bad idea 1

 

A group of artists together. I wanted to make a publication. Asked them to write something to go alongside images of their work. The instructions were open ended. Most of them started writing. Some were quicker than others. There was no clear deadline. I was presented with some rather difficult and sometimes unsavoury questions. Some of the artists were unsure whether they wanted to be in the same publication. Some of the artists were unsure whether they wanted to be in the same exhibition. Some of the artists were afraid to be honest. Now the project lies dormant. Buried under a mountain of other work. Better luck next time.

 

bad idea 2

 

It’s hard to remember bad ideas, lots of ideas roll through my mind before I land on one and decide to follow it through. However, there is one idea that I keep coming back to, even though I’m pretty sure it’s terrible. I’ve played around with it in my head, perhaps hoping I can find a way to fix it, but every time I come to the same conclusion. It really is a bad idea.
 
I first had the idea about 15 years go. At the time I earned a living by running workshops in galleries and local schools.. Making in a classroom can be exciting and unpredictable, because the potential for anarchy is always close by. I began to make work in which control became the focus, shifting power between the artist and my collaborators.
 
I normally figure out what I’m making as I go along and tend not to go in for lightbulb moments, but in this case the idea presented itself to me as a very clear startling image. I imagined a classroom with a grid of tables set out as if for an exam. I can see a child at every desk. Everyone is silent and completely still. The camera moves slowly towards the front of the room. The hands and feet of the seated child in shot are secured to the furniture with gaffer tape. The next shot reveals the scene from the front and the whole class is fixed in place, hands and feet bound to the tables.
 
I have often wondered if I could get a school to help me make this work. I’ve thought about the health and safety measures and the consent forms.How would I convince a class of children that it was ok to be taped up and for how long could I keep them in that position? The real problem is that none of these questions really matter, it’s a bad idea and should not be made.
 
I think maybe I should always be suspicious of ideas that arrive too fully formed, with no room for discovery. I prefer to make work without ideas.

bad idea 3

 

As a student I had an idea of bringing sculpture to the South Pole and after to the North Pole. I thought it would be amazing to have a sculpture which has traveled to both poles. I didn’t have a reason to do so. I was inspired by reading about these places, they seemed like the world's biggest sculpture parks. After telling friends  I got a response that it is great to think about environmental issues in these challenging times for our planet. And somehow it settled in my brain, unconsciously I called this project “Two Wet Floors” and my plan was the creation of my own wet floor sign which can be brought to both poles and documented there. I got more and more pressure to target this as a project for environmental issues It seemed paradoxically to bring a sculpture to both places which will waste resources, like fuel and talk about environmental issues.Pressure from people to use environmental issues as a theme  raised and I understood that this is a bad idea as my interest initially wasn’t about environmental issues, maybe that makes this idea even worse. 

bad idea 4

 

So, some time ago I had an idea for a project. Actually, the idea was more a way to find the money to develop another project, or maybe it was just a pretext to make some money and I didn’t even had an actual artwork I wanted to produce.
Anyway, It seems like many people are buying or adopting dogs lately. More than before I feel. It is almost like if the dog could compensate people’s frustrations, you can basically walk your frustrations out with a lace and feel a little more ok. 
The fact is that sometimes dogs disappear, they are running in a park and a second after they are not there anymore.
Dissolved. When this happens not only the dog disappears but also the owner’s impression of having their desperation, failures and uncertainties under control. The only way to alleviate that sense of anxiety is to have the animal back. So when dogs disappear, the owners would do anything to have them back. 
The plan was to hire retired police dogs, to search for the lost ones. It would be enough to have a trace of the lost animal’s smell to find it within few miles. Of course I couldn’t guarantee a 100% success rate, the fee for the service was very high but if the animal was found dead or if it wasn't found at all the fee wasn’t applied.
The problem is that police doesn’t give their dogs away that easily. 

bad idea 5

 

While we have each had many bad ideas (and we have indeed realised some of them), we couldn’t think of a really useful bad idea to share. 

 

However, creative doubt and personal misgivings, asking “why not?” as well as “why?” -  that’s all bread and butter to us.  

But, possibly, one of our worst ideas was to work collaboratively.  We skipped into it rather naively.  Seeing it as a chance to have a holiday from our own egos and art making habits - as a one off project.  

 

The term, collaboration, conjures up a spirit of cooperation, team effort, of all moving in the same direction. Actually it is rarely like that.  

 

Collaboration can be quite competitive, particularly when setting out on a new project. At that stage we often have very different views about what we want to do. This can be the most painful time.  We can be too sympathetic, or too harsh and unwavering. Sometimes we feel absolutely no interest in the other’s treasured idea, or we might feel jealous, because we know that really it’s better than our own. 

 

With collaboration the arguments you have with yourself as an artist are amplified, and internal conflicts are inevitably externalised. This can propel decision making, but it can also provoke quick and over critical judgements.   ‘Why would we want to do that’ becomes the response you dread to hear.   

 

Meanwhile, reaching consensus can lose the immediacy of creative impulse. It can feel inhibiting and demotivating. 

 

However, collaboration can provide a useful detachment, where doubt and the essential embarrassment of making, can be blamed on each other, kidding yourself, “well I’m just going along with this for now, until we both recognise how bad it is.”  

 

Then again, in any practice, what might actually be a perfectly good idea can easily become bad, by overworking, elaborating and jumping to conclusions. 

