Sunday, November 29, 2015

PAST PRESENT

Time has a different relevance for different activities. For example, when looking at a work of art, does it really matter whether you know that a particular piece was made yesterday or ten, twenty, fifty or 100 years ago? You'll say it matters if you're a curator/archivist/critic/biographer/art historian. I'll say it doesn't matter at all in terms of the work's impact (or non-impact), its qualities and/or flaws.

As a long-lived artist (thanks to providence, long-living genes and stubborn age-denial) I've decided that it's not only okay to resurrect my old work but that it's possible to be re-inspired by one's own earlier explorations, abandoned or shelved along the way - especially useful if you're never sure which of your many selves is the 'real self'. Chagall and Miró both said that the source of all their work was the place they came from and their early lives there. I'm still waiting to discover my own essential source but it seems that autobiography, in the form of words and images combined, regularly pops up in my life's so-called oeuvre.

I'm very happy that a couple of my not-recent autobiographical works have been selected by Natalia Zagorska-Thomas to include in the exhibition Please Do Touch which she is curating at her Ex Purgamento studio-gallery from 5th to 31st December.

The Continuing Story is both a book and a construction on which it is held. The little book is a one-off journal drawn almost daily in pen and ink. You can leaf through the whole book online (put it on full screen to be able to read the small writing) at this link.

Dimensions of the construction: 23 x 40.5 x 10.5cm


Confessional is another construction which is also a holder for a one-off journal Augustine's True Confession drawn and written in pen and ink and watercolour. I applied for and received a grant from the Arts Council of Great Britain to publish a paperback trade edition of this book in 1989. It is currently out of print but copies can still be found from secondhand book dealers. I hope to reprint it some time.

Dimensions: 39 x 28.5 x 16 cm


13 comments:

Catalyst said...

Miss, I love your work, whether old or new.

sackerson said...

A lot to think about there - from the division between excitement and contemplation to the haunted swivel chair.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Bruce, we don't stand on ceremony here! What's with the "Miss"? Anyhow it's either Ms or ex-Mrs. but preferably just Natalie. Keep the compliments coming, they warm up the newly wintry days!

Dominic, glad you leafed through the little book. There's something about drawing along with writing - not as in illustrating text but integrating both - which confers a sort of editorial discipline. At least it does to me. If this journal had been only words I would have overdone it.

Roderick Robinson said...

Ah the pure observer, unfettered by all those influences which aren't supposed to matter, able to embrace unquestioningly the ethos of Browning's "first fine careless rapture", able to love in an instant and to disparage in a similar length of time, capable of acting as a sort of traffic light to aesthetic experience.

Professionally, light years away from aesthetic experience, I have made a living out of second-thoughts, out of suspecting that certain ways of saying things can be improved, that the initial impulse by its very nature tends to be defective. That intellect often plays a significant role in matters of expression and should never be ignored. The work I did was non-artistic but the doubt I learnt was valuable when I started paddling in activities for which I probably wasn't qualified. That defects are more likely than strokes of genius.

Not that this means anything to anyone else but me. My dubious field of endeavour requires commercial intervention for there is no way I could hang an unpublished MS on a wall and invite passing judgment. In my circumscribed life the witholding of approval and my educated scepticism are my most reliable tools. Where are you now John Galsworthy, winner of a Nobel Prize for literature and beneficiary of a decision that, in retrospect, seems a mite premature?

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Robbie; well, by exhibiting and also posting on the internet these and other things I make, I do indeed invite, but don't demand, passing judgement. Having laboured for all my adult life in the development of what I could pretentiously call "my art"(which, by the way, frequently includes words as well as imagery)I can't say that "first fine careless rapture" could apply to much of what I do. Something that may look spontaneous can be the result of years of discarding or assimilating influences, technical processes, coices etc.

I take it you'd rather not comment on the work itself. No problem!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

'coices' = choices

Lucy said...

I've often wondered about my need to place things within a time line, to have markers and an awareness of the order of things, both historically or within my own life. One of my first responses to seeing a work of art, or any artefact or object perhaps, is 'how old is it?'. I even get quite cross with people who have no sense of where things fit into history, or those of my friends and family who fail to remember things as exactly as I do (since of course I must be right about how and when things happened!) and when a memory of my own surfaces, I always need to place it exactly in terms of my age and what came before and after. Dreams where I'm losing this security of temporality and continuity are among the more unsettling ones.

It worries me really, because if one day I do lose it more finally, I think it will be hard. If I could let go of it I might be happier. Or indeed if I'd had such a richly renewing creative life as you clearly have. I hadn't realised how the Augustine theme pre-dated the Blaugustine one. Love the mechanics of The Continuing Story.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Lucy, I wish I had your sense of history, both personal and universal. It's evident and illuminating in the way you write and what you write about. Letting go of it might be liberating for you but it certainly doesn't feel like a constraint when viewed by an outside observer.

I like to imagine my private universe is timeless but that's mainly wishful thinking and denial of reality. Because I've kept journals for a large part of my life, I can indeed give dates and some details of most things that took place within the limited boundaries of personal experience. Like you, I can get cross and/or bewildered by family or friends who either have no recollection whatsoever of events which were crucial and vivid to me, or who swear that something took place a certain way when I can PROVE (if it's in my journal) that it happened in a different way or not at all. As for the compulsion to record one's life-story, I'm not sure what purpose this serves. Maybe it's something like the handprints on prehistoric cave walls and modern grafitti: saying "I was here".

Hattie said...

Quite fascinating. Really wish I could see your work in "in person."

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Hattie, I wish you could too. Maybe your next travel plans will include London?

Hattie said...

Natalie: Don't know. We have not yet decided where to go next. That would be so much fun. Haven't been to London since the 90s.

Roderick Robinson said...

SEASON'S GRATITUDE (Because the familiar phrases at this time of year don't work for me.)
For demonstrating the value of self-confidence; for showing that an unmistakable style is an important measure of progress in any creative endeavour; for encouraging resilience; for resurrecting the under-appreciated value of doggedness.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Thank you very much for this, Robbie. Dogged, c'est moi!