This is a journal entry I made almost exactly a year ago when I was in Berlin. Coincidentally this is the foreshadowing of my current year long project. It’s interesting to see how an idea can roll around a little before you can actually execute it. Here is the entry:
August 2nd, Saturday 2014
I visited Berlin’s largest art supply store and it was a strange experience. At first I was in awe of the size and selection. Aisle upon aisle of potential materials. I felt, for nearly the entire time, that I was on the verge of crying. It had been so long since I had been in a space like that I assumed I was overwhelmed. And then there was some clarity. “Of course you can make work with interesting materials when you have resources like this!” It made the whole question of “why paint on canvas” into an issue of class and economy and development. The embedded attitude is that everyone has equal access to all materials and so the difference is simply concept and application.
To relate working in Grenada to people: it is as if your studio is in a treehouse on a small island you have to kayak to. Your options become limited. Seeing a place like this causes me to be very reactionary. In a similar way that Gandhi called for the rejection of British textiles as a part of a nationality movement, perhaps in countries like Grenada we should reject the “big countries” products and only use materials we can make naturally. Even if this limits the colours we may be able to use, at least we could claim independence from this material culture for which we have only been given a taste and not full faculty.
Would the time and cost of producing materials be so different than the cost of importing them? Materials should definitely play a factor in talking about the development of art.