When I started out making pictures a few decades ago, there was little thought on my part about how I would live with the work as time went on. I think that for many of us, the pursuit of the image is what consumes most of our time when we first start out.
It is only now several decades later, that I am aware of the mass of work I have created over many years. Not all of it is consistent and I've come to realise that although there are images which have stayed strong for me, some of it I am now embarrassed by. It seems that the passing of time invites objectivity.
There is clearly a skill to be mastered as one learns to live with their older work.
As part of my preparation for an exhibition I am doing this summer, I've been revisiting some of my older work and also reconsidering many of my more resent images. I've been thinking about how I should approach looking back at what I've done while also remaining in the present moment. I've also been asking myself the question 'how should I look towards the future without being tied down by what has gone before?' Because I do think that any body of work that has been amassed over time can become a weight, a burden to shoulder.
Learning to let go of who we were, of what we were trying to do, and what the work represented, is I feel, the best way to go about moving forward. If I am able to also accept that the work itself is more a document of a moment, and does not strictly represent who I may be right now, then that allows me the freedom to grow.
It also allows me to view the work as open to re-interpretation. Why should work be cast in stone, to be one way just because that is how I felt at the time I first created it?
The nub of living a creative life, as I see it, is to recognise that the only thing that is constant in our lives is impermanence. The way we see the world now, and the way the world is, is always changing and just because we said or felt or believed something one day, does not imply that it is still true another day. We are entitled to change and in fact we are always changing.
By accepting that things come and they go, gives me great comfort to understand that what I do, is just a transient expression of who I was at a moment in time. Sometimes these expressions (images) become part of me - works that I am immensely proud of, and sometimes they are works that lose appeal over time. I do not judge myself harshly for what I have done, because that would lead to trying to obtain unreachable goals. By accepting that I am changing and that my work may vary in quality and quantity over time, allows me freedom to continue. The way I see it, it's the only way to prevent my older work (my history) from having more prominence than it should.