During my bursary period I am meeting several times with Gill Park, director of Pavilion, a Leeds based commissioning organisation. I have known Pavilion for a while; first as a visitor to their exhibitions, then in 2008 I worked with them as a support artist on a summer education project. I also set up and now volunteer to help to run Leeds Art Walk with them. I have always been interested in what they do but have become especially so over the past 2-3 years as they have moved away from a focus on photography to explore image-making more broadly and to work with artists on commissions which involve significant research and exhibition outcomes in diverse non-gallery settings.
Gill Park became director of Pavilion last year and she is a colleague and a friend who, I expect, would have been happy to meet me any time to talk about my work. But somehow I had never asked her to do this before now. I suppose this is to do with not wanting to take advantage of people’s time and generosity and also perhaps because we always had other more pragmatic or immediate things to talk about. However, just prior to the bursary, I had decided to be brazen and take advantage of some of the people I know. Gill was one of several local artists/curators/professionals who I asked to give me some feedback on my work. She was also without doubt the one who seemed to ‘get it’ most immediately, who made suggestions that resonated with what I would like to achieve. So, when the bursary opportunity came up from a-n and I could seek to meet artists and curators further afield, it also seemed to make sense to ask Gill to be a mentor over this time period.
It is really useful to have someone I can go back to and talk to about conversations and ideas that come up from my one off meetings. Moreover Gill has specifically been helping me to make an application for Grants for the Arts…which I have just recently submitted. Fingers crossed! As I mentioned in my previous post, I am exploring the locations/context/framing of my work; initial conversations with Gill and Elaine Speight (more about that to come in another post), along with my own thinking and prior research, have led me to think that I need a period of time away from site-responsive projects and commissions. I want some research, development and studio time to make some video, print and artist book works that are not based on a particular site. Ideas for these have been vaguely buzzing around in my head for a while but have been shoved to the back of the queue by more time-dependent projects or projects that I prioritise because I am getting paid. I find it quite hard to make work speculatively without knowing there is a definite exhibition outcome. So partially the grant application has involved making a framework to develop new work, including outcomes – but ones I have more ownership over. Also I am trying to develop a way of working that is ultimately more sustainable (even though I hate the word ‘sustainable’ in this context) Can I make artwork that can be re-exhibited or exist in several instances or locations, even if in the long run site may still be important. I am also mindful about what happens beyond this bursary, how can I continue the conversations and self-reflection that the bursary has encouraged?