I am probably, I think, getting towards the end of my reflections on my MA now. There isn’t a huge amount more I can say. However, I do have one final(ish) thought to deliver here about the past two years.
I have recently been stuck, somewhat, in a state of self-reflection and self-appraisal, at least since the final show started. I have improved over the last few days, somewhat, in my harshness of my self-assessment which I wrote about in the last blog post. However, today I had a final revelation which has really helped me put the last two years in perspective.
I have always been very ambitious, at least academically, striving to do the best that I can. If you analyse deep enough it probably stems from a entrenched desire to attain parental and authoritative praise of an area of life I felt I could achieve in. It might not be particularly feminist of me to admit this but not ever being particularly girly and pretty I was never praised for my looks or feminine ways and as a child, this bothered me a lot. I wanted to be pretty. I wanted to be a girl. Instead, I was lanky and gangly and often overlooked. So as compensation I sought approval in my intellectual achievements. I had a reasonable brain so it was the one area of my life I could shine in. And I guess that desire to be praised for brainy efforts has continued well into adulthood. So when I feel that I haven’t fulfilled this, I feel very strongly as if I have let myself down.
Art as an academic subject area encourages debate because it is often overlooked as an intellectual pursuit (that’s another blog topic) but it is actually deeply academic, philosophical and conceptual. And I have been feeling a little that I haven’t fulfilled all I could, intellectually, with my final artwork for the MA (it is of course impossible for me to be objective about my own art – again, another blog).
However, since spending time at the New Art Gallery Walsall invigilating for the show, I have had the chance to observe people reacting to my work. There are three levels of their reactions. Firstly, the initial reaction (this has been mostly quite positive) as they enter the room and walk towards my pieces, walk around them and consider them. Secondly, a next-level reaction which happens when they spot something they recognise in my pieces, such as the Costa cup or the blueberries. There’s a look of familiarity and a recognition of the uncanny that I see in their faces. And, thirdly, there is a level which happens after they have asked me some questions about my artwork. In other words, the final level is the level which comes from full understanding of the process, method and concept, and again, it has been positive. This has really warmed me and lifted my spirits.
The last two years have been very productive if I measure these reactions against my intellectual intentions. I haven’t produced the best, the most amazing, outstanding, ground-breaking work of the year. That doesn’t matter. I have produced something out of nothing and I have left a mark. That is what counts. I have travelled.