I have always loved songs. Ever since I was a child, I felt there was a real magic in music and songwriting. I remember sitting, mesmerised, on our charming lime-green carpet (hey, it was the 70’s ok?) in the sitting room, listening to the radio and singing along to the pop songs I heard. I knew all the Grease songs off by heart. I couldn’t read yet but I knew how the stereo worked. I just loved music and felt better with it around.
As I got older, I guess I tuned in more to the lyrics themselves, what the artist must have been feeling when they wrote the words, and what they meant to me in turn. I used to fill notebooks with song lyrics when I was a teenager. They spoke to me in some corny way that I can’t explain. I even tried writing songs myself but they were pretty bad, but I enjoyed the process.
A few years ago, I decided to combine two of my loves – music and collage – into one big piece of artwork for my wall. I started off with an ugly old board-mounted picture that I painted over with white house paint so I had a smooth, clear surface. I started cutting out letters from magazines and worked out what lyrics I wanted to put on the board. I didn’t really have a plan, I just cut and glued as I went, fitting in lines as I could and trying to keep it straight. The first few lines were a bit wonky but after a while they got into line and remained fairly even.
It took a lot of time. About three months to be exact. I could only really work on it at weekends and maybe some evenings. It was very therapeutic – I could totally switch off while I was doing it and just concentrate on whatever letters I needed next. I just used PVA glue mixed with a teeny bit of water. I brushed it on with a paint brush and didn’t have problems with bubbling or rippling.
I still look at it every day and read the words. It’s no great work of art but I love it and out of everything I’ve ever made, it is one of the most important things to me. If you took the time to read it you would find out who I am, how I feel, my fears and concerns and also my hidden sides. At the time I was making it, I was going through some stuff and so some of the words are really just me asking for help and wishing the world was a kinder place. Some of the words relate to specific people in my life, places I’ve been, situations that I’ve encountered. Some of them are just lines I love because they make me smile.
And, if nothing else, if I ever need to construct one of those ransom notes that kidnappers use in the movies, I will be well-practiced in the art of clipping out letters and gluing ’em on!
So, it means a great deal to me, that silly piece hanging up in my lounge room. Most people don’t take the time to really look at it when they visit – and that’s ok. Do you have something you’ve made that really sums you up? Something that just says “This is me?” Because this collage is me, every little wonky letter and line. You just have to look closely to see me in it.