I was experiencing a low level anxious hum in my centre of bodily gravity yesterday, over the pressure to produce. I find the days go by in a kind of moving escalator of activity, trying to tick off the to-do list and deal with the daily extras that crop up unanticipated. Finding time and space to be centred and to consider things objectively is not something I always manage.  I can’t get access to a studio this week to make more movement studies either so I’d started flinging ideas around in my head, in order to meet this production level I’d set myself. And that fact is important, this pressure to produce is entirely self inflicted.

When I arrived up to PS2 for my first visit last week, which already feels like a lifetime ago, Jane reminded me that the residency was mine to shape as I pleased, I could stand on my head in the corner if I wanted. No expectation on their part of any production, tangible outcome, or result.

Nevertheless this week , back in the epicentre of home based domestic and care- task doing, I felt similar to how I reckon the cave people felt back in the day- full of the urge to make marks. Because why else did they make cave paintings? Their paintings basically say Look! Here is evidence that I existed. That I was here. I came, I saw, I drew. I too, like my neanderthal ancestors, felt the pressure to draw, to make, so as to prove I exist. Part of me deeply needs to justify my presence through doing.

Thinking, researching, experimenting, developing ideas, following lines of thought, I still couldn’t quite justify these activities as enough. Surely I would need to produce some resolved, finished work, at the end of these 4 weeks, to justify my involvement and my time.. a tangible visible I Was Here.  these thoughts rattled around upstairs as I tied shoes, cooked dinner, drove around, hung up clothes, hoovered, shopped, lifted weights. I knew there was no expectation of me to produce resolved work so I was interested in why my head was telling me I needed to. I mean why is 4 weeks of the first sentence of this paragraph, carried out as part of the beginning of the development of a new body of work, not enough?

I realised when I stood back a little that some of this comes from not allowing myself to be in charge of myself.

I’m thinking I need to produce to fulfil my commitment to others. (Who have assured me they don’t require this)

To justify being away from my kids (Who while I am away are being looked after by my husband and are absolutely grand)

And being really honest, the guilt of putting myself first for a while. Much easier to put others first, like a good carer should.

To meet my own deeply rooted standards of production and my preconceptions of output equals value, value equals worthiness. From living daily at a frenetic speed this ensues that if work and by proxy, production output are not conducted in a similar pace, then they equal ‘less than’.

Actually its about calling this period what it is- a pause. A settling of the sands at the bottom of the ocean. Any lack of this motion, a pause of production, allows the self doubt to creep in. I will try to take the uncomfortable pause, the doubt, and sit with it, and see what they bring to the table. Then move on. No caves to paint but I’ll get more cardboard.