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By: Alex Pearl
I am one of a group of artists who have been selected by Commissions East to be part of their Escalator Visual Arts project. As part of this project we have been commissioned to make new work in response to the Foundling Museum.
# 37 [20 November 2007]
As promised this will be the final instalment in the Diary of a Foundling Artist. The show came down yesterday. I was working so couldn’t go down to help out so I just have to wait and see what turns up (Sandra’s mugs would be quite useful although my daughter is most looking forward to getting her hands on the tv). I’ve had the last official email from Gill (actually there were two) and now I have to look forward to the post mortem (evaluation) with Commission East’s appointed person (Erica). I like to be grudging in these situations but on the whole I think I’m quite happy with the way it’s gone. I’ve got some good contacts to follow up and I’ve extended my practice (and use of artspeak). I’ve also realised that maybe I should be pushier in certain situations (I’ll leave that one hanging). Bizarrely I’ve heard that I am on the radar of certain gallerists. This conjures disturbing images of strike submarines or air traffic controllers and near misses. Exciting things in the future: a three week screening in Sydney, a solo in Hayle, a 3 month residency in Bedford and an intriguing little one day show with Vane in Newcastle.
I wasn’t sure how to end this blog until today. At 4.00pm, after 16 rather savage years, I finally had to have my dog put down.
# 36 [9 November 2007]
I missed a seminar yesterday because I had to teach. It was about pricing and selling my work which is something I have always had difficulty with. When someone asks to buy something I've made I have to fight down an urge to give it to them and then run away. If asked to come up with a price I always think I'm asking too much or too little. I'm not philosophically averse to selling, if selling meant I could escape the increasingly awful experience that teaching in an FE college has become I'd sell everything: my dogs, a kidney... Shame I missed it.
Today I was tidying up my studio. We have an open day coming up and I want to show some of my latest stuff to see if its any good. I'm just beginning a longish film which might be based around a fictive proposal not to go to the Antarctic (as I imagine its quite cold and probably full of artists). Its a bit dark at the moment and is mostly filmed in a washing up bowl. Anyway, I was mainly throwing stuff out and breaking up sculptures that don't look as interesting as they used to when I had a little moment of joy. I noticed a sheet of tracing paper pinned over the heater had risen in the convection current. I set an image of a boat on it and watched as it rose and fell in the swell.
# 35 [2 November 2007]
I think I'm getting a little low
# 34 [29 October 2007]
Big Boulders & Dykes
I've been trying to write letters to people I should contact - its not going well... I think I have some sort of blockage...
My preparations for Bedford are sporadic and as yet unformed. I have spent the last week staring at lists of ideas and current strands in order to somehow pull them together into a coherent whole. This may be a Sisyphean task
Here is a current itinerary.
Diaries, some printed some online
Some adventure based books which follow a sort of cinematic sequence involving a clock work antarctic explorer (There is a film to go with this too)
Others which are much more static/mundane views of passers by taken through cafe windows.
An inexplicable series of films of bits of polystyrene floating in water.
Some partly made films of foreign landscapes found in an old video camera.
A few films of bobbing boats (automata).
More films of balloons being blown about.
Ongoing Protest films
Ongoing automatic film making
14 pencil drawings of a piece of elastic that came out of my pants.
A single unbound book of weird little drawings
Tiny adventure sculptures (some moving - physically not emotionally).
Little models of made up murder scenes.
Some photos my wife is (hopefully) taking as she crosses the Atlantic.
Things I am thinking about -
Titles for shows -
My Daughter is a Beauty Queen
# 33 [24 October 2007]
There haven't been any reviews of RSVP so I did a very uncool thing. I flicked through AN reviews unedited, picked a reviewer almost, but not quite, at random (sorry Jack) and emailed him suggesting he review the show. I'm not quite sure why I did it, maybe I am very needy. Or it might be a reaction to blogging which buries you in your own brain. I often read the other blogs and everyone is just writing away in their own little world.
Amazingly my email was answered and Jack Hutchinson dashed off to the Foundling pen in hand (I imagine). The review is now online here. Of course I now feel guilt for being mentioned first; for criticisms and omissions. But it is a relief to get an independent view. Its a bit like squeezing a spot.
I also got an email from Gill the other day mentioning that Jordan Baseman had been to the show and liked the Foundlng Opera. In another fit of uncharacteristic rashness I emailed him asking if he would be interested in having a chat and/or doing a spot of mentoring. I don't think I've mentioned it before but I am also part way through an Arts Council career development grant. Arranging some sort of mentoring was a "highly recommended" part of the application. It's the Art Council's way of spreading the love (or attaching more well known names to their evaluations) Anyway he seems nice and although he shares my reservations about mentoring he said yes.
