Black Spot

Stuff goes in. Stuff comes out…. In much of our education system ‐ particularly in the over examined school context – it is often implied that art/design/creativity is a kind of sausage machine process: the meat of ‘inspiration’ goes in at one end, is chopped up with a bit of other stuff, is seasoned by the maker, to then emerge conveniently packaged at the other. This is a way of learning, but it is not real. The things that truly capture our imaginations – our passions and preoccupations ‐ are embedded deep in the fibre of our being. A constant latent presence, they may surface unbidden or are actively revisited and tussled with, building up layer upon layer of understanding. All experiences add to the texture of our thinking. Audrey Walker describes things seen/discoveries as being ‘absorbed’ into memory and she has used the analogy of a store cupboard to illustrate the idea of consciously accumulating information which may be retrieved at a later date. I like to follow this train of thought and think about the neatly labelled jars you know to be there. Of course the (my) reality is often a haphazard array of open vessels spilling over or gathering dust. And I have the additional ingredient of mind numbing amnesia that comes with an ageing brain, so the rediscovering is even more potent …as here. Stone Drawing, West Bay, Dorset, 20cm diameter; Tapa cloth, painted, 1800's, Pacific Islands. Museum no. 1606-1899                In Dorset recently, idly collecting the odd flat, smooth black stone during the day, I felt moved ‐ just before we left the beach – to piece together a black spot. Some days later, back in the studio, combing through images on my laptop (in the hope of editing to free up space) I came across black spot two. I’d photographed it in the stores at the V&A a couple of years ago. It’s painted tapa cloth from the Pacific Islands (1800’s). I had loved the simplicity and burnished solidity of the circle. I had also forgotten all about it. Rediscovering it was quite a shock. It was obviously subliminally there all the time, quietly and patiently sitting in a dark corner somewhere. So, stuff goes in – isn’t always remembered – and re-emerges. My brain knows this information, but I don’t. Clever things, brains.

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