I am circling like a stirred cup of tea.

I have been selected for the a-n Mentoring Bursary 2019 and will be working with Rosalind Davis to push myself and my practice forwards.

I am hoping that the judicious dunking of a digestive (chocolate naturally), will slow my spin.

I am used to working within a framework as a graphic designer. The framework is created by budget, or brief, or client, or timescale, or the combination of all of those. I am comfortable in my art practice where I have a similar framework through collaboration, or circumstance or perhaps a project defined by someone else. Now it is time to find the confidence and resilience to develop my own ideas on my own terms.

To focus on the journey, the outcome secondary.


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At the outset of this blog I stated …

“I am used to working within a framework … created by budget, or brief, or client, or timescale…. I am comfortable in my art practice where I have a similar framework through collaboration, or circumstance or a project defined by someone else. Now it is time to find the confidence and resilience to develop my own ideas on my own terms.”

I’m meeting my mentor, Rosalind Davis, this week and my resolution did not last very long. I made an initial experiment piece (blog post: Without words). But then I spotted a commission call out for something that could work the ideas and themes I’ve been thinking about. ‘This is good – I thought – I can write a proposal and adapt it for my own purposes later.’

I didn’t expect the proposal to get anywhere, the typical scenario of an open call being 100s of applications and a ‘thanks but no thanks’ deadend to follow. Surprisingly my proposal was shortlisted and I went for an interview.

I didn’t get the job.

Good point – the proposal has merit and is worth developing because they were taking it seriously.

Bad point – it may not have won because the proposal was not directed enough to the clients themselves. Or maybe with anything I did differently it would always have been second best to the unknown winner. Ho hum.

Good points – I have a strong proposal that I can adapt and develop.

Bad point – I’ve immediately falled into the trap of working within a framework that wasn’t really what I wanted to do other than it would have had the seal of approval of achieving something that has external validation.

Good point – Maybe the framework just works for me – and I shouldn’t fight it. Maybe I need to create the framework in order to create my work? Perhaps the framework is not the problem.

I’ve had some calmer moments in the last few weeks, working on mindfulness and meditation. And began thinking long and hard about my motivation – what is creating the block to my progress? I don’t think I feel frightened of experimentation or ‘just doing things’, but I do find making any decisions extremely difficult. What is the outcome of any decision? Will it be the best outcome? Will it achieve validation? Deciding to experiment doesn’t have an obvious ‘achievement outcome’. I am thinking that letting go of trying to achieve might be the key. In my early life, when faced with difficult circumstances, I can see that I used ‘achieving things’ as my coping mechanism.

Achieving something is often a positive and has positive outcomes, and I do want to achieve something through the process of working with a mentor. However – there is always too much of a good thing. The drive to achieve as my coping mechanism puts myself under a lot of constant pressure, it is motivated by external validation and trying to please and impress other people.

Searching constantly for the next opportunity to achieve can be a distraction and is an activity that sees me running away from staying focussed on the job in hand that may or may not have any particular outcome. I need to divert my intention to internal satisfaction and enjoyment. (As I write this I automatically put ‘internal satisfaction and ACHIEVEMENT’ but then stopped myself: I DON’T NEED to achieve anything. Satisfaction and enjoyment could be enough.)

So with these thoughts in mind, I am going to try to shape my plan of action… I have an opportunity to shape a project of my own, with a meeting set up next week. I will be working with my mentor to get this into a positive shape.


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Earlier in the year I was invited by the organisers to take part in the 8th International Video Poetry Festival in Athens, Greece. My work was shown as part of the Poetry + Video programme curated by Marie Craven. But as well as the film programmes there was an extensive programme of live performances and readings.

As part of my invitation I was asked – is there anything I’d like to perform live? EEEK!!!! That didn’t feel like me. However, I persuaded myself that this was a perfect chance to start and tried to convince myself to give it whirl. I then became extremely stressy about the whole trip, the travel and accommodation and all the extraneous details  – I think I was just diverting my nerves onto something else.

I had the new writing inspired by Tilly Losch – 3 pieces, and a short piece that I had created during a workshop with the Desperate Artwives called ‘Space Negotiations’.

