Tuesday, 17 June 2008

what i wish & what i do...

'I don't do what I wish, I do what I can'
These are the words of George Braque. The words with which i comfort myself whenever i am confronted with the gap between my ideas and the reality of what i manage to produce. 
The phrase 'Mind the gap' also comes to mind, for on bad days it is not so much a gap as a yawning chasm, into which one might easily fall. There are ways to avoid the gap, or at least live with it, both honest and dishonest. 
The best way to avoid it completely is to never finish a project. That way it can always have the potential to transform into something better at the last minute, to suddenly catch up with the way one saw it intially before it was realised with all its imperfections. This way is favoured by many artists and photographers i know and i have frequently used it too. 
The more honest and difficult way is to finish something and stand back and look at it. This takes a bit of courage.
Recently i took part in SoFoBoMo (Solo Photo Book Month) which required photographers to shoot and produce a book in just one month. When i had finished my project (portraits of local traders and business people in my local area) i showed it in a local cafe. I stood and looked at it and realised it was full of mistakes. I didn't like the prints (too grey) the wall on which it was displayed (too flowery) the way it was shot (too hasty) etc. etc. In fact i didn't like any of it. Except that i loved it. Really loved it. Mistakes and all. It was a sweet project with its heart in the right place, shown in an ideal venue for the subject matter and one that seemed to really speak to people and got a great response. It was full of mistakes (that no-one else seemed to notice or mind as much as me) and yet it worked. 
What i learnt from this experience was not to let myself fret over the gap, but work towards closing it in the future. If i had assessed my work before showing it i would never have put it up. If i had not done that i would not have been able to look at it frankly, to listen to how people reacted to it and to learn from all the mistakes. 
So, like Braque, i did not do what i wished, but i did what i could. And the remarkable thing is, i think that was enough.

Monday, 16 June 2008

my first post

I used to think i started taking photographs because i couldn't draw.
Now i find myself drawing because i can't take photographs.
And here i am writing perhaps because i secretly know i can neither draw nor photograph. Not to my satisfaction anyhow.
Perhaps eventually i shall stop writing too and just try and live. 
Mind you, i never could get the hang of life...

The other day i went to a drop-in meditation  group. I didn't know many people there. 
Between meditations we went round the room just saying our names and a short sentence or two if we wished. The woman next to me said: 'I'm R-----, I'm with Death.'

Just like that! 
'I'm with Death.'
It made me feel incredible. I almost expected to see him sitting behind her, scythe at the ready.
It seemed a wonderful thing to say. So refreshing to hear someone talking about something so real, so important, so HUGE. I felt reassured to know some people take the time to think about these things. These real, important things that most of us avoid until they are forced on us. 

Someone once said you spend your whole life trying to learn how to live and then you realise you should've been trying to learn how to die.

So, that's me at the moment. Trying to photograph, draw, paint, write, live, love and die well. 

It is a rich and painful thing i am living.  And i embrace it.

May you be well. May you be happy.