This is my last post for this blog. I thought the question of what to do next would require endless soul-searching, but writing the blog, and participating in other blogs has really clarified my issues, priorities and expectations.

I realise I’m in a very different life phase from most people writing AN blogs: many have either achieved a significant measure of financial success with their work, or are young enough for this still to be a realistic (?) possibility.

I must concede my work is going to remain forever on the fringes – I don’t think I’ve ever felt further from the mainstream than I do now – and being responsible for my kids, I have to earn money, something which wasn’t a problem 20 years ago.

I’m now half way through my working life, and considering retirement. I already need specs, get puffed out when cycling to work, my knees ache when I’m hill-walking … the spectre of old age is looming. And I really don’t want to end up in a council house in the bum-end of Oxford surviving on income support for the last 20 years of my life.

Money, and how to earn it is definitely my Big Issue. I feel quite content with my art practice, I don’t feel the need to reflect on it endlessly … ye gods know I’ve spent enough time doing that … but I wish I knew more artists who worked in similar ways, or in similar circumstances.

Reading through my blog, I’m wondering what, if any, contribution I’ve made to the wider community of artists and art professionals.

I’ve probably put everyone off the idea of having children.

I’ve worked to death the old chestnuts of financial success and survival, themes which everyone is probably already bored with.

I’ve made a foray into an argument about intellectualisation, and come out thinking that a bit is good and too much or too little is annoying … no big philosophical breakthrough there.

I’ve made contact with 2 or 3 writers with whom I intend to continue contact.

I have enjoyed seeing my own work on the internet, another contribution to the exciting diversity and range of work published on these blogs.

But I continue to be unable to grasp what most artists are talking about when reviewing their own work. It all seems to happen in a language that has no meaning.

Whether this makes me history, an amateur or dilettante, or a hopeless mystic I don’t know.

But I still cling to the notion that great art, or any art that’s worth making, must be addressing the question of “What is beauty?” … not “What is interesting for a small band of intellectuals?”, or “What will make a good investment for a small group of wealthy patrons?”.

When I first saw Picasso’s work when I was 7, I was entranced, fascinated: “Mum, what’s that about?”. My Mum wasn’t able to say much, but I’ve now been answering that question for myself for 40 years.

Wouldn’t it be truly Great if our work could do that for tomorrow’s children?