I've just got back home after three weeks in South-East Asia. I had wanted to have a holiday, to take a rest from painting and the dull business of art, for nearly a year. Despite an increasing amount of critical and financial success, I'd felt I was running out of steam. Certainly, I'd lost confidence in my ability to do good work. I found it harder and harder to pick up a pencil, let alone a paint brush, and when I did, my imagination felt as arid and infertile as the Sahara. I tried taking time off at home, hanging out with my boyfriend and going for long walks along the beach, but it was clear that I needed to do something else. I was irritable and antsy. At times, I even felt suicidal.Yeah, it was that bad.
Following a stray impulse, I packed a small overnight bag with a couple of loose dresses, a pair of sandals, a bikini, half a dozen t-shirts and half a dozen pairs of knickers, as well as a 35mm camera, a sketchpad, and a tupperware box filled with pencils, brushes and watercolour paints, and booked a flight to Bangkok. I got there the following morning. Three hours after landing, I was in Pattaya – piña colada in hand, looking out from an air-conditioned hotel room across the calm, jade seas of the Gulf of Thailand to the islands of Koh Larn, Koh Sak and Koh Khrok.It all happened so fast that it was only when I was an hour south of Bangkok, on the Sukhumvit Road, that I realised I had forgotten to bring my laptop. I didn't give a toss.