Musings from my artist journal:
Recently I asked myself three questions: What is home? What do I need in order to create? And why is English such a different language to American?!
As many have detected from the instagram posts flying out of my art studio in recent months, I have been creating in a completely new city - Los Angeles. This ‘city of angels’ has been my home since August while I spent time installing a new public sculpture which was commissioned to be the permanent entrance exhibit of the USC Shoah Foundation.
The Shoah Foundation was founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg and is dedicated to making audio-visual interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides, a compelling voice for education and action. (More about the Foundation and the sculpture here)
Uprooting my life for several months was no easy task, especially considering my large suitcase full of inks, and my library of books and sketch pads I like to refer to whilst sculpting. Like many of my international projects it got me thinking about the sense of home, and what gives us comfort - which if you are an artist, is often essential for being able to make work.
It seems that, the more complex and technical my artworks get, the larger my tool-kit grows. However there is something quite delightful about still being so ‘analogue’.
I love the fact that my measuring callipers are rather ancient and belonged to my Grandad Anthony who also worked with machines and metal when he was alive, and my set of compasses are a robust old piece of kit passed down from my maternal grandad who also worked in metal in England.
Unexpectedly, through a sculpture about the story of a holocaust survivor, I found that my own grandparents - who also grew up during the war - were on my mind. Wherever we go in the world, our family and our loved ones are still with us. I am incredibly thankful to those around me who have supported and endured the mad journeys and undertakings of this artist. Perhaps it is this, which gives me such a strong sense of home wherever go?
Like many artists, I am always sketching something or jotting down new ideas, even when focusing on a singular large project. I have come to understand this as part of my creative motor. Even though I could be content simply with a sketch book, I know that having a space in which I can imagine things into existence, is what truly lets my creative energy exist to its fullest potential. Whilst working on the metal sculpture, I hired a wonderful studio near La Brea Avenue, and found myself drawing a series of sketches based on letters of the alphabet. We never know if these ‘doodles’ we create will become full-fledged artworks, or are simply a way of exercising the creative cogs, or of comforting our imaginations.
Whilst in Los Angles, I meet many new artists who inspired me as well as some incredible artists who have been inspiring me for years. All of the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown certainly helps to adapt to a new location, but I must be honest, most of my time is spent wearing safety goggles and workman’s boots in dusty metal foundries and workshops.
So somehow, I have once again managed to survive in a foreign land but with a strange sense of at-home-ness that I truly believe is brought about because I always have amazing amounts of support from family and those who encourage me to be an artist, and I always have ‘art’. Are there other artists and creatives out there who feel at home anywhere they are creating, but only start to feel a bit lost when they find themselves without a creative mission?
There is one thing of course that will always seem jarring and peculiar about the USA, and that is our different language. After several moments of hilarious miscommunication with my assistant Bridget, we discovered and decoded our completely different terminologies. We joke, but they do say that your language shapes the way you see the world, and seeing it in feet and inches and fahrenheit over the past months has been a big adjustment to my way of sculpting and envisioning physical artworks. Thank goodness I have my Grandfather’s callipers to help me translate.
Thank you to everyone who has been with me on this journey - in person and in spirit. More from the art studio soon.