This isn’t a piece about the genre of stalking art, like Sophie Calle’s Venetian Suite –last month a friend took me deer stalking with dog and gun. He thought the experience might be useful to my work, assist in my understanding our relationship with Nature. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the gun, but knew something about herd management from my time living near Ashton Court in Bristol: those with least talent are dispatched, as they are destined to merely disrupt the herd and be sorely injured in the competition for dominance in the hierarchy … of course you might question any parallel with the art world on that score alone.
Covering my face and head, and guided down-wind to begin our quest, we headed down into an ancient local valley. Winter light warmed the afternoon, illuminating the old woodland, the silver lichen glowed, and the canopy shimmered. Creeping up and down the gully, past the scars of the recent storm, uprooted trees, jet-washed rocks, freshly hewn water-courses in the overhanging banks, I kept close in the footsteps of my experienced guide, mimicking his movements. In silence we looked for tracks and to the Pointer, her nose to the ground or scenting the air; we took pause, crouched low, then would sit and wait for maybe quarter of an hour or so, waiting for signs of movement.
After a few hours of this slow, intense yet meditative perambulation, we gave up on the hunt. There was no bloodshed, no finale, and no ‘product’. My guide wasn’t sure how useful the experience had been, but I began to get a sense of its relevance: “Making art is born of necessity and it’s an ongoing process—responding to the world and continuously moving forward, occasionally hitting on something then plodding ahead,” Katy Grannan – photographer/curator of “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” exhibition at Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco (Andrea Denhoed, The New Yorker 11/08/15)
We track our thoughts and ideas, waiting a while for a path to our quarry. Those moments when we allow a soft gaze into our creative process can be most fruitful. Sometimes our goal is revealed, other times it is absent, just passed, or overlooked, and we have to return again to our expedition. The challenge is to do this without expectation, but full of anticipation, and sensitive to our own mood, energy and environment. To assume the outcome of our enterprise and find ourselves wanting denies us the joy of the chase, can stifle the organic development of our work, and leads us to overlook the clues to our success.