I am exhausted. Having spent the week heading up and down the country and stressing (hadn't realised just how much until I stopped!) I am ready for bed at 19.40 on a Saturday night.

Lancaster on Tuesday was great, a very warm welcome from Suzy at Storey Gallery. Gave tutorials at the uni, had a very nice dinner and then gave a talk about me/Wolstenholme Projects/the state of money and arts at the Duke's Theatre there. I hope I didn't rant too much, but a lot of issues from the blog came up, especially as it was a chance for me to see what artists elsewhere thought. The talk resulted in a fair bit of discussion, which is good, I think. I was asked a lot of questions I couldn't really answer, but people seemed to agree about rates of pay and not working for free!!

Wednesday was an interview for a bursary at Yorkshire Sculpture Park – which I got!! Success and 100 days of gainful employment over 09/10. I am having to think of it as a kind of apprenticeship really as it pays, but only £100 per day and I will also have to pay for my own travel/accomodation out of the bursary. It will still be a fantastic thing to do, but not as glossy as it seems. I am very excited though and looking forward to the first meeting in June.

Thursday I went up to Bishop Auckland to meet James Lowther, one of the organisers of Art Land, a site-specific art festival taking place in April. A lovely chap and an amazing sunny day looking round and gathering information and scraps of inspiration for the bookwork I have been commissioned to make. He also offered to pay my expenses to come up for the opening to do a reading from the work (when I have made it!!). I'm very glad as the other work going into the festival looks really interesting and it would be a shame to not see it!


Friday was a funeral and Saturday was being shattered.

Now I have to try hard not to spend my future money before it has been earned, but I would so like some resin… ahem.


Top of my list to do today is send feedback for the CCS consultation:


The process is an open one so please go to the website, read throught the document and send your thoughts on it! It could be a really influential document so it's important to have your say…

It's kind of a week from hell this week, teaching/talking in Lancaster tomorrow, big big interview on Wednesday, long drive to Bishop Auckland to talk about work for Art Land on Thursday and my beloved Grandad's funeral on Friday, followed by a presentation at A foundation on Friday evening and a workshop with teenagers for Respect week in Everton on Saturday. Phew.

It's good as well as terrifying and stressful. I need all of this stuff to keep my momentum going through the funeral and all the way to the workshop. I can, after all, collapse (a little bit) on Sunday. My life does seem to go the way of the bus analogy and it can make me a very determined, but fractious and impatient person to live with. Either that or I am plagued with guilt and self-doubt! Oh joy.

It has make me think though, when do I ever actually have a whole day off? Not very often at all. The last time was probably my honeymoon, so I hope I can remember to make more time for that this year! Leaving internet and phone behind may be the first step..


I am mainly surrounded by piles of paper as I put together book after book after book in preparation for BABE (Bristol Artists' Book Event) on the first weekend in April.

After the last 'paying to enter' things entry, I had to think about this as a table at an artists' book fair costs money. BABE is £80 for the weekend and then of course, you need to add in petrol and sleeping. My answer to these costs is to take my husband with me and try and make it into a nice weekend away. The really hard bit is not buying too much of other people's work!

I have been really struggling to make the books I want to as I just can't pay for materials/production. Instead of beautifully made, gleaming, letterpressed editions, I end up with pamphlet stitched books done on my printer and with a little screenprinting. I long to be back at Women's Studio Workshop in NY, where I did a book residency last year. Never before have I appreciated time and facilities to make work so very much. I was like a machine! They are another organisation that have had funding cuts this year. I wish I could do something to help. If I ever won pots of money, that would be one of the first donations!

I organised Liverpool Artists' Book Fair last year and really struggled with table charges as I know how difficult it is to do these events. As it was tables were charged at £25/weeekend and £15 for one day. This just paid for advertising and paying cafe workers. For hours of work over four months, I didn't pay myself a bean. But, I loved doing it, it was the first one and Bristol and others offer so much more in terms of audience and establishment. This year, to avoid killing myself with all that unpaid work again, the book fair has had to go. It has a good home and will be at A Foundation this year, but it was so very difficult to give all my work away in exchange for goodwill.

I suppose BABE has to be thought of as a trade fair and therefore, an investment. It is a financial risk, but I have my fingers crossed that I can at least break even……..




1 Comment

I have just been having a conversation over email with another artist about paying to enter things.

I my head I have a very clear rule about this: I don't do it. On reflection I thought that there are some things I would pay to enter, these being competitions on the level of BSR and the Jerwood prizes.

We began by discussing Celeste, a fairly new prize that now has an online focus. It has various categories and costs 50 Euros to enter. Finalists are decided by selection commitee and finalists themselves decide how the prize money is awarded. The website does, usefully, have a pretty little pie chart showing how entry fees are spent:


25% – prizes, 10% website, 23% employment and 13% selectors fees and so on. So, to be simplistic about it – that means that as prizes total Eur40,000, therefore wages add up to Eur36,800 and the selectors will earn Eur20,800 between them with the website costing Eur16,000. That's a hell of a website!!

Rather than a competition for cutting edge contemporary art, this seems more like a game show format to me, much like Saatchi's upcoming TV show, which is a game show – right? In this model, artists, especially those who are inexperienced and might not know any better, are being used as a source of funding. Want to put on a show/festival/residency? I know; just get £35 off each person entering and it will pay for itself, plus we can employ ourselves for the duration, genius!

People – this is your money!! If you're going to spend it anyway, wouldn't it be better spent elsewhere, perhaps on some food, or even getting people together and sorting our your own project? I'm not saying the prize has no value; for the winners it has incredible value, and also for the finalists I expect. The website may generate opportunities for people adding their work to the entries too. But for the majority, those who the competition depends on for funding, it won't do much at all. Spend the entry fee on a subscription to a-n and axis instead, where you will be aligned with a much more desirable (and credible) crowd.

I also get fed-up trawling through res-artis, which a couple of years ago I used all the time. Now, although it is still an amazing resource for finding residencies, it also lists numerous places that seem like little more than posh bed and breakfasts around Europe, with studios attached. Not so much an application form as a booking form here. Much more time has to be spent weeding out opportunities that represent work rather than a nice hoiday.

We all know there is not enough funding out there and that other ways are needed to make art more self-sufficient, but to my mind, entry fees and dumbing down on quality to appeal to and use the masses are not it.