Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
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By: Helen Dearnley
This is my post graduate blog documenting how I continue and develop a working practice, balancing finding work with single parenthood.
Dolls form a continuing theme throughout my practice following Baudrillard's theories of Simulacra and Simulations.
This blog also documents the Lincoln Artist's Network, initially funded by Enterprise Inc at the UL, the LAN develops a network for Lincoln based artists to continue to practice locally in any artistic discipline.
# 124 [4 June 2013]
I've been busy since my trip to London putting together ideas for the LAN project proposal and meeting with local artists that I hope would be interested in getting involved. I'm pleasantly surprised to find that some artists whose work I would never have thought would fit in with it are interested in challenging themselves to do something different, and are keen to get involved. I spoke to the Arts Council about the project, and I need to follow it up, but I feel largely excited about this project. I'm glad to have Fiona Hodges on the committee, taking over previous roles, and plans are already taking shape again, so I'm no longer doing all of it on my own.
Some architecture students are organising the first Lincoln Hackspace, and they invited us to take part, so I've been for a couple of meetings for that. They're using the same Empty Shop space, which is disconcerting when I was thinking we'd be in there regularly ourselves, but I think they're making use of the upstairs space, and it'll be useful to have onsite 3D printers and all kinds of equipment and resources that we can make use of for this and other projects. There are computer nerds, software engineers, innovators, electricians, D.I.Y. enthusiasts, all kinds of non-arts expertise that I hope will be interested in engaging in cross-disciplinary projects.
Rosanne Robertson posted her frustration with the space she has use of, that artists expect to use it for free - I guess she wants them to pay towards the overheads, and doesn't want to do everything for nothing, which is fair enough - I felt like that myself at one point, it should be the ethos of sharing resources. But artists need to earn an income first - it's something I always consider - why do artists ask fellow artists to pay? Really, we need to generate an income from people that aren't artists, people that have an interest in the arts but are scientists, or businesses perhaps, requiring creative expertise, and audiences.
I only meant to have a short break from the graphic novel, but I haven't done much for that for a couple of months while I applied for the Hourly Paid Lecturer position.
Gingerbread have posted this blog about single parents looking for work http://gingerbreadmakeitwork.wordpress.com/
I'm still mostly confused and panic stricken about the Universal Credit thing that will affect me from next April if no one has offered me suitable paid work by then, or if things with the LAN don't progress - fingers crossed that I will achieve both before then, despite the naysayers. I have an appointment booked with Citizen's Advice to check up.
I have a busy week ahead, with a meeting arranged with the council to discuss funding for the LAN and possible projects in the city, and also going to have a proper look at the degree shows. The last ever in Greestone and Chad Varah House.
# 123 [8 May 2013]
On Thursday I went to London with the primary aim of going to see Magne Furuholmen's "Norwegian Wood" exhibition. I've blogged about that experience here http://helend-blackbird.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/magne-furuholmens-norwegian-wood.html
I also asked Jack Hutchinson if he had time to meet up, and he was kind enough to invite me to go to the Discernible exhibition at ZAP, even though there was only one person there.
It was interesting to see Rosalind's work, which for some reason I find interesting, and also I was drawn to Kate Murdoch's sculptural work.
Before I went, I put together this project experiment http://www.lincolnartistnetwork.co.uk/apps/blog/
with the intention of asking Magne and / or Guy if Apparatjik had some time free in their schedule to come to Lincoln, however, the conversation that occurred became much more interesting, it gave me some other ideas, and I think it'll work towards that outcome eventually.
And the good news is that I received an email about the project with Erin, and met up with Natasha from Stian's show again, she has some funds and is very excited to be able to offer me a commission for Erin, and also for her own book, unfortunately we didn't get much of a chance to speak properly about it, but there was certainly inspiration all around us :-)
Tips to generate a huge amount of traffic to your blog - don't take photos of artwork, instead, find the nearest celebrity and have your photo taken with them. People seem much more interested in celebrities than art. I know this because images of Magne's AMAZING prints receive far less hits than pictures of the man himself or pictures of Guy Berryman. Guy was very keen to tell me that he and Magne are best buddies, so I don't think it would be terrible of me to illustrate him as in the Take On Me video now, would it? When Paul Stolper finally invites me to exhibit my work at his gallery, then Guy can buy it, and then I won't feel like Vincent Van Gogh any more!! Hoorah!
