Just pondering the meaning of success.

If I Google myself at the mo (I have to say I am not in the habit of doing this normally… I tried ‘neil armstrong artist‘) I currently come up number one, three and six on the first page. I have to say I am quite impressed with my pavlovian rise through the ranks… but what does it mean?

It is no doubt in some part due to the fact that my recent show still has breadcrumbs of links dotted about all over the place, some on quite busy sites… so this will have a good effect on my Google weighting I guess. It’s kinda nice to think that, given a name like mine, I can actually wave a small flag and be seen in the sea of information out there.

But I can’t help but think it’s a hollow victory.

It is genuinely gratifying when someone takes the trouble to respond to my little info-bites here and there (this blog for instance.. and let me say a big thank you to the two people who have left messages so far lol. Let me also point out that two is two more comments than my previous blog… even though I did end up getting a piece in an mag out of it eventually).

Anyway I think my point is that it’s very hard to know just what the effect of this public profile stuff is. I haven’t yet asked the gallery if they had any feedback from the general public.. but I’m not holding my breath.. there was just a little ‘posty box’ for comments so I’m prepared for some rude stuff.

Having said that – on the last weekend of my show I went to take some stills. There was a talk taking place at the gallery… the car park was full and I have the impression the topic was in some way related to one of the world wars. So.. I took my photos (no one was aware it was my show) and ,as the people drifted out of the talk and through the gallery, I kept a discreet eye (and ear) on what the reaction was to my work.

I have to say I was quite impressed. Well impressed in a small way at least. I kinda expected them to just scan and move on through. Some did of course. But others took their time… looked close.. “oh look – isn’t that the same person in that photograph over there – dressed differently”.. etc. They were actually having a go at de-constructing what I was getting at.

I had rather meanly expected less, so it was a pleasant surprise.

And this was happening just whilst I was in the gallery. All the time I wasn’t there other people were having a dialogue that I would never overhear.

Yes it sounds a bit quaint I know.. but I sort of hope I never lose the buzz I get from these small ‘life’ events. The people who saw the show had a dialogue…even if it wasn’t with me! That’s kinda nice.

My Google ranking thus far hasn’t led to any other opportunities being passed on.

Google is just a smug mirror of conceit. It’s the hard slog of making approaches for me now…again…


My parents came to see the show.

It wasn’t straightforward but they did make the effort and it wasn’t easy for either of them at their age. There had been somewhat of a pre-amble via my mother. Would they understand it ? Was she right in thinking it was about how we see so much news on the tele these days? Well yes and no I said. It really puts you on the spot and it’s something I’m never sure about. How much to explain?

The temptation is to ramble on about all the different layers and nuances of the various pieces and how they somehow inter-relate and inform one another. I could hear I was confusing her on the other end of the phone. My search for clarity was actually making it sound more impenetrable. I rewound and suggested, yes she was right, but it was also about other things too. The path between patronising and elitism is steep on both sides. I’m not sure I stayed on it.

But it is a big consideration when trying to put over what one’s work is ‘about’. The temptation is to lapse into ‘art language’. With well trodden art expressions one can be safe in the knowledge that either:

a. what you are trying to say will be so vague and generic in its terminology that you can’t make an obvious fool of yourself or

b. the listener will have insufficient knowledge of the context in which you use those words, that they will find it difficult to do anything but nod politely.

I really do believe you should be prepared to explain your work… but the trick is to suggest that your own view may only be one way of looking at it. To imply that the viewer may actually have a different but equally relevant way of looking at the work may seem obvious – but to people like my parents it can seem a daunting idea, and one that they might not want to engage with.

Usually we are given something, told what it is, and presented with a conclusion. It’s so much easier that way for many people and I am aware that suggesting it can be read in different ways can be construed as a cop out or woolliness.

Anyway they made the effort so good for them. I hope they might go see other such contemporary offerings… but I’m not holding my breath.

For my part I see my work as an on-going research project – so it can’t really have a conclusion. Unless I discover the meaning of life – but I’m prepared to settle for a meaningful life instead!

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