Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
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By: Carolyn Shepherd
The Diary of a Creative Free Spirit.
# 45 [10 March 2012]
Newspaper wants to interview me again for a follow up story. As it's only about 3 weeks since the last story, I'm worried I have nothing interesting to report because it's been all about form filling and planning recently.
But it's lovely that the London Rd Collective is newsworthy, and is attracting the attention of folks that want to give us money to start up.
I'm still responding to new enquiries and handing out the 'hymn sheets' so that we can all at least begin by singing from the same one.
Excitement within the group sometimes means that the original objectives get a bit lost as we all get over ambitious about what we're here to do. Whilst this is wonderfully creative, it can also be misleading to those who want to know what we're about, so some ground rules are necessary but I keep them low profile so's not to spoil the fun.
For the next 3 weeks I am keeping the start up activity just ticking over rather than full steam ahead because I have to work on my sculpture for Buckfast Abbey.
I suppose that is itself newsworthy but I was reluctant to talk to the newspaper about it because at this vital start up stage I wanted the London Rd Collective to be about the group vision, and not about me.
And too much media attention may discourage some of the shyer members from getting involved.
It's a case of striking a nice balance so that people can know what we're doing but feel comfortable in getting involved.
We've had our first invitation to come and give artist's talks so I'd like to get as many of our group involved - again, I don't want to be the one in the spotlight as I'd like the group members to feel empowered. I want to be the 'guide on the side' not the 'sage on the stage'. Hopefully this strategy will work.
# 44 [4 March 2012]
Between showers of rain I'm adding some new uprights to the corner posts and reattaching some ornamental sections.
No confirmation from the organisers of where they want it sited & the nature of the surface, so having to cater for all eventualities. If no decision soon, I will impose constraints myself.
Thinking through some alternative joining methods, and over a few coffees with a friend, have come up with all sorts of strange ideas that include bicycle inner tubes and sleeves knitted from socks.
I like having the freedom to work with any material, and would be quite bored by becoming an expert in one kind, like clay for example. Another friend criticises me for not being an expert in a particular material which she says is the mark of a professional artist. I'm not sure about that.
# 43 [2 March 2012]
'Bid Writing' course today.
Sounds dull & boring but it was the best course I've ever been on... and I've been on a few.
Short, sharp & concise - ended spot on time, ticked all the boxes & a free lunch to boot. Fab.
Been spoon fed with how to write an 'exceptional funding application' - sorting out your 'aims' from your 'objectives', your 'outcomes' from your 'impacts', adopting all the right jargon & learning to think in terms of Dragon's Den 3-minute pitch type snippets.
Exhausting work, but immensely useful.
Just need to put it all into practice before it slips from memory. It sounds straightforward, but when you are doing it for your own project, then it suddenly begins to feel difficult.
Bank account forms to tackle today so that all this money I've been offered can be accepted. Hopefully all the signatories will pass the 2 month credit reference test (yawn) otherwise we will have to keep our capital reserves in a suitcase under the bed.
Just sifting through constitutions to find the one best suited to the job & then we're away.
Lots of new folk emailing for joining packs.
Keeping the website updated with people's artwork - accidently crediting a chicken portrait to the wrong artist.
Keeping the council up to date with progress.
Keeping the steering group up to speed with everything without making them feel like it's all moving too fast.
Talking to someone about a possible first commission for the group.
Outlining a possible first residency proposal for the group ...
... can't believe how much has been achieved in only 4 weeks.
Of course, this could all be a symptom of procrastination because I'm avoiding working on my own Buckfast Abbey artwork which has a looming deadline & still plenty to do.
I'm the world's best at procrastination, but then that is when I seem to get the most work done!
Loving it really !!
# 42 [29 February 2012]
Another surprise £1000 has been offered to me for the London Rd Collective.
I haven't even asked any sponsors for any money yet!!
Can't quite believe it.
If I'd known it was going to be this easy I'd have done it years ago!!
Having this early demonstration of support will motivate the group enormously, as well as provide us with some essential start up money.
Really enjoying this !!
