This morning, over breakfast, I asked my husband what it felt like to him when an idea strikes. He looked at me with the gentle compassion which demonstrated clearly that he did not have a clue what I was talking about. I wonder if I am alone in feeling almost euphoric when an idea comes. I remember so vividly the exact moment at which I realised that I had to pursue some kind of exploration into art. I was sitting in the art studio at the school where I was head of science. The head of English had organised an artistic workshop for staff during the holidays and a handful of us were sitting round talking, relaxing and making sculpture. It was a wonderfully convivial atmosphere and I know I was feeling completely happy and then ‘BANG’! This huge surge of electricity flooded my brain. I couldn’t talk. I could hardly think. It was an ecstatic moment with an after burn which lasted for several hours and I knew that life would never be the same again. I know that sounds a bit melodramatic but those who know me well have come to recognise these moments when my head almost explodes with an idea and I am unable to focus on anything else for several hours – sometimes even days – while the adrenalin, or what ever it is that pumps though my system in that moment, is gradually dissipated. I think it probably infuriates them but what can I do?
My mother describes moments when her brother seemed to have ‘gone to the pictures’ and my daughter has always ‘gone off on one’ with an idea for a story almost from the day she was born. Perhaps it is a family thing. Do they feel the surge of hormones and the associated heavy headedness that I experience? Is this what is meant by artistic temperament?
My most recent moment was yesterday. I was driving to my studio with the express intent of putting 5 pieces of work, which sat ready and waiting to be fired, into the kiln – a half hour job at the most. Then, just as I approached the traffic lights in Earlsfield and should have been concentrating on a difficult right turn, an electric shock thudded through my brain. I know that my resolution to the current project was not perfect but I had reached the stage of thinking that I was fairly pleased with it and it was good enough. Now there was nothing else for it, I had no choice. On arrival at the studios I rang home and explained that I might be some time. I broke up the vessels which had waited so patiently for attention since before Christmas and began almost from scratch. Assessment for these pieces is in less than a fortnight. I have an exhibition (ArtRooms 2015: http://www.art-rooms.org/) going on at the same time as the assessment . I should not be starting again at this stage. But there was simply no alternative.
The interesting thing is that I should have known it was going to happen. I had woken up feeling very restless. By the time I got into the car I was actually shaking. I should have known. But that feeling, when the crescendo comes and the idea hits cannot be rushed and I am not at all sure whether watching it approach would actually do me any favours. It is exhausting though. Just sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have someone else’s brain inhabit my body for a week or so. Would it be like having a holiday on a tropical beach?
One day I think I need to ask someone to wire me up so that I can actually watch my brain activity, such as it is, on a screen. I cannot believe that it fits any pattern of normality but I can’t help thinking it might be rather spectacularly colourful. If I can only capture the moment.