# 122 [18 April 2013]
Before Easter I felt largely undermined and belittled.
Opportunities that I hoped would lead to permanent employment or a commission seem to be withdrawn, as if no one really wants me to ever earn a living. And one of those exciting opportunities, I've since been informed there is no budget for!!
I'm 36 years old, and all the career advice I am provided with is "to get a job in retail". Retail. I have no experience of this. I'm really starting to despair.
A fellow artist shared this http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/universal-credit-toolkit-quick-guide-self-employment.pdf
and I started to worry again. Despite having spoken to Gingerbread before, and their reassurances, I really don't trust the DWP not to pull the rug out from under me. They've lied to me before and tried to cut off my only income.
So I spent an entire afternoon applying for a job. It would be ideal, only one day a week working in events management for a charity. But not a single part of me has any confidence that I'll get it. Since I became a single parent in 2001, I must've applied for hundreds of jobs, never getting a single one of them. I don't think it's because I don't have the ability to do the jobs that I apply for, or that I lack confidence, I blame the employers for not choosing to employ me.
I've stopped browsing the Jobs And Opps on here, because no jobs or opps exist in Lincoln. Plenty in London. And I found that I could be awarded a scholarship to do a Masters in Norway, but I'm not in a position to go to Norway for any large length of time while the kids are at school here.
I feel that at every single turn I come up against barriers, and what hope I used to have that despite this I will somehow achieve my dreams is fast disappearing.
The race is now on to find regular paid work before me and my kids are forced into destitution. And as I have said before, every single person to whom I've applied for work over the years and has declined my application is to blame for my demise. Every single person that offers unpaid "opportunities".
You can support all self employed single parents by signing this petition, and I strongly urge you to: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-uk-government-please-abandon-your-plans-for-a-minimum-income-floor-for-self-employed-single-parents
I spent most of the Easter holidays feeling ever more terrified. I've since calmed down now that the weather has improved, and my sister got married, and as soon as the kids went back to school, I was offered a link to an HPL position in Illustration, and assured that there's no criteria for requiring a masters to do it, and support for the application.
Others are quick to tell me I'd need a PhD to become an hourly paid lecturer. In order for me to even consider doing a PhD, I need to do an MA. In order to do an MA, I either need to move to Norway, or have a regular income to support it, which is the catch 22 situation I'm constantly trying to circumvent.
Thanks to Andrew Bracey for including the LAN in his article here: http://new.a-n.co.uk/news/single/a-centre-on-the-periphery-lincolns-emerging-artist-led-scene
My work as an illustrator is included in this exhibition http://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/news/illustration/exhibition-show-artworks-drawn-built-on-beermats/
I plan to go down to London to see the exhibition, as it coincides with Magne Furuholmen's "Norwegian Wood" exhibition at Paul Stolper gallery, and I'm really excited to finally make an effort to get elbowed in the face by A-ha fans in an attempt to speak to Magne about his work - I noticed in the press release some interesting correlations between his work and mine that I wasn't previously aware of. http://www.paulstolper.com/Exhibitions/PressReleas...
Aside from the fact that A-ha remains one of the pivotal reasons for becoming an artist and illustrator, in 1995, while Magne was creating "Kutt", I gave birth to my first son Kurt, named after Cobain, but since I have been known to reference Schwitters within my own work.
The woodcuts already look visually and emotionally arresting just seeing them online, I believe he previously exhibited this work out in the wilds of Norway, so looking forward to seeing this: http://www.paulstolper.com/Exhibitions/Works/54-ma...
