Thursday, July 16, 2009

This Is Where I Came In...


There are those of us who hang on Seth Apter's every blogword and would probably walk to the ends of cyberspace with him (but not in a creepy, stalking kind of way, you understand). So when I read the title of his last Altered Page posting:
Buried Treasure: a call for creative collaborators, my first though was "Oh bloomin' 'eck! He wants us to dig up our gardens now and I've only just got the lawn looking nice and I was planning to clean the pond out". With relief, I read Seth's suggestion that we re-post a few of of our earlier blog offerings that he might have missed. As some of you know, I began blogging in January when I had just made my first ever digital collage (posted above) and was a like a child who had come home from school with her first painting: I wanted to share my work with the world. However, I was really frightened that it/I would be rejected. It took me a couple of days to write a paragraph to accompany the image above because at that time, I wasn't at all confident about expressing myself with words. Since then, a number of you have commented on how much you enjoy reading about some of the ideas behind my work and so I hope that this post will be of interest, as I'm taking the opportunity to reflect a little.

The collage above comprises items extracted from photographs taken at the annual festival of lights in Lyon, France, together with a background that I made and elements from digital scrap kits, resized and recoloured. It was not my initial impulse to create a sinister image, but when I saw how my choices were leading in that direction, I allowed myself to go with it. Looking at it now, I can see clearly that it very accurately reflects my state of mind at that time: anger, creative frustration, feeling trapped on a very dark emotional place but as in a dream where you scream and nothing comes out. OK, I've only just thought of that: Seth, do you want a fee for therapy?


If you had no name, if you had no history
If you had no books, if you had no family
If it were only you, naked on the grass
Who would you be then? This is what he asked.
And I said I wasn't really sure but I would probably be cold
And now I'm freezing

Words by Suzanne Vega, from Songs of Liquid Days by Phillip Glass

I get bored very easily, so after creating the Lyon image, I wanted to try something completely different. Last January was very cold and as I Iistened to Phillip Glass's Songs From Liquid Days, whilst making an ATC with a photograph of me, aged about four and looking so vulnerable, the words of
the sad but very beautiful song Frozen really got under my skin and I felt compelled to create something that depicted the emotional space that it suggested to me.
The photograph was actually taken at a Christmas party, so after extracting myself from it, I lost myself in a snowstorm by means of several overlaid layers of digital paper. As I have a love/hate relationship with text in images, I posted an alternative version, without text in my Flickr gallery. That said, the words of this song have echoed through much of my subsequent work.


Prompted by a quote from Matthew Arnold:
And We Forget because we must and not because we will.

Soon after her eighth birthday, my mother lost almost all contact with her parents and has often told me that she has no feelings for them. And yet, she has kept safe this fragment of a letter that my grandfather wrote to her when she was eighteen and had just become engaged. That year, Mum and Dad went to Skegness together and Dad took the lovely photograph. I have placed another object in the box, for someone else.
The box was constructed from some photographs that I took of the side of a railway wagon and a rusty water tank.


I read somewhere that Mark Rothko did not consider his paintings to be abstract at all because he was painting images of emotions. Certainly, as a sufferer from depression, I have stood in front of his work and wept tears of recognition.
This page was created when I was very, very low. The central photograph was taken in Lapland. As I worked, I was thinking about Sami art and listening to the evocative music of Signur Ros and Goldfrapp's Seventh Tree. When I'm making a layout or image, I spend most of my time taking things OFF a page, rather than adding them. In this instance, there was eventually nothing left but what you see and a piece of digital ric-rac braid: I could probably write a book about that wretched piece of ric-rac and its emotional significance. What seemed like hours were spent moving it around the page before concluding that it was, in fact, just one detail too many so into the digital waste paper bin it went.
After making this image, I realised that without meaning to, I had created a piece of art journalling, so exactly did it convey to me how I had been feeling. I felt an incredible sense of relief and
could move on because I could now look at how I felt and begin to wonder what was around the next corner.


Often, when I begin an image, I don't know exactly where I'm going or what it's going to be about. In this instance, I had become obsessed with memories of photographic plaques in my grandparent's house and wanted to try to recreate them digitally. This led me to explore how I might depict the specific emotional feelings evoked by remembering my grandparents house where I lived from the age of 11: the sadness of knowing that we must move on from our childhood and the pain of looking back to times, places and people that will never come again.

The original post is here


This image was my first exploration into how I might digitally recreate the techniques that I had hitherto used as a painter. My starting point was a photograph taken in a churchyard. It was put through the digital mincer and I can't remember how many layers there were but I think it was about 50. As much of my work belies the fact that I love vibrant colour, I thought I'd share this one again so that you can see it's not all doom and gloom!

Looking back now, I can see how themes have emerged though my exploration of digital scrapbooking and collage. There's a desire to create emotionally evocative spaces; themes of memory, loss and longing and most of all, there are stories, or at least, clues to stories, inviting the viewer to make their own interpretations and draw their own conclusions.

If you've stayed with me up to the end of this post, thank you for looking and reading. Without the support of those who leave comments, I would never have got this far and your responses are always welcome!

See more buried treasures here


MrCachet said...

