I spent Tuesday evening with a fabulous group of people at the Royal Opera Arcade Gallery in Pall Mall. It was the private view of a sculpture and ceramics exhibition in which I had been invited to have seven pieces. The gallery was full – of wonderful art and super people. I arrived thinking that this was it – I had arrived! In actual fact there is something horribly daunting about putting one’s work into a gallery such as this. I suppose part of the problem is that while making a piece you get to know it intimately. I spend hours and hours on each of my pieces and when they are finished I know they are not perfect. I am fully aware of each of their little foibles. I can convince myself, in the privacy of my own studio, that they will do but then I have the stupid idea that it would be good to send them off to a public space and expect everyone to think they are amazing. When did I get so smug?
The thing is, as soon as I walked into the gallery, the feeling of smugness evaporated faster than frost on a warm winter morning. There they were, crouching among some truly fantastic works. Was anyone even looking at mine? Did anyone think they were any good? Was anyone actually thinking about them at all!
As the evening wore on, my nerves settled down a bit and I could see that people were taking notice of my work and that some did appear to be appreciative rather than just curious. Later my darling daughter tried out her amateur psychology on me. Do I trust her? Yes. Does she like my work? She says so! Therefore if I have no confidence in my work I am questioning her judgement. Well . . . . . . . . I know she loves me and wants me to be happy so she is hardly likely to tell me there and then in the middle of a private view that my work is by no means the best there, is she?
The fact of the matter is that I think anyone who runs the risk of exposing themselves by putting work into the public arena is going to worry about it. These are my babies; nurtured and brought to life by me. I desperately need them to be admired and yet, until the reach the plinth I have only my judgement to go on and of course I am biased. I am told these fears are called brain weasels. Yesterday, they were eating me from the inside out!