Wanting to do some research I unearthed ‘The Book of Skin’ [Connor, Steven; 2004; Reaktion Books Ltd; pub. Great Britain]. I’d started reading this about five years ago, but didn’t have enough reasons for carrying on and ended up putting it aside. The book suddenly makes sense now and so I’ve nearly finished it. The book is largely about the living skin. It touches on so many of the ideas that each of us is dealing with in the Tannery: Ideas of wrapping and enfolding, of psychosis and personal boundaries; of how internal processes become imprinted at the periphery, how they surface in the skin. The author, Steven Connor, says in describing the changes in our historic picturing of the skin that it was ‘First a screen, then a membrane and finally, this book will assume, what Michel Serres calls a milieu: the skin becomes a place of mingling, a mingling of places.’ [p. 26]
I want to suggest that the rooms we are working in at the Tannery are an in-folding of the skin; perhaps a mouth that can speak, perhaps a place associated with labour and toil like a sweaty armpit or possibly we are inviting you into an even more intimate space. We are clothing ourselves in the Tannery and the ghosts of the beasts that have been skinned to make shoes and clothes and books etc. and so far rather than decorating this particular skin we are ghost writing onto the shared skin of the internet.
‘The Coat’ has been hanging out in the Tannery now for a few weeks. During that time it’s visited Capel y Graig in Furnace with Jacob for a day out, it left a couple of buttons there with Avi Allen which have been on their own little journey too. It’s been busy absorbing thoughts and ideas…Dave found an inside-out approach to wearing it and immediately discovered a deep seated fashionista within.
I’ve been similarly effected. I’ve been trying to keep my thoughts and ideas open and fluid. I’ve been watching other people approaching the Tannery project and letting myself be influenced by their process and approach. It’s fascinating and scary I’ve found. Last Friday I spent a fantastic day with Roger, Mike and Dave playing art games in the space – setting rules and then working within them to alter and influence the objects in the gallery space. What a simple but rare thing to do. To spend the day with a handful of other artists and play – haven’t really done anything similar since I did my foundation a zillion years ago.
I’ve also been battling with myself…what’s acceptable? Is it ok to fail? Do I mind what other people think of me? How does this look from the outside? Do I trust these other artists? Is this worth investing in? WHY AM I DOING THIS? I’ve had a couple of days when I felt very insecure and negative about it…BUT I think I’m coming to understand a few really quite profound things about myself and my approach to making art. I have a few exciting ideas about what might happen in my own practice as a result.
On Sunday we meet all together and begin to finish this process at the Tannery. It will be such a short day…just a few hours with us all together, I’m fascinated and apprehensive and excited to see what we do.
We arrived at the Tannery, having missed the first group session – it was the first time I had seen what the others had done.
So, in the line beauty (the words on Rogers green and white tape) I decided that I would firstly find (seek) then individually wrap (hide) the fragments of Mari’s Bucket (which the group kicked until it broke) then re-build the the bucket so that it may live to be kicked another day.
We placed the bucket with the reminants of Sams cuttings, Jakes record player and a packet of resolve. It then became a part of Daves evolving installation – fulfilling its renewed purpose of vessel to Daves wrapped hangers and held by the creepy man in the doorway.
Dave wrapped (hid) an object for me (I have to guess what it is!) and everyone played a game of hide and seek (they also hid mike).
It’s a buckets life!