There’s no such thing as a new idea

At the beginning of my Foundation course I powered through some of the recommended reading. I find my own ideas come in thick and fast when I’m mentally riffing off what other people are doing. But what do you do if your idea has been ‘done’?

At some point in a gift set I was bought a little bottle of eye and skin firming creme. It is called something like Philosophy and ‘Hope in a bottle’. This struck me as at once absurd and accurate. I am completely immune to being told what to wear by the fashion industry and find following the herd mindless materialism. I rail against it. This silly little bottle of nonsense got me thinking about the ridiculous ways women are expected to primp, pluck and change themselves, particularly the current trend for contouring and strobing to change our face shapes. I fear for the often narcissistic, selfie-obsessed and often vapid world my daughter will grow up in, that prides extroversion and style over substance and introspection.

This gave me the idea of a collage that features words and pictures, like the bottle of hope, that comments on this. Like a medicine cabinet. I began collecting newspaper and magazine snippings and enlisted my Facebook friends in commenting on some of the the things they’d seen that they thought were absurd (anal bleaching – seriously??!).

Then it happened. In one of my recommended reading texts I came across Hirst’s medicine cabinet work. The wind was knocked of my sails. Then another time I was thinking about the popularity of data visualisation and had some ideas about how to use graph type imagery in drawings. I had several train journeys of manically writing down ideas and sketching out concepts which to me were too precious to put into my course sketchbook for fear of someone stealing my idea (not my tutor I might add!!) Then I came across Theaster Gates, started looking into his more recent work and – boom – he’s done it already.

I didn’t know what to do. Should I ignore this because I will have my own slant on things and there is no such thing as a new idea, or do I keep pressing on for my own unique space. After five months of pondering on this I’m still not sure how I feel so I’m posting this to get it out of my system and in the hope my tutor will have some thoughts on this.


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