Following my Pecha Kucha presentation (which now seems a very long time ago) I was asked – “So, where are you in this?” To put this question into context, my research has been around identity, in particularly how the body has been represented through gender and racial stereotypes. The question was not unreasonable, though for some reason it was one I hadn’t anticipated.

In the past it had been suggested that my work was too self-referential. As a result, I made a conscious effort to avoid the autobiographical. In reality, of course, it is impossible to distance myself from my own assumptions and prejudices. What appears to be the objective “truth” is only what seems true to me.

As a result I was feeling a lot of confusion about what good art should look like. So in an attempt to untangle all the loose ends I set about acquiring knowledge and busied myself with research. Researching took on a life of its own and became my “practice”. However, the sense of finding a sanctuary didn’t last long because without an actual practice to lead it, the act of researching became just an intellectual pursuit.

As a response to this confusion, I produced a piece of work – a series of repeated lines, similar to those I remember having to write out at school. It represents a stream of consciousness – and it is entirely autobiographical. Allowing the indulgence of putting myself in the centre appears to have helped stimulate my art-making. Continued efforts will be required to balance my research and practice, but at least, it’s a start.


Joanne Herbert