I’m not fluent and I have to make mistakes and I need to struggle.
(Judith Mason 1938 –
At first glance, Judith Mason’s work doesn’t leave me with a sense of struggle. In fact, Mason’s paintings, etchings and drawings generally pull me inward towards a place of rest, tranquility and wholeness. Mason’s process of struggle remains seemingly hidden from me, as does her self-assessed level of fluency. To me, there seems to be an interpretational divide between Mason’s experience of artmaking and the outcome of her process. What is notable is that Mason both recognizes and accepts this ‘inadequacy’. I admire that. Mason, in turn, says that she admires Braque who said: “I do what I can, not what I want”.
Not being completely capable of doing what I want as an artist, has, at times, left me feeling inadequate. At worst, I have felt fake when unable to achieve what I really wanted to in an artwork. Put differently, merely doing what I can do then seems second best. But is it? If, hypothetically speaking, I could achieve what I wanted to, as I envisaged, at the time I envisaged, with the materials I planned to do it with, what would the outcome be? Probably a product, minus the process of struggle.
What would be missing I think, would be the longing to create that which is imagined. Judith Mason offers this thought:
People say that talent is the thing. I don’t believe so. I think longing is.
The struggle, it seems, is invariably interwoven with the longing for what is to be created.
Judith Mason A Prospect of Icons Published by Standard Bank and Sasol Art Museum / ISBN 978-0-620-41289-6