I am trying to use this blog to give you an idea of my process, which can sometimes be difficult to vocalise, so bear with me.
During past projects I would sometimes read something or meet someone and it would be almost like divine intervention. However, if I am really truthful I think that one of the great things about working on a project of this nature is that you can really open yourself up to ideas and immerse yourself in your thoughts. Rather than divine intervention breakthroughs actually come from a greater awareness or paying attention, to put it simply.
I know many artists who use sketchbooks like its their right arm but for me I have never really got on with writing my thoughts and ideas down in a traditional way. It might be a dyslexia/visual thinking thing or maybe its just the way I do things but I like to keep all the thoughts and ideas in my head, sort of floating around. Although, and this might sound a bit crazy, I can visualise them all and I keep each topic separate, a bit like a huge mind map in my head. If I am lucky, they will eventually start to join up and you get a breakthrough, its a bit like matching socks.
I have had a couple of weeks with lots of ideas floating about. Mostly, I keep coming back to the similarities of the manuscripts, holding all those stories, memories, information etc and the process of human memory. But, I can't quite get to the bottom this idea and I am still researching like crazy.
On Tuesday I left my reading on the dangers of gall ink destroying manuscripts and all my floating thoughts to join John Page at the Town Hall for a recording. But, as we went in the hall we met the local Alzheimers Society Singing for the Brain group (You may have heard that even when the brain has been badly affected by Alzheimers the words of songs remain preserved by the musical pathways).
The meeting immediately reminded me of when I was still at college I had a Saturday job working in a local old peoples home. There was one lady who couldn't talk and would spend most of the day walking around seemingly unaware of her surroundings and making noises but not forming words. She was a very gentle soul and seemed quite happy, so we would busy ourselves caring for the residents around her and getting on with the day. But, every now and then she would stand in the middle of the day room and sing opera, and it sounded amazing.
Everything would stop as we all listened to her beautiful soprano voice and then she would finish and resume her wandering and we would return to our work. Apparently she had been an opera singer when she was young and I still marvel at not only all of the words and tunes that were still with her but the extreme joy she received and passed to us in those few moments. In telling you this story I have also realised that of all the people I cared for I can still remember her name and see her face yet it was many years ago and we never exchanged a single word.
So there is my lightbulb moment. My joining up of ideas. To me there exists a very obvious metaphor between the page and the brain. Our memories are written across the pages though over time some of those words may get damaged but, it can only take a few of those words that remain to spark a new memory of its own - I will share a bit more about that next time.
20/8/17 workshop in the Museum
23 Sept - 8th October Somerset Arts Weeks - The Museum will host an exhibition of this project
Andrea Oke is a Somerset based artist who is fascinated by human behaviour and its links to memory. For more information please to to my website