This is a drawing by Eoghan Bridge, and a reposting of a reflection from his facebook page.
In a few days I will turn fifty and that will bring my semi-sabbatical year to an end, a year of reflection forced upon me through a growing dissatisfaction with the direction my life and work was taking. Failure to resolve my troubled state of being would have led to a touch of melancholy because I didn't want to turn fifty with feelings of regret.
So for a year I have worked tirelessly on my drawing, writing and sculpture and cut my sleep down to about five hours a night in order to work through the issues that concerned me. I stopped watching tv, the news and even stopped listening to the radio because I wanted to reconnect with my true self without distraction. I felt I was coming up short on my ideas and my motivations and drive had been worn into the ground with what I can only call my conventionalisation. The overwhelming pressures to conform and fit into a system that frankly I find absurd had pushed me to the edge, my confidence and self-esteem were low, I was just another artist turned over by a society in the throws of consumerist madness. Having tried to dedicate my life meaningfully to sculpture I was finally faced with a choice of continuing on a path to nowhere or putting a stop to the rot and fighting back so that I could achieve what I am truly capable of. There are other ways of looking at my situation too because it's also about maturity, using my learned skills, the development of my own personal language and finding the confidence to express myself through my own concepts. To move on you sometimes need a crisis to stop you in your tracks, something to alter your perspective and trigger a developmental awakening. I have (possibly annoyingly) shared some of my musings here partly because as an artist I work alone and can't really bounce ideas around in my studio but more importantly because by having the courage to share my thoughts I hoped it would give me the confidence I needed to push my work further by proving there is nothing to fear.
So I started in a bad place disillusioned with my life but its been an amazing year, I've found out more about myself and how we quite naturally deceive ourselves on a daily basis. In some ways I have travelled beyond my previous expectations and had the most moving year of my life. I feel whole again but in a better way than I ever imagined because by finding the courage to take the risk and open up to the possibilities out there I have discovered so much about the simple act of being and all this will now feed into my art and add great purpose and freedom to it. When I say possibilities out there I'm really referring to the possibilities we all have within ourselves many of which are latent. Through the developmental strides I've made with my work I now feel to have a much deeper understanding of life and human behaviour than I did before and it's really about being in touch with your instinct and feelings through all your senses and this knowledge is about understanding, not judgement. Modern living seems to take you away from yourself with all its layers of distraction and you get swept along without even knowing, in my case I became washed up which has been like a gift but I am just amazed at how much time it took to unravel myself from the mess. Of course I could have lived happily ever after the way I was but it would not have been what I feel is my true path. I guess you just have to make conscious decisions about your direction which are quite difficult when you exist in the artistic free lands where there are no hard and fast rules.
When I think about my journey and what I have learned there are really a few key points starting with an open-minded approach to the very conception of an idea and ensuring the integrity of the motivation behind it: swiftly followed by the question is there really a good reason for making it? and then not worrying about the reaction of others. Courage and risk taking also comes into it because you must have the belief to make what you feel is your valid artistic expression and you will be judged. If you are happy with what you made and believe in it you then have to stand by it and move on regardless of reaction because true validation comes from within, for only you will understand the realisation of your goals. By maintaining an open attitude throughout the creative process and freely going with your intuition there will (more than likely) be a greater stream of contributory factors entering the work which I feel really add to a work of art. And underpinning all of this is self belief, you have to really believe in yourself to reach your potential no one else can do it for you and I'm just amazed at what you can achieve with belief and determination. :)
Now I feel good about the future and am thinking with greater clarity than ever before so it's just a matter of transferring this practically into a way forward through my sculpture and realising my vision. I've come too far now and I'm determined to step up another level and where that takes me on a wider level I really don't mind because all I can do is make my art and right now that is all I want to do. :)