Jenny Davis

Diary 30 March 2005

This is a cliche i know...but it has been a steep learning curve. Vertiginous in fact. I can't quite believe the journey is nearly over. Okay enough of that...

Thoughts on the project...

Well digital making is a thoroughly frustrating medium. It might still seem philistine after all this to knock it. But once I accepted that as part of the inevitable technological equation...things went well smoother. You surmount one problem...only to encounter another. Frustrating lesson number one...I learnt that technology...software and laptops still have their own inherent logic which sometimes will allow you in...and other times won't. Technology will sulk on you and even those more experienced with its wily ways. It is not that discriminating after all. That was gratifying to know. [Lesson number two]

I am amazed by my progress having said that. When I recall the pitiful starting point....e.g ringing Folake in a mild state of terror because i thought I'd broken the laptop; [there was a plug in the bag it transpired.]... some things finally clicked into place.

There are things that you are not prepared for which can hold you up. E.g 'wasting' a day trying to resize images. And some problems which still remain a mystery even now...like why was it possible to import photos straight into i movie for weeks then suddenly it would only happen through i photo. And yes I expect the answer is obvious to those in the digital know.

It hasn't 'all' been frustrating. Riding a curve is exhilarating too. Once you get the hang of something you wonder how it took so long to learn in the first place.

I'm aware of the rough clunky quality of the pieces. They had to be. I simply decided that it couldn't emulate anything or try to be anything other than itself.

It was interesting approaching the pieces differently. For 'me myself i' it became an organic process...image-led which meant finding the story out of that. Quite different to storyboarding 'The Hardly Old...'.

'The Hardly old' has some harsh juxtapostions between text and image. I've used your stock hip hop vocabulary alongside images of older Caribbean women shopping. That bought some unease when i played it through for someone. So i imagine it could offend..if the point is missed. [Which is???] After seeing the latest 50 cent video and realising that candy shop was simply an analogy for brothel...it fitted in well. We've become almost desensitised to mysogynist lyrics...take it a step further and apply them to all Black women, our mothers included, and they 'become' offensive again.

On the whole I'm really pleased though. I think I've achieved what I wanted to say...now the rest is down to whoever presses those buttons. The main thing is that it should be easy to negotiate. Some of the stuff I've seen has been so polished...so pleased with itself that all you can do is gaze at it and wonder how to get in it. I think it has the capacity to be exclusive. Therefore it would defeat the object for me if my quilt wasn't easily navigable.

And on the subject of the quilt...I've passed that piece of work onto my friend and textile artist Cedar. My only stipulation is that the quilt should be beautiful...and compell you to touch. The rest is up to her to interpret that as she chooses. Having seen her work I'm very confident in the outcome. Also wanted each panel to reflect something from each story. A symbol...something pared down. We went to the fabric shop the other day and Cedar asked me to choose samples of material which my mum would have used for my dresses as a little girl. Was quite a powerful exercise in retrospect. Memories of fabric shops and the whir of my mum's machine came flooding back.

Saw the panels yesterday...very excited and very beautiful.

I'm very very pleased with the music too which was composed by my son Oriel. As soon as I heard his piece...'Storm' several months ago when he was working on it I knew I had to use it for my story. It was one of the threads. Which by the way I've decided is the name of this whole piece...if it's not too late to call it something else. 'Threads'.

I'm not sure where I can include this in the exhibit but I need to acknowledge Saartjie Bartmann...aka Hottentot Venus. She is in my story...one of the threads. I have misspelt her name in the film...so please accept my apologies Saartjie.

As this is the last diary entry I 'd like to acknowledge and thank people; firstly Folake Shoga...whose support and mentorship has been priceless. Without her I wouldn't have got this far. Thank you for your brilliant thinking...being a sounding board...and never saying never. Also Dani Landau...who is just the best digital teacher...patiently explaining and breaking it down in my language. Thank you.

Tara Davis Lyons and Cashan Campbell who filmed and wrote and spent a couple of hours with me in the Ikea restaurant telling me like it is. You are both wonderful...talented and just gorgeous. You are going to do amazing things. Thank you.

Joan Davis [do you sense a bit of nepotism] who filmed her 3-minute walk for me. My mum who sees the star of David over the hills...and gave me her time and much more. Thank you so much.

Oriel Davis Lyons whose music is just beautiful...and was destined for this quilt and beyond.

Jane Ferguson of the Bristol Feminist Archive Library at Trinity Library, who gave me space and the key to come and go in the early days of this project. Thank you.
Cedar Montieth who is making the quilt as I write. Gifted. Cedar and the quilt found each other. Thank you.

Sarah Green artist and friend who spent a week with me making sparkly shiny collages and of course Harriet. Thank you.

Oisin Davis Lyons who made the wonderfully cheeky figure of a Bling guy with a bikini stuck under his arm.

And my amazing Women's Writing Group...for all their thinking...as always brilliant.. sharp.. on the ball. And special thanks to Rose Thorn in our group who reminded me one morning when i was particularly low on the project to trust myself.

Thanks also to Leiza of Kuumba for supporting us all. What a wonderful opportunity it has been. Thank you.

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