reflecting on the past

It was lovely to see my parents last weekend, it seems like I only see them a couple of times a year, which is just crazy. Yes, they do live far away, but I don't think that's much of an excuse really, is it?

One thing that happens every time I visit my family is they find yet more belongings of mine, tucked away in the garage, or under a pile of books or something. I moved away from home 10 years ago, and they have moved house twice since then, so how I still have "stuff" there seems ludicrous. Their new house is a little smaller than their last one, since two of the three children have left home now, and they really don't have any spare room for my sentimental "stuff" any more. How nice it was to be met at the door with boxes and boxes of this "stuff" to take home with me. I dutifully packed it all up and brought it back to London with me. Here it is, the last few remains of Vixie Stuff from my parents' house. Doesn't look all that scary, right?

Taking a closer look, it's no surprise that I left these few boxes until last - they are full to the brim of old stuff from my university years: a huge conceptual poetry installation piece I made in my first year of uni (which brings back some painful memories) and lots of pieces made based around the idea of being lost (something I really suffered from while at university). Seeing it all piled up, and having it intruding in my nice, pretty, (supposedly) calm studio has made me feel slightly ill at ease. I'm not sure what to do with it all. The boxes are full of memories from another time in my life, and of course they, and the ideas behind them, are important otherwise I wouldn't have made them into physical permanent reminders.

And they aren't necessarily good reminders. I had a hard time at uni, and that came through in the art that I made over the three years I was there, so surely that stuff is better kept in boxes, hidden away, forgotten about? But at the same time, it was that hard time, that struggle, and that perseverance I found to "get through it" that has made me who I am today. I can't say I'm completely happy with myself, but I feel I am a lot better now than I was then, in a lot of ways. I have to admit, I don't want the constant reminder of a difficult and sometimes very unhappy part of my life being in my nice new studio, a new place for me to work, a new place for me to have ambition and dreams, and a new place for me to do what I want with my life, on my terms. I will (thankfully) never be the artist I thought I so desperately wanted to be while at university: I'm not pretentious, I'm not arrogant, I'm not fake, I suck at lying and I can't play along with stuff I don't believe in just to get a good review or a foot in the door. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying all artists are like that, I know a great deal who aren't at all, but that was what I thought I had to do to "fit in". It seems "fitting in" isn't something I am terribly good at, and that's probably largely a subconscious thing - why fit in when you can be unique and do things your own way? I did do a lot of stuff my own way towards the end of my degree, and for part of it I was very successful - I had solo shows of my work in galleries, I had galleries contacting me to show my work, instead of me having to write pleading letters to beg for a small bit of wall space, like I did in my first year at university, and I made a lot of sales. None of this, however, was the work I wanted to be known for - I did a great deal of projects at uni, over a range of topics, some difficult and some more light-hearted (I needed something to drag myself out of the pit of depression, after all) and it was the latter that I became known for, not the conceptual poetry concerning the heartbreak of lost love, not the projects involving keys and maps with hidden emotional depths, nope. It was the prints I made of puns, silly illustrations that I had scribbled on the back of a napkin after mishearing someone else's conversation, punchlines of jokes. Ironic really, isn't it? The one thing I did in order to force myself to focus on something positive and a little flippant, and that's the work that people at uni associate with me.

So, back to the task at hand. What of these boxes? Should they be kept hidden away at the back of my studio, their secrets held out of the sight of others? Should they be discarded, as they bring back only bad memories? Should the past be kept in the past? Or should I face the horrors that may lurk within? It's a toughie.

2 hellos:

Claire said...


If I were you I would find somewhere safe to stash them, and then on days when you are feeling sunny and shiny and you have tea and biscuits and a friend or two over (I humbly volunteer!) you can go through them and siphon out anything useful - the rest can be thrown / donated / deconstructed.

Just my tuppence. Take care of you, you beautiful creature. :)


Vixie said...

Aw, thank you Clairey, I might just take you up on that :)

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