I love all the webs that we get much nearer to the house in the autumn as the spiders seek the warmth. I’m often walking face first into their dewy, glistening large tangles, strung from wall to fence, and occupied by some magnificent, and often very large, spiders as I make my way down the garden to the studio.
The studio itself is a real home for them, and big ones too, as they seek homes in the high roof and in the insulated walls. I’ve often been in there and heard a gentle thud as one large and hairy spider drops to the floor and scampers away (that may seem an exaggeration, but check out the one in the photo), or I catch sight of them slowly crawling across the walls from the corner of my eye.
The studio is also full of their dried out and desiccated corpses as they eventually die. I’m always finding their papery bodies in unusual places, like inside these old jars of sticky, dried out linseed oil. I suspect they have dropped dead from the ceiling into the jars, rather than making their way into my oil and dying a slow death. I hope so anyway. I’ve become really fond of them. They are the only company I have in the studio.
I’ve felt a bit like those spiders trapped in the oily jar of late, as I have recently undergone surgery to have some pre cancerous skin cancer cells removed from my face. I’ve felt rather frozen and inert waiting for the days to pass to when I would hear the results of tests to discover whether they had taken root in other parts of my face, which would require more surgery. Thankfully, I’ve now heard they haven’t and I’ve been given the all clear. It’s been a scary, and sometimes traumatic, time.
Vija Celmans, Untitled (Web 2) Mezzotint on Paper, 17 x 19cms
All this talk of spider webs can’t help bring to mind artist Vija Celmins eerie and beautiful drawings of spider webs. I really like these pieces and the evocative symbolism they conjure up, as do all her pieces, which include images of the sea and even constellations of stars. There is a strangeness to all her work which simultaneously draws you in but also keeps you at a distance, unable to mentally grasp onto things. These are feelings that seem to echo my own recent state of mind as I have spent time waiting and recovering.