I have an art school monster. It lives in my head. It feeds on my fears and starts nasty little rumours.
Image by autumn_bliss, used under Creative Commons license
Maybe my monster was there before art school, a cute little baby monster perhaps? But art school gave it shape and helped it grow. Art school gave it the words to wound me.
I had a great and challenging time at art school. I learnt a lot and grew immensely. I met amazing people, had fantastic experiences, drank a huge amount of tea and worked extremely hard.
I wouldnâ€™t give up that time for anything – but it did leave behind a few scars and a monster. And boy is it hard to create when you have a whispering monster taking up space in your studio!
Right now my monster is telling me that creating with fabric is a stupid thing to do. A girly thing. An embarrassing thing. Even though I love fabric, fibre and thread and adore the work that other artists make with it, my monster says that people will think Iâ€™m rubbish if I use it. Not serious enough, not clever enough, not arty enough.
Real contemporary artists shouldnâ€™t use textiles according to my art school monster.
This is all nonsense, of course. Many wonderful artists use textiles. No one says boo to Louise Bourgeois or Ann Hamilton when they use fabric. One of my fellow students happily used felt all through her final year and as far as I recall no one said squat about it. Heck, she even got a couple of grants to go to a felt conference somewhere wacky like Uzbekistan and we all thoroughly enjoyed the presentation she gave when she returned. I sometimes used fabric when I was at art school and no one gave me a hard time about it either.
So where on earth does my monster get these crazy ideas?
Iâ€™ve been trying to take a leaf out of the wonderful Haviâ€™s book and speak kindly to my monster. I tell it that I understand that itâ€™s just trying to protect me from criticism and harm. But honestly, I think my monster is just a frightful snob and I wish it would take its stupid opinions and shove them!
Image by herlitz-monster-talent, used under Creative Commons license
I’d love to hear about your monsters in the comments…