Working Around The Edges and Finding Myself 2019

Looking back at my previous blog posts my writing seems to flow and my thoughts seem organised. They are generally positive in the hardest of situations and my visual creative output alongside makes me feel fulfilled despite the challenges of daily life. 2019 has been a very different and very strange story and I really don’t quite know where we are or where we are going…

All that I keep thinking is that I am ‘working around the edges’, following a strong tradition of female artists who juggle their creative work around caring for family. Anyone who knows me well knows that I always have my office/studio in my backpack. It’s heavy but always has my laptop, diary, sketchbook, linoprint or stitch projects. This year I have curated and managed the Waveney Valley Sculpture Trail for it’s 6th year, all the design work, admin and communications have been done from a space in my son’s school on my laptop as his PTSD and separation anxiety following his lengthy treatment for Leukaemia mean he won’t stay at school without me. I believe that the best thing for his current and future happiness and success mean getting him reintegrated properly with his peers at school. He is doing well but the progress is slower than I would like, I am impatient at the best of times and want us all to be able to get on with our lives and move forward positively.

This is literally what ‘working around the edges’ looks like… all of my work this year has been created either in school or hospitals on my lap using any chair/corner/space I can find. It has meant a lot less painting as I need dedicated time in the studio to do that but I have been developing sketches and drawings so that when I can get into the studio I have sketchbooks and ideas to work from.

I have to remember how hard our journey has been and how important creativity has been to all of us to get through so many things. Whether it’s finding our way around hospitals by following the artworks on the walls, listening to music on the journeys to and from hospital or doing stitchwort while I wait for Hen to come round from multiple anaesthetics. Working with other artists in exhibitions I have curated in Raveningham and Norwich Theatre Royal have given me a connection with other creatives that is crucial to my wellbeing. Being an artist can be a solitary pursuit, being a carer has multiplied this solitude and I find the duality of enjoying time by myself and craving creative connections with others often means that I swing between the two often wanting the opposite and not being in the moment – it’s all too much or not enough.

Finding Myself Again – Who am I, what do I do and why?

I feel I am at an interesting crossroads in my life as I can see the possibility of beginning to start to re-engage with myself after years of what I like to call ‘extreme parenting’! Thinking about what I do and why, I started writing a list of moments in my life that have  stayed with me in an attempt to work out what common threads there are and what I can carry forward in my art and life. I found quite quickly that some of the key moments were related to seeing artworks and installations for the first time, I find it difficult to express in words the feelings that those moments evoke as the words I come up with often feel inadequate or that they don’t fit with the immensity of the feeling which for me is purely visual but I am going to try. I have put links where I can to video or articles with more info about the artists and their works. In no particular order:

Sheila Hicks
Sheila Hicks Installation at Venice Biennale 2017 

Walking up to Sheila Hicks’s installation at the Biennale 2 years ago filled me with a sense of awe, joy, positivity as I felt the pure energy of the colours that towered above me and the softness of the circular forms felt warm and inviting. I stood in front of the installation taking it all in and slowly noticing how the work was not only in front of the architecture but was also at some points entering the building through cracks in the ancient stone walls which the artist had filled with colour and fibres. If I need a moment of joyful reflection I take myself back to the work in my mind’s eye.

Carpet Moth
Petrit Halilaj Carpet Moths at Venice Biennale 2017

Petrit Halilaj’s installation of gigantic moths made of carpet with a single bare, bright bulb, was a work of absolute joy, ingenuity, humour, history.

I made a little box of the images sent for Henry’s Odyssey fundraiser 2018, so many of the tiny artworks sent lifted my spirits and I keep them close and look through them when I need an emotional lift.


Georges Rouault  paintings of religious icons and landscapes at the Pompidou Centre, Paris. 1998

Jennie Fifield  – Ice skaters in a sink at the Fringe at the Factory in Norwich 2006. I don’t have a photo but remember the installation so clearly, it was a resin sheet that looked like a sheet of ice fitted in one of the sinks in the factory. There were wintery paper trees and ice skating figures if you looked into the sink. What I particularly loved was that the exhibition feature around 100 artists and groups with a huge range of painting, sculpture, film, installations, sound and this tiny, magical, imaginative piece could easily be overlooked but the artist had created an entire peaceful world in it’s own place and time alongside the visual and actual noise of the huge exhibition.

Rochechouart kids workshop in response to Richard Long installation – I was visiting the exhibition at Rochechouart and afterwards went for a walk around the grounds of the chateau and watched a group of young children with their teacher as they collected pine cones and used them to create a drawn line through the grounds. They worked together but independently searching for pine cones and then bringing them together to create the piece of land art inspired by Long.

Juliet Arnott – Installation in Salthouse chapel. Juliet worked in the chapel over the summer and slowly created a subtle immersive installation that seamlessly combined the natural decay of the chapel and with freshly woven windows and arches. The piece had a gentle impact on the space and became a celebration of a lost corner of the Churchyard. 2006

Maman Bilbao
Louise Bourgeois, Maman, Bilbao, 2019
Mona Hatoum
Mona Hatoum Installation at Newlyn Art Gallery 1996


So what is it that brings together these seemingly disparate artists/artworks/installations/projects? They have all resonated deeply with me in some way. COLOUR. SCALE. SPACE. SERIES. NATURE. QUIET. PEACE.

Published by Sarah Cannell - Artist

I am an Artist and Curator based in South Norfolk. I organise a number of exhibitions as well as producing paintings and prints for exhibitions in galleries across the UK.

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