HEATHERMATTHEW

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Fail better

 The warped grid of the concertina artist book installed on the floor in the afternoon light.

The warped grid of the concertina artist book installed on the floor in the afternoon light.

Today I thought about failure and about the process you go through as you creatively work through your ideas. At la filature I am conscious of the time ticking over. Two weeks is a short time to make new work in response to a new place, a different language and away from the familiar tools with which to make art.  You could think you are setting yourself up for failure when in fact, you can allow yourself to grow.

On the wall in Isis's studio at la filature, is a quote from Samuel Becket which I hadn't seen until now.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

I thought of this today as I hit a brick wall (metaphorically) around lunchtime. Everything had been going along fine. Yesterday we moved the woven pages of the concertina book installation into place and they looked great, empty and waiting. This morning I made some beautiful ink drawings referencing the sound of church bells which we hear through the windows, especially at 8 am in the mornings.

 Detail of ink on torn paper referencing the 8 am peel of church bells.

Detail of ink on torn paper referencing the 8 am peel of church bells.

When they had dried I started to weave the torn strips into the vertical warp of the pages. I was severely underwhelmed and felt like all my efforts had been wasted. Originally I had become excited by the warp and weft idea, and even liked the screens without anything woven through them.

I felt like a failure so I went home to lunch, fell asleep and when I woke up remembered it was the day when the small charity shop was open. Off we went to find a double green door and a shop filled to the brim with treasures. I found some old books with French grammar and a child's reader that I could even read. I couldn't go past them and bought up a collection, unsure what I would do with them and knowing they would be too heavy to take back with me to England (no checked baggage).

 Les livres from the charity shop.

Les livres from the charity shop.

Alors....back to the studio and try again. This time I thought about what it was I liked about the ink drawings, what I liked about the warped up screens. I had to allow them to speak to me and to let go of the ideas I was forcing upon them. I started folding the ink drawings into concertina books, then weaving other papers through them. Yes much better. I unwove the strips of ink drawings out of the brown weft of paper strips and just let it breathe. Yes better still. I (gasp) tore up some illustrations from the French book and tried them out as part of my chatterboxes and oui c’est ça! That's it! 

test chatterboxes collage.jpg

This project was assisted by a grant from Create NSW, an agency of the New South WalesGovernment. The NSW Artists' Grant is administered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).

NAVA & NSW logos .jpg