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London Galleries: Establishing and Maintaining Relationships (A Talk by Jonathan Parsons)

Really wish I could blog more than I do at the moment. Though I’m hoping that the half term break will be provide wit a much needed creative springboard to write and work. Subsequently attending a talk by Jonathan Parsons last weekend seemed to rouse me from my lethargy (http://www.cornexchangenew.com/events/info/a-talk-by-jonathan-parsons).

Evidently it was interesting to see so many other regional artists based outside of London. Moreover the talk helped to dispel beliefs about my own practice that have been in some way limiting or self-defeating. Whilst it’s difficult to describe everything that was discussed here are some of the main points….

Being an artist is alright if that’s what drives you.

It’s ok to sell a work of art.

Being an artist can often be difficult as there is no distinct career path, business model or set way of doing things. With that in mind, establishing relationships is vital (everything starts with you). Some of the best opportunities may come out of conversations with other artists.

You give the work its initial value; you are the world’s expert on your own practice.

Whilst some of these statements may seem glaringly obvious to well-established artists they are nonetheless helpful to be reminded of. Particularly as being an artist doesn’t really allow for professional accreditation. In Making a Case for the Arts…., Joyce Mcmillam asserts that ‘ Artists are often, rightly, uncertain about what the are doing, questioning more than getting answers, and feeling that they are on a journey’ (2011). Subsequently McMillam’ talk is shown in it’s entirety below. Well worth a watch if you’re in need of encouragement.


Creative Choices, (2011), Making the Case for the Arts, Available at: http://www.creative-choices.co.uk/industry-news-views/article/making-the-case-for-the-arts?utm_source=newsletter121&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Making%2Bthe%2Bcase%2Bfor%2Bthe%2BArts&utm_campaign=newsletter, (accessed: 25/01/13)

Making the Case for the Arts by Joyce McMillan


Contained/ Uncontained

In previous entries I have spoken about the function of containment in the context of art psychotherapy. The client can openly express powerful thoughts or feelings; and play with versions of themselves, knowing that their emotional state can be contained within the therapeutic frame (an expression coined by Marion Milner). However what happens when something that was contained then becomes uncontained and how might this relate to art-making in a wider context?

Subsequently one of the things I’ve been learning about on the course is that within any clinical setting the notion of containment is established through the adherence to certain rules or boundaries. ‘Boundaries define a space set a side for a particular purpose. Many spaces (the sports arena, temple, stage, court of justice, etc) have this function and within them special rules apply’ (Edwards, 2004:46). Likewise the art therapy setting is no different as without defined boundaries it would be impossible to diffentiate between the literal and the symbolic or between internal and external reality (2004:46). In the context of art therapy it might mean confidentially being upheld at all times to ensure that people can speak openly and in confidence. There may also be specific rules about the creation of artworks and whether or not they can be taken away (either during or after therapy has ended). Consequently the affect of these boundaries is that discussions and art works that are conceived within this environment often seem very special or revelatory, often awakening deep-seated beliefs with have about ourselves.

For me it’s an experience likeable to being in the studio and wrestling with ideas/ problems that are integral to the art-making process. As Cathy Malchiodi explains, ‘art making is traditionally a solitary activity. When you think of art making you generally think of an individual working alone in a studio, a place that is separate from the rest of the world’ (1998). With this in mind, what happens when artworks conceived within the confines of the studio are brought out into the public sphere?


Edwards, D., (2004), Art Therapy, London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Malchiodi, C., (1998), The Art Therapy Sourcebook (Kindle Edition), New York: McGraw-Hill