In an attempt to reorder my day to get some time to write this I decided to come to work very early, get my prep out of the way then grab an hour to write. I am therefore currently sitting on the exact seat you sat on in the room which you declared to be hideous. No reader will know what I am talking about but I know you will! I shall shortly move to the dining room to consume a full english breakfast. I thought it important if we were going to talk about tomatoes that I had one infront of me at the time.
So, your crisis. Commenters have already made good points but I would add that maybe you are looking in the wrong place to try to find your true voice. There have been many, many good things about the Twelve by Twelve project but I am not sure that it has been an easy place to work on finding a voice or consistent style. The nature of the way we choose our themes is to pull you from one place to another. New series! New project! New idea! Each piece is a stand alone and so you are not easily going to find a cohesiveness developing there, unless it was in you already.
That said, let me remind you of a special event in your life. Even though you were not actually there when it happened. Remember when I was on the stand at Festival of Quilts and Kaffe Fassett told me that he really liked your quilts. He didn't say he liked just one. He picked out your body of work. Which to me implies that he saw something in all of them.Now I suppose it could have been something different in each one but thats unlikely. I think there is a developing underlying style and I see it in your photography too.
I think it is that you get up close to an object, look closely at it, often looking at only part of it ( like the tomato crate) or take a cross section. In many of your works the object you choose is imbued with a kind of pathos and meaning, often giving a feeling of loss, absence or a tale untold. I am thinking of all those photos you take of empty chairs. The one you took of the garden chairs at retreat for example which is shortly to go on my studio wall I love because those two empty chairs tell me the story of who sat in them one day at retreat, what we talked about in them and the implicit promise that we will one day return together to those empty and waiting chairs. For me, the John Lennon glasses has the same pull. The man is gone but the source of his vision remains and through them he continues to insipre from beyond the grave. ( Pause for spine chills).
Take Labikeet.... Gemma waits for her walk. Why is she waiting? Where is her owner? Will they come to get her?
I know in your theme series the ones that capitvated people most were the chinese lanterns ( again, a cropped picture with a hidden story. Where are they floating? What are they celebrating? That 's the one Kaffe said was the favourite of all 144 quilts) and the cave which physically drew people into it. They peered into it, their noses right up against it, as if to see who was hiding in it.
Not all your challenge quilts have that same quality but maybe thats part the nature of the challenge and part becuase you are in the process of developing a style where as maybe Deborah and Terry are further down that line. I think Deborah also consciously uses repeated symbols and shapes and materials where as you are more varied. I think thats just choice...do you want to narrow down that way or not?
I am glad you raised the issue though as I am in a similar position. Who am I? What am I trying to say? Even if I knew, do I yet have the ability to say it in a visual way? And would I even be satisfied with it if I did say it visually?
Now we are close to having our house refurbishments structurally complete and can start thinking about what art to put on the walls, Dennis is having a hard time comprehending how I can even casually talk about buying quilts made by other people. Why do that when I make them myself? Because, I try to explain, I never think mine are good enough because what I learn with each one is what I could try to do better next time. I don't want to put my practise on my lounge wall when I could have a proper piece of art up there. But, he asks, confused, you have sold quilts. Yeah, but the buyers don't know what is in my head to do next! I wonder whether Jette Clover and Miriam Pet Jacobs and the other artists whose work I have been imagining in my hallway feel the same?
What ever the answers I am glad I have you to travel the ponderous journey with. Now, If you will excuse me, I must go and blog about another art dillemma over on the Twelve by Twelve blog. Sheesh! It's awonder I ever actually get to even imagine making a quilt, the amount of brain space I have taken up by these internal debates!