29 May 2016

Old work - what's to become of it?

Once again these small pieces (6"x4") have surfaced. I can't quite seem to move them into the charity shop box...

These riffs on edifying mottos from samplers were made about 15 years ago, in a burst of wild spontaneity. Couching on scraps of silk dupion. The words are:

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent

What is unsought will be undetected

The appetite grows by eating

One day ... not just yet ... I shall take them out of the clip frames and use them for notebook covers. One day, when they can be united with a bagful of precut pages that are somewhere in this room and will emerge in the fullness of time (ie the two weeks remaining for it to be sorted out) - then the sections will be sewn together and the cover made. (The books to be given as presents, and found "too good to use"?)

The sorting out of my studio(s) brings up, yet again, that big question: what to do with old work? Finished work and samples both. What to do with it all when has it outlived its usefulness - and should it be disposed of just because it's no longer "useful"?

It's hard not to "personify" pieces of creative output - they become our children. Can we simply discard them? Yet, when drastically downsizing, what's the point of keeping all this stuff? For many of us, the greatest part of creative pleasure isn't the finished object, it's the process of making - of seeing the work evolve through our thoughts and under our hands. Rather like helping a child grow up. At which point they leave home ... our job is (almost) done.

Hmm, pursuing this comparison, I'm straying into confusing the work-as-child with the mother having outlived her usefulness. A murky area! But perhaps some of what keeps us from letting go of our old work is rooted in that emotional arena. An investment of time and energy and love, made tangible in the object. Which, if it no longer exists, is a personal loss.

Yet we do withstand losses. Less personal losses can be seen as trade-offs: remove extra furniture, however beloved, and gain necessary space. Give up the expensive holiday and you're able to use the money for something else. Everyday decisions; first-world problems.

So, there's this body of "old work" that no longer represents what you're interested in. Clean sweep, start afresh? One door closes and another opens?

Or hang on to it, "just in case"?


magsramsay said...

I had a big purge of materials, and books when I moved but as we've not really down-sized, the incentive hasn't been as strong since! I'll need to face it again when stuff comes out of storage.
Art works are more tricky - I got rid of a huge amount of drawings and paintings (paper recycling, charity shop and dump) and part started quilt projects were taken by Ealing Charity quilt group to be refashioned into lap and baby quilts. Some textile things went to teacher next door - their students loved delving in the box for bits. But the experimental stuff I still have, you sort of feel it ought to go to someone who'd appreciate it.

Olga Norris said...
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Jane Stevens said...

I've many too many relief prints on good BFK paper. The local bookmaker's arts class showed a lot of prints recycled into book covers. I'm left wondering who might want to pick some printed papers if and when I sort them down again.

Charlton Stitcher said...

In my mind I rank things I make and don't sell or give away immediately into save at all costs / can't bear to part with because of the struggle in the making, the leaning that happened and the memories; keep for a while and see what I feel / what happens in the meantime; stuff I have no wish to keep at all - samples from unprofitable workshops, things that didn't work at all and failed to trigger any after thoughts ... but do I clear any of it out? Now that's another story! For the moment, downsizing is for another day ...