On 28th February, I took part in a group critique with my MA peers. As I had only had feedback from people within illustration, I was interested to see how people of other disciplines read and react to my work. I passed a copy of “Sick Days” and gave everyone time to read it. I did not give any background information on it before or whilst they were doing that, as I wanted to see what their initial reactions were.
I explained what zines were and how they function in relation to my work. I also explained that each zine has a different focus and quality depending on what its addressing.
A member of the group said that it feels as though it is from the point of view of someone who is sedentary. They said that it feels “very personal, intricate and the way its bound adds something kind of precious to it”. Another member said that “as a person who suffers with bouts of depression, it felt personal. I’ve been there, I could’ve written that.” Although it isn’t pleasant to think of one of my peers experiencing the same isolation, I was happy that there were people that related to what I was producing, not only from a personal social point of view (I’m not the only one experiencing this, therefore I’m not on my own) but also the prospect that the work I produce could provide a comfort or be familiar to others.
Some comments were made on the scale also. Because it is A6, so relatively small, “it feels like a secret”. It can only be read by one person at a time, an individual experience, not like viewing a painting at a gallery. This wasn’t a conscious decision, but works with the intimacy of the content. This is definitely something I should be considering more when I make my work, or I might be considering it without being aware that I am. Also, the simplicity of the form juxtaposing quite a loaded subject worked for them, yet still has clarity.
Comments were also made on the “ellipsis” of it. The way it is bound, having to turn the page, fits with the flashes. This could be perhaps why I had some difficulty in deciding what order the images should go in, because there wasn’t a clear and concise narrative. I suppose they could be put in a different order. But the fact that they picked up on the flashes is very much how it feels to experience a “sick day”. It’s a series of mundane events and “disconnected thoughts” that flash with nothing in between. On reflection, it’s a pretty sombre existence.
I am extremely happy with the feedback I received. I am pleased that my work is reading the way it is intended. Although everyone in that group are artists, they have different experiences of health and isolation, so different things are being read but within the same vein. I would be interested to see what other people read from my work. Hopefully I will receive some feedback from the zine swap and Counter Fair coming up.