In 1992 I wrote this for an exhibition catalogue, ‘With My own Face on’.
‘This is not a lie. Sometimes the truth between how I feel goes in and out of focus. The boundaries between one reality and another blur. This work is my version which has been subject to denial. It is sketchy. Often I see myself bleeding into everything and everyone around me. There is an eroded sense of self here I am trying to reclaim. Often I have felt consumed by people; consumed by their loving and their loathing. My work is the safest container I know, since childhood I have been colouring it in. This work has been made on the floor within the radius of my arms or in my lap; rarely do I walk away from it. I need to be there. It is an intimate process, comforting to touch the surface so much, even when sad things emerge. It confirms what I know already but provides me with the necessary evidence. This work is my mirror, through it I can see beyond the fog that obscures memory to a clearer picture of the truth. With my own face on.’
To give context, I had been working on a high dependency unit in a children’s hospital where there was the daily trauma of children experiencing invasive procedures and families grappling with life-threatening conditions. I was the play lady, the safe benign person employed to soothe, distract and stimulate. I was completely unqualified then in counselling or therapeutic processes, without a professional veneer, literally saturated in the intensity of the environment.
I began a course in Art Therapy, counselling and personal therapy. I can see that in this writing I knew I needed to gather the parts of me together and put a protective boundary around myself. I believe making art enables me to constantly attempt to gather parts of myself in one place and physically and psychically glue them together into an ongoing carnival of pictures and forms.
‘I need to be there’ it’s where I locate myself. If you want to find me, look for me in my art. ‘it is the safest container I know’, ‘since childhood I have been colouring it in’. The intimacy between me and my artwork is tangible, I believe I conjure my work from the depths of me. It might sound cosmic but it’s through making I experience myself in a secure revelry.
I’ve lived 53 years, everything I have ever known or experienced is harvested through my work. I understand why Artists like Kiki Smith and Louise Bourgeois are/were prolific. Time speeds up as I get older, there is so much to metabolise from the life lived so far. Some of what I make will be profound, some of it will resonate and communicate something pertinent. If only I had known what I know now and had started making with the secure knowledge that my work is purposeful when I was younger. There is no time to waste with self-doubt. What I do, what I know is important, if only in as much as it gives me a way of existing that works.