Artists Interview – Kay Greenlees

What stops you finding a solution to that creative problem you have?  Is it fear of failure, lack of time, or you maybe you don’t know were to start?  Sometimes revisiting ideas that you began to explore  but never fully resolved , gives you a gentle nudge in the right direction. Even if the incubation period was fifteen years ago as Kay shares in her interview.

Kay Greenlees
Are the ideas /themes for this project ongoing or are they new?
Since finishing my work for Dis/rupt I had been looking forward to revisiting my sketchbooks and notebooks for some ‘old’ ideas that I had not had the time to make. There are several of these.  In particular I was looking forward to a specific idea that had been around for a long time and I started to think about this as we moved into the INSIGHTS project. I suppose that the idea could be considered both ongoing (the underpinning interests can be seen in all my work) and new, (I have never made anything like this before). It also rather depends on your definition of ‘ongoing’ and ‘new’. This work is new in that I have used a lot of stitch which I rarely do.

The idea sprang from a thought and some photography that I recorded in a notebook, which eventually I was able to date to 2005. This was a much longer time span than I realised but the idea was always with me and so I used it anyway. It is what I was going to try next, with or without INSIGHTS. Also, of use were the Oblique Strategies cards produced by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. By chance the card I drew endorsed the thought, although it could easily have challenged the idea or working method. I enjoy using these cards when I am in a playful mood and on this occasion my randomly drawn card read ‘use an old idea’.

Incubating an idea for some fifteen years may seem extreme. The textile work plays with the idea of stolen identity which I felt was still relevant to today. The topic hasn’t quite followed the route I thought it would take so there may be other pieces still to be discovered within the overall idea.

As a visual artist was it a challenge to write about your practice?
Writing is not unusual for me; I write quite a lot in my sketchbooks anyway. This is a private form of writing. It is usually reflective, personal and highly critical of what I have done as well as noting action plans and achievements (or not). In my sketchbooks I am writing for myself, trying to pin down thoughts and ideas but not sharing them. There are over twenty pages of sketchbook writing for the INSIGHTS project.

Nevertheless, writing for INSIGHTS was a challenge. I find all shared writing a challenge, but it is the challenge that makes it a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. I also find it a creative process, an alternative way of working on the same project. But writing for INSIGHTS is a public form of writing and a lot of thought has to go into describing the process of working from the idea(s) stage, through to transition and beginning to bring the work to fruition. It’s difficult to do because writing is temporal and in explaining a process it tends to make it flow in a linear manner, whereas the artistic experience may be much more of a stop/start, re-visit, re-view, start again process. Creativity can be elusive.

Kay Greenlees

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