Artist, and occasional guest blogger, Alison Wilson asked me 2012, if I was interested in collaborating on a sketchbook project. The Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project it transpired had caught her attention. The deal was that you pay for a sketchbook and you have to return it to them by a set date. They scan the book and it is available online. The physical books are sent on tour around America.
It was a lovely idea-the only trouble was what to collaborate about? We talked about a number of ideas but were getting nowhere fast. Then Alison did a residency in Mexico and it all came together. We would take Mexico as a theme.
I have to admit that I have never visited the country but have been interested in Central America since I first read about the Aztecs as a child. In fact all those pre-contact civilisations fascinated me, as did the culture shock and the redefining of national identity in Mexico as they threw off the yoke of colonialism.
Our working pattern was simple- Alison sent me photographs as she took them. I used them to spark off poems. Occasionally Alison asked for a specific topic as she wanted to paint a specific scene. It was remarkably easy to work with Alison, even though she is based in Singapore and I live in Taunton in the UK.
I was conscious that my words would be accompanying her beautiful images and that space was at a premium. I tried to be as economical as I could. It is for you to judge if I was successful or not.
The sketchbook made the dead line and we breathed a sigh of relief. However, due to the scanning process the crease in the centre of the book meant that some detail was lost if the painting was spread over both pages. The Art Library had warned of this- but we had not read the small print thoroughly.
Thankfully Alison’s husband, the wonderful Marcel, had photographed each page of the book before it was posted. These are the images that I am using here. Thank you Marcel - you are a star, as usual!