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My art practice has taken me on a tremendous journey this year. I have been intensely busy, and more than fortunate. Two professional awards kept me busy, but also stretched me in very different directions – of which I am also grateful despite the lack of studio time this implied.

The a-n Professional Development Bursary turned out not to be the neat three month project I had envisioned. At times this was a worry to me, but as I succumbed to the full process I realised that I had been unrealistic about the kind of learning involved.

I have been forced to think about video as a medium at a much deeper level – and to own yet again that I don’t learn in conventional ways and probably never ways that can be planned for. Autism means I am an autodidact (at core) and that my learning is best done hands on in full immersion mode.

My filmmaking companion was immensely patient with me, and the process of working together has been a fabulously enabling introduction to the essentials of filming and editing on professional software. So much so, that I’ve now had the confidence to tackle a follow on video commission solo. This is what I want to write about today.

I needed the bursary to make my own videos. While I love the process and the results of film collaborations, there is always a distancing of vision. The work I do is so essentially about lived experience & needs to achieve full expression. As I’m a multiform artist, each branch of my practice has evolved by my own hand – until I’ve reached the end of my skill set. Being allowed to push through this barrier has been just brilliant.

And so I’ve made my first solo piece of work all on Final Cut Pro! I’ve loved every minute of it too.

The benefit of working alone is that I don’t have to contort my brain to do the kind of planning most filmmaking schools recommend. Consulting with other autistics who make film I found that I am not alone in needing to feel my way, piecing together a project through a process of trying things out and using constant playbacks to work it through. So that’s what I did, I essentially powered through prolonged  sessions of constant playbacks until I was done. Something about this process seems to light up my brain and is intensely satisfying.

Dual Identity, feels like a real homecoming too. I’m back in my most familiar territory, responding to Spanish exile from the Civil War.  Arturo and Ilsa Barea, were exiled Republicans who came to live in England in 1938, and worked together on Arturo’s seminal writings, and broadcasts for the BBC’s radio service to Latin America. In the New Year their archive will be deposited at the Bodleian Library, for which event I was commissioned to make a video response. This project has been one of the most rewarding pieces of work I’ve undertaken, as the family have been incredibly generous in welcoming me into their home , and sharing materials from their own collection.

There were also times this year when my practice felt compromised by unhelpful distractions. So it’s been especially good to end 2017 by touching base with the core of my professional identity.

I also can’t wait to share the Felicia Browne film, Gift, made through the generous  a-n Professional Development Bursary as mentioned above. I have the sound studio booked for my voiceover, and with renewed confidence in my voice work I’m looking forward to producing a voice track worthy of my filmmaker’s visual capture. So it’s a big thank you to Simon Haynes for his work this year too.

I can’t share the video, Dual Identity, yet, as it’s due to be shown for the first time at an event in February. But I can share some handy stills I prepared earlier on the following link.

Thank you for reading! Oh, and Happy New Year!