As we all try and combat the January blues (again), I find it a useful pick-me-up to reflect on the previous year hoping that it will serve up some interesting revelation.
2014 was a productive year for me; I entered the year being not quite sure what it was going to deliver (the same with any year), but as time passes more and more opportunities raise their head to me.
In January I was trying to focus on my studio practice and hit a massive creative block. I decided that in order to overcome this, I would start a daily project – I nicknamed this ‘The Construction Project’. I would make, document and take apart a new idea every day I visited my studio, I would then write about the work on my blog. This was a hugely useful experience as not only did it get my creative juices flowing again, it also allowed me to practice my writing skills.
At the end of January I installed my work Vanishing Boundaries in The Studios at MediaCityUK as part of Future Cities and Quays Culture Sculpture Series in collaboration with Mark Devereux Projects. During its residency, I gave an artists talk at Salford University; I love doing talks, maybe its because I enjoy what I do, like talking and am comfortable with an audience (I wanted to be a Spice Girls as a youth and a ballerina or actress as a teen – this explains a lot!).
In February I traveled to g39 in Cardiff as co-director of Mark Devereux Projects to take part in an In Conversation as part of the WARP programme. This trip was the first of many, in 2014 I saw more new spaces, met more people and visited more new places that ever before, this can not be a bad thing!
In March my proposal for an exhibition at Exeter Pheonix’ Gallery 333 was successful and I set about fabricating, packing and instructing a new site-specific work to be shown for the month. It was the first time I have shown work in the South-West, I always enjoy hearing the responses of a new audience. As a result, my work was featured on the cover of the regional magazine Exeter Living. In the meantime I clambered on with my Construction Project, blogging daily.
In April I spent a lot of time in the studio and even more time perfecting my writing skills. I was startling to get better and felt more confident.
May brought some sunshine and also my first public outing for a couple of months; I presented my work for Cornerhouse’s Show & Tell event alongside other North-West based practitioners and creatives. It was a fun day, but as always, it went too fast! As well as this, the long-awaited publication featuring my work and written by Jac Scott was released, The Language of Mixed Media Sculpture is an reference book including the work of 28 international artists. Before the Summer kicked off I was also commissioned by Adobe to create a digital artwork to help launch their new version of Creative Cloud.
June and July were a write-off! I indulged myself in a couple of family trips – one of which being my Hen-weekend in Carsingson Village and a week away with my mum in one of my most favourite places in the world: Southwold. My wedding followed in early July and then a honeymoon in Italy. Staying in Limone on Lake Garda and trips to Florence and Verona were culturally and artistically delicious. However, I did manage to slip in one cheeky artistic outing thanks to Turf Projects who commissioned me to make a crazy golf hole for their 9-hole PUTT PUTT #2 extravaganza in Croydon.
As soon as our flight landed at Manchester airport in August my phone was ringing… I had been commissioned by Eden Arts to make a new work for Kendal Calling music festival in Cumbria as part of their Arts Council England funded Woodland Arts Trail. It was a fantastic opportunity to test a new work in the great outdoors. It rained all weekend, the music was good, the pies were even better and the work survived 4 horrendously wet days and nights. Success?
In August I also took part in Bury International Summer School; a wonderful 5 days were spent getting to know great people. I must say that the food was amazing and kept all our minds concentrated throughout. I made some wonderful connections which will hopefully lead to some AMAZING projects this year! Watch this space…
At the end of August and throughout September I helped lead several workshops for LeftCoast in Blackpool. The aim was to share ideas with the great people of Blackpool to illuminate their bikes and dogs for two separate events: Ride The Lights and LumiDogs. I was also commissioned to design and light up loads of bikes for the event in which 10,000 people took to the promenade and ride their bikes underneath the famous Blackpool illuminations. A real spectacle and a privilege to be part of!
In the month I re-made, re-interpreted and installed my Barnaby Festival commission into Sevendale House in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. This is still in situe if anyone wants to catch a glimpse before it comes down in March 2015. I also found some time to move studios from the 2nd floor to the 4th floor at Rogue. Phew!
At the end of September was Rogue Artists’ Studios annual Open Studios event, which was a great success this year with more people attending that ever before. I was put in charge with all the marketing for the event as well as taking the job or Social Media officer for the studio group on a continuing basis. I made a new light installation that filled the whole of my space and allowed me to explore my new home. Thank you everyone who came, it was a great weekend. September was a CRAZY month!
At the Autumn drew in, so did the opportunity to create more light-works. At the beginning of October I took part in Light Night Leeds, where I created a brand new site-specific installation in Leeds Art Gallery. Thousands upon thousands of visitors came and saw the work, a great event to be part of! In October I also had a piece of writing published in online magazine EDGEcondition vol.3 Art & Architecture, have a read if you haven’t already.
Mid-way through October, I took the opportunity to go on my first artist residency to Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn at the Cylinders Estate in Cumbria. I blogged about my experience every day. It was a tough week, as I had, by this point in the year, started to totally pull apart and reassess my practice. The residency acted as a well-timed retreat, where I took time to think, draw plans and read a lot. Thank god I went with friend and fellow-artist Alana Tyson for moral support.
In November I had my work included in Hanover Projects’ In The City publication as well as featuring on the cover and inside The University of Texas publication/journal Reunion: The Dallas Review. I am gathering a nice little collection of books that my work has featured in, they all sit there on my shelf, in date order…
At the end of November I was asked to write a piece for A-N News about the 30th anniversary of Castlefield Gallery. This really tested my writing skills and was a very useful exercise. More of that please? I also did some filming with A-N for a new film they are making about their bloggers, all will be revealed soon!
I installed new work at Airspace Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent for their In The Window space, this allowed me to create another site-responsive work, this time using cellulose acetate and florescent bulbs. A wonderful opportunity to see the development of my practice and the working-up of fresh ideas in the flesh.
To finish off the year with a bang, I was approached by I-D Magazine and Vice Magazine in New York who were/are making a series of documentaries about obsessed collectors. Me being the Guinness World Record holder for having the Largest collection of Spice Girls memorabilia was a perfect subject for one of their films. The filming took place in December and was tiring but fun… not as glamorous as you imagine and involved leather trousers (I will say no more). The mini documentary will be shown in the Spring via online channel Noisey TV.
So, there it is! My 2014. It was a good one personally and professionally. Thanks to everyone who made it so brilliant. x