Like you, I am no wordsmith, but your pictures speak a thousand words. I hope you don't mind if I follow for awhile. I don't do any of my art digitally. I'm an old school guy with colored pencils, ink & gouache. I'm open to being more creative however, and I though the ATCs were just to be exchanged by mail! I now know better.

Anonova said...

Wow, I love both I Put This Moment Here and Now She Is Flying With The Angels.

Your work is so emotionally charged, it's wonderful.

Kimmie said...

I definitely DID read every word of this post. I am ever so inspired by the emotion in your work. There is so much purpose in what you create. With artists like you (and MRothko) and places like Lapland and Lyon France I can see that there is courage and treasure in going deep.

Is Lumi-Lyon from the light (lumination) in Lyon?

Lani Gerity said...

Oh my word! Whew! Your work is AMAZING!!!
I'm also digging up old treasure for Seth, but actually followed a link from a comment you left on Visual Anthologies (I liked your little image/logo thingy). Now excuse me while I continue playing in your blog!

Lumilyon said...

You got it Kimmie!

magpie said...

i dont want to return from where you've just taken me...

o maybe just for a moment
to ask how you 'digitally mince' your photographs...

okay, going back now

Lawendula said...

Touching as always, the frozen stuff is wonderful!
Thanks for your comment, too!
:) CU

Luisa Migon said...

You, your art and words are so special.. Love to come here... Thanks for all fun and inspiration!

(I would like to write about my layouts too, but I don't speak English well. So, no words! And this is the reason why my comments are so short.. But what can I do?!) :O)))

lynne h said...


thank you!

for taking us back to the beginning of this journey and then for sharing some of the treats since then...

i can't believe that you don't think you're a wordsmith... i feel that you're truly gifted

with words

and visions...

i love seeing (and reading about) your beautiful journey...


~*~Magpie's Nest said...

what an absolute treat, I am full of eye candy thanks to you and your artwork!

La Dolce Vita said...

Wow! your work is just AMAZING so glad to have found your blog!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

You have such a broad talent, from digital art, to assemblage, to almost poetic explanations of your art. You may not think of yourself as a wordsmith, but I do. Your art and your attitude are priceless and uplifting, even when talking about your depression.

Julie said...

Beautiful work...and how lovely to have a peek into your archives!

Sandra said...

I'm always soaking up everything till the last drop! Your creative wanderings are a true inspiration. One day, when I grow up, I want to be like you....

Nan said... have some amazing work here..I wouldn't know how to pick a favorite! Glad I found your blog and I enjoy reading your posts as well.

John said...

Beautiful focused work - I am taking the seth.excavation tour but will be back...excellent- thanks. Regards.

Mar said...

i always enjoy looking at your creations...this digital work amazes me...i haven't gotten the knack for it yet
and may never
so i admire them who can...being YOU!

Poetic Artist said...

Your work is wonderful. I am so glad I found it through Seth.
He has a way of doing things.
I think I will follow you. I enjoyed it so much

Ginny Gaskill said...

I love altered photos and collages. Yours are beautiful.

Tumble Fish Studio said...

That Seth is a motivational charismatic guy! I've been seeing the results of this exercise on lots of blogs. I wouldn't have the guts I don't think. But, some of these very pieces are the ones that pulled me into you - fascinated me, mesmerized me with your work (especially the first one in this group - can't believe you did that the first time trying digital - holy moly!)

As you know, I've let myself get very behind so I'm off to snoop around your blog some more to get all caught up! I've missed you!

Kim said...

Wow, loved this post and am so glad you participated in this collaboration. Your digi art is wonderful and so full of emotion. I will definitely be back for more.

3rdEyeMuse said...

I'm so happy to see the buried treasures you've dug up for us ... I am especially drawn to Fogetting, I Put This Moments Here (*sighs*) and Now She is Flying With The Angels (for Christina) - BRILLIANT.

thank you for sharing these and your depth of honesty, too.

Kelly said...

Wow, I love you colors in Flying with Angels. I'm just dipping into the digital world myself and I admire your persistance. I will stop back by for more.

Lori Saul said...

What a joy to see so many works of art and how they came about. It is important to see where we came from in order to move ahead. Your art is an inspiration!

Alberta said...

I remember the first time I saw this piece! It blew me away then and its mysterious, but luminous, lovliness still does today. I am so glad you started sharing the stories behind your art, though, because you are, despite yourself (yes, despite yourself!) a very gifted writer.


deb said...

I have goosebumps and my hackles are standing on end, wow! wow!

An Evolving Artist @ said...

Your writings are so much fun to read. I am glad you are there with it!

Lula Fernay said...

Wonderful and inspiring, as always.
I have given you an award (get the picture on my blog) that you can pass on to 5 other great blogs.

Seth said...

I have loved your blog ever since I first found it. And this post makes me love it even more. How incredible to see all these pieces together - raw, emotional, exposed, beautiful, poignant, creative. I could go on but I will just say thank you for being a part of this project!!

*jean* said...

OMG this is fabulous! how have i missed you all this time!!! your blog header is beautiful too!!

Cute Art World said...

Oh wow this is really beautiful!