Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Perseverance into October

My desk was once a wash-stand. My mother rescued it and put a slab of wood on top. I've had it for years and its dual life couldn't be a better way of trying to understand my undecided state.

Hunting for work, looking for new paths, I feel like a scavenger kicking up undergrowth, going through bins.

Autumn's good at uncertainty. It feels right for reinvention, but despite trying out a wig, rediscovering winter skirts and scarves, moving piles of books, I still feel absence on my back.

I'm trying not to complain, although I had a cry on Sunday, knowing what I need is to put on my wellies and dig. But then from nowhere ambition crawls towards me, the desire to do something more, to take on a big project. And suddenly planting garlic, weeding, pulling up the failed plants feels too ordinary.

Why isn't daily life enough? Why do I need to intervene, interpret and communicate, to film and record, to dance and chatter on the page, to digitise and amplify? When I came back from South Africa after at least two weeks of daily cooking on wood, washing with water carried for 30 minutes from a communal tap, washing in a dribble from a water bag hung from the grass roof, I was thinking the same. What is the point of writing and art when every moment is occupied with surviving? But I wrote when I was there. I walked around galleries.

I can imagine people who gathered up the hill by my allotment in the causeway camp needing stories, using words for quiet, for reassurance, for devotion. And why else would you decorate a pot, draw on a wall, than to go into another part of yourself, the part that escapes into the lines?

So thanks to my mother (always) my desk brings me together again, transformed from a wash-stand, it turns doubt into a motivator, promising more in the washing up bowl, tin bath.

Yesterday I looked at the film clips I took in South Africa in Mashau, I heard the birds again, could almost smell the fire - there's wood that smells of incense, another that smells of piss - and I could see over the valley towards the hills. I'm transcribing journals I kept on each of my four visits. Scavenging but rediscovering, reflecting.