I am constantly being tugged by abstracts which I find inspirational, and which keep asking me why not make abstract work? Why always figurative?
I admire so much in the Japanese textile canon, so many pieces of which I have been lucky enough to see in one of Linda Millar’s curated exhibitions such as the current Cultex show. I look at works by artists such as Carol Farrow, Jan Garside, Jean Lyons Butler, and so many others in textiles, painting, sculpture, etc., and even ask myself whether I should be trying to work to an abstract imperative. I have even felt that perhaps being a creator of abstract work marks one out as being more intellectually ‘valid’ as a contemporary artist.
Such are the self-doubting thoughts which flit about from time to time in my brain. Now, after ten years of developing my textile work, I don’t beat myself up for not trying to think in abstracts. However, I do still enjoy reading articles such as that of painter and art writer Julian Bell in the Guardian newspaper this morning.
My own answer to why figurative is that that’s how I express myself. It might change in the future, but that would have to come about naturally, as part of my expressive need. As I have found over these ten years, every time I try to contrive a result it ends up a mess. That’s not to say that I simply emote. I try to be rigorous and critical with what I do produce; but just as I accept that I’m working in textiles rather than stone, paint, or clay, I’m also dealing with the figure rather than being abstract. Perhaps one day I shall find that I can move between the two, like Carole Waller.
Meantime, I do rather enjoy relaxing with my figures and no longer beating myself up for perhaps not being ‘cutting edge’ enough!
I’d be interested to read whether anyone else had/has similar questions about their work.