Justine Giles, 2013, First, Middle, Family [ink and pencil on paper, 210 x 297 mm]
Last year when I was weeding a number of old and damaged books from the library I found some interesting inscriptions. I didn’t have a particular plan for them at the time, but I photographed them to remember them.
Because of my experience teaching international students, the above notations made me smile knowingly. Unless you are familiar with Western names, it can be difficult to determine what goes where in a reference… especially if you are used to family names coming first, it trips up my students all the time.
Justine Giles, 2013, The gratitude I feel [ink on paper, 210 x 297 mm]
To Mr. L.
If all the gratitude I feel these
days were to be written down, it
would take more that this page to do it.
So, I guess I’ll just say how
much happier I am with myself and the world since
you helped me
know myself better.
26, Sept ’73
I love this. Even though I don’t have a specific ‘Mr. L.’ the sentiment of this inscription resonates with me. The world does seem happier when you know yourself.
I tried to treat the handwriting like drawing… it was actually quite hard, I kept finding my hand trying to rebel and insert my own handwriting instead!
Justine Giles, 2013, Haunted room [graphite on paper]
The above image is from a photograph left in a very old book donated to the library from someone’s estate. I have added it here in the interests of showing failure as well. The drawing has none of the haunting of the original photographic image. Which is important to note. Some images just don’t translate fully into drawings… they lose too much.
Justine Giles, 2013, Parade pavement [graphite on paper, 36 x 34 cm]
Finally took some progress photographs of some of my work today. Here’s one that came from the crowd scene I showed at the April seminar. I started a larger version (still unfinished) and got distracted by how much I like the pavement just on it’s own…
My name is not “Miss”, but one of the things I have noticed, paradoxically, about growing older is the increase in being called Miss. Supposedly it’s a respectful address for a young woman, but I’m almost certain that when I was younger I was called by my name or nothing at all: “Excuse me” where now there is a misguided Miss tacked on: “Excuse me, Miss.”
I know part of it comes from working in a tertiary institution that deals with a large number of students straight out of high school, and I am reliably told by my flatmate (a high school English teacher) that female teachers are called “Miss” and male teachers “Sir”. Which is pretty bizarre when you think of it… the male teachers get some kind of knighthood, and the female teachers get belittled. Because there is a certain implied innocence to Miss that is missing from Mr.
It could be that I’ve been misinformed, but my understanding is that Miss implies a lack of marital status in a way that Mr or Sir does not. You can be reliably ambiguous as a male. But if you are female you must choose Miss, or Mrs (or often have it chosen for you). I’m not huge on titles as a rule, wherever I can I opt out of having one entirely. I don’t much care if people think I’m married or not, I just kind of resent that thoughtless commodification of women, Miss suggesting availability, where Mrs says: “Hands off this one is owned.” There is, I guess, the belated attempt at mystery that is Ms, but people don’t say Ms they say Miss.
Maybe I’m misinterpreting here, but Miss when it comes down to it has a negative connotation. As a prefix Mis means “ill” as in ill informed. Further to that the word miss, as opposed to the title, means a failure to hit or to catch something. It can also mean something that is omitted or left out, or something that is not noticed, and it stands in for the emotional feeling of lack or loss. To be Miss is to not really be there. One might even say misunderstood.
I don’t want to misconstrue other people’s intentions, but it occurs to me that to prevent further misadventure it would be remiss of me not to point out that you can learn someone’s name and miss altogether the chance of misinterpretation caused by misreading the expected implication. But maybe I’ve misjudged you and you’ve already thought of that.
I could easily be mistaken.
Then, quite soon, the drawing reached its point of crisis. Which is to say that what I had drawn began to interest me as much as what I could still discover (Berger, 2008).
I had a great meeting with Julie yesterday. I had been dreading it a little as my work seems to be all over the place at the moment, and I couldn’t commit to any one project, everything was frustrating me. Every time I tried to make sense of it all I just kept feeling trapped like I’d drawn myself into a corner!
Julie put me back on track by suggesting I concentrate on output not outcome, and rather like the blog, I should follow anything that interests me and worry about the connections later. I do have a problem over thinking things
sometimes all of the time, and lately I’d been talking myself out of following different avenues because I couldn’t think of any way to relate them to anything else, whereas on the other hand I was quickly losing interest in some of the things I’d spent a lot of time working on!
So! Down the rabbit hole I go.
You know you’re an artist when your first thought on seeing red smudged all over two of your fingers is: “Hang on, where did that red pigment come from?” not “Why am I bleeding?”
Something I keep returning to in my life is the idea of belonging. I was born in New Zealand, I’ve lived here my whole life, I am proud to be a kiwi and I have connection to this land that is passionate and emotional… but as first generation New Zealander there is always a little twist of doubt about really belonging.