My process this week reminded me of a project we were given to do at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen in the early 1980s. We were to create a set of 6 or 7 forms which were simple enough to repeat. Next, we had to arrange them in as many different ways as we could think of, recutting the forms each time, and see how many works we could create with them in a day.
This was my absolute favourite thing to do at art school ever, I was on fire with it and didn’t want to stop! I made mine by cutting out cardboard shapes; I used hockey-stick shapes, crosses, rectangles and lozenges which I painted in different colours using fast-drying acrylic. I did all sorts of things, mostly making structures from cardboard such as shelves, pockets, boxes and frames for my arrangements. I hung my painted shapes on strings, pinned them to the wall, and chained them together with wire. I laid them down flat on the floor and made different compositions, taking frottage prints using an inked roller on thin paper of each. I just had a ball, and my space wasn't big enough for the creative tsunami which ensued; the majority of students got a lot out of this project, and the entire studio was awash with coloured shapes and creations which spilled out into the corridor.
That in the moment joy of playing mindfully is something more elusive in adulthood, we have to make time and space for it and escape our concerns, but when it happens it's wonderful. I hadn’t come across Richard Tuttle yet when I was at art school in Aberdeen. I don’t know if his work was widely known in Scotland in the early 1980s (the days before internet, kids - they did exist) but it seems to me that he is exceptionally gifted at playing mindfully and with great intelligence. This wonderful exercise set by my tutors back in the day could easily have been dreamed up by him.
Thanks for visiting, see you next week!
P.S. Here is a link to one of my favourite videos of Tuttle at work if you are interested, and to his fabulous 2007 exhibition at Sperone Westwater, Memory Comes from Dark Extension