I had a lovely discussion with Colin Brown from Bristol’s Poetry Can yesterday. I had contacted him because I am interested in collaborating with a poet here in Bristol and wanted direction on how best to do that. Our conversation flowed smoothly between issues of visual artists’ verbal communication, the function of an artist, race and “otherness” in the UK, Bristol’s history (or lack of history) dealing with issues of diversity, a poet’s relationship to visual art, paths to collaboration and time as artist material. The ease of the conversation was a testament to Colin’s “getting it” and an affirmation, for me, of the depth of the idea.
We spoke a lot about the nature of collaboration and how it might specifically work in this project. Colin’s questions helped me be more specific about what I was envisioning while also emphasizing my belief that a true collaboration necessitates it being defined by all participants. I may know what I think will work best in this project but that may or may not be the same thing that the poet thinks will work best. Before we get to creating the work, we will need to create the beginning of the collaboration.
Each piece I do has a sculptor’s emphasis on material. I have developed a very broad understanding of material to include not only physical materials such as concrete,textile, wood and clay but conceptual materials such as negotiation, time, place and movement as well. I view the responses I am getting to the “what is the function of the artist?” question as material. Will a poet find being given these words as raw material for his or her own work an interesting engagement? Will his or her involvement end there or will s/he want to take part in gathering responses? Does it make more sense to the poet to take these words and go off to the studio and write in isolation? Will s/he eventually want to have input into the visual part of the project or be relieved that I am making all those decisions? Is the collaboration better served by having more than one poet voice?
Both Colin and I agreed it was definitely time for me to meet some poets.