I am taking the oppportunity of the RE-VIEW artist bursary provided by a-n to share and analyse the learning journey I am taking; my aim is to push my practice onto the next level.I have identified four steps I need to take, each will be supported by a chosen mentor as follows; curator and mentor Carolyn Black, artist and curator Amanda Wallwork and artists Judith Alder and Elpida Hadzi Vasileva.
Continuing and strengthening…
More than a month has passed and has brought me many new experiences and work.
I have been fully involved in collaborative project Encounters Shop, created by Ruth Ben Tovim and currently set in Andover for its 11th edition. Amazingly, the work contained many hours of mentoring which, i felt, followed on from the previous months of being followed by other artists and mentors. The process of collaborating is a teaching in itself; each experience takes me to new levels; as my practice unfolds the journey adds encounters with other likeminded artists but also with other people who do not think like artists; both have influenced the shaping of my thoughts although it all feels too fresh and too much to distilate and understand yet at what level i have been affected and how this will come to shape.
I am happy to let it flow as i am currently caught in an uninterupted flow of projects and creative opportunities.
The blog , perhaps will help me to take a pause evry now and then.
My two next exciting opportunities will take me to Stonehenge and to the Isles of Wight!
Last week was an amazing turn for my practice; I am so used to taking a couple of rejections per week that I never imagined that I would get a couple of successful applications over two days.
In both cases, the success was associated to a relationship built with partners, gallery curators , places… I have spent most of the past 6 months attending conferences, gallery visits and talks and looking at other people’s work. This was driven by a need to expand and explore other people’s practice as well as a wish to become part of something bigger that the sum of my own doing.
I have recently met my two artists mentors Judith Alder from Blue Monkey Studios and Elpida Hadzi Vasileva, who represented Macedonia at the Venise Biennale last year.
During both conversations, the strong point coming out was the importance of creating solid relationships with galleries and partners accross the region and the field of work you are interested in. It seems to me that the most important point is to build these relationships on a basis of true mutual interest for both parties;
I clearly had connections with both project I got accepted for. They both had a part to play in the development of my practice and I am delighted that they will contribute to my artistic development.
In paralel to the mentoring from a-n review bursary, I also have received a busary for a Art and Health program led by Willis and Newson in Bristol.
I am currently developing my own code of practice as part of the training. I have placed Integrity at the top of my list of values, followed by, Creativity and Innovation, Respect, Empathy, Fairness, Competence, Confidentiality and Care.
These are the basic rules I will aim to follow and deliver as an artist working in the world.
Progress or Process?
A mentoring scheme has many facets.
I started the scheme with very clear objectives. Over the course of the scheme, the aims have changed and my directions shifted several times.
I am now a bit more than half way through.
The first part was aiming at writing a proposal for a specific opportunity with support of a professional curator. This process has lead me to question my practice, my goals, my technics and even my drive as an artist, like it did not happen since Uni.
Over years of writing proposal and fnding applications, I have learnt to fit in an agenda, and please my partners. This has transformed my art practice and shaped the way I think and I create
(In a positive and negative ways).
So far ,the mentoring time seems to take me to rethink my relationship with Art before I think of the agenda of the commissioners;I have learnt to suprise myself with ideas in order to surprise and catch the imagination of others.
One month in the scheme and I have not managed to fully write the application due to complications in the process; I initiated a partnerhsip which was withdrawn at last minute; the application seemed to have failed before being even sent.
I learnt to let go, to look into the progress and recylce my ideas and my learning rapidely to turn the situation to my advantage.
I am currently working to recreate the partnership on a more solid base in view of developing a G for A instead.
Always look for the bright side…
I have just had a couple of rejections following proposals for projects /residencies.
As we all know, this is part of the job.
At the start of the mentoring programme, I was advised to buy a book called Resilience, facing down rejection and criticism on the road to success, by Mark Mc Guinness.
I have to say the book has helped a lot, although I thought I knew the process, rejection still hurts and needs taking care of. I have , however, noticed some difference in the way they responded to me in the last two cases;
There was a positive note to the response; I was informed that they were, anyhow, interested in my ideas and were expecting me to keep in touch.
I want to take this as a mark of progress and put it on the fact that i am developing ideas much further since going through the mentoring process.
As well as the rejections, I have also had a few fantastic comments on my ideas and my work and am developing a new body of work related to Walking.
I had been wondering if adding up rejections would break me, create an artist block, get me to get a ” Proper job” or be part of my ride to success.
I still am unsure about what it is doing to me, how damaging and heartbreaking? how inspiring? How much hope and faith do I still have in stock?
To end on a positive note, I have just had my first paper published in the International Journal of Social , political and Community Agenda with Common Ground Publishing.
Step 1; Inside Out.
I have decided to get support during the full process of shaping a proposal for an advertised commission as a way of learning and improving my chances.
I am almost three weeks in the mentoring process; I am currently developing a proposal with the support of Carolyn Black as a mentor.
The focus I have put in the research and development of the proposal is unprecedented; as I chose to make an example of this proposal and use it to develop my skills, the intensity of the process has forced me to look inwardly in my current practice.
This is a time to question and reassess everything I have done before and build up on it; I feel that I am pulling all my strength in one direction and this one direction is now showing me a all world of new possibilities.
The bursary has come to me at a time where all things had stopped; my art was almost asleep, resting for a while.
I had come to a time where all possibilties were dispersed through the many rejected applications and proposals I had written in the past months, laying there as my “miscarried artworks”.
I have made encounters with a wide range of art works and written artists’ words in the past month.I have discovered that “not knowing” is my best asset, that my thurst for exploration will not be extinguished and is the very essence of what makes me alive.
After all, I am still a free lance artist, standing in my practice through thick and thin over the past 15 years so there must be , somewhere within me, a strong belief that what I do best is Trust the Process.