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  • Writer's picturematilde tomat


This is a collage of two separate entries I posted on my official website re. the state of confusion I find myself in, part of which is also juggling my professional life while still being a student at 52. The original posts can be found on titled Candor and Creative Vertigo.


I was making coffee five minutes ago in the kitchen I was thinking about how CONSERVATION aided in the breaking up of my relationship. Do I feel guilty? No, but it was definitely an element of that. And this because – sorry, I’m trying to re-trace my thoughts backwards – we as artists are so involved in what we do, that we give all of us in the process. Maybe the ethical considerations… (this is how it started: that thought I had while I was opening the blinds in my bedroom!) – that which hurt me about the ethical considerations (previous post here) I was having last night is that these considerations were smokescreen for the personal pain I still have to endure due to my past and gosh I should be sorted! I am a professional who works with the emotionally distressed and I should be sorted, grounded, flattened, balanced. I should know and know best. My ideas and focus should be crystal clear. Instead, I am excessive and intense which are all adjectives I would use to describe my mother when she was in, or right on the verge of, another alcoholic spell.

I should have worked out all of this. It should not hurt me anymore. I am a grown-up woman who “knows”. But it is not true. I am a woman who feels. I still cry thinking how much I miss them and how much I miss the ideas of having “normal” parents. Or a normal family. All of this cannot be stopped now, this process of emptying, sorting, cleaning dusty areas of the heart, going through old photographs of the mind, feeling, acknowledging, being aware, and basically live, cannot be stopped.

matilde tomat

People give us suggestions on how to get better. I am telling you now: I want none. Don’t come to me with mindfulness and yoga and turning vegetarian. The only thing you can tell me is to go through all of this even if going through means making a fool of myself and being covered in shame.

tracey emin

I cannot conform, not anymore, to the idea of Perfection as a Therapist, Woman, Lover, Artist because I am an emotional being: I need the intensity and the excess and the exploration, and the down-side and the sadness, and the questioning, and the reading, and the lucubrating, and the mental masturbation of thinking and re-thinking and finding pleasure in the act of thinking. Because only this is the fuel for my creation: self-cornering myself so that I can jump onto the next stage. I am well aware that this conditioning is internal but at the same time, this is not dispelled thanks to some external factors.

sophie calle

So, I am floating, somewhere in the middle of the ocean. I know I can sail, I can row, I can swim, and I can manage a boat and it doesn’t matter which mean I will use – maybe none, maybe all, maybe I’ll push the boat! – but I am moving.

And to the voices in my head that tell me that “oh, you have always to be different!” I say: yes, I am different

because I am unique.


I have been thinking a lot about some suggestions, hints and feedback I received last week. And I feel more confused than ever.

There is this me, and this me is split in two. Two very clear definite parts. There was this separation but it was covered by fog. Now, the fog is gone and I can see the strike and painful separation. Before in the fog, I could grope because I was unaware of the gap, but now I see the void and it’s scary.

One part likes artists who can paint and create beautiful classical things, slow and comforting and the other me is modern and sleek, fast and minimalist, and black and white. There is this part of me which is academic and intellectual and philosophical and then I cannot bear anything that’s deeper than a Christmas movie craved in June, in pjs and tears. I love the Romantics and the daffodils while listening to Stained and Pearl Jam. I read Virginia Woolf and Germain Greer and still long for a knight in shiny armour (at times, not always!).

My vertigo and this artistic sense of confusion.

I lack in formal training and I can draw.

I would love to go to University and I am over 50.

I try watercolour and oil and sewing and freehand and I don’t like anything I create and I like everything I create.

I would like the world to stop. Just for one second. I have lost me. Or maybe I never was.

I have been given a space, to play, and create, and I am happy and terrified. I see Paris light from its roof windows but it’s only Blackburn. I have dreamy expectations of what art could give me and all I feel is anguish and confusion. I am so confused. I am not confused as in bewildered or perplexed. I feel unclear, disordered, not grounded, fragile. This is not a good place to be.

[This is a very good place to be].

La mia mente é un turbinío.

I am scared, I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility, I do not want to make mistakes while being perfectly aware that by making mistakes, that’s how we learn, because we make. Part of me thinks that even these ranting are now too much, too heavy, too boring; that being at College and making art should be so much fun! But someone told me last week, offering me invaluable help: no one told you this should be fun. Art is not meant to be fun. And last night, someone said: art is demanding and art as therapy is insulting. To me! As a therapist! It was like a punch in the face. But then I thought: maybe he is right, he is partially right. Then I thought of all the clients who are in anguish and create and make stuff, and objects and pieces because that helps them and I felt guilty, conceited and pompous.

In my whirl of a confused state, the word that surfaces is reconciling. I feel there must be a middle point, a conjuncture, a compromise, a reunion, of these halves. I juggle Constable and Nicholson, Wordsworth and TS Eliot, Tracey Emin and Rothko. Pole opposites. And it feels like watching a tennis game that never ends.

One extreme might not exclude the other, maybe they are the opposite sides of the same page, and I, as the page, cannot exist without them. Maybe they have things in common I haven’t discovered yet.

Or I can decide to compromise with myself: feeling ok with my inner dichotomy. My inner schism, my separation. A puppeteer of extreme conjoined twins. Being white one day, and black another. My ID and my SuperEgo. The pleased and the pleaser. The rock and the quicksand. Eternally swinging, highs and lows, never boring, always excessive. Always catching up and never being real, reacting instead of acting. Always confused, never focused.


If you had

One shot

Or one opportunity

To seize everything you ever wanted

In one moment

Would you capture it

Or just let it slip?

Yo, thanks Eminem, but I feel I have one space with which win them over and I feel I would like to put everything there, everything I have created, and tell them: look, look at the pretty things I do, please tell me I belong to this place. [Them who do not really exist].

Creativity, from the very first depictions and gravures, has always been about “making sense”, depicting an explanation. The only way to make sense is to create order: to map out, to draw, to list.

And if I feel confused, if this is how I feel now, my confusion is legitimate.

Start with what you know: I know confusion.

And my confusion is going to be the fuel of my creativity.

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