When I was about thirteen my art teacher told me I was rubbish at his subject. And I believed him for a very long time, still do in some ways. However, over the last few years, I have been exploring collage, using torn up paper, found items, oil pastels, felt tip pens and watercolour. More recently I've been combining this with my poems.
I enjoy the process of writing and then seeing it visually before creating the poetry-collage. I've had some good feedback now that I've tentatively started to show the reseults to a trusted few. But is it art?
I've had no training since those torturous classes at school. I can't draw anything which looks like anything in reality. Yet I have a sense of form and colour and produce pieces which do have impact. Is that art?
There's a BBC2 series on at the moment, School of Saatchi - reality TV for the pretentious as a student of mine put it - which follows a number of unknown contemporary artists through different set tasks, the prize being the patronage of Charles Saatchi. One of the questions artist Tracey Emin, and some of the other judges keep asking is: "but is this art?"
And sometimes that query whispers in my brain as I sit down to work on another collage. Then I think, does it matter? Maybe not, I comfort myself. Yet, I do think the discussion, is this poetry? a valid and an important one, so perhaps I am letting myself off the hook too easily.