Herding Fish

coaching for artists and makers

The meaning behind your work

1 May 2022

My coaching work often explores the meaning behind clients’ work and how to articulate those underlying themes to their audience. As artists we communicate our ideas visually, but the words we use also form part of the viewer’s response. For example in our chosen titles, the explanatory text alongside, or in conversations about the work. There may be connections (or questions) we don’t see until the work is documented, exhibited, or interrogated by someone else. Even then we might find ourselves relying on a set of familiar phrases, and take time to realise when the work has moved beyond them.

Making Meaning Podcast

Ruth Singer is an artist & maker exploring personal and collective narratives through textiles. She creates work for exhibitions, commissions and projects as well as writing books, and supporting other creatives through her mentoring and consultancy / research work. In her Making Meaning Podcast, Ruth explores the meaning behind what we make through a series of conversations with artists. In each episode she asks her guests about what matters to them and how they choose to share their thoughts through their creative practice.

Series One in 2021 presented some fascinating episodes, and I’m delighted to have been a guest in Series Two. You can listen at ruthsinger.com, or via your favourite podcast service. We talked about layers of history, about paying attention to the places we live. We explored how that focus of place informs the work we both make. These are themes we research through maps, hedges, archeology – traces of what remains in place and what doesn’t. The conversation continued on Instagram Live on 21 April (be patient, the sound issue was resolved just after 5 mins in).

Reflecting on those conversations, I’ve been considering how the process brought me to the leading edge of my own thoughts. There’s a parallel here with coaching conversations. Where someone else facilitates a space in which you don’t rely on the comfort of familiar phrases. Where they encourage you to explore and articulate emerging thoughts about your own work.

Artist Support

If you’re reassessing how you describe the meaning behind your work, you might find some useful prompts here. Or you might like to interrogate your thoughts with another person. I’m now offering one-off 90 minute sessions as well as my regular 1 hr sessions. Details here.

If you’d prefer a Mentoring approach, Ruth Singer offers various support options. These include one-to-one sessions and her Maker Membership group which meets monthly online. See ruthsinger.com 

Melody Vaughan also offers one to one support specifically for makers and has a selection of self-guided resources (free and paid) on her website at melodyvaughan.com.