Doorway to a doorway. The definition of a life, I guess.
Just things, in a glass case. Doors keep them locked. Safe. Precious, unhandled.
This photo reflects my career. Precious objects in a case. Unseen, un-bought. Just more stuff. They took sooooo long to create. To imagine. To paint. To carve. To sell. So many expositions filled with hope. The gallery assistant telling me, “…but your work has sold more than anyone.” So why, I wondered, was I not getting a price to live on? Live from? My exhausting, blood sucking, back-breaking, heart wrenching career.
I lived not. I walked through it like a ghost. Walking, talking, answering the questions, injecting the proper enthusiasms, feigning interest, smiling – (always remember to smile) Sometimes I’d think, ‘This is my life? Art began to feel like a demanding lover. Nothing was ever good enough for her. I got so tired of her constant seduction, doing me until I’d drop. After 35 plus years making a career as an artist, I’d had enough.
At the beginning, when a sculpture of mine was chosen to stand at the famous art fairs in London, the sort of places I used to have a job serving wine at, I’d sit for a moment and look around, taking it all in and say, “Yes. THIS is my life. I’d drink a toast and say to myself, “Well done, you.”
Years later, with lovers who felt neglected because I was always working, not a regular 9 to 5 job, but a career, I felt I always had to justify my choice of career. It chose me, by the way, not the other way round. Is it any different for you who wants a child? Well, these are my babies. I’d shout, “THIS IS MY LIFE!!!”
When history finally stamps you as great, if it does, then all that you’ve done to do what you did, even madness and suicide, is looked upon as ok. It’s so interesting.
In the end, I saw clearly it was no longer sustainable for me to be an artist. Society does not credit the artist enough, not like a doctor or lawyer. When the next sculpture was asked for, ASAP, and I’d spent another weekend inside working, carving stone, wondering how to pay the bills, wondering what the fuck I was doing, bewildered, I’d quietly think to myself, ‘this is my life?’ I was an artist who saw every detail yet missed the big picture.
This photograph reminds me too of little curiosity shops in Amsterdam. Chock full of all sorts of knick knacks. Junk, antiques, bits and bobs, small precious handmade jewelry, old pen tips, bottles of various colors, shapes and sizes, old cameras, tin toys, and sometimes sculptures.
Maybe they were copies of famous ones housed in European museums, perhaps only knick knacks for tourists of their time, portraits of long dead famous people, composers and the like.
But some were good, really good, and I’d wonder how they came to be here, in a side street shop, not in a museum. How many hopeful artist’s work and careers ended up here? Just expensive junk. Pretty now, because it somehow lasted, someone caring enough to care for it, to hand it down.
Did some relative receive it as an inheritance in lew of money and say, “Oh god, what it this tacky thing? Can we just sell it please?” So off it went to an estate sale, or garage sale, yard sale, boot sale or street sale, finally ending up here, in this little shop.
I’m thinking now, about all the art I’ve made and sold or given to people. My art is out there, somewhere in the world, possibly bringing joy to someone. Pleasing people. Perhaps handed down, but cared for, embraced, seen.
I always have felt, that an art piece does not live, unless it is seen. So maybe, this long career was not for nothing.
To order this book, please go to this link:
In Europe at the American Book Center in Amsterdam and the Hague: https://abc.nl/book-details/puertas/g9789492563965
(Books ordered online can be shipped anywhere in Europe and Britain)
Will soon be available in the USA and worldwide. Watch this page for updates.
The photograph above, Ghost Doorway, is now available to purchase from my shop
Review of this book can be found on this link.