I’ve just had the most amazing day! There was no point in waiting for Simon to come home as he would only be negative as usual, so I simply had to call Caroline and tell her how right she was to push me into doing the project and meeting Mary.
We all went to her studio today and spent several hours there. We went in the morning and she talked to us about her work and showed us some of the projects she is currently working on. Then we all had lunch out in her garden as it was a lovely day. Nicky had organised that and brought along picnic food for us all to share, but I still thought this was wonderfully generous of Mary since she is so in demand and travels a lot as well.
And while we ate we were all relaxed and laughing, but then after lunch we had a serious planning session to discuss the project. Nicky had said this would be part of the programme for the day, but I hadn’t really thought about how it would work, apart from us asking Mary to choose one of our themes.
Anyway, it was really interesting, as Mary talked about how the very act of co-operating would impel us to work and give us future goals. She said we should give ourselves a year to prepare for an exhibition, which seems a long way off, but then if we have to develop our ideas first I suppose we can’t do it any sooner. And when we started talking about the themes we were considering, she really surprised us all by saying that although she thought they all had great potential, she wanted to give us a suggestion of her own. Then she went on to say that she would like to offer to collaborate with us and act as our spiritual guide in preparing the project. She said that if we were happy with the idea, she would be prepared to let us use her name as sponsor of the final exhibition. We could then say that the work had been developed in collaboration with her and that she would act as our mentor all the way through.
Well, we were all absolutely thrilled to bits about this, even Nicky, who I suppose could have been a bit miffed as she had been acting as group leader up to then. Then Mary said that her suggestion for the theme of the project was New Beginnings. I could tell one or two people were a bit taken aback at first, underwhelmed I should say, but I thought it was very good. It could be used literally or taken to mean new style, new techniques, anything really.
And then Mary gave us each a large sheet of paper and told us to think in terms of word association so we could come up with all sorts of vaguely connected ideas around this title which we had to write down. It was a sort of brainstorming session I suppose, as she then got us to each hold up our sheets and say in turn what words we had thought of and how they could be developed.
I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like this before and I found it really exciting. It just made me feel as if I was buzzing with ideas and energy and I was dying to start working. In fact I think I said that when it was my turn to read out my notes and Mary said that was a good reaction as the whole point of the exercise was to generate electricity and a sense of focus that could be combined into an energy to fuel the group’s work.
By the end of the afternoon we were all agreed that the project would be called New Beginnings and had even put a provisional date for a show in our diaries. New Beginnings at the New End Gallery it will be. We all left feeling really motivated by Mary’s support and astonished at how much she was willing to share with us. We have all been given an individual appointment with her in a few weeks time and have to call to confirm whether we are able to visit her studio or would prefer to show her our work in our own homes – I’d love to be able to say studio, but my dining room is hardly that! So I have a deadline in four weeks and by then I need to have made some progress.
to be continued July 14