That I have work to show for Open Studios Cornwall 2016 is extraordinary.
That it has not been lost, dumped, destroyed, left to rot, broken, neglected, dismissed nor decayed is a mark of tenacity and commitment.
What is being shown is, for the most part, everything that has not been shown.
Out of the paintings – four have been exhibited in galleries, eight have been sold or given – but all else has been stored, boxed up and protected as much as is humanly possible during decades of hardship, some stability and rare fleeting moments of great joy.
And too made in differing context but all is Art.
And I am the Artist. I am the Poet and I am the Song Writer.
There is nothing to distinguish one completed piece from another. Each work is part of and another sentence toward my unique story, my book (metaphorically and literally)
That a picture – or other media work – was made: in a studio, in an Art School,on a psychiatric ward, in a prison cell;
(time spent as a transitioning Trans-man, Man, in a Woman’s prison. A drink driving offence serious enough that I, inadvertently, put others and myself at risk trying to get to a particular destination. A field, actually, where I could finally give up. And prison for further assessment and months of safeguarding as, finally, my depression was recognised.
‘Gynn is not any risk to the public,’ the final validating and touching honesty of magistrates at my plight to have been desperately trying to get help and health care previous to the conviction.
‘We are sorry, but if Mental Health teams in Cornwall won’t give you a bed, we have to send you to prison, because we feel that you are at risk.’)
From there -winning a koestler trust prize – the art work ‘ I am not a number’ only to be sold for charity.
… in a bedroom, in a kitchen, in a day centre or a support group doesn’t matter to Me.
What matters is that it was made at all, that it was drawn at all, that it was built at all that it was transformed at all, that it was written at all, that it was sung at all and that it was performed at all. What matters to me is that it still exists. And still is.
The only exception, perhaps, being ‘Performance Art’ in Norwich.
Some, actually too much, was dumped and discarded – quite literally. 500 tiny hand made moths I took to the skips in Suffolk along with wooden kinetic sculptural pieces. Drawings were torn up time and time again. I did that as part of some huge ‘Spring Clean’ as if the sensitive and raw nature and content of the work’s dialogue could be laid to rest. Work that was shockingly sad, poignant, challenging, ground breaking and brutally honest is now, long gone, but records of it all remain.
My original task was always going to be to make works of art (it is still – to an extent)
My task then was to safeguard it and I did.
My task now is to evince it. Show it. Give it life. Record all aspects of it. Acknowledge it. Declare it and Stand By it.
Maybe even celebrate it.
It is possible that being a (first time) contributor to Open Studio Cornwall I can show and demonstrate some degree of worth.
(and I am wet through, coaxed in from the sea by lifeguards, hungry, desperately sad, in crisis and in a traumatic state of mind and I am in handcuffs and sobbing – yet again. And the desk police sergeant looks over the entrance desk across and down at me (one of thousands of mentally ill people sectioned and desperately trying to cope, without health care, in Cornwall)
…’and what do you do for a living?’
My voice a whisper – ‘artist’
and he laughs and he grins and he winks to his colleagues and he preens himself on the genius of his coming joke.
‘In other words …nothing!’