Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
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By: Emily Speed
Rather than talk about my work on here (I have tried it and it seems to make me quite despondent) I have decided it will be far more helpful for me to explore some of the issues facing artists trying to make a living out of this business...
# 201 [22 June 2010]
I have just been reading Katriona Beales' new blog about Linz, and it made me a bit sick.
Now I can't help but remember last summer, which was a joyous, languid affair on the banks of the Danube, swimming every day, meeting lots of new people and seeing lot of different art. It was fantastic, and hot. I was making things and had the most head space I have known in years. Add to this, crackly pork and beer.
It's hot here too, but I am working in schools in Yorkshire for the next three weeks solid and am already exhausted! Also brought with me a LOT of cataloguing work and am trying to finish off the YSP book for the printers. The driving doesn't help a sore neck and my little red van is not happy with the heat and the slowness of the M62 - he overheats pretty easily. I feel a bit akin to my van actually; a bit frazzled.
So this is the life I have chosed I guess ... never the same and sometimes awesome and other times just way too much, a big piley-on. In-betweens rarely seem to occur. Even though the end of YSP is not in sight I am already feeling a little black dog at my door - the application one that says I should be looking out for what's next. There are things lined up, but nothing really meaty and I will need some money at some point! But I can't write any applications that make sense at the moment, it'll just have to wait until the book is done, I can only handle one thing with pages at a time.
# 202 [22 June 2010]
'Time to pull together'
You know how I go on about this kind of thing, well Lyn Gardner has put it pretty well in her latest blog post,she's writing about theatre, but as is often the case, it can be transferred to visual arts pretty seamlessly. She says,
'it cannot just be every artist for themselves. It must be every artist for the best possible art for everyone.'
# 203 [29 June 2010]
After just whining on about the fact that I didn't have anything on after YSP, I had a little flurry of emails for autumn projects. Not that these people read my blog - more likely this is the short turnround that we all have to operate on when there is little budget and precarious situations all round.
I have also been plotting myself as I haven't organised anything yet this year (well, not strictly true, but....). I almost don't want to share as it's not fully formed, but saying things out loud can also mean that they have to happen. Anyway, I have started writing to people to ask them to collaborate on a new publication, so I shall see how it goes. Website is bought/under construction in my head and ISBNs ordered, that's all I'm saying for now.
After getting my YSP book to the printers yesterday I had a brief respite from the stress that has been interrupting my sleep for the last few weeks. For about ten minutes at least - then the Liverpool Art Prize awards poppped up and slotted into the books' place in my brain. Now, if I think about tomorrow night I can actually feel my stomach flip. Stupid thing is, I'll be rushing out of work, trying to get across to Liverpool (from Pontefract) on the bloody M62 and I'll get there and not win anything. Then I'll have to drive home (not even a glass of wine as release) and get up at 5am the next morning to come back to Yorkshire. Why is it on a Wednesday night? WHY?
Tonight I am finishing off my cataloguing hours for intute.ac.uk. It is the last lot of work from them ever, so I'm feeling pretty sad about it, although it has always been something that stresses me out at the end of the month! It's because of funding cuts. Speaking to friend the other weekend, we both said this is the first time we have ever directly felt the government's actions. She had a commission purchase cancelled because budgets were cut.
Anyway, I'm moaning again. I think I should probably ban myself from bloggin until all this stress is gone. 19th July then.... I'll try.
# 204 [1 July 2010]
It's July. This means that I have finished my cataloguing work FOREVER. I'm sad and a little anxious about the safety net it provided (a teeny one, but there nonetheless), however, I have to acknowledge that it has always stressed me out and I've often left it all to do at the end of the month like an idiot. Last month I left myself 166 cataloguing hours to do on top of doing the book for Yorkshire, being in schools and several other projects. I have been racing home from school workshops the last few weeks, getting on the computer and staying on it until midnight or late and all weekend, and getting up at 6.30. Now I have completely lost my voice. I am coughing like a 30-a-day smoker. Worst thing; IT'S MY OWN FAULT. I MADE THE DECISIONS AND DID IT TO MYSELF.
The fact that I have done it to myself is one reason I am so fed up of hearing my own complaining. So it has to stop. No more. I am going to oooze positivity from now on. No, I am, really.
Another thing that is done and dusted, is the Liverpool Art Prize. It was the awards last night and I was dreading driving back from Yorkshire for them and getting up again at 5am today. I didn't win any money, but then I wasn't too surprised about that as I have said before. I did have some nice chats with people though and got some feedback and requests to keep in touch. I did, however, feel like crap and couldn't talk too well so ended up missing the after-party in favour of a hot bath and bed. I don't want to end up with a chest infection or similar.