# 121 [19 March 2013]
The effort to go to London seems to have sucked all energy out of me since then. I've been working steadily on my graphic novel, and I can't seem to update my website, so instead I found myself spending too much time updating my blog, and making it look really good:http://helendearnleyillustration.blogspot.co.uk/
I have spoken to Gingerbread, the lone parent charity, and the council, and I'm reassured that I will largely not be affected by any of the cuts being proposed for people like single parents struggling to find work with the threat of changes to being self employed and relying on Working Tax Credits. I've researched a few career options, to become an Hourly Paid Lecturer, it would seem, I may need a Masters. I can't afford to do a Masters, even though I want to, as I don't earn enough to live on, let alone undertake further study. I know a single parent friend who is doing an MA and paying for it out of her benefits. I don't know how she does that. I'm struggling enough as it is.
I received a letter recently for Council Tax, and because our council is opposing the cuts, the balance due is zero.
If I earnt the income I am supposed to be earning, I would gladly pay council tax, but I'm waiting to find out about this paid University staff position, I don't know whether to keep inquiring about it, or wait until I hear more news about it.
I was unsuccessful with a recent International Arts Travel bursary application. "Only 22 out of 214 applications were chosen" so that means they need more funding to provide for the other 192 applicants. I suggest badgering a few rich bankers.
I just received an email inviting me to a TED talk in York. I would love to go! http://www.pilot-theatre.com/?IDNO=1390
But what is this? Supported by Arts Council funding, but I'm expected to pay £180 for a ticket!! In what universe do artists pay for ACE funded events??
# 120 [4 March 2013]
Today I'm completely shattered. I just came in here to say that plans are afoot to work with Stian Andersen:http://www.flickr.com/photos/29469289@N03/sets/721...
For once, things actually seem to be going well for a change, and I managed to get down to London for a private view, and to show my portfolio to the gallery without a glitch. Apart from certain knight *who shall remain nameless* people arriving late *cough* *cough*. No one was expecting Sir F to be there, until the information was disclosed.
I haven't slept with over-excitement!
Stian Andersen has photographed A-ha (and a variety of other bands) for 13 years http://a-ha.com/the-band/gallery/album/stian-andersen/
# 119 [25 February 2013]
Finally, after waiting what feels like forever, the Open Space funding has appeared in the bank, so I'm (nearly) out of my overdraft!
It covers quite a few overheads, means that I'm being paid (AIR Activism is working!) and I can also use it as match funding for an ACE proposal. It's a relief, I can tell you.
Last Tuesday I went for a consultation for an arts commission for a sort of street art commission. It was set up by local retail businesses, Lincoln BIG, but I felt as though there is at least some understanding of what artists expect from a commission, and as I was already aware of a particular piece of history that relates to the area, I have come up with a proposal for a piece of work. It still needs tweaking and finalising before the deadline mid March.
In the mean time, I'm due to go to London on Wednesday to meet a gallerist and see work by photographer Stian Andersen, who has photographed A-ha extensively, and has probably caught some shots of myself at gigs for all I know.
Vic Reeves had a show at the same gallery recently, and Bob Mortimer shared this link on twitter http://jimllpaintit.tumblr.com/
I suspect it's Vic (real name Jim) and I notice more updates since I saw it yesterday :-)
# 118 [13 February 2013]
After I posted in here, I finally received an email to follow up the Open Space funding. It seems I should receive that any time soon, which is a relief.
Finally, to achieve a small bit of success!
And I'm feeling a bit more relaxed to hear news that the evil workfare programme has been condemned as officially slave labour, and there are more challenges to the cuts occurring, so I don't feel as though we're all descending into an evil Orwellian nightmare and I'm bearing the brunt of it.
# 117 [11 February 2013]
I'm still waiting to hear about the Open Space funding I applied for. I had hoped it would all be sorted mid January, but it hasn't materialised, and I've heard no more about it. I was starting to get past my anxieties about making another ACE grant application, and was considering using this as match funding.
I've been busy updating my portfolio for my planned trip to London.
It's been suggested that I become an hourly paid lecturer to earn some extra money, and support my practice. I have support for this.
