I came across these lines in T S Eliot’s Four Quartets: Little Gidding:
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
I thought that if I made an ending for myself, it might help me make a new post-MA beginning. The result is two new Transitional Objects.
The original was this, The Boxed Set, made in spring 2017. I had been playing with glueing course paperwork into a stack and then cutting it into strips and cubes to expose the layers. I was also trying phototransfer techniques at the time. Putting the two together produced a set of cubes with a photograph of me and my twin sister as toddlers at the beach on one surface and us as twenty-somethings on the opposite surface: separated in time and space but perpetually held together by the layers inbetween.
This was a transitional piece because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the phototransfer technique or the photos generally but I was also alluding to the concept of the transitional object, as something that helps a child negotiate the idea of separateness from others, especially their parents.
Transitional Object No 2 The Key is my Wimbledon student pass. It represents my transition from ‘retired-civil-servant-who-wishes-she-had-been-to-art-school’ to ‘person-leaving-Wimbledon-College-of-Arts-with-an-MA’. The key word there is ‘leaving’: the pass first admits you to the Shangri-La of art school but once it expires, the magic is gone and you are cast out. You can’t go back.
Transitional Object No 3 The Portraits contains three screenprints made about 15 years ago. They are based on photographs of my father at the ages of about 15, 30 and 60. I made them when I was thinking about making a wall hanging about him. I never got round to it – and frankly, I think that’s because it wasn’t a great idea. I’ve seen worse but nevertheless … Making this object represents firstly a transition from imagining that one day I might do it, to accepting that I won’t. But it also represents a shift in my need to hold onto anything linked with my father.
He died 20 years ago. After the initial sorting out and clearance of his belongings, I found it too difficult to part with anything connected to him. Then as grief subsided, I simply didn’t know what to do with the things that I didn’t want just to throw away, but that I didn’t need as a comfort blanket any more. During my MA I came across George Kubler’s idea of the ‘tomb space’. Briony Fer* says that tombs are not just about death: ‘The thing about placing objects in tombs was that it was a way of both discarding and retaining things at the same time.’
Transitional Object No 3 The Portraits is a tomb-space, where I can both retain the images of my father and yet place them outside, beyond my everyday life. You could say the same about my student pass too: it is both retained and discarded.
Both objects are also now part of my ‘story of myself’, the narrative of my life: they tell of experiences I had and of the experience now of putting away ideas that are out of time.
* Fer, B (2004) The Infinite Line: Remaking Art after Modernism New Haven and London: Yale University Press pp128-134