Telling Secrets

I like to keep this blog as upbeat and positive as is possible but the truth is it isn’t always fun and games when it comes to art or life more generally. Somehow actually creating art gave way to not creating art and feeling very irritable and anxious. I’m sure I quote Julia Cameron too often on this blog, but since I couldn’t have said it any better myself…

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron writes:

Making a piece of art may feel a lot like telling a family secret. Secret telling, by its very nature, involves shame and fear. It asks the question “What will they think of me once they know this?” This is a frightening question, particularly if we have ever been made to feel ashamed for our curiosities and explorations – social, sexual, spiritual.

My art practice involves too many secrets. Things I don’t want to share with anyone, things I don’t even want to admit to myself. Even bringing myself to admit that I wanted to paint in the first instance took over a year. It’s one of the greatest ironies of my existence that while anyone who knows my name can throw it into a search engine and see everything I create and share online I am incredibly guarded with people I know in (quote-unquote) ‘real life.’

There have been breakdowns and breakthroughs this weekend though. I went for a walk through the escarpment, listening to Tori Amos. Listening to the Dakota Version of Hey Jupiter and really reflecting upon what that song meant gave me a way of accessing my own unarticulated sorrow. When I returned from my walk I wrote a poem, my first poem in probably seven years. I also, somewhat mysteriously, ‘found’ some lyrics to a song I wrote back in 2000. It seemed I was able to express things that I hadn’t been able to before. But looking back at them, realising they were fundamentally what I wanted and needed to say, I wasn’t sure I was yet prepared to let those sentiments see the light of day. It’s this underlying tension in so much of what I do. I see it in my painting too – in the subjects I choose to paint, the way in which I choose to paint them – sometimes I’m sure they reveal more than I intend them to.

It’s a terrible thing to spend so much time talking about cultivating a self to ‘express’ and then being fearful when you do. But in a lot of ways I have to exist in a world that doesn’t appreciate most of what I do, that doesn’t understand who I am, that is keen to criticise my rather fragile ego. I’m not sure I want to feel so exposed and vulnerable.

Amusingly the poem I wrote this weekend was about not feeling brave enough to write a poem. When I realised this was indeed what I had done, I laughed and felt strangely accomplished. Where there’s life, there’s hope.

[Mary made the observation that it had been some weeks since I last posted a video here. I do have one which I will post this week though I can’t guarantee how regularly they will appear after that. There is some stuff (cryptic enough?) happening to this website behind the scenes that will ultimately make the site more enjoyable to the people who visit it but in the meanwhile I have to play catch up and work on some special secret projects. Watch this space!]

1 comment… add one
  • Never too much Julia! And your metapoem experience made me smile. Thanks for staying positive and upbeat when really it IS so difficult to be creative in a world where creativity and art are not really prized by the general population. Well,unless you are also rich and famous and wildly successful.

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