Monday March 11-Tuesday March 12, 2013: It takes an ocean not to break.

Hey kids,

Sorry I’ve fallen a bit behind with the blogging for no particular reason.

Let’s test my memory.

First: Possibly going back to Poland this summer. Please help me make this unbelievable possibility a reality by: praying/meditating/consorting with the devil/finding ways I can fund it.

Monday. On Sunday, I was unsure how I would be spending Monday, but when I woke up I felt an urge to go to the printshop so to the printshop I went. I had prepared a soft ground (as opposed to hard ground) plate so I was ready to go upon arrival. Details of this process will be illustrated by photocommentary so you’ll have to wait a bit for that. Printed from 10:30-5 and afterwards, I got to spend time with the muse behind the print I made. That would be Jackie the bunny. Once the printshop closed, I went over to Waterstones on Gower Street and bought two books for my trip to the Lake District. The Fault in our Stars by John Green and When God Was aRabbit by Sarah Winman. I then made my way to Golders Green, picked up pizza and fries and headed over to Fabienne and Ezra! Great company, lovely conversation, blast from the past with some Sporcle and who doesn’t love London Olympic youtube videos? And yes, it was nice to see Jackie. I can tell she missed me terribly. Fabienne and Ezra needed a bunny-sitter for Pesach and naturally I was there first choice, but alas, I won’t be around either.

Got home late and passed out, dreading Tuesday’s seminar and antsy with wanderlust.

Moving along to Tuesday.

Chodesh Tov! (Happy new month!) Can’t believe Passover is in two weeks and sois my 22nd birthday. They coincide! Can’t remember the last time that happened. Left the flat full of dread, ate my breakfast full of dread, sat in the studio just waiting for the seminar to be over with.

Why this dread? I can’t really explain it. Well, for starters, I couldn’t find a way out of the hole I had buried myself in. A hole full of maps and HI I’M A VISITOR HERE AND I LOVE TO WALK A LOT BUT DON’T ASK ME WHY BECAUSE I’M NOT REALLY SURE AND PLEASE ASK ME MORE ABOUT MY INCOHESIVE BODY OF WORK.

You know?

The way these seminars usually go is that first there’s this drawn out awkward silence and then either the artist in question feels such awkward tension that they start speaking OR someone else pipes in and says something about the work or its relationship to a vague concept or its similarities to another artist or what it fails to do or what it should have done better or what race/creed/social entity the work insults and then the artist in question will either agree or get defensive or explain the whole process to demonstrate that he/she already considered every single suggestion that was raised so that there can be no question that this work looks exactly as it should and can look or the artist will choose not say anything and hope that one person keeps talking at which point a tutor will say “ok let’s hear some new voices” but no new voices rise from the crowd so that person keeps going and then at a certain point the artist takes the floor and says something like “I’m really interested in ________” or “I find _______________ really interesting” and then goes on a little vaguely about something for a while and I’m like I don’t get it but sure.*

The fact that this is the basic structure for a seminar set me up for failure. I just don’t operate like this. Well maybe sometimes I do, but I certainly haven’t since I got here. So I thought well, what can I do? I can sound extremely confident and sure of myself even amidst the “yeah not really sure what compelled me to make this/learn this skill,” that way no one will be able to question anything because there’s nothing to intellectualize/take out context about that. Did I play it too safe?

So I awkwardly held my unfinished and unresolved glass map, which was probably my first mistake. I put the map back on the table. Not in the literal sense.  I kept holding it. But in the “I give you permission to discuss this” sense. And it wasn’t completely downhill from that point because I said “listen kids, I know this is as map, I know I’m not from here, but let’s just forget about it, okay?” But then the only people who piped in were the international students who went on about either their tendencies to make art about their foreign-ness or maps. REALLY PEOPLE? Not helping. Other notable comments: “Do you realize all this work is about you?” Is that a bad thing? “There’s nothing ‘unknown’ in the etching process.” Ok, but not if you’ve never done it before. “You keep saying that you don’t know why you’re making something.”  Yes, that is correct, anything else?

