Saturday, February 26, 2011

What’s The Story?

“I was told stories, we were all told stories as kids in Nigeria. We had to tell stories that would keep one another interested, and you weren't allowed to tell stories that everybody else knew. You had to dream up new ones.” Ben Okri

(Guess who’s been reading Ben Okri!)

When I was in Mrs. Lloyd’s class in Primary School, I made up a story about entering an art competition where I was going to draw a reindeer. I was worried about it because I couldn’t get the antlers right. Mrs. Lloyd must have mentioned this to the Headmaster because the next day he came into the classroom with a template of a reindeer that I could draw around. I told them the competition was at the weekend and I would let them know how I got on. Sure enough the following Monday I reported back. I hadn’t won because I’d forgotten to draw the tail on the reindeer. They were suitably sympathetic.

I’m sure they weren’t fooled for one minute. I’m sure they were engaging in what Coleridge called “The willing suspension of disbelief”.

You’d think I would be ashamed, wouldn’t you?

But I’m really not.

I still make up stories and tell them to people.

I often visit an elderly aunt. The conversation is the same every time. What she had for dinner; how many hours she slept; how many fags she smoked; what’s she going to do if she gets locked in her flat and can’t ever get out. That sort of thing.

So sometimes when she asks me what I’ve been up to, I liven up both our days by telling her something interesting or amusing. Something totally fabricated.

She’s not daft and she sometimes tries to catch me out. But I’m too good for her.

Recently, I’ve come across this great blog where people tell their stories - in one sentence. Some are sad, some are funny and many of them are strangely engaging. I don’t know how many of them are true but I don’t think that’s the point.

The reason I’m thinking a lot about this is because for a number of years most of my pictures … the stories I tell … have been wrapped up and stored away … latterly in the London studio. The last time I went there I found that my daughter had unwrapped them and put them all around the place. It was very moving for me to see so much work that I’d forgotten about … many pieces that I can’t even remember making.

As I’ve thought about it, and looked at the work I’ve done, I realised that I’d forgotten what the point was. So I’m taking each piece and writing a story about it (well maybe not each piece … but some of them). It may be just 50 or 100 words. Or one sentence. The idea isn’t to explain the picture – though that would be no bad thing - but to help me remember.

It also occurs to me that while the pictures are on display this would be a perfect opportunity to photograph and catalogue each of them – which is another way of remembering. I’ll need some assistance with that, though.

But enough of this rambling.

Let me tell you about my day.

You see, there was this racoon...

I love this post. And I hope you'll post each artwork with its story when you're done. The world would be a black-and-white place without stories.
Thanks, Andrea ... I might do that.
It's so weird to think about you at school!

I'll get someone to help photograph your work...

(I usually write things I need to remember on my arm)
Now see here mack, if yore gonna tell stories about us - you'd betta finish um!!!
Jo ... I was hoping you'd take the hint!

Rocky ... ever heard of suspense?
Hear, hear!
This is an awesome idea! Can't wait to see and read some of them!
Thanks, Angela! Good to hear from you again!
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