The Tilly Losch pieces had been created with the thought that they may be films in the future, while Space Negotiations was created alongside a floorplan ‘drawing’.

Performing this writing was ‘not part of the plan’ when I began them. But on my own, and in my working with my mentor Rosalind Davis, I need to develop more of a spirit of experimentation, and this includes experimenting with presentation and trying things out in different ways whether they work or not. I find that presenting something is the best way to be able to stand back and evaluate it.

I like to get things over and done with – whether its the dentist or doing something new. So once in Athens I volunteered to go early in the evening. However, this meant I didn’t know how the event would be run and was unprepared for the live VJ images and sound that accompanied the live readings. I pressed on regardless and I tripped on the mike (of course!) and fidgeted a little (I tried not to). But it was enjoyable. It was interesting to focus on only the words and consider their effect. And to sit back and later consider how others made their performance more successful than mine.

And – having done this in a very low-key way – it was exciting to reflect on the multi-media pieces that were presented, and how these might inform my approach to my work.

These included a live performance of Floodtide by Ian Gibbins – in this piece Ian looks at how a city copes, and what it looks like, after years of drought, rising sea levels, relentless storms. Filmed in Australia it shows an only-slightly futuristic vision of a flooded urban landscape –  achieved with video compositing. Ian has different versions of this film – a version to be performed and a film that can stand-alone.

And a stunning collective performance created by Sissy Doutsiou+ Nikos Touliatos which combined poetic reading, music, and dance performance.


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Art Language Location are based in Cambridge. Currently working with Anglia Ruskin University they are curating a 21-artist silent film showreel at The Window Project in Silver Street.

Having been part of Art Language Location in the past, I decided that this would be my outlet for experimenting with a poetry film that is silent. My films have used a voiceover to deliver the words (for example here), and I combine this with sound effects to layer further texture and meaning. How would my film feel without any sound?

How would the text interact with the fast moving images when it has become visual and part of the images?

I had been so welded to the voiceover and sound effects that it is difficult to imagine that this could be anything but dissatisfactory. However, I am keeping an open mind. I have worked hard on the typography to try to make it work with the images, and also my imagined pace and reading emphasis. There is much more I could do, but I felt I had to make a start somewhere.

I have not yet made the film widely public, other than its localised showing in Cambridge. I need to digest it further and come back to it after a period of time, and, if possible, get some feedback from those who do see it. Then, if I’m happy, collect some feedback from peers online.

For the kind of work I think I want to make for the future, I can see that there will be site-specific presentations where a silent film might be infinitely more appropriate or practical for the context. Or perhaps where a film needs to work with multiple layers – with sound, but also have value without sound. Is this possible? Could it suit my ‘flicker-film’ technique.

For now – Relationship: scaffolded is on show at The Window Project, Silver Street, Cambridge until mid-January.


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Creation of art is not meant to be the worst thing in the day. Frequently it it the best thing. But getting started is SO often the worst thing.

Talking with my mentor Rosalind Davis – I realised how much I had been thinking but not DOING. One of my targets before we meet again is to make one film. Any film (on my theme). Good or bad. Just make something and it will lead me down a path and (hopefully) tell me what to do next.

So, I have returned to the ideas in a book I was given by a friend: ‘Eat that Frog’ by Brian Tracy. 

Mark Twain famously said that if the first thing you do is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you. Tracy says that your frog is your worst task, and you should do it first thing in the morning. My worst task should not be my art practice – but it is the difficult, gritty, confusing … AAAGHHHH-feeling task. Without anyone to be accountable to (a client, or a tutor) I have allowed myself to forget how much my art practice is my frog.

I have many ideas but which do I focus on? I have binned a few. I have many ideas but which would be the most productive? Many ideas but which will have the best outcome? Many ideas but which will be the most helpful to push myself forward? None of those questions can be answered until I have done something. Either the idea will be a good one or a bad one. But thinking about them after a certain point, without making something, becomes a waste of time.

So today – I tackled the frog. Whatever was at the top of my to do list is my frog. Today I drafted the outline of a film, using text I had written a few weeks ago at a writing workshop, and photographs I took while on the workshop.


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