‘…Truth is a shifting state. To doubt is to celebrate a truth’s amorphous character, to test, push, and pick at its flexible boundaries, embracing uncertainty and enriching perception. Doesn’t uncertainty lie at the very heart of our human experience? To be doubtful is to strive to understand ourselves, and in turn, the world more fully. To doubt is to welcome possibility, Art champions doubt, while truth relies on belief.’
Catherine Roche, Wales-based artist, writer and lecturer.
In Sandy Island, catalogue to Tjibbe Hooghiemstra’s art exhibition.
I have often been advised not to doubt: ‘Don’t doubt the work; don’t doubt yourself; don’t doubt your commitment in taking this creative path.’ Writers (and no doubt other makers and practitioners) so often see doubt as a negative stance, one that erodes the integrity of our work, our ‘voice’ or vision, even the choices we have made in our lives. How refreshing, then, to find these words of Catherine Roche in the catalogue of Tjibbe Hooghiemstra’s Sandy Island. ‘To doubt is to welcome possibility.’
I first met artist Tjibbe Hooghiemstra in Annamakerrig, Ireland, at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in the early 1990’s. I was on a short writer’s residency having just returned from eighteen months in Amsterdam, where I’d been helping run a small theatre company in the old Jordaan quarter, our rehearsals punctuated by the chimes of Westerkirk and the tourists’ voices heading for the Anne Frank Haus. Rural Monaghan was a very different prospect after the frau-haus squat I’d been living in on the Singel opposite the floating flower market, and it was a joy to connect again with a Dutchman, especially one as talented and engaged as Tjibbe.
His latest exhibition explores Sandy island, ‘the island that was never found.’
This is a work of the imagination I feel I understand, for as a playwright this is something I am constantly involved in, creating land that does not exist – the world of a play, its rules, inhabitants, different atmospheres, logic, outcomes…
Catherine Roche’s words also resonate about my creative impulse and intentions behind some of the work I make. Often I embark on a project to learn more about a subject, or its possibilities in the human sphere, so I may understand more the potential of the world I live in. If this sounds esoteric or high-minded, it’s not intentional, merely a clumsy attempt to put words to why I do what I do. It isn’t for fame and certainly not for money (as a playwright I chose the wrong medium for financial remuneration…). It is out of curiosity, or a desire to experiment, to question and explore ‘what if…’ I often set myself a question, or a problem to tackle – and then off I go into the unknown territory, perhaps like Tjibbe or any other creative, making up the land I stand on as I go along.
Tjibbe Hooghiemstra’s Sandy Island art exhibition:
Oriel Q, Queen’s Hall Gallery, Narbeth, Wales. 11/01/14 – 15/02/14
Galerie @ Kroninklijke Villa, Oostende, Belgium. 31/08/4 – 03/10/14
Galerie Hoogenbosch, Gorredijk, The Netherlands. 12/10/14 – 16/11/14
Hillsboro Fine Art, Dublin, Ireland. 15/01/15 – 14/02/15