have to be on paper, it can be with paper – or today with card and objects.
I don’t have a clear idea where I am going, but I’m wanting to experiment with some artist-book forms, and so I feel like I need to play with shapes, and to bypass my mind and think some things through with directly with my hands. I’m just making a beginning by playing with offcuts of card on my workbench.
Today I made a new stencil shape based on the kitchen window of the cottage where I grew up, and used it to look up at the evening sky.
drawing my pile of acorns today, before I plant them…