Creatively, for the past few months, I feel like I have been trapped in ice and whenever I htried to scream, no sound came out. Nothing like a deadline to kick some sense into me though so I need to scramble to get assignment three completed in the next couple of weeks.
A prolonged period of time at home, after my illness and then losing my job, didn’t prove to be the fertile playing field I had hoped for. A combination of mild depression caused by redundancy and being up to my neck in the worries of unemployment resulted in me not being as productive as I had hoped.
It was not completely barren though. I found that as my world became smaller and shifted in shape, it looked quite different and sometimes odd details jumped out at me. I developed a mild obsession with people dropping banana skins in the street (haven’t they ever watched a cartoon?) and even more intriguingly, not quite managing to get them into the bin. I don’t really like bananas and we never buy them but the yellow is quite cheering and stands out beautifully against the urban grey.
Dealing with redundancy was a tough one, as it is for most people. My attempts to capture my feelings in a visual language were heavy-handed but I felt heavy-handed. It was all part of the numbness.
I have taken inspiration from my heroes. Nick Cave, from a Guardian article: “I am not worrying too much about writing actual songs as such, rather just amassing a stockpile of lines and thoughts, images and ideas. I feel I have turned a corner and wandered on to a landscape that is open and vast.”
“The idea that we live life in a straight line, like a story, seems to me to be increasingly absurd and, more than anything, a kind of intellectual convenience,” he says. “I feel that the events in our lives are like a series of bells being struck and the vibrations spread outwards, affecting everything, our present, and our futures, of course, but our past as well. Everything is changing and vibrating and in flux. So, to apply that to songwriting, a song like I Need You off the new album [Skeleton Tree], time and space all seem to be rushing and colliding into a kind of big bang of despair. There is a pure heart, but all around it is chaos.”
Terry Pratchett, who has helped to keep me sane over the last year, has a character called Leonard of Quirm – based on da Vinci, of course – whom he describes as a “skilled artist and certified genius with a mind that wandered so much it came back with souvenirs”. What a lovely idea.