Deep in the woods, 2015, Mikki Gleave
Recently, I have been on a journey. I describe it as a journey because it has involved travelling back to distant memories. I could never really put in to words why I make Art the way I do, why I’m drawn to the familiar yet strange and why my work often depicts lines and trees. It was when the artist and tutor Ged Young suggested that I read The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard that things began to make sense, and started to give me inspiration to make new work. He also told me that the key to finding new ideas is to read, read more and to go deeper than researching what other artists’ are making. Do you know what? he was right. Lets go back to Bachelard, and his little book of delightful terminology. I won’t divulge in to too much of what his theories are but, to put it in a nutshell , he discusses that we need to day dream and go back to childhood memories of imaginative play, where rooms such as the cellar or the attic provided hours of excitement. He encourages us to remember those doorways where we imagined what could be on the other side and how they are symbolic of things leading to something else. This started to make sense when I realized that whilst I was constructing interior settings (using props,twigs, an old Christmas tree and lighting in a disused outhouse and taking photographs of woodland from outside my window), I was allowing myself to daydream and furthermore, what I was actually doing was revisiting places from my childhood. This was the start of the journey. At this stage however, I still wasn’t satisfied with the images I had taken, (patience isn’t easy when your an artist ). Although they had started to reveal something strange, it didn’t give me that feeling that I wanted. I continued to look at these images and noticed that the ones that jumped out at me were of those depicting trees and branches, of the appearance of mist and of the water dripping down the window. I began to select images and through using a variety of techniques and working into the image with different materials, I noticed that I was beginning to change the narrative. The ice etchings, for example were a response to the wooded area outside my window and it was at that point I began to understand that I was also responding to my environment whilst continuing to go back to memories. Memories of woodlands, (explored through childhood), memories of seeing Dad sketch and of smelling the pine. Memories of pretending I was lost in a dark forest and building a fire to keep warm. I also realized that everything has an opposite and what seems to be beautiful can have a darker side too. The wood can be a place of hidden danger, they can disguise the adolescents desire to try darker things. They can trap you and make you lose your way. They can be a place where innocence is lost. I could go on and on, but I don’t want to lose the thread! And so, I began responding to my environment and, from going out and being at 1 with nature and from further experimentation working into the image ( I wont give too much away yet) I began to capture that feeling, the tension I was aiming for-the hidden things that one can sense but can’t see. Artists who have inspired me so far are Peter Doig, Christopher Cook and Rebecca Sitar. Oh, and of course plenty of reading. I will be back soon with more news from my journey.