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  • Writer's pictureSarah McCartney


I've been in 'exhibition preparation' mode since I got back from Bryher because I am exhibiting my work with Steven Buckler at the Malthouse Gallery, Lyme Regis in less than two weeks.

In April this year, because of the lockdown restriction and other commitments that became more important to me because of the pandemic, I decided to intermit from the Authorial Illustration MA I was studying at Falmouth University. Since then I have become increasingly disconnected from my practice and studies. Its been six months and I've been feeling for a while now that its been too long. Can I reconnect with my work? Can I finish the MA? And now a new isolation is seeping over me. Winter.

Positive actions I am taking to move past this stuck place:

  1. cut back the hours I spend working to pay bills

  2. revive the habit of reading

  3. revive the habit of writing

  4. revive the habit of drawing in my sketchbook

  5. retrace my steps and look at where I was so I can move on

  6. have an exhibition

  7. keep swimming

The retracing my steps means I am rereading my MA work and thinking that a way back into it will be to use this space to think and tell my story. Make this more consciously part of my practice. I have found it really hard to cope with this new world of digital everything. I am a maker. But over the years I have blogged, posted photographs of things I have found, explained and wondered about them and shared my drawings and making process. So maybe it's not as alien to me as I have thought?

Here is an extract from my presentation last year 'locating a visual practice through process, poetry and a way of living' where I tried to place myself as an artist


I have begun to see that my work is process led. I’ve always struggled to know what my work is about. I worry I don't have ideas, that I don't have a story. But, as anthropologist Tim Ingolds argues when he talks about process and creativity in his book ‘Making’, ‘materials have ideas’ he writes 'I want to think of making... as a process of growth. This is to place the maker from the outset as a participant in amongst a world of active materials. These materials are what he has to work with, and in the process of making he ‘joins forces’ with them, bringing them together or splitting them apart, synthesising and distilling, in anticipation of what might emerge' further on he says '...the most he can do is to intervene in worldly processes that are already going on, and which give rise to the forms of the living world that we see all around us ... adding his own impetus to the forces and energies in play'. So maybe the process of finding, preserving, identifying, recording, drawing, photographing, ordering and displaying, maybe that process itself, is the story.


I'll post the whole piece sometime with the images...

... but first the exhibition.

When Steve asked me to join him for this exhibition a few months ago I was in the middle of my 'stuckness'. Saying yes was like going out alone into a blasting rain lashed northerly for a dawn swim when I could just stay in bed.

I chose to get up and go out.

I thought it would be hard and I didn't think I had anything to show but I've been gathering. I have giclée prints being made and work being framed and I'm looking at a great scattering of stuff on my lounge floor. Boxes of small resins, cards, light panels, wires, big slabs of resin, frames, sketchbooks. It seems I have some work and it will be OK.

What to take?

Take it all says Steve.

We'll work it out when we get there.

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