Today was distinguished by the visit of my university friend Terry, who came to see what I was up to and stayed to cover some balloons.
He attempted what has never been done before with balloons and cardboard-mâché: The Double.
Chris and Barbara were there too; Chris helped me to install the fourth large taproot then stayed to cover balloons. We four had lunch together, supplied by Barbara, talking about Brexit, insider vs outsider art, and about connections other than roots and mycellium. My installation reminds Chris of neural networks in the brain (his day job is as a neurological radiographer). I have thought about that before, as being relevant to my work in an autobiographical sense; I have always had trouble connecting things in my mind and I think I didn’t make fundamental synaptic connections when I was a baby (or something). For instance – a fairly crude example – the same place when viewed on the outward and return legs of the same journey is like two completely different ideas. It’s a confusing world.
The insider/outsider conversation was interesting. Chris insists you don’t need to go to art school to be an artist, and that creativity is inherent in a person however they are educated. I agree in a way, but speaking from personal experience I would never have had the confidence to call myself an “artist” without the 6-year grounding I’ve just completed. I remember in the first few years feeling incredibly pretentious using the word to describe myself, and avoided it if I could. The other thing that I couldn’t bring myself to say was “my work”. I used to admire my peers who seemed to be able to use it without feeling embarassed. Now I bandy it about like billy-o! I think art school helps you to discover what kind of artist you are, and to put your work in context with what is happening in the art world. And you get the confidence that comes with a qualification – I often think about this scene from the Wizard of Oz:
I spent the day making connections all over the place (although unfortunately not in my brain), using my increasing store of balloon snakes to fit together like the marble run system that our sons used to have as children. I feel nice and relaxed now, knowing that it’s highly likely that I will be able to complete this in the allotted time!
Lunch with Terry and Chris, surrounded by balloon salamis
Terry and Chris at work
How the gallery looked at the end of the day