Finally, on You Tube Little Deaths 4 is rapidly approaching 1 million views and I am now planning to publish a book of all the comments received.
# 32 [20 October 2007]
Gallery design, a few notes
Don't have a sign so small that a visitor has to peer suspiciously into doorways and repeatedly walk in and out of porches to find your gallery. This is especially bad in a residential/neighbourhood watch area.
Don't hide your gallery behind steel gates, across junk yards, up fire escapes, or around dark corners. Just one of these is discouraging, all four are frankly a bit silly.
If your gallery needs this level of security because it is sited next door to a crack den make sure you, or your neighbours, have clear signage. Also make some attempt to repair bullet holes.
Don't have two identical doors, one of which doesn't open, causing your visitor to become so embarrassed at their botched attempts at entry that they hurriedly move on.
# 31 [17 October 2007]
Tilting at windmills?
I'm off to London again on Friday to have a look at some of the galleries I spotted at Zoo, I've also had a list of places/people to contact from Gill. Not happy unless I'm anxious, I've started to worry about disappointing her. I've also started a new blog which I will continue on this site when this one finishes on the 20th November. The plan (at the moment) is to use it to flesh out ideas for my residency at BCA Bedford in the new year and to form the basis of a new book. I thought it was about time I showed my face in Bedford so I decided to drive over to see the opening of their latest show. I took a wrong turning on the way and ended up on the A11 to London. When I eventually managed to pull off I stopped to look at the road atlas. Unfortunately the vital page was missing and it was beginning to get too late so I turned around and headed home. After 150 miles of driving I stopped to buy a paper. Sitting in a coffee shop I read a review of the show and wondered if I could claim my petrol as tax deductable. (I think Katie Walton has some compromising photos of the Guardian art critic, they never fail to cover a BCA show)
# 30 [13 October 2007]
Frieze + Zoo
'Did' the above yesterday with my fellow foundling artists. I have to admit I was sickened by Frieze;not by the blandiose displays, the scary gallerists and rich people, nor by the obligatory neon writing that every gallery seemed to sport. It was motion sickness that afflicted me. The pavilion is built on jenga like piles of wood and it swayed and bounced as we lurched from one stand to the next. As we left I suppressed an urge to ease one of the blocks from its pile.
Zoo was completely different. Like a crazy overstuffed degree show it was full of joy and interesting things. I managed to talk to a few people although I totally failed to hand out any of my cards. I think that each gallery should have a little box for artists' cards on their stand (possibly attached to a shredder) it would save a lot of awkwardness all round.
I was also asked, rather pointedly I thought, when I would stop writing this blog. I still can't get over the idea that its not really all in my head.
# 29 [10 October 2007]
My edition of 5 of Diary of a Foundling Artist with correct spelling arrived today. I think I was more excited than I have been for a long time. I took the opportunity of the delay to expand its contents to a whopping 30 + pages leading up to, but not including, the opening of the show. I now have to sign them with my less than inspiring signature and hope that some collector will be wildly excited by my story.
I remember more about the opening of RSVP now. In her speech Gill said that her work was only just starting and indeed we have had many emails about curators who have visited the show and opportunities we should look into etc. I couldn't attend the first organised networking event at which I imagine Danielle Arnaud overcame her disappointment at my absence by handing out shows to everyone else (I imagine). Anyway I'm going to go charging around Frieze and Zoo on Friday leavng a scatter of cards in my wake.
I'm also starting to look ahead again. I have a residency coming up with BCA in Bedford in January and something with 'young' curators in Milton Keynes (their inverted commas not mine). So I've ordered Scott's Antarctic Diary from amazon.
# 28 [28 September 2007]
"It could be alcohol poisoning or post exhibition malaise"
I'm feeling a little tired.
I woke up this morning in the King's Cross Travelodge and stared at the space on the opposite wall where a painting had once hung.
There follows a none hierarchical list of remembered incidents and learned lessons.
I did my usual private view thing of: drinking, moving around a lot to avoid talking to too many people, and then telling everyone that:
'I don't like private views'
'I've drunk too much'
I need some better conversational gambits.
Lots of people liked the photograph (not so much mention of the films)
A woman with very cold hands (or at least hand, the other one may have been very hot, I didn't ask)
Speeches briefly interrupted by the honking of my Opera.
Coolly entering a rococo room and tripping over the carpet.
Lawrence talking very cogently about my practice while wearing a suit and a pen. Unfortunately like waking from a dream I've forgotten what he said.
Overhearing that David Kefford is "the man of the moment"
Sitting in the cafe watching Rob Smith's live feed of the private view explaining that I wasn't Matt Cook.
Being entertained by Cedric and laughing too much at Arthur Ash
Stumbling last out of the pub with a crack unit of Arts Council drinkers
Reading Townley and Bradbury's leaflet and going for a walk.