A CONVERSATION ABOUT TIME WITH:  

BETTE BURGOYNE

Bette Burgoyne working on a segment of her scroll drawing, 'Forest'. 

Bette Burgoyne working on a segment of her scroll drawing, 'Forest'. 

Bette Burgoyne is a visual artist. Her abstract drawings, mostly in white pencil on black background, evoke dream landscapes, clouds of feeling, and meandering thoughts. Her mastery of other-worldly abstraction is married with a truly gifted touch towards recreating the intricate lines and patterns of the natural world. In Burgoyne's hands, this is hardly a juxtaposition, but rather an invitation. Bette Burgoyne holds an undergraduate degree from Seattle's Cornish College of the Arts and an MFA from Mills College, and has received numerous residencies, teaching positions, group exhibitions and solo exhibitions over the course of her career. For the full list of her resume and current works, see here: http://betteburgoyne.net/betteburgoyne/index.php

Name:   Bette Burgoyne

Age:  57

Occupation:  Artist, Book-keeper

 

Note: This is where the interview takes an unexpected turn. I contacted Bette years ago to do a time interview, and much to my delight, she agreed. I sent her the 10 basic questions, and told her (of course) to take her time. Months would go by, and she would occasionally email with profound apologies for her lateness, and to say that these questions were just too much to answer at this particular time in her life. I tried to express how little rush I was in, and that she could take as long as she liked with the questions. One day, she emailed me to say that the questions seemed unanswerable in words, and would I accept a drawing as an answer? Rather breathless, I said 'of course'. The image that follows is Bette Burgoyne's answer to all of the 10 questions of the All Watch Time Interview. 

Bette Burgoyne. Amita, 2016. Black paper, white pencil. 7 x 24". 

Bette Burgoyne. Amita, 2016. Black paper, white pencil. 7 x 24". 

When Bette sent me the image of this drawing, she surprised me by sending answers to all 10 questions of the time interview, with a note saying 'Look, a breakthrough!'. Here it is, in full:

1. Word association: What are the first 5 words that come to mind when you think of time?

tick, tock, tick, tock, tick

2. What are your earliest memories of time and/or time measurement?

My Grandmother’s wind­up clock had a distinctive sound that I found comforting.

3. In your day­-to-­day life, how often do you think about the times of day?

I constantly check the time because it feels fluid and non­linear without a clock. Functioning in the world with other people requires agreeing on points in time and my time­measuring device is a necessary tool.

4. When do you lose track of time?

I lose track of time while drawing and an hour can “feel” like 10 minutes.

5. Have you ever had an experience in which you experienced time as faster or slower than “normal’?

I have these experiences every day.

6. How does your profession influence your relationship with time?

Yes, time seems a tense and unhappy pressure when taxes are due.

7. What, would you say, is your current relationship with time?

My relationship with time is fluctuating.

8. How has that relationship changed in over the course of your life?

As a child time was open and vast. Now time is constructed of bridges and intersections.

9. How much do you focus on the past, present, and future, respectively?

Focusing on the present helps my equilibrium. Focusing on the future helps with motivation. Focusing on the past does little for me.

10. If you could draw time, what would it look like?  

(This question was left profoundly blank.)

 

This interview was completed by Bette Burgoyne and sent via email on May 11, 2016. The interviewer is responsible for any errors in transcription. The banner image of the artist at work was provided by Bette Burgoyne.