Receiving the Uninvited

I have been struggling with a commission I received. A commission for a mosaic cross. It is the simplest of designs and yet I could not adapt to the flow that this piece wished to proceed in.

Then.
I took several steps back and slowed down the process. I had removed the work that I had started and restarted – three times now. I wondered whether this was a way of moving forward. Adding and subtracting multiple times.

I am conscious of my creative process and how I bob up and down in the creative birthing waters of an idea, or in this case a commission. I know that sometimes I end up sitting on the shore line looking out wondering what’s out there, too unsure to make a move. And I know that such distractions have helped me connect with my work at a microscopic level – seeing something previously unseen. I know when I have benefitted from this because the AHA moment has been awakened.

I hit rock bottom with this project when it came to gluing down each piece of cut glass, each dedicated cut, one pentagram, triangle, square, oblong, at time. The glue was changing the nature of the design I had created. I took off the pieces, cleaned each piece with a toothbrush and water and then cleaned and resealed the surface of the cross to start again. I did start again only to have the very same experience. Remove the tile, clean with water and toothbrush, wash down the surface again. And again.

Stop.
I am giving everything I have to this small commission and I am left barren. I am personally connected to the work. This commission came to me last year from two sisters who’s mum had passed away. They came with their desire to have a mosaic cross inserted into a heart shaped blue pearl granite headstone. A privilege I felt, to be given this kind of work.

Then.
Two weeks after I received this commission, my mum passed away. That was a year ago now. I recommenced work on the cross about 5 weeks ago and I am still here with the cross – 15% is now glued down. I have momentarily stepped away, to take my mind out of the process and to listen to what is trying to be expressed.

The Uninvited.
One night I left my studio feeling inadequate. Usually I would push such no – sense aside. This time I allowed the uninvited guest to speak. And this is what she said.

Your inadequacy comes from not seeing. Not being present from that which wishes to be expressed in your work. You are holding onto what YOU want said through this commission.
I want you to see what you are pushing away.
I want you to see what you are not letting go of.
You are to do the work not be the work. Let go of how you think it should look like. Let it be what it wants to be. Follow each cut. Place each shape down with love and honesty. Let the work surface from your hearts hands. Accept each piece that is placed. Accept me, the unknown, the uninvited.

I See.
I appreciate the message from the uninvited – the feeling of inadequacy. I appreciate the strength and courage that is required to look inadequacy in the face and question her to spill her beans.
This commission is for their mother and not mine. This commission is also for the father. It is for both their parents. I am able to glue each piece down now and finish the work.

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