Things aren’t moving very well on the course side of things presently. The two exhibitions are up and seem to be doing very well, more than enough sales at Artweeks to cover the cost and with visitor numbers up from last year, the feedback from the ‘Memory’ show also seems to be positive. However the studying has hit the doldrums somewhat.
Whilst on holiday I had an idea that I think has some legs, which is about tattoos and in particular text tattoos. I wondered about the need some people had to mark their body with a text, and in such a way as to proclaim to the world, a statement about something/someone. I must admit that prior to thinking about this practice I had a rather ambivalent attitude toward body art and wondered why this commitment to proclaim was important to disfigure their form in such a permanent way. However the more I thought about it the more I came to consider my reaction to these markings and, though I’m not likely to participate in the art-form, I am seeing these texts in a different and more sympathetic light.
The first text I saw was ‘never give up’. No inverted commas of course and no capital lettering. On her back at the base of the neck, along the line of her shoulders I questioned this absence from her view. To whom was she addressing this text? And to what? What was the reader to never give up on? It was these questions, and more, that set me thinking about a visual response to these words, much as I had related texts and imagery at the end of Documentary and which forms the genesis of the work at the ‘Memory’ show at the Nuffield.
The next text I read was ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’, again on the back of the body bearing the epithet. Both of these texts are ‘openly positive’; whilst the ambiguity remains they seem to look forward with optimism. The third though read ‘Love me’ and was on the upper arm of a female. I looked twice to see if there was any other text to combine with it and found none, and it was probably this set of two words that persuaded me that there was a piece of work in these tattoos. Gloriously open, the plaintive pleading or the taught instruction, seemed ripe for interpretation and so I have gone about collecting other texts and will try and set them to images. Spring turning to summer will no doubt help with the revelatory requirements, exposing lettering and releasing them. I don’t want to direct my thoughts, but I have a very strong inclination that these texts will be about love which is at the core of what I want to make work about.
Never give up.