The other day I remembered a drawing I had made a few years ago in connection with the work I am doing at the moment. I had to dig around to find the notebook I thought might contain it. When I finally found it and opened it I was amazed to find a wealth of forgotten drawings which I had never documented or scanned into the archives I keep of my work. They were from 2012, and experimental and fun. I didn't actually find the drawing I was looking for, but the forgotten body of work contained the elements I was seeking, and I was delighted to rediscover the work and find it relevant to what I am doing now.
But how does it happen that work can get so completely forgotten?
I do remember participating in open studios that year, and showing these drawings along with some large plaster sculptures and other work I considered 'more important'. My show had received a good reception from enthusiastic visitors who went away inspired and determined to try out some ideas themselves, which was lovely - it's always a great feeling to think you can inspire people. However, the drawings went unnoticed and I didn't make a single sale. By the end of the week I was broke and discouraged, so the work got folded away into notebooks, shelved, and forgotten.
I am sure this is a familiar story to most creatives. I feel that an artist shouldn't really need the approval of an audience or sales to believe in their work, but of course, we all do! If your art is a big part of your living, appreciation comes as an affirmation, a reassurance that you are not simply wasting your life away. A little appreciation can go a long way towards chasing away the blues that accompany the sneaking suspicion that you should have got a proper job years ago, and be earning a decent wage.
I am glad I reconnected with myself from four years ago, and only sorry that I allowed myself to lose faith in the work I had been doing to the extent that I dropped it for the 'more important' stuff (which of course isn't more important at all). Hindsight is a great thing. I see now that some things are just so deeply ingrained that they never completely go away, and eventually will come sneaking back into the work. It makes things a little less scary when you realise that while work might get forgotten, the thought process continues, and that's just who you are.
Nothing much has changed, and you carry on regardless.
Heather Eliza Walker
Artist in Edinburgh, Scotland