Posted by on July 6, 2012  Add comments
Jul 062012
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My head is about to explode. More about that later.
Recently I have been in a very, very, big pothole. One that goes by the name of “IamaPhotographer”. This one comes up all too frequently for me on the road to “IamanArtist”.
One of my archetypes appears to be “Addict” which, if I let it's shadow side dominate, leads me into all sorts of behaviours that seem unhelpful at the time. One of them is, like the alcoholic, a fervent desire to keep clutching the brown paper bag with the camera in it. And keeping recording. And TRYING. Herein lies the trap. My mind says “…if you just keep TRYING, success is bound to come.” Like the alcoholic, admitting it, I have to say “IamnotaPhotographer” over and over again. I've spent the last couple of years learning to release that mind control and quietly, insidiously, it creeps back in again, even when I think I have left it snivelling in the corner of the attic. And I haven't even begun to clarify what “success” means to me, so how am I ever going to make it happen if I don't know what I'm trying to achieve?
Back to the pothole. Deep dark spaces are scary to fall into on your own. But if you know there are people around you that will keep shouting down into the darkness, they're not so bad. Thank you guys. Sitting down there in the darkness alone they're also very good spaces to stop (you're forced to unless you've dropped, like Alice, into an apparent cave system) and reflect on why you fell in – again. And little matchlights start going on one by one, gradually lighting up the way out. And so you begin the weary climb back out to the top. With each step,  another matchlight and a growing awareness of the light above, the weariness is replaced with a sense of hope and direction again until suddenly you're out. Sitting on the edge, wondering how on earth you managed to fall into a hole so big without noticing it. Standing, turning, and very tentatively and watchfully at first, starting back down that road  to “IamanArtist” again.
“And what's this to do with mastery?” – I hear you ask. It's personal. I think that's what tripped me up. In many, many ways. I'm a jack-of-all-trades, I've been an scientist/economist, a mother, a farmer, a travel agent, a PA, an office manager, a sometime graphic artist, and now a builder. I relish in the challenges each change of occupation brings. But the little voice in my head always says, to keep me in my place, “…and master of none…”. Despite that I've always seen it as a strength, allowing cross pollination of skills and experience and seeing outside the square ideas often not seen or deemed possible by those who have stayed in the same clothes for many years. Unconventional sits comfortably with me. I've been happy with this way of operating until it came to photography, why I had to see it differently here I don't know.  Perhaps that desire to “play with the cool kids”. I look around me and see confirmation that it is mastery that contributes hugely to successful picturemaking, or successful anything for that matter.  This site is evidence of that; each one of you has particular strengths that you have honed to a level of mastery that leaves the viewer in no doubt as to what you do.  I have drawn from the “Masters” of Photography. And what I get from all of that is the desire to try this, try that, experiment with this, make that. The Scientist steps right back into the arena, and the Explorer. And my photographs are less satisfying. Because it is not satisfying for me to just make an image, and do the same thing over and over, to achieve “mastery” in any one thing. The satisfaction for me is in stretching the boundaries of what the media can do, and what it means, and how conventions can be blown up and up and up like a balloon, until they pop. I want to MAKE things. With photography as a base. Somewhere. Somehow.
And that's what I discovered, down in the bottom of my hole “IamaPhotographer”. I'm back. Back on the path to “IamanArtist”.  Back on the path that is really important to me. And since I have let that pothole fall behind me again, the ideas have started popping in my head like sherbet. Or popcorn in the microwave. This morning my head is going to explode.

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  5 Responses to “Mastery”

  1. Welcome, welcome back Jen. The journey is the artistry, the artistry is the journey. Silly girl, you already knew that. And how do I know this, because we have had this conversation in different forms before and you and I know that there is a looking glass between us.

  2. Great to have you back from the pothole Jenny, we all missed you. The journey that we are all on is a lifetime trip, sometimes we have a stop over, but if you are like me, we eventually get back onto the train & move on a little further to see what is round the next corner over the next hill. Another splash of colour on the canvas, another tone of grey for me, another whiskey induced story. The art of good image making is in the experiences we have had in life & the experiences still to come.

  3. Wow , woman packing a paslode, who knows how to use it.. 
    Jenny i’m impressed. Much more impressive than some alot of the wankers ( those imagining they are doing the act when they have no idea)  running around canterbury in fluro at the moment.  

    The pothole. 
    Dark horrible places they are.
    What frustrates me is that it seems that the more mastery you gain the easier it is to fall into the potholes..  It’s almost like some crazy game where as you progress up levels it gets harder.  Perhaps that’s the point.?  I’ve only just figured that out   Thank you. 

    The multi faceted beings at many of us seem to be is perhaps a major strength. In that , some of those different parts of us create a dynamic tension.  Unique to you..  People like Leonardo de vinci  are celebrated for their multi  disciplinary skills..  I think that if you are a spirit here on a human experience you are making the best of it.. 

    If you have the sudden desire to create do it now!  There will be something important waiting to come out.  It might only be for you but thats ok . Who judges mastery?  It’s not a pop idol thing.  If only you are enlightened by it, it is mastery of your universe.  Having said that , I , personally, am always enlightened by your work. 

  4. Remember the art is inside of us we just have to have the bravery to let it out??????

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