What is a mistake, actually?

The reception last night was a mad success! Thank you so much to friends who showed up, especially friends who came in from a distance. Thank you also to strangers who came in as a part of Northampton’s Arts Night Out and left lovely comments and asked fascinating questions.

My favorite question of the night was “what if you make a mistake?” and I am ashamed to say I just laughed. When the querent and I walked over to one of the bigger abstract river pieces, we looked for something that might be a mistake. What I was trying to tell them is that when there is no detailed plan, there is a lot of room for things to happen, and very few of those things are mistakes in the usual sense of the word, that is, an imperfection that forces the maker to undo or reject the piece. There is so much thread, and so much motion in most of my work, that even in places where I see my own hesitations, they are not readily visible in the work as a whole. Which means the hesitations, snarling thread and weird edges are not things that render the whole piece somehow incorrect – they are the things that make the piece individual and handmade, and ultimately make it art.

It is a completely legitimate question, and I think a common one asked of artists, and makers in general, but I think it misses the point of art, and of making things.