In the gap between two ways of seeing

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  • Published 20090220
  • ISBN: 9780733323942
  • Extent: 256 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

THERE WAS A time when, if asked what I did, I could reply without hesitation that I was an artist. In recent years, writing has taken up a greater proportion of my creative energy, but visual art is still the activity that gives me the deepest pleasure, and in which I find the simplest and most direct engagement with the world around me. When I draw, paint or make sculpture I enter a pre-literate, sensory part of the brain. The noisy conscious mind that wants explanations and answers is diverted into the job of solving problems – how do I make this object stand up? How do I join one material to another? How do I get raw ochres to bond with the paper? How do I stop the moisture-deprived bush flies crawling into the paint before it dries? – leaving the inarticulate perceiving mind to its own devices.

Making art is an exercise in trust, risk, fortuitous surprise, a willingness to spend a lot of time doing something that may not work and a peculiar faith in your own vision that may not be shared by anyone else. This applies to writing too, but with visual art the conduit to intuition doesn’t have to pass through the barrier of language. Art takes me to places I can’t reach via the conscious process of writing. It’s the place where meanings are transparent and multiple, where contradiction transforms into ambiguity, where the inchoate becomes visible.

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