Lineage, Creative Workshops and Little Known Artist/Makers.

Stick Man

Stick Man

Bag of Boots

Bag of Boots

I have spent the Summer and early Autumn working with a handful of people who are making new work.  We spent days at Heron Corn Mill connecting, intertwining, disconnecting and reconnecting and then when it was all over – disconnecting.  It is always difficult when something ends, so we are trying to continue in a disconnected way.  I am curious about what will come of this.

It was interesting to work with the group using exercises that have developed over time.  I have been mindful of the many teacher artists I have worked with and learned from and whose work has permeated my own. I find myself spending time honouring those teachers from whom the exercise has developed and it is interesting to find what actually becomes your own authentic work.  This is why it is difficult to present modules of work to students where the emphasis is on the practitioner because so often the practitioner is a hybrid and so I often find myself in a strange network of practice as heritage or practice as lineage – digging back.

Ancestor's Stairway

Ancestor’s Stairway

Lineage and ancestry is something I would say is peculiar to my own practice in that I can track it through each piece of work I have made.  Often it has been the not so well known practitioners who have had the most profound influence so it was with this thought that I recently reflected on facebook about Shelagh Fenner which I am sharing here below since it really didn’t belong on facebook I thought, retrospecttvely.

Then I thought about those new works being created at Heron Corn Mill and how much daylight they might see in the future and what that means.

From my facebook page:

I went to The Atkinson  to see the retrospective review of the work of late Southport artist Shelagh Fenner. It was both inspiring and strange. The work was inspiring – an artist coming late into her element, and it was poignant to hear her friends, colleagues and family presenting her in her absence. I guessed all evening about what might have happened to her and how her life was. I knew/know nothing about her except what I saw that evening and I guess there is so much more to know.

Late is a euphemism for dead – and that also is a strange idea, isn’t it? She was only 55. It was strange to be in a room full of people who knew someone I had no connection with. It was as if I was at a wake that I had gate-crashed. Either way, I feel richer for the experience of her work which began with a film of her mother in a mirror reflection putting on her make up and ended with a film of a series of moving portraits of people lying on a pillow, the artist trying to capture their true selves….impossible…the camera is the problem, we act up to even if we don’t mean it, and because many of the subjects were in the room it was virtually impossible in retrospect. In between there was a gorgeous unveiling sequence that words won’t do justice to and a time lapse of rotting tangerines – a contagion I have seen often in a fruit basket.

I loved the life, the work, the effort and the concept of the wake that was not a-wake. Among the informal discussion between people who knew each other there was the odd question about the hierarchy of art and craft and the inevitable stuff about how to keep the work for posterity on the internet in the cheapest possible way…

Thanks Shelagh Fenner for the effort and the thought that meant you made an appearance in Southport at The Atkinson. In the current climate of local government cutbacks this is an event that must have cost hire of the room, technician and the bar which in days gone by would have been something everyone would have enjoyed freely.

Just thinking now that maybe this entry is too long for facebook and I should put it on my blog…always a dilemma, then again no one reads the blog.

In contrast, went to see Bridget Jones’ Baby – I had a good time…in a simple sort of way so thanks for that.

Comments 1

  1. Thank you for covering the event at the Atkinson. I am glad it has inspired a fellow artist of Shelagh’s, even though you didn’t know each other.
    It definitely was a wake that was not a wake. Very apt observation.

    The staff at the Atkinson deserve our thanks. They did indeed set aside the venue and offered excellent technical assistance for a local artist who had not yet made a big name for herself. As you also pointed out, we know how poorly funded their arts budget is, but I hope they can do more for other local artists. It would be even better if they were given a platform while they were still alive. It is so much better to welcome new artists than to say farewell to them. The new management at the Atkinson gave me the impression that this is really what they want to do. With a bit of support and attendance from the local art lovers, maybe they can fulfil that ambition. I wish them a well deserved success.

    Paddy (Shelagh’s partner)

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