Saturday, 14 August 2010

Creating Identities July 30th - August 3rd 2010

Whilst working voluntarily at Bloc Studios I heard about a course that was starting called 'Creating Identites,' I was told about it by a friend who knew I was unemployed and interested in art. I read about the course and found that the creator was someone who I went to University with, Jonny Drury. I contacted him and arranged a meeting. He explained that the course was for people of an ethnic origin/background and it's aim was to help them develop new skills in art and give them an opportunity for employment in the arts. I was interested and originally started out to give Jonny a hand with paper work and working with the students, but I actually ended up as a student! Jonny asked me about my background, I had always been curious to know where I came from and often wondered about my mother's side of the family, her mum never knew her father and my mum's grandma came from a gypsy family (she had similar features of a black woman - to an extent). My father (not biological but he brought me up from being a baby) comes from an Arabic background, but was born in England. Jonny then asked if I would be interested in being a student on the course and I thought it would be an interesting experience.

There were 16 people on the course, from Iran, Iraq, India, Africa..and then myself..from Barnsley! It was quite strange as I sometimes felt that I didn't really belong there and that the other students deserved to be there more than I did, but we were all hoping to explore the same things.
We attended different workshops using film, sound, objects, paint and stencil/print work, all exploring identity. In a way it was kind of like going back to college - being introduced to different materials and starting from the very beginning, and I did seem to feel a little frustrated, like I was going backwards and not forwards, but it was actually nice not to have to put so much pressure on myself as I did at University, I could chill out with it, which was nice for a while.

The students on the course were warm hearted and eager to meet others and learn, some had no experience in art and some a little. The workshops were fun, chilled out and open. Meditation was also something we experimented with which was a new experience. I found it helped, things seem to be moving so fast, like we're racing through life, skipping moments..rushing and wishing our lives away, we forget to just stop and enjoy life..the simple things - smelling flowers, listeing to the birds and the wind, skipping through the grass..isn't that what life is about? Or what life is? Anyway, the meditation was good, although I did feel like sleeping afterward!!

During the 5 weeks we had to focus on creating work for an exhibition that would be created at the end. If I'm honest I wasn't really thinking about the exhibition in the 5 weeks, I was more interested with what was happening in the classes and workshops..and focusing on identity. I mainly worked on drawings, I went back to using pencil and discovered a new style of drawing (for myself). I think the thoughts of identity must have been playing on the back of my mind because they somehow seemed to seep out into my drawings and express what I probably couldn't in words. I began to draw trees/parts of trees (branches and trunks) that formed the shape of a woman's body/body parts. I chose to show four drawings in the exhibition, all of which were the same kind of style.

When the drawings were displayed in the exhibition I had a think about what it was they were expressing or, evoking. The body - a woman's body, trees, a connection between body and nature? The drawings are unfinished but yet they look finished (or they seem to me that way, ?) Sometimes I don't really know who I am, or like I am  unfinished..diconnected..torn apart..rejected..somehow. Exploring my identity on the course was difficult, having just moved into a new house with strangers having lived with my mum for almost 23 years, I was feeling lost, alone. Not because I didn't have my 'mummy' there, I just felt a sense of heavy loneliness.
The course was a good experience for me, but I feel like I should be putting myself in situations that will push me more - where I can assert myself intensely..if I don't have that I feel like I fail. From working on the film 'Itches' and pushing my mind and body to it's limits, I feel like I have taken a big step back instead of forwards..I've retraced to my shell, yet again repressed and become the subdued being that I was once before.
I do hope to stay in contact with some of the students from the course, there were two lovely sisters from Iran who I would mostly speak to, they always seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say and listened intently..a really warm nature. Their names were Vida and Zahra. Vida loved poetry and drawing, and Zahra loved paintings and was quite new to creating her own work. I was having a conversation one day with Vida, we were talking about dreams, I told her about a dream I had about being alone in the middle of the deep ocean..nothing there but water..all around me. The next week - on the opening night of the exhibition we were talking and she asked me if I could remember about the dream I'd told her about. She said that she couldn't stop thinking about it and she recreated the image in a drawing of what she saw about what I'd said. It was so lovely..and I was touched..

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