reflection 3: How did I get here ?

The process of achieving new opportunities is a Sisyphian task, researaching the right kind of opportunities, planning, exploring, writing proposals, re-sizing jpegs, testing out ideas, trying to not get too excited by the possibilities … and the success rate can be dispiriting… last year’s success rate was 7/17 proposals ! success being for small local-ish projects; institution/gallery based opportunites with/without pay being much more difficult to break into.

I talked to Judith Alder, a mid career artist with similar ambitions, about wanting to make new work, being ambitous, looking for opportunities that test and move one’s practice forward – it seems that I am not alone in swinging between being optimisitic, ‘nothing ventured nothing gained’ and go-getty to feeling that being an artists is like having an unwieldy and expensive obsession. There is so much competition and relatively few opportunites that offer space/time to develop new work and maybe even get paid for doing so.

Making Space has been a great opportunity to intensively test my practice, try new approaches and examine my shortcomings, and as one of the 7 succesful proposals it was completely exhilarating. It has also been a great way to be associated with an established and well respected art venue. But there is a residual feeling of wanting to do much much more so that the only way forward is to keep on applying and, like many other artists, create my own opportunites.


reflection2: I made something happen, but what was it ?

The most difficult thing was to be decisive – it’s a big space, people walking in and out, builders were working on the windows making it a bit noisy – so keeping focused and feeling unselfconscious was tricky.

Initially I tried make some kind of physical intervention, which in the daylight seemed an obvious way of breaking up the space. This took the form of a large canvas sheet hung from across the nave, which made a statement, but it was far too loaded and floppy and obvious.

As the day darkened the use of projections became much more interesting and to some extent knocked back the strength of the pillars, aisle spaces and chancel area.

I projected video clips that were inspired by the plain windows, and played them back in a kind of bar-code fashion moving up and down the walls. The bubbly texture of the glass lending the walls a kind of moon surface glow and texture. The projections interrupted the space more subtley than the canvas and were more intriguing.


reflection1: The value of opportunities like Making Space. The chance to spend a week experimenting in a recoginised and well known venue, Fabica, is potentially very exciting. The building, a former Regency church is a very static and layered building to respond to. I called my project Space Interrupted.

Working in site responsive ways can mean limited opportuniteis to make work but this project enabled me to test my practise against the scale, function and architectural structure and character of Fabrica. Space Interrupted was all about finding ways of taking hold of a space and finding a way to disrupt or change perceptions of what it could be. It was an opportunity to experiment, no finished work expected !

Such opportunites are scarce, and despite my reservations about it not being dark enough, it was a good way to stretch myself and push ideas hard in a really short space of time.


day 4: Difficult to know whether to focus on physically disrupting the space or using projections to do it. Tried breaking the space up using stretches of fabric, metres and metres of baking paper but neither works – both are too poigngant drooping and sagging in a melancholy way – not what I’m after at all.

The projections have the advantage of being quite large and once it’s dark the architecture begins to take a less dominant role allowing the projections to take on a more ambiguous and angular quality.

Surprisingly good turn out of people to view the work and my talk; good discussion about working site specifically, getting ideas, working as a mature artist and opportunities for artists.


day 3: All vey quiet and made some headway into finding ways of breaking up the building (mainly at 3am !). Am looking back at when I cut into a building to disrupt the space and so am thinking of ways of making a symbolic cut – maybe using light.

I’d like to create a light line cutting the building in half – but the projectors are not powerful enough and I can’t get far enough away.

However I can continue to disrupt and animate the space by using filmed bits of the building to jump around and across the architecture.