Over the last year, I’ve been in and out of the studio starting to develop work for a solo performance. It’s been a back and forth process, as I try to figure out how to make work in the new landscape of being a mother.
In the old days, I could retreat into my work; bask in getting lost, in dreaming. Work whatever hours I wanted. Let everything else fall to the wayside.
Not so much now. Time is precious, and everything has become task-oriented and constantly interrupted. 20 minutes right now, 2 hours tomorrow (if I’m lucky). Go.
How does this work? How do I get to be a creative, dreaming individual and stay connected with my art and with the demands of daily life? I don’t think this is just a question for parents, but having a kid definitely exacerbates the issue. Pre-kid, our working structures were ‘ON’ or ‘OFF’. We were either in Project Mode, which meant lots of meals out, piled up dishes, piled up laundry, and a staggeringly full inbox — or — we were in Down-Time, which meant at least 1 week recovering from Project Mode, dealing with the mess we made during Project Mode, desperately trying to get back on top of emails, and then planning all the work for the next time we’d end up in Project Mode. It’s exhausting living like this in the best of circumstances. With a kid, it’s fundamentally impossible.
These questions are making me reassess the structures I take for granted as part of the performance-making-scene. How can I change the way I work to accommodate all these demands? What can I do to try and integrate, and reintegrate, my artistic practice with my daily life? Because this isn’t just about being a parent and an artist. This is about how we value and make space for art, in our lives, in our families, communities, and in our society. Art and life and work. All part of the evolving, creative, productive human being.
And now I’m at the part where I realise I don’t have any solutions. Just a challenge. A large, floating question on how to be an artist in the world, and a mother, and a friend, a daughter, a wife, and a woman.
Inevitably, these questions are also forming the basis of the performance I’m making. Who are we when all the layers of need and desire and demand are stripped away?
I’m coming to the end of the first phase of this project. So far it’s consisted of a week’s Creative Lab with Dance House, a week residency at Platform, some self-structured studio days at a church near my house, a workshop, and a final residency at The Barn. In September, I’m going to spend a week with Kristin Linklater in Orkney, a week where I get to learn and practice and develop my voice, all for myself. I have about 30 minutes of material so far. And then it’s time to make some plans for finishing this thing. Thanks to Creative Scotland for giving me the chance to get this far.
So. That’s where my brain has been these last months.
I’d love to hear how you tackle these things, or whether you even think this is stuff to tackle. Just drop me an email at INFO[AT]companyofwolves.org.uk
photo by Graeme MacDonald