Ian and Minako (the forces behind artinliverpool.com and the art prize) handed me an envelope after the announcements - with a cheque for £400. They had some extra sponsorship and decided to share it among the artists - truly everyone was a winner :D Glad to be able to pay for my van tax - due today, as well as being reimbursed for my materials. No payment for time, but I would say the benefits of the show have already more than outweighed that fact.
Most importantly, it is amazing to have the whole judging malarky out of the way. It has been stressing me out, no matter that I felt sure of the result, it's just the weight of it all and the not knowing. Not feeling massive relief yet, and I still got back to my hotel room this evening and turned the laptop on immediately, before realising I don't have to.
I pick up the pages for my Yorkshire Sculpture Park book from the printers on Monday, so next week will be screenprinting, assembling, cutting and a different kind of workload. I am pretty anxious about what the reaction is - I'm not used to being wholly responsible for something like that - especially when it has the institution's logo on it and an ISBN provided by them. Not to mention the fact they have paid for it all. Exciting too, but bloody nervewracking, especially with the hand-made element... the screenprinting could bugger up completely after all!
Right, I'm going to do.. er not much actually. To be mainly horizontal perhaps.
# 205 [3 July 2010]
If anyone has ten minutes, please complete this survey on how artists make use of internet. This will used for postgrad research and the deadline is July 10th.
It's an interesting area that I'm sure I could be better at (I have been sticking with my safe website design for quite a while now..) Just, please, artists, don't put music on your website!
# 206 [7 July 2010]
Met a lovely guy yesterday, a letterpresser living near here with the most amazing shed/studio. Shtudio? Anyway, see picture for all it's glory. He said many wise things, one of which was 'it doesn't matter what people say they can do, or will do, it just matters what you see being produced'. I liked that, especially because I can get panicky when people seem to be doing amazing things and I worry I'll get left behind. Often I realise (way way afterwards) that it was all just hyperbole and was never going to materialise. I always forget the pinch of salt.
He also talked about generosity and the fact that his knowledge and collection didn't really belong to him, but that he had a responsibility to leave it for future generations. he also offered the use of it for future projects, which fills me with utter excitement.
This mention of generoisty reminded me of a conversation I had with Jude Kelly at the art prize awards. She was talking about the fact that artists must help each other out and be as generous as they can manage. She's right.
Now, back to YSP book. Bloody covers are still in the post somewhere (seriously - I have to take them on FRIDAY MORNING!!) and I have more screenprinting, cutting and assembling to do. Goodbye.
# 207 [8 July 2010]
Got the folders... massive phew. But they got delivered along with five other people's orders. I really hope those people hadn't planned a book launch for tomorrow!
Anyway, book production factory in progress (see pic), done about 30 so far, which may have to do for now. Also putting presentation together and cutting cardboard triangles out for the audience to make geodesic domes with. I like a bit of practical in my celebration events.
One of the best things about the bursary with YSP is the food - looking forward to lunch and squirreling all the leftovers tomorrow :D
# 208 [29 July 2010]
Not blogging blog:
Recently I have been quiet. I have been trying to figure out why I don’t feel like saying much or getting involved in conversation. I can only conclude that I have been knackered and it has been a case of self-preservation. I don’t think I gave myself enough chance to recover from YSP, initially thinking that a few days would be enough. As it was I just couldn’t help myself and went into the studio and worked pretty much as normal. I don’t seem to have an off button unless I am somewhere else. It's also like the saying, if you don't have anything nice to say - same applies to not having anything interesting to say.
Then I went to London for five days. Amazing, nourishing, exciting and inspiring to see a ton of art, catch up with friends, buy paper and see new babies. But by the end of the trip, the sore throat and bad chest were back (I had bronchitis as the end of the YSP project), a sign to just stop!
Anyway, I got back on Sunday and have had trouble getting out of bed since. I have been going into the studio, but the pace of work has been pedestrian at best. Today I have physio (from a car accident last month), doctors and dentist, so a great reason to have lunch with my Gran, see my little neice and not drive more than 4 miles. Lovely.
It has been good to just read other people's blogs, and although I have added a couple of comments here and there, it has felt like listening rather than talking all the time. There has also been a lot going on with the arts in general and the funding cuts. I have been reading a lot and I don't know whether I am a little slow - but I feel like I can't absorb it all just yet.
I was glad to see AIR putting a request in for an artist representative at Culture Forum, kicked off in part by Katriona Beales' excellent post on artsfunding I think? The Guardian has been publishing a number of feisty pieces on the subject (often the best writing is on the theatre blogs), with some statistics that really put it all into perspective (Arts are half a pint of milk a week per person apparently...but check I quoted that right!). Some interesting links below worth a read:
Katriona Beales on artsfunding:
Will Gompertz on cuts:
*** Daniel Bye and his milk stats ***
Daniel Trilling on scraping of UK Film Council:
DCMS has launched an inquiry into funding of the arts and heritage. You can add a written response, guidelines are outlined here:
For the first time yesterday, catching up with whats on in the world, I got a bit annoyed about a discussion on artinliverpool.com; artists talking about the Independents strand of the Biennial. So much expectation from them and so little understanding of the reality of the work involved and the bigger picture... I couldn't help myself and had to add something to the comments. That felt better, a bit of anger is a good thing it seems and often my impetus to get involved. Hopefully it is a constructive anger and getting involved in discussion is a useful way of dealing with it!