On Tuesday I procrastinated too much and went to an artist's talk by Kay-oi Jay Yung. Her work has similar theme to mine, and it was good to see what she's doing. Gave me back a sense of positivity. It was lovely to meet her and see what she's up to.
She invited me to her show in Blackpool, but this week I also heard news that Grandad had died, so we're waiting to find out when the funeral is.
I must stress that I'm not a negative person by nature, but when I keep trying and getting nowhere, I end up turning into something that I'm not, and I don't like that.
I remembered that I'm still waiting on some funding I applied for back in October, and that I'm doing everything I can, so I'm not being hard on myself.
# 116 [28 January 2013]
Sophie Cullinan's query about Arts Council funding - why don't I apply?? I've applied several times, only to be rejected, and you know the phrase, once bitten, twice shy?? This is my career. This is my only chance to earn a livelihood. It's the only thing I love doing and am good at doing. Everything else I've ever done as a compromise has always ended up as more of a failure than anything I ever do creatively. The shitty waitress job I had after college, where I met a man so abusive that I ended up becoming a single parent in the first place. "Go and get a real job". If it means being forced to work in a menial job with people that I'd be better off having never encountered in my entire life, then I'll stick with this one thanks. This is my real job. I put my heart and soul into it. So for those that should fund my proper job to deny me that chance just completely baffles me, and kind of reminds me of when my ex husband used to ask for money from me for things he didn't need, and leaving us short for the bills. Financial abuse, it's called, but no one seems to have done anything to stop it from happening. Arts Council funding is like a huge dangled carrot. Something that if I ever achieve would be a miracle. But I'm glad someone else has noticed what's going on. This article expresses exactly my frustrations http://new.a-n.co.uk/news/single/let-them-eat-buildings
To the question of arts council funding I still ask: Why won't anyone pay me to do my job(s)?
# 115 [21 January 2013]
Yep, they're definitely coming after me, so I really do need a salaried arts job by April now, otherwise I'm not going to survive what hell they have in store http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/21/universal-credit-benefits-work-longer?CMP=twt_gu
I really don't want to have to deal with the Jobcentre ever again after what they did to me before, they were evil under Labour, I can't imagine they'll be any better now.
You try looking for work whilst being evicted due to DWP mistakes, and grieving for your father. The graphic novel I'm currently working on explicitly deals with these very events. It's like Drooker's Flood only about three times worse at least.
But I'm still waiting to have the opportunity to discuss the open space funding proposal I've applied for. I've been researching some other funding options, as I have to keep applying, even though it seems futile even bothering.
Just to prove I've still been working (and not shirking) on my graphic novel, here's the latest pages: http://blackbirds-birdhouse.blogspot.co.uk/
although I had to take a break for a while when the scanner stopped working, and I thought I'd fixed my broken graphics tablet, but I'm not sure, so it's taking longer to edit. I looked into starting a Kickstarter funding pitch, and it wouldn't let me upload an image, never mind a video, so in the mean time, I've been updating my portfolio for a potential trip to London for the private view of an exhibition at a gallery where I've been invited to meet the photographer (possibly) and there might be some commissions.
If I can get some funding sorted by the end of this month, then I can go for that without worrying about my distinct lack of money. The other issue is that it's on a school night, so the logistical organisation of this kind of visit is like edging along a deep icy chasm without losing your footing. So many times I've gone out of my way, gone out on a limb to do something because I felt it had the potential to bring back something in return, and so many times I've been left out of pocket in some way. I can no longer afford to do that.
So if anyone has any suggestions that are useful, or ways I can be paid for the work I do, or ways to avoid having to deal with the Jobcentre (which in my view means earning sufficient salary to never have to go near them ever again) then I'd like to know.
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Hello! I'm an international graduate artist and illustrator, having successfully completed BA (hons) Fine Art & Illustration at the University of Lincoln.
I've exhibited in Norway, Lincoln, London, Nottingham, U.S.A. Italy, and Berlin.
My website is www.helendblackbird.co.uk