It’s funny how you find yourself drawn to collect without a clear idea in mind of what you’re going to do with the goodies. You find you just have to wait for a future to turn up that reveals all. Time-space Intrigues. Time-space intrigues me.
One such future arrived, a couple of evenings ago, when I found myself preparing grounds. At last, I had something to do with my assorted stash of battered,bruised, abandoned kids’ board books.
I gutted some of the books of their inside pages, leaving just the back, front and spine. I sanded the surfaces to remove gloss and image/text. I added a reinforcing strip of Plaster of Paris bandage (ModRoc) to the spines, front and back. I then added the same to both pages, front and back and set them aside to dry. I also sanded and ModRoc’d the guts – the cut-out pages. So – nothing wasted.
Aside from the board books, I also prepped with ModRoc some small and medium-sized deep canvases. These needed no sanding, so the job was quicker.
In all, I prepared 11 surfaces. It was a job of several hours. I might have given up out of boredom had I not been watching, at the same time, back-to-back episodes of the 2015 TV series Flesh and Bone, grâce à Amazon Prime.
From Rotten Tomatoes: A troubled young dancer lands a job with a prestigious ballet company in New York City, where she deals with a mercurial artistic director …
When I was little I wanted to be a ballet dancer. It was my earliest ambition. I have hazy pre-school memories of a dancing class; carrying and wearing black ballet pumps. Alas, it was not to be. It was a case of Billy Elliott but without the support group that scraped together his bus fare to London, to take up his scholarship with the Royal Ballet. (I admit to watching on occasions, in tears, the very end of the last scene of the Billy Elliott movie, over and over).
Flesh and Bone however, bears no resemblance to the stories of ballet dancers, as in Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes or the tale of the aspiring ballet dancer serialised in my childhood weekly comic for girls: Bunty. I wonder where all my drawings of ballerinas – usually in arabesque position – went to?
And that first ever painting – a ballerina in arabesque – I did in grammar school? As usual, I had failed to get the extended leg (aka working leg) anatomically correct. “Are shadows black?” asked my art teacher – I’d included beneath her supporting leg, an ominous black shadow. I could have answered in the affirmative, but I was too young for metaphysics. My art teacher had clearly never come across the subject.
Flesh and Bones is full of black shadows beneath the arabesques. It’s not an easy watch.The foul-mouthed, back-biting members of the dance company are all (yes, all) troubled. (For troubled you can read psychotic, neurotic, psychopathic). So far (and I’ve watched all but the last of the 8 episodes) there are only two characters one can warm to. One is the flawed heroine – Claire, the aspiring ballerina.
There’s obscene language, drug-taking, sex scenes of every nature excepting bestiality, seedy settings, mafia-like personae, prostitution and sex slavery. Flesh is kind-of soap opera, but there are aspects which, like Black Swan, places it within the genre of horror. I’ve had to put my hand up to black out the screen on occasions.
Who, you ask, is the second character one can warm to? Check out the series. It’s rivetting. Alright, here’s a clue: think Lear’s Fool. And if the actor who plays the role doesn’t win some kind of accolade, I’ll eat my ballet shoes. Well, I don’t have a pair now, so I will have to eat my Merrill’s, or my size 3 builder’s safety boots, though I would insist on spitting out the steel toe-caps and heels. (How many builders can there be with size 3 (35) feet, I wonder?)
And so, as I prepared to gut out and re-flesh the bones of my art supports, I came across Flesh and Bone. (Ha! to coincidence). What am I to learn from this encounter? Something about arabesques, for sure. And more. I will devote some time to reverie over this, Bachelard-wise.
I’ve already added the first coat of encaustic to half a dozen of the grounds (see third image). Is this the equivalent of sinew over bone? Now there’s a metaphysical word worth fleshing-out.