Tina Rowe

Oh look, squirrel

Deleted Custard Pie scene from Dr Strangelove
Stanley Kubrick directing the deleted custard pie scene from Dr Strangelove from the BFI site .

This past two and a half months I have been mostly thinking which is a nice way of saying having ideas and doing absolutely nothing with them. This is a problem because I have a hell of a lot of things to do in a relatively short space of time, I have deadlines. Douglas Adams used to say something about loving deadlines and the wooshing sound they made as they went past. I envy that, I cannot be so sanguine about a deadline  even one like: that’s a nice idea, write it down in the next 10 minutes or you will completely forget everything about it except that it was a good idea. I tend to act as if it were a death sentence and I try to make the most of every little thing that happens in each moment other than the gaping maw of doom ahead when I should be rolling up my sleeves and getting on with the matter at hand.

It isn’t just the inability to get started that causes this. It is the smack in the face as soon as my fingers touch the keyboard or I mix the developer or open up a sketchbook. My prose is like an essay by an 8 year old, my lovely negatives produce prints that look flat and uninspired, my drawings have jittery meaningless lines that neither relate to my current state of mind or the thing I am supposedly working towards. So I go an make a coffee or stay put and watch a little bit of Netflix and the next thing I know I basically hate myself for dragging my heels and start looking for full time work in industries I am morally programmed to despise.  This is not helpful.

In May I took some pictures of Tim Andrews as part of his lovely over the hill project and it took me until a week and a half ago to finish them properly. I knew exactly what I was going to do the moment he walked into the studio despite the fact that up until that moment I had intended to do something else.  The images came out exactly as I expected and I was very pleased but somewhere along the line I had a crisis of ego that was as profound and distracting as the custard pie pie fight at the end of Dr Strangelove and I just couldn’t bring myself to make the piece. Every time I looked at the ten prints on instant Fuji film I felt a mixture of guilt and anguish. Each passing week made me feel worse. A month ago Tim himself mailed to ask how things were going and I reeled off a compendium of other stuff that I had been doing but to be honest was not sufficient to prevent me from completing his portrait too.

Anyway. I got it done and now I am floundering in the ocean of my what currently seem unrealistic promises about my final show.  It is weird. I know the processes I will use and I know why. I have laid the groundwork for the images I want to produce and have spoken to other people who will be able to help me though I even managed to contrive to stand one of the most important contacts up at one point. But if I do an audit of my actual actions towards the final thing, well, basically I have seen all of Better call Saul and Bojack Horseman Season one in the past month.

I wonder where it comes from. It is too easy to say it is about confidence. I am a confident  photographer, I am for the most part in control of my chemistry, my drawings tend to make real the notions in my head. I can write, just not to order. A friend advised me to keep writing about stuff and thinking things through. But that is easier said than done. I know it isn’t laziness. In fact if I were to personify it I would say it is like an ex who is a charming good looking wastrel who you are still a little bit in love with despite the fact they only ever turn up late at night when they are either a bit drunk, randy and/or broke, you just know opening the door is a complete waste of time, but you still do it as otherwise you’d be on your own.

Not Over the Hill
Tim Andrews being exceptionally patient.

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