As Easy as Riding a Bike

1969: Shirebrook Comprehensive School ‘Careers Convention’ and I ask the then Head of Chesterfield College of Art “I’m not great at it but I think I want to do art. How do I know if it’s the right choice?” His answer: “The only advice I can give is that you have to want to do it. REALLY want to do it. Want to do it more than anything else” Well to my bolshy pre16 way of thinking that didn’t help at all. What kind of answer was that?! I have been a bit stuck recently re: posting entries. So much to say So many notes. What amounts to a chaotic jumble of disparate thoughts and jottings. How can a brain be so full of ideas and creative possibilities yet display utter paralysis when it comes to bringing it all together in logical order? Same block in the studio; same block on the page. The un-stucking has come from rather an oblique angle. Mention of the North York Moors in a recent e-mail put me in mind of my experiences last weekend and how not every commune with nature has the profound, inspiring effect that the last couple of postings allude to… Picture this: A family cycle trip ‐ teenage children and adults various. OFF Road ……. Which in this case means ……. ON Mud. Problem is: I never really learnt to ride a bike properly as a child. Result: I’m pretty rubbish at it. BUT, I enjoy the challenge /pitting wits etc.. And I am trying. And I want to be part of this joint physical activity. AND I want to keep up with the team. Truth is: I can’t and I don’t. It’s a teeth-clenching battle against lumps and bumps, shuddering, jarring ripping through arms, skittering stones and scary slopes. Desperately trying to maintain some semblance of composure. To everyone else it’s a rather mild mountain bike traverse along the elevated edge of the The Hambleton Hills in the North York Moors with fabulous views out west. I fall off ….again. And decide to divert via a bridleway across a ploughed field. Thick, clarty mud and stubble, wedges and sets instantly solid between tyre and frame. I can’t even push ‐ everything is jammed. Ten minutes clawing at the gunge and I make another five yards before it happens again. I eventually arrive at the road in an apoplectic state of total frustration. (Actually, come to think of it, this is quite like many computing experiences …) By the end of the day when I have a bruised bum, ripped shins, scraped elbow and battered pride I would be happy to never have to get on a bike again. To those that have visited, all this may seem a million miles away from the calm experience of Room 101. To me it brings a little closer an understanding of the power that drives us. Like riding a bike I find the creative process extremely challenging, physically demanding, mentally straining. The path is rough and rutted. I often don’t choose the best way to go and I fall off a lot. Unlike riding a bike, when stuck, perseverance, determination and resilience don’t immediately dissolve away. And I think that is the bottom line. Last word then to the Head of Chesterfield College of Art because he was right. It is the only true answer. You have to really WANT to do it. My bike


Lead weave sample - Click to enlarge. Page from sketch book - Click to enlarge. Page from sketchbook, (detail) - Click to enlarge. Sketch from research, Bankfield Museum, 2004 - Click to enlarge. Tiny intense pencil drawing from sketchbook - Click to enlarge. Sketchbook page. Stanage Edge, 1995 - Click to enlarge.
Three lead knots - Click to enlarge. worn out loop pile, like text ‐ appearing - disappearing. - Click to enlarge. Sketch, V&A. 2002 - Click to enlarge. Sample weave. Hemp and linen - Click to enlarge. Crag diagrams - taped into sketchbook - Click to enlarge. Page from sketchbook. 'Rock on moor' - Click to enlarge.


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