I have always felt that my work is somehow about time. Both in the sense that it is about particular experiences of time, like routines or patterns of activity, but also that it contains the idea of time within the drawing itself.
This drawing is one of a series I started a few year back, and am returning to now after taking a while to figure out different patterns. I am sitting in different rooms of our hose and feeding Rowan. There is a different carpet in each image, each with a different pattern that changed its rhythm over the drawing.
I am marking the time of my maternity leave with Rowan, but also the change that that time brought with it. The change to my life, the change to my family, the change to the way we experience daily things.
My current experience of spending lots of time at home with the children feels like a new kind of maternity leave. One in which all of our routines have been disrupted, and one where we are having to fit much more to each others’ patterns.
I have always made these kind of repetitive marks in my drawings. They have associations with both scientific diagrams and with embroidered stitches. They also contain something of the time of making the drawing too, and the passing of time while drawing. There is something about the endeavour of making such a detailed pattern that appeals to me, and how it reminds me of the effort of keeping the family together and content.
I read in Pushing Paper an interesting passage about time and the tally. ‘In itself a kind of drawing practice; each line used to stand in for a unit of time’. pg 30. I think it’s interesting to think about these marks as a kind of tally in the context of the Corona Virus lockdown, and how we are all in a domestic confinement – much like maternity leave. I have never considered my drawn marks as a tally before, but perhaps there is something in it.
At the start of making a drawing like this, the start of a carpet, I briefly worry about how it is going to work out: how I am going to manage to hold the pattern together when I am starting at the top and working down to the bottom. There’s no grid to work into, no plan drawn out, I just start at one corner and carry on till I have finished.
But after this moment of hesitation, I always realise that it is exactly this that makes it manageable. As the Mad Hatter says, just start at the beginning, and when you get to the end, stop. All you have to do is to do it. The process of making the drawing is what makes the drawing possible.