But time away is also gives one the opportunity to assess where you are and where you'd like to be. With the distance from usual responsibilities, there is more clarity, I find. And by the end of February, I had decided to enroll in Lisa Call's Masterclass in Studio Practice. It began on March 1st, so the timing couldn't have been better. And that's what I've been busy with for the last two months. I have worked with Lisa before when I took the online class, "Working in a Series" with her, and knew from that experience that I would be challenged and that I would learn things I had never anticipated. This has definitely been the case so far. One of the first things she asked us to do was to decide what our three top goals were for the coming year, and one of mine is to develop a body of work that is uniquely mine. It will come as no surprise to many of you, that I've returned to my experiences living and working in Africa, and to the textiles and artifacts I've collected over many, many years, as a source of inspiration. For the time being, I've packed away all the other pieces I've been working on, in order to focus on my African work without distractions. Starting with a piece of work I began two years ago, "On the Road to Dar es Salaam" (see below), I am collaging together stories of my experiences there.
This piece is built around a necklace I bought from a Masaii woman on my way to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. She was making her way to market with her friend, carrying a basket of her wares on her head. The Tanzanian friend I was travelling with agreed to stop the vehicle so we could talk to these women. I was delighted by this chance encounter, miles and miles away from any town or settlement, and especially pleased that she allowed me to purchase two necklaces from her. A wonderful memory. To this I added porcupine quills from Namibia, buttons from South Africa, mudcloth from Mali, barkcloth and beads from Uganda, as well as some Ghanaian and North American fabric and some locally made paper. I completed it by mounting it on black wool felt and hanging it on a Ugandan spear. Each of the pieces in this series will be composed in a similar way, and to the same size specifications (17" X 35"), until I run out of spears.
The next two pieces in the series are "By the Shores of Lake Victoria" (above), and "Shopping in Maputo" (below). All three were exhibited in the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery last month, and "On the Road to Dar es Salaam" was sold, and is going to its new home today.
I am so enjoying this new work, and will post photos of more pieces in this series in the coming months, but first I need to finish a couple of other pieces that are long overdue. Then I will be free to hunker down and spend my studio time on these Africa-inspired works.