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Journ[ey], Journ[al]: How art and word can help us navigate an abstract world

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

Though it's not always obvious, words have always played an important role in my work. I’m interested in the origins of words, how words are used and how they shape our perception of the things around us. A lot can change through the framing of a narrative, a shift in language. I’ve started this journal to document some of my research, but also to share a little of how words and visuals are, for me, central to the process of thinking. It might read like ‘showing your workings’ on a maths problem. There might be a lot of scribbling out and reworking. But I think this might be important in a landscape where AI is increasingly writing our words for us - providing us with answers without the requisite working out. How do we ensure that we keep on thinking? How will ways of thinking evolve? So for now, I’m focussing in on ‘thinking-writing’ (and ‘visual-feeling’), because this is the kind of writing that computers can't do. And without thinking, without feeling, without communicating all these things to other thinking, feeling beings, what is art there for? To make the world prettier? You don't need art for that, you need decoration.

For my part, in case your new to my practice, my work is inherently about the human experience. It's about how we grapple with the passage of time when we sometimes concurrently want it to speed up and slow down. It's about how we navigate our place in the world where our culture increasingly detaches us from a physically embodied reality, where reality is abstracted and 'truth' is uncertain. It's about communicating a sense of the fractured wilderness of life - its beauty, its fragility, its violence, its uncertainty - in a way that is less concrete than words. It's about using art to navigate this abstract world, and how this is translated into lived experience.

Over the past few years, my practice has started shifting from an object-based practice (Radical Beauty) to slowly incorporating more performative works (Radical Kindness). I'm interested in how interactions with art - with the landscape - can help us to experience 'place' differently. Whilst it might seem that these areas of my work are discrete, to me they feel interconnected, and part of this journal will be an exploration of how the themes overlap and manifest themselves in different ways. It's world-building, through object, action and experience. It's a dissatisfaction with the experience the current world provides, and the crafting of a new reality, bit by broken/mended bit. But as my works become increasingly project-based, I've had to grapple with increasingly difficult questions of what my work is doing and why, and I do this through writing.

Public art sculptural hands carrying a gift
'Something Good' by Anna Masters

Incidentally, ‘journal’ comes from the French ‘jour’ - ‘day’. It’s the writing of the day, reflections on the day. Journey also has this origin - it was traditionally the distance travelled in a day. We've been marking time through writing and landscape for centuries. It’s these ambiguous links that connect time and place which have become one of the central focuses of my work, and I’m seeking ways that we can practically reconnect these now distinct ideas in our collective imaginations. I intuit that it might help us to feel more rooted in our lives, though I guess it will only be through ongoing work and practice that we’ll see if that bares out. For the time-being, welcome to this journal, this journey, with me - let’s see what we discover.

Anna x

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