 

Of course there are times when thoughts bounce back and forth freely. When a dull, unpromising starting point escalates into something unexpected. 

  

And then there is such a thing as delusion, which can be contagious… 

 

At some point though, you have to simply agree to start on something, even if it is a really bad idea.

bad idea 6

 

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bad idea 7

 

When I was about six or seven years old, I was called a ‘cunt’ by some bully boys. I knew it was a swear-word, but it was one I’d never heard before, so I didn’t know how to react. I could detect disappointment in their faces – at the words not having the effect they’d hoped for.

With no image in my head for the word ‘cunt’, all I remember was the suggestion of a ‘nutty smell’ in my mind. It seemed linked to the word ‘conker’. And subconsciously I was smelling cooked chestnuts – the edible version of a ‘conker’.

I told my mother what the boys had called me and asked her what it meant. She told me it was a bad word. And that I should take no notice of it.

________________________________________________________________

 

There was an art teacher who took the schoolboys on field trips to Epping Forest. It was so that we could make accurate sketches directly from nature. I remember seeing him stop and look down, fascinated by a small brown lump of dogshit.

He said: ‘Look, it is shaped just like a butterfly’.

bad idea 8

 

Once I had an idea and I called it "Insignificant spot=Spot which doesn't matter". The project predicted glued men in plastic or airtight latex suits to the wall in a star position. The colour of the suits would match the colour of the walls and men would be glued in a crowded pattern.

As the head is the only visible element creating a pattern, the rest of the body becomes insignificant as it blends in with the background becoming like a camouflage. But using nothing but glue is relatively impossible to support human weight on the wall. 

If men suddenly start falling from the wall - they are not any more insignificant spots. If the bodies perform an action – they create a visual and physical barrier and emotional reaction. They are becoming significant.

bad idea 9

 

| | A basement | | Dark space | | An undefined space | | One of the rooms had a staircase | | None of the rooms had a staircase | | One of the rooms had a glass door | | One of the rooms had a glass door | | It had great potential | | I heard it had great potential | | I spoke with you | | I spoke with you | | You wanted to come | | I wanted to come | | I was so happy | | I was so happy | | I went for meetings with these people | | I don’t do meetings | | When everyone was present nothing seemed out of order | | Everything seemed fine | | When left alone with any one of them everything went wrong | | Never met any of them | | Aggressive | | passive | | Repulsive | | passive | | Degrading | | passive | | Revolting | | passive | | Disgusting | | passive | | I got the space | |  You got the space | | We spoke – I had the space | | We spoke – you had the space | | Speaking with you made me forget the bad and look towards the good | | You were checking dates | | I was checking dates | | The last time I went there to confirm the dates I was slammed into a wall. | | I wasn’t aware that… | | Managed to escape | | I could not return | | …You could not return | | A basement | | An undefined space | | I heard it had great potential | | I spoke with you | | I wanted to come | | I was so happy | | Everything seemed fine | | Never met any of them | | passive | | passive | | passive | | passive | | passive | | You got the space | | We spoke – you had the space | | I was checking dates | | I wasn’t aware that… | | …You could not return

bad idea 10

 

I live in a house that was built in the 1980s’ which gets quite warm in the summer and it’s not unusual for bees and wasps to come in at the beginning of summer looking for places that they might want to make their home. One summer a queen wasp came in and kept flying around the windows in my bedroom and she kept flying underneath my bed and she came in more and more frequently and after a while I couldn’t work out what she was doing.  She was always flying underneath my bed so I looked anyway I could see anything but she kept on coming. about two weeks after or a week later I looked under my bed again and suddenly I saw that she had been building a nest on the frame of my bed and this was quite shocking to me because even though I had looked at the nest she was building a number of times and I hadn’t recognised what it was that was  building and had thought that it was just part of the wood just an extension of the wooden frame so it felt like this was a lesson in seeing. I had not recognised what the nest was and so my mind hadn’t seen it. I have often thought about disappearing I wondered if like the wasp nest I could also disappear out of sight like abra cadabra poof.

bad idea 11

 

When I was an art student my tutor told me I was too ambitious. I was frustrated by this and I wanted to prove them wrong.I imagined a big worm, hanging out of the window, like a rubbish chute or a rollercoaster weaving in and out of a tunnel. It felt like my work was getting too big for the studio,  so exploding out into the world seemed like the logical thing to do. Not just hanging though, it would have been seven metres reaching from the third floor down to the roof just visible from the entrance of the building. I realised it wasn't actually right for the work. When you place sculpture outside in the bigger world it tends to get smaller. lf it was suspended in mid air, out of reach and out of sight, then the detail would be missed. It wasn't impossible but it was beyond my own reach. The experience would be changed from an encounter to a glimpse. 

I eventually got over my ego. But I’m not sure I’ve actually learned my lesson. I think sometimes you have to go too far to take a step back, or at least want to go further, that’s where the ambition comes into it. It's often a relief when I realise what I’ve done already is actually ok, even when it doesn’t feel finished. The unfinished is actually better, in a constant flux of making and unmaking. It could go on and take a new form, that something monumental could just disappear overnight.

bad idea 12

 

I was once invited to contribute to an evening of bad performance art. The difficulty that arose was that the idea I 
eventually came up with started to seem to me to be too good.