History of (Elephant ) Art - Pt 2- The Art of..No Art
I had struggled with leaving college, and finding enough work to live off...and the limitations of working from some pretty uninspiring art directors. My bread and butter work was trade magazines- nursing times, Business Weekly etc, but I did get some more interesting work from Radio Times, The Observer and The Times, as well as a couple of book covers.
After the self indulgence of college ( where we typically had a week to complete a piece of work), I was now in the world of commerce, where a phone call often arrived at midday commissioning a piece that would need to be completed by the following day. I was given some pretty crappy ideas ( the nursing 'Birth of Adam is below), but a particular low point was being commissioned to do an illustration about the spread of Aids The art director instructed me to 'make it fun.' and draw comedy hookers and sailors weilding condoms....In my defence, I desperately needed the money...
In the times when I was waiting for work to arrive, I set myself projects including Illustrating Great Expectations ( see below), as well as a painting metre square acrylic painting inspired by Interview with a Vampire, by Anne Rice. I attended drawing classes and workshps, and pushed myself to work in different drawing media.
|Self- initiatated project- Great Expectations. Pip meets Magwitch in the graveyard. Pencil on paper|
|Great Expectations: Miss Havisham watches Pip and Estella play cards.|
|Great Expectations: Miss H leans on Pip as she takes a turn around the cobwebby table.|
In the midst of all this, I had depression. Then I passed out for no reason ( the reason I now know to be Orthostatic Intolerance), then I got flu, and tonsilitus, then had two lots of antibiotics ....and ME shuffled into view.
I had no idea what ME was- back then it was referred to as 'yuppie flu', which I could not have imagined to be anything to do with me, as I was too poor to be a yuppie! Quite by chance I was flipping through a book in the library, which described ME, and I read through the criteria. It sounded like me. I joined a GP surgery which the ME association had recommended, and told the Dr that I probably didn't have this thing called ME, but this book made it sound like I did.....
He said Yes, I had ME. He told me that I must go home and rest and wait to get better. Not words you want to hear when you are 23! Art became the furthest thing from my mind, when brushing my teeth or a short conversation could completely use up my energy.
It is almost impossible to really remember how insular life was for all of us, prior to the widespread use of the internet. I was housebound and my days were spent either in silence or listening to a huge reel to reel tape machine lent to me by tapes for the blind. I had no energy or inspiration to do anything creative. The four walls of my tiny box room felt more like a prison cell. My life and the illness remained stuck, every day was the same. Day after day.....
I began to write a little, then I began to write little fragments, which in time I shaped into an historical novel set in the 18th century. As I began to improve I worked on it sporadically. It took me 8 years to complete and I began another, set in the 1920's. I received a big pile of rejection letters, and eventually I was forced to come to the realization : that whilst I love reading novels, I am just not able to write a good one myself. :-)
I was not a painter....and now I was not a writer. I had no idea who I was any longer...but I was no longer so sick, and I had new energy, and time would bring me to a different life and a new location (!)...
TO BE CONTINUED....... Your COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!