# 41 [29 February 2012]
Great first meeting with my new MA supervisor who shot up in my estimation by beginning our discussion by getting us mugs of coffee and a whole packet of Breakaway biscuit bars.
I outlined what I'm up to and was surprised to find that it has the potential to shape up as a proposal for original research, which was not what I was expecting, but is exciting.
Handed in a Small Grant application form so fingers crossed that the funders can spare some money from a very tight budget given there are three times as many applications this time.
More enquiries from artists showing an interest in the Collective.
Having such fun !
# 40 [28 February 2012]
Met an Arts Council person today.
So incredibly nice! Not a scary person at all. Understood exactly what I was doing. Explained how much money I could have. Explained in detail how to get it. What could be more pleasant? Looking at the online presence is a bit daunting, but the human side is charming.
It just has to be great art that changes peoples lives, so what could be simpler?
Have spent a full day at a Funding Fair with all the top names present. All of whom are very nice, very approachable, extremely knowledgeable and helpful. I've seen countless slides with many millions of pounds available that I've almost come away from the event feeling giddy and rich. I almost feel my bank balance has swollen already, so must rein in the urge to spend!
# 39 [27 February 2012]
Sleeping ladybirds are snuggled in the small spaces made by the burnt wood as it has split in the burning process. I am working gently around them so they are not disturbed. Possibly they have spent the winter nestled there. I suppose it is warm and dry because the blackness of the surface absorbs the warmth of these spring-like days.
I'm grabbing any pleasant weather opportunities to carry on with the refurbishment of this burnt wood piece for Buckfast Abbey.
Much of the work will be repetitive so I'm not going to repeat myself with each blog post but I can't emphasise how much I enjoy working outside and working in this meditative way and marvelling at how the natural element of fire has sculpted the surface of the wood into a beautiful preserved state. Although the carbon is a harsh substance that can kill life, it gently holds it safe as the peacefully sleeping ladybirds show.
The theme of the contemporary sculpture show at Buckfast Abbey is 'Natures Sculptors' and my work is a demonstration of the elemental sculpting work of fire.
Work on the new Collective is also progressing. I'm mainly responding to emails from people interested in knowing more following the newspaper coverage last week, and preparing for two funding events that I am going to this week. I still have a pile of information to work through regarding organisational stuff so will need to pin this down when I have a minute.
Just juggling a bit with time and priorities and an Easter deadline at Buckfast Abbey really is taking priority. Keeping everyone up to speed with the Collective and maintaining momentum whilst also attending to everyday work is a bit like spinning plates - busy but exciting and fun.
# 38 [22 February 2012]
Making the piece ready for viewing by half a million visitors will mean that much of my work between now & Easter will be in readiness for the Buckfast Abbey showing.
So, another tranquil day working outside again, & probably one of many. Rather gloomy damp weather but a warm wind & lots of spring birdsong made it very pleasant. A whole packet of chocolate Hob Nobs made it quite nice too.
Taking time to balance the weight of the wood, adding extra pieces & refixing broken parts. It feels like I have oodles of time & I'm enjoying just pottering along quietly, but I'm sure I will be rushing when the time comes.
I'm glad of the waterproof resin that I'm using, it works very well on wet surfaces, & dries in the rain. I'm also impressed with how well the wood is weathering considering it has been outside for two years in all weathers.
Popped into BuildBase for some retail therapy, where I seem to be the only artist shopping for bitumen & drill bits amongst plumbers & builders, but at least I get some extra girly discount from the nice, cute guy on the till.
# 37 [18 February 2012]
A bit of sunshine this afternoon so a lovely few hours working outside well wrapped up but cosy. Making some alterations to the shape of each modular section and tightening wood screws all round as I go.
I'd forgotten how much I love this piece. It stirs something inside me. There is something primal about it.
The blackness of the wood looked striking against a carpet of white hailstones that came down half way through the afternoon and the piece pulled at my heartstrings even more.
# 36 [15 February 2012]
Just popped onto my website to update a photo and noticed an interesting fact ...
... 30% of my visitors in the last 5 days were from Macclesfield.
... Macclesfield ?
hello to all those nice people in Macclesfield :)
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