This argument is a little esoteric, but I think it's pretty revealing to the way in which artists expect things to be done for them - there is a feeling of entitlement going through the comments that I don't empathise with at all. Scroll down to comments:
Some London reviews and future scheming to follow soon. But I need another cup of tea now. See you soon.
# 209 [4 August 2010]
Back from a few days in Edinburgh. A lovely time visiting friends and art (I studied at eca so it's an obligatory biannual visit). But kind of glad to be home and to crack on with the next exciting project (more on that soon)!
Quite a while ago I was chatting to someone from Arts Council in Manchester and he mentioned they were planning to split their jobs board into paid and voluntary sections. He said the volume of unpaid work was making the listings almost useless for many arts professionals. I nodded eagerly and looked forward to it happening. Imagine my delight yesterday when I got back and saw this link from Jack Hutchinson on Facebook:
Amazing! No more unpaid adverts at all while they work out a way to only include genuine volunteering and paid work within minimum wage guidelines. Here's what the arts council have said about their decision:
"Please note that due to the high volume of adverts for unpaid opportunities that contravene Minimum Wage Regulations we are temporarily suspending adverts for unpaid work, work experience, voluntary roles or internships. This is so we can make developments to the website that will help users to post genuine volunteering opportunities only and stay within Minimum Wage Regulations.
Arts Council England is committed to ensuring that artists and those who work in the creative industries are properly remunerated for any work that they do. We recognise that there is great value in people having access to proper work experience, where it is offered and arranged properly and is a mutually beneficial arrangement, but that this should never be used as a way of attempting to circumvent the Minimum Wage Regulations.
We will continue to accept adverts for paid employment and will let you know when we expect the facility to be live once more. Thanks for your patience while we address this important issue"
# 210 [7 August 2010]
Today has been a little bit blissful. I woke up at 9, put my head down again and somehow it was midday. It the best and first sleep I have had at home, at the weekend for about 6 weeks. WONDERFUL.
Anyway, I am in pyjamas, eating toast, posting nonsense on twitter et al and reading my way round the confusing myriad of articles and comments on the current state of the arts cuts and funding. Also into that goes the SAU and Scottish highlands research into loans for artists (not sure if that's a good idea or not, but thanks to Susan Jones for highlighting some important points). Lastly I signed up to be an AIR activist and am looking forward to seeing what that involves. After I have made some sense of it all - hopefully - I will have some writing to do!
Over the next three weeks I also plan to get a group of creative types together at Royal Standard to draft a submission to the DCMS inquiry on arts and heritage funding. Was very glad to hear my posting of this on facebook prompted Anna Francis to organise similar with artists in Stoke-on-Trent. Anyone can contribute, so do if you can.
Recently I have been shocked at how many practitioners I know have been quite staunch Tory defenders. I was born in 1979, when Maggie came into power, but I feel like I remember quite lot about that period, or at least I learnt a lot about it, I'm not sure. I was too young to vote in the landslide 1997 election, by 3 months, but there was a feeling of wanting to bring about a big change amongst my friends. I wonder if the generation who are now 25 and under had a similar feeling this time round? Was it that they weren't voting for the Conservatives, but they just wanted to see a change and didn't really know the implications?
Anyway, this letter from Tony Benn and friends is interesting from the Guardian and highlights how the cuts will affect certain demographics.
If those badly off are going to face so many cuts, surely the mega rich need to be taxed more to balance things out. Oh wait, it doesn't work like that does it?
On a brighter note though! I had a great meeting with Emma Gregory at the Bluecoat yesterday. Was pleased to finally meet someone who I had been emailing for a while and finding she was even more articulate, honest and enthusiastic than I had hoped.
The plans for the new journal thing, Cardboard Folly, that I am launching in October are going well, all artists have been invited and about 95% have replied saying they would like to be involved so far. I'm very excited, if not a little daunted by the amount of work that lies ahead. The journal/ artists' book will be launched at the Bluecoat during Liverpool Biennial then and exhibited for a month-ish. When filling in the ISSN forms for the British Library I said it would be an annual publication. I am extremely glad I decided on that - I thought of doing two a year but can already see that would have been the route to doom.
Cardboard Folly at the Bluecoat in October: http://bit.ly/dochuL
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