Dirty Practice Day Two – can you guess who owns the fez?

Early this morning I arrived for Day Two of the Dirty Practice Symposium to find a nice collection of objects donated for me to paint (more came during the day).

The objects

There are a number of interesting themes running through the objects: the colour red, round, found, utility and small. Given that the objects were chosen and placed independently of each other, this is quite intriguing. I suspect that some people picked something they found in passing while wandering around the studio: the hinge, the Primark tag, the nail and the balloon. (Actually, the balloon is my object but I did find it in the studio.) The other objects were chosen with more care: the shuttlecock, the fez, the brush and (not in the image) the egg box.

Initially, I found it quite interesting to try to match the object with the giver. There is no such thing as random selection when a decision is made, whether conscious or unconscious. The object givers chose an object for some reason or other: humour, convenience, appeal, or reflection. Even if they believe that they chose an object at random, they didn’t. The object caught their eye for some reason or other and as such, reflects their personality.

I have been asking everyone in particular if they can guess who left the fez for me to paint. Only one person didn’t know. Everyone else guessed correctly. To me, it was obvious. I also thought the Primark tag was obvious but fewer people guessed this one. In fact, knowing the identity of the giver of each object, or at least in most cases, I think it is obvious from whom they came. 

Everyone has left a little bit of themselves for me in the form of their object. It feels as if they are all with me. The objects have a personality. They are keeping me company. I feel oddly honoured to be the custodian of these things and I feel a sense of responsibility for having to look after them, and paint them. I need to do justice to them, to create something meaningful with them, for the sake of their kind lenders. 

Questions, questions, questions.

The day is now over, and I have spent most of today writing on my wall, procrastinating and avoiding starting anything creative. This is what I do in these situations. I think. I think a lot. I think a lot before I do. I am secretly actually quite scared of doing. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit that. Artists are supposed to love creating. But it is the truth. I’m a fearful artist.

Still life quotes

Eventually, at 5.23pm, I threw my wall of caution to the cliche wind, and started painting. Once I had started, I didn’t want to stop. Often the starting is the most scary part. Yet, I had to stop. I have three children. They were waiting for me to fetch them. I write this now at home, lying in bed, absolutely dog tired and creatively spent. Yet, I can’t wait for tomorrow to start so I can pick up my brush and paint some more.

I’ve started painting.

As to who gave me the fez? If you have any connection to the Wolverhampton School of Art, can you guess? If not, you have no chance. But it was the first thing I wanted to paint.


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