Since I started my MA I have been collecting words, words that are new to me, from the simple ‘votive’ to the less so ‘solipsistic’.  I have chosen not to burden myself with their meaning, I will save that pleasure for when my brain is slightly less addled, suffice to say that my lack of comprehension has not diminished my understanding.

‘Trace’, however, is a different type of word.  Like Bachelard  and Monty-Perleau it is appearing in my world with a greater frequency than one would expect.  I take these prompts to be my unconscious mind at work.

Alexa Cox’s recent work traces figures, Bachelard ‘If the child is unhappy, however, the house bears traces.’ 1 Bachelard (1958) p108 and ‘traces of labyrinthine..’ p57, and others before I realised I should be noting the source.

Thesaurus lists outline, hint, smidgen, find, locate, trail, follow, search for, evidence, residue; other sources offer footprint, a line marking something, a mathematical intersection, an amount of precipitation, in architecture to put tracery on something, a horse strap,  a fisherman’s fly-tying thread.

Such a simple word, so many meanings.

The dictionary suggests it dates back to 1250-1300; late Middle English tracen, Middle English: to make one’s way,proceed < Middle French tracier < Vulgar Latin *tractiāre, derivative of Latintractus, past participle of trahere to draw, drag; (noun) Middle English:orig., way, course, line of footprints < Old French, derivative of tracier

It also offered the idiom ‘kick over the traces’, to throw off restraint, become independent or defiant.

Not only ideas for new work and how to approach the new work, which I am starting to do with my ‘hide and seek’ masking, but also a philosophy for moving my work forward.  All from one tiny, everyday word.  ‘Happy Days!’ as Jamie would say.

1  Bachelard, G  1958.  La Poetique de L’Espace.  Presses Universitaires de France.  The Poetics of Space.  Translation:  The Orion Press 1964

Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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