For several months now I have been feeling twitchy about my work. I can't pinpoint the exact moment it started, it was more of a sense that it's the end of an era and the start of another. Things have been difficult at home - children finishing Primary school and a father disappearing further into Parkinson's inevitably have lead me to ask questions about who I am and where I am going. It's the typical mid 40's angst I suppose. And a lot of that questioning has been about who I am as an artist. I have looked to other artists work to get a sense of myself, looked at exhibitions to inspire me - generally been on the hunt for some signs to tell me the right way to head now.
Only it's not very easy.
On Facebook I am a member of a few groups and pages that feature the work of artists, especially paper artists. Every day in my feed there is a steady stream of work to look at and be inspired by. It's a medium that's growing more and more fashionable and popular. I'm not surprised really. The materials needed are very easily available, you don't need a large workspace and the immediacy of the medium means you can get good results quickly especially if you employ Photoshop and a printer, both of which I don't use in the making of my paper pieces. Paper has an inherent democratic humility to it - at its roots paper art comes from the people, from crafts pieces made by the people and not the product of a Salon, so it's a medium that's relatively easy to grasp and get immersed in.
Like everything though that becomes fashionable, you just seem to see more and more of the same kind of thing. And that's happening to paper cuts, especially the silhouette type. They are appearing all over the place from John Lewis ads to the London cityscape background that the BBC uses for London based interviewees. And Rob Ryan's work that started the ball rolling with his poignant and delicate white and red paper cuts that have now come to be seen almost everywhere from tea towels to mugs to notebooks. Its brilliant that his work is so well used, and I do love his work, but the old maxim of " too much of a good thing" rings true. There are many imitators out there, and in some small way I have been one of them, but maybe with a female perspective twist on what I have produced. My Facebook feed is full of wonderful things but also a lot of the same kind of stuff. Much of it that's technically masterful, amazingly decorative and detailed and yet somehow feels without much meaning. And everyone is wanting to be noticed, wanting to say "look at me, look at me" and I too am doing the same thing - it's impossible to think that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn et al can be ignored, they are essential marketing tools in our commercial world today.
It just feels however like there is too much noise. Visual noise. I think I will go against the tide and not look at what's out there, just for a while.
So.... what's the solution? for me it's time to change, time to develop some experimental work. I still want to cut my buildings, still want to make cuts that express the England I see, but I want to do work that's different to anyone else.
Time to take that fork in the road.