This also came up last night: Empty shops as art venues..
It was the AIR Open Dialogue event last night at Castlefield Gallery. Very nice to finally meet Susan Jones after much emailing, and also great to discuss the very basics of practice with loads of new faces.
I thought about blogging last night when I got in, but partly I was tired and I also wanted to digest it a bit. The things that stayed with me are unexpected. I found myself sharing things that I hadn't expected to, some parts of my life/work that I probably have never vocalised before. One of these was finishing off my spiel by saying that I wanted to get my head down and work, and that I wanted rid of the organising. This was backed up at dinner afterwards when Susan was talking about the fact that people seem to have forgotten that good work and careers take time. There is an expectation of talent and genius to negate the need for long hard graft, whereas musicians and others (quoted, I believe from the article below or similar) need about 10,000 hours practice on average to become a professional.
I know that I have my first ever solo show, infact two of them, coming up in 2010, and obviously I want them to be great. This means starting now, no more agreeing to shows and flinging out the work. I want and need something different for my work to see a change and development. 10,000 hours is after all, well over a year, and that's without sleeping or doing anything else. Perhaps five years of full time work represents that statistic a little more meaningfully.
Giving some feedback about this blog to Andrew Bryant this morning also made me consider what a fantastic tool it has been in sharpening everything. Being determined to practice what I preach, I have suddenly become much better at valuing my work and time more highly, saying no and generally looking after my long-term self a bit more. In turn, I hope this is also looking after the industry by not getting involved in projects that rely on artists working for free or without in-kind support/trade. I hope I can keep it up…
I also realised I am still fairly terrible at negotiating and that must be the next area for improvement, especially when YSP starts….
This month has been one for talking it seems. I have been asked to do talks on several of the things I am involved with; me (!), Wolstenholme Projects and the book fair mostly.
On Saturday night I was at IMT gallery in London (a beautiful space) for a panel discussion about artists' books and their distribution. It was very interesting, but the slant on the questioning from the chair was so focused on distribution I was left (about 5 minutes in) wondering what I could contribute. As the other panelists were a publisher and a book-shop owner (and book artist) I felt quite low-fi in comparison. The huge disparity in our outlooks/ agendas meant that rather than having a broad ranging debate, it was difficult to discuss fludily as there was just no need for us to agree or disagree on many of the points.
This just demonstrates the massive range of work that is going on in the field. It may have also been because we were in London, in a gallery, where selling things matters. I cringed inside at one point where I had to pipe up and point out that discussion was getting very London-centric and esoteric. I felt alien to the discussion yet I think I am a good example of someone who makes artists' books, where it is not the whole of my practice, but just the best medium for some ideas and also something I make without considering its distribution and audience beforehand.
Books Fairs, which were hardly discussed in comparison to publishers, represent for me the first point of sale for most book artists. They have their own problems but do offer a fantastic opportunity to meet other artists, see work, touch work and maybe buy work too. I am quite unconcerned about getting my books into Waterstones, and as shops such as Tate and ICA also require distributors, I would be much more inclined to look elsewhere like the Book Art Book Shop or the Permanent Gallery to stock my work. Additionally, talking about Ed Rucha et al and their books is interesting and relevant in terms of the history of artists' books, but he and others who were published represent the very few. I suppose the problem for me ended up being that if there were any book artists' in the audience hoping for some insight into outlets for their work, they would have been disappointed.
Tonight is the AIR open dialogue event at Castlefield Gallery in Manchester. This is artