Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
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By: Lily Daniels
Glass and Ceramics BA Hons
# 8 [10 August 2012]
I haven't been able to write this post for a long time. I've wanted to but it's so utterly upsetting that I couldn't deal with it.
I missed my degree show.
Not missed as in someone called me and asked me where I was, they all knew where I was. I was lying in bed on lots and lots of painkillers.
The Monday before our set up I did a workshop with the lovely Dear Lido people and thought a bug had bitten me on the bum. By Thursday (indicentally, set-up day) I had to go to the doctors because it had became painful to sit. I was diagnosied with pilonidal abscess (feel free to google it) given antibiotics and told to go on my merry way.
So I continued to install my work and help people with vinyl, I even managed a succesful interview for a job in Throwing Stones restaraunt. I wasn't taking it too seriously really.
Then on the Sunday Daniel decided we needed to go to hospital, I had a temperature that meant it was difficult for him to be in the same room with me. And what had been a bug bite a week ago looked like the beginnings of a tail. I was admitted and had surgery the next day.
They drained the abscess and left me with a five centimeter hole at the base of my spine. I wasn't in a lot of pain but likewise, I couldn't really walk anywhere. Before I was admitted the wound had to be packed, something that had to happen every day. It left me a quivering wreck for the first month but it's odd what the body gets used to.
I was still hopeful I might make it to the opening, I had a week to get better! There were jobs to do! I had some tramadol, surely I could stand up for a few hours and talk about my work. If not, what had been the bloody point?
Well Friday came, and I had another fever and wouldn't have been able to be transported to NGC so sent Daniel off to make sure everythign went okay. After he left I started rushing around to try and get there, I must have been in some sort of state, and I didn't go.
I'm told it went well, but how much does that really mean? I managed to go to New Designers a couple of weeks later, mostly because I couldn't loose all the money I'd put into it. But I spent the whole week lying down in our basement flat hating Londoners for being able walk around their lovely city.
I've been getting better for two months now, and I can start to feel a bit more creative again. I might be capable of making something soon. The worst thing about the whole experience is that this is now what I will remember about university. That in the last weeks of being a student I managed to get so sick that I missed the thing I'd been working towards for three years.
In my sainer moments I'm able to be happy for my time at university, but I can't deny the whole thing has been tinged by my first ever illness.
Perhaps I'll do a serious of pieces about it, suffering improves art, right?
# 7 [25 April 2012]
Back to work. After a fairly unsatisfactory Easter (the only thing I really achieved was building a shed) I'm back on target.
My portfolio has been bugging me, I loath drawing. Why draw when I can make something? White paper. Blurk.
I think it's purely because the kind of drawing I admire is very striking and illustrative but what I can achieve owes more to gestural and loose drawing. So I'm never happy with what I produce.
But when I have to draw (i.e. all the time) I have to make it entertaining for myself. So using brown paper and reclaimed terracotta roof tiles makes the whole production feel less like drawing.
Two things suprised me;
Number One: All the colour! I've been using terracotta in it's unglazed form, just the finest hint of salts coming through but basically- orange. Yet here I have vibrant colours popping up and out of the page.
Perhaps it's drawing on brown that's done it, after all, difficult to draw brown on brown. But I think it's something else. Which leads me to...
Number Two: Prisms and not people. I''ve drawn figures over, and over, and over again for this project. I'm not bored of them by any means, but I have been alone in my little studio/spare room looking at my wallpaper. On the plus side- I'm making art about feeling alone and this is where these sketches come from. On the down side- I have no idea how (or even if) I should incorporate these designs.
The department has also ran out of terracotta. I managed to buy some in Newcastle and lug it home on the metro (boy was I popular that day) but it's like having a tube of paint that's running out. I'm being a bit too precious and a bit too scared to make mistakes.
I feel good about being back at work, I'd worried that my lack of enthusiasm and motivation over the break meant I'd never make it as an artist, I think I just had a holiday.
# 6 [30 March 2012]
Sleep is important. To everyone, not just stress-head undergrads. On Wednesday I woke up in a panic about something and I've no idea what. It's left me scared and tired with a vague sense of dread.
What did I remember in the early hours of wedneday? Have a I forgotten to send some vital piece of info to someone? Have I realised my artist statement for the degree show book is way too thin? Did getting the balance for the New Designers fund knock me sick?
Well yes. Yes. And yes. I've not sent the press pack off yet, but our photos haven't been editted, so I can't. My artist statement is two sentences long, but it's neither vague nor b*llsh$tty so it's meant to be that long. And having so little money to stretch between so many people is no good, no good at all.
Also, I realised I'm not wholly happy with my work. They need to move around more, mean more, and be better. So I'm going to keep making them, but something's going to change. I think it might be the installation... I'm thinking of taking them for some walks and photographing or sketching them.
Then there's the fact that next year is still a mysterious vortex of confusion. The plan was that I'd have a job now, not a great job, just a job. So mum could hand her notice in and Daniel and I would start paying the mortage while she moves to Cumbria. I have no job. I'm applying and no one's anwering.
Stress and not sleeping go hand in hand. I've been trying to rest to make things better but I think instead I need to throw myself into my work whole heartedly and try to resolve the things I'm getting all het up about.
Such a grown up resolution! Who knew I could be so mature?
# 5 [22 March 2012]
We had a walk around the exhibition space yesterday, it's the conference room in the National Glass Centre, but it's got a wonderful view.
I organised it because some of the year are freaking out, which is, well, almost good. They're scared because they can't imagine how it's going to work. So I figured looking at the space and the practicalities might be really helpful. Not sure if it was, mostly I think it added fuel to their crazy-panic-fire.
I liked it though, I've been living with my little people all crowded together on my tea trolley. Yes, I have a tea trolley at university. It was in my rider.
So seeing this wide open space was good, it made me think about how I want them to be viewed. They're going to be on the floor, for sure. But should they be all hunkered up or should they be totally isolated.
The odd thing about them is that I could put them all together as close as can be and they'd still look lonely. When people come into the exhibition I want them to feel encrouched upon. I want them to feel like they might crush them. That they could get lost in them. With a metres floor space this might be tough.
# 4 [15 March 2012]
Preparation. Prep. Be prepared.
Tomorrow I'm off down South to the New Designers Prepare Day. Hopefully, I'll get some awesome tips on how to set up the booth and chat to some other student reps.
It's my birthday weekend too, I should mention that, I'm not just trecking down to London just for the love of my fellow students, there's some real selfish motives too. Like yesterday, I broke my favourite mug. And I happen to know London has mugs. Mugs in Liberty, mugs in Heal's, mugs at the Midcentury Modern show.
Beyond mugs, I heard Garth Clark speak at the National Glass Centre yesterday, he's writing a book about Ai Weiwei. Weiwei has been in my peripheral vision for a while, and like most things that would do me good, I've ignored him. But Clark's talk about the 'ultimate showman' has got me all fired up to see his show at the V & A.
The V & A are advertising a residency at the moment. I call that cruel I do. Never the less, I'll go and I'll imagine a world where I can make terracotta people in that little glass cube and be asked questions by pensioners (the only real change to doing this in the glass centre and the V & A would probaly be the quality of comments, someone genuinly said to me once 'Not doing very well, are you dear?').
Beyond those plans I intend to stop for tea and cake every day I'm there and sketch everything like a mad fool.
In other news, another batch of little men survived a firing. This much good ju-ju is freaking me out, last year things exploded left right and centre, could it be, am I learning?
# 3 [9 March 2012]
I'm in the dark place. It's no good in the dark place. I don't want to work because I'm getting all churned up about making something that's not good.
I don't visit the dark un-trusting place often these days. I'm on a much more even-kilter than I have been in the past. And to top it off I'm making work I enjoy and feel a real sense of connection to. But there's a whole gambit of pressure with enjoying my work. If I hated it, it would be fine if it exploded in the kiln or smashes or turns out just rubbish.
Alongside this, I've been shirking my responsibility as exhibition co-ordinator. I rock at fundraising, proved by the fact that we have hundreds left in the pot. But the marshalling of exhibition books, photographs, artist statements and ordering wine just makes me feel tired. Because we all have to make the decision, so there's a lot of arguing the design you like but trying to keep your mind open in case someone points something out. It's exhausting. So Emma has taken all of the slack over the last couple of weeks, which isn't fair to her, and I end up feeling a bit weird and rubbish and she ends up feeling a bit overlooked. It's no good, I have to step up to the post and do the job I was elected to do.
To fight this rubbish feeling I'm having fun this weekend, going to a knitting event at the Customs House, celebrating a mates engagement, going for long walks with Daniel, reading and baking. Idylic calm before taking this thing on next week.
Oh-in other news, I had to present my work this week and managed to distract my class through asking them to make figures out of play-dough. Wonder if a board of funders would take to the challenge with the same amount of vim and vigour?
# 2 [8 March 2012]
Spring is hear, hurrah for spring! More of that vitamin D stuff, more green stuff and a little bit more energy. It's nicer to leave the house now, although, for a while, leaving the house has been the highlight of the day. Refurbs are horrible, if I ever move house I think I may just live in it and change nothing but the bedding. This, thoroughly bizarre thing, is a sculpture I made that was supposed to be suspended so you could look through it. The (very vague, first year of art school) idea was that the light would flood through the gaps, which were the same shape as the gaps between branches. They were a technical nightmare for me at that stage, and became so heavy, cracked and patchily glazed as to be considered a bit of an 'epic fail'. They ended up in my mothers garden. I'm sure lots of undergrad art goes in the garden. But this did something truly odd to the dwarf daffs my mum plonked this on. For a while they were sheltered from the frost and ice and then suddenly, without warning, as if in some heist film, they started their escape. At the moment, I feel all sheltered and protected and am scared witless by the idea of suddenly growing up but if a daffodil can do it, so can a Lily.
# 1 [3 March 2012]
Saturday's usually feel calmer than this. At the moment, I'm hiding in my bedroom as a plumber methodically rips out pipes and radiators from my lovely house. I am, to say the least, distressed by the whole thing.
But eventually I'm promised working heating and something to do with a wireless thermostat. Get me. Fancy.
Perhaps it wouldn't get to me if I'd had a more productive week. I've been struggling with my figures, or they've been stuggling with me. It's difficult to tell any more.
My main problem is that when you make a person, they immediatley become emotive, cunning little buggers. And since I'm trying to make a congregation of angry little blighters it's proving difficult for them not to be a little overblown.
I made a lady, she was supposed to be glum, but she looks so ruddy pathetic. And when people come visit me at my desk, she's the first thing they reach for.
"Awwwh" they croon "She's so sweet!" Oh great, she's sweet. Like a teddy bear. And no one won the turner prize for a teddy bear. Except Grayson Perry.
My mission for next week is to make all my figures less melodramatic, more human. Small order.
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