An Attempt at Exhausting a Drawing: An Artist's Statement After Georges Perec
Day 1DATE: 31 JULY 2014
TIME: 10.40 AM
LOCATION: OFFICE CRECHE, BRIGHTON
WEATHER: DRY VERY HOT, BLUE SKIES
Outline of an inventory of some strictly visible things:
- a collection of rose petals, dried and formed into a ring.
- an upright oval.
- a white cotton sheet stretched over an irregular shape.
- creases in white fabric.
- a featureless grey background.
- chalk ground into a paper surface.
- two objects that may or may not be floating.
Rose petals - desiccated and threaded together, made unrecognisable as the collection of bouquets they once were. Has a love 'dried up' become a crumbling and dusty zero? Or perhaps it retains its posture and its shape despite its delicacy and near disintegration. Roses retain their romantic status, even the cheap bunches bought in supermarkets. To consider love is predictable, to consider Kenya less so, though it is the lead exporter of these flowers.
Chalk - incomplete marble, compacted skeletons of marine plankton, dust-in-waiting, formed on the seafloor, ancient.
Cotton Sheet - Clean ironed sheets: a simple comfort, domesticity, order, cleanliness, home, posh hotels. Crumpled sheets: lovemaking, laziness, sickness, leaving in a hurry, chaos, Sunday lie-ins, youth.
I gaze into the ring of petals, if I look long enough I'm sure it will become a mirror. It doesn't of course. My gaze is drawn to the top point of the white sheet and to the area of the sheet that is undisturbed and completely flat. I want to peer over the edge, into the papery 'sea' below. The oval hovers towards me; am I being offered a Lei, have I arrived?
Day 2DATE: 1 AUGUST 2014
TIME: 11.05 AM
LOCATION: THE KITCHEN, SHELLDALE AVENUE, PORTSLADE
WEATHER: COOL AND OVERCAST
Bed - Flower bed? Seabed? Sickbed? a command? a boast? a remedy? a punishment? This image is made of dust, of long-dead plankton ground into paper. As a child I used to pretend that my bed had been washed out to sea, salt water lapping at the sheets and soaking into the duvet.
DATE: 1 AUGUST 2014
TIME: 7.06 PM
LOCATION: ON OUR LARGE WHITE SOFA, SHELLDALE AVENUE, PORTSLADE
WEATHER: COOL AND OVERCAST WITH A LIGHT BREEZE
Bouquets - This 'Ring a Ring o' Roses' is comprised of countless forgotten bunches of flowers that were: 'just because' or to 'brighten the place up', thank you's from dinner guests, I love you's, get well soon, I missed you.
There are few specific bouquets that I remember. Of course I remember my wedding bouquet, looking phallic, with all of its stems bound tightly in ribbon and, the flowers we had at the reception - blue hyacinths and red tulips which guests carried from one venue to the next in their round glass vases I remember the bunch of peonies Nick sent me when we were just colleagues. They were to wish me luck with a project. I was outwardly irritated by the gesture and secretly delighted. I remember the scented lilies I bought once in an attempt to make a rented room seem less grim and I remember the flowers my Auntie Jenny sent when Marcie was born; they included a blue thistle and came with their own folding plastic vase. I remember the voluminous white roses sent to me by a London gallery after I'd given evidence at a trial, and once friends and I gave Irises to the lead singer of Ultra Vivid Scene; he put them on stage at that evening's London gig.
Day 3DATE: 4 AUGUST 2014
TIME: 10.12 AM
LOCATION: OFFICE CRECHE, BRIGHTON
WEATHER: HOT AND SUNNY, A FEW WHITE CLOUDS IN THE SKY
Still Life - a fictional composition formed from real objects; a traditional endeavour, an attempt to conjure emotions through objects.
It's an impossible composition, formed from impossible objects; a collection of crumbling rose petals strung together into a taut upright oval, and a 'bed' that is both perfectly made and deliberately unmade. Realistic enough to cause us to imagine touching sheets perhaps, even to smell washing powder and sweat, and the fusty odour of dried flowers?
The objects float, there are not the necessary shadows to anchor them. Do the roses hover in front of the sheets or rest upon them?
definitely somber and not about sex; petals that were once vibrant and celebratory are now brown, frozen to form a commiseratory 'oh'...or a scream, or a gaping vagina? Bed is somewhere adrift, lonely lost in a featureless grey sea. Bed is not a place to rest, its surface tips sharply downwards.
Shapes - the head of a coffin, lips, an oval, a ring, a hexagon.
When did I first receive flowers? When was I first really ill? Was being ill always lonely? My Mum used to make me mashed banana when I was poorly - banana and yogurt with a bit of sugar. Or rice pudding with a spoonful af dark brown sugar. There should always be treats when you're unwell.