So that was that. I was glad that it ended, but I felt pretty lousy afterwards. I didn’t feel insecure about my work or regretful of anything I said or did not say. It was just frustrating that these seminars aim at having a certain kind of conversation and my work and practice don’t have a place in it. Or, they defy it. That’s probably it. After the seminar I had lunch with Yael/Julia on her first full day of being 21! Huzzah! Then I went back to the studio and played around with a dry-point sample plate in the printshop for a few minutes before my tutorial with Kieren.

As always, a great tutorial. Kieren just knows what to say! As he sat down he asked, “so how did you think that went?” To which I responded, “pretty badly.” (Laughs) “I think you handled it very well.”

He told me that on the one hand, he thinks it’s time for me to set out to make a big work, something site specific and community engaging. But on the other hand he sees that I’m being insanely productive and maybe it’s good for me to keep trying new skills but on the other hand sometime abroad students tend not to make big things because of the baggage restrictions/reluctance to ship it all back but then he said something along the lines of, “you have a strong personality…you don’t seem like one who would work well with pushiness.” No, I don’t. So he dropped that idea. Then we went on to talk about my prints, which he seemed to like and would love to see more of and perhaps I should consider filling a room with them, approaching printmaking with the same obsessive tendency as I did with the bunnies, but not with the factory worker mentality.

All in all, things are looking up.

And things continued to look up when I decided I could use a good three mile walk to my stained glass class, clear my head a bit. I’ve never done the walk from Euston to Kennington but today seemed like a good day todo it. As far as the Jewish calendar is concerned, it’s Spring now! And how about that sunlight at 5:30 PM? Keep it coming!

Not a beautiful walk, but an important one. However, crossing the Thames over the Blackfriars Bridge was lovely. The sun hit the water just right and I heard Laura Marling and Johnny Flynn singing in my head. Got to my class later than I usually do, but it was certainly worth it. Would love to share pictures but my iPhone was dead so I couldn’t take any. Probably a good thing every now and then.

I don’t mean to take on overly ambitious projects, and I really tried to avoid it with this next glass piece but I failed. Fortunately, what I think is the hardest part is now complete. Ever make a miniature glass staircase? No? Well, now I can help you with that! It was definitely exciting to make the beginnings of a glass sculpture. Again, no iPhone, no pictures. Wait until next week.

I was discussing my upcoming stained glass workshop with Carey and told her about my qualms regarding what I should make. The workshop is only 5 days, so if I take on an ambitious project, it might not get finished and that would be annoying. But I’m not going all the way to Cornwall and investing in this workshop to solder two pieces of glass together and call it a day. Carey said I should take on something ambitious because I would regret it otherwise and whatever I don’t finish in Cornwall can be finished at City and Guilds. Ah! Brilliant idea! Now, sketches are due in two weeks so I should get on that. Thoughts? Anyone want to commission a window?

Picked up groceries for tomorrow’s trip to the Lake District! So excited to get out of London and see some green and turn off my phone and leave my computer at home. I need to cut myself off. Even for two days, itmakes a difference. I’d like to stop by the studio quickly to pick up my film camera but I have a feeling that might not happen. To be determined.

Alright, I need to go to bed. I’ve been so wiped out in the evenings lately, I don’t know why. I’ll leave you with a few songs that I can’t get out of my head:

Santa Clara Terrible Love,  Runaway, and  Green Gloves all by The National.

But you don’t really care for music, do you?

Cheers,

Sarah

____________________________________________________________

*This is your typical, average, run of the mill seminar. A few** have been more enjoyable*** than this.

____________________________________________________________

**Few being the operative word.

***But in all fairness, it could be me, not them. After all, I am the alien here and I’m not used to this seminar language hence the short attention span and lack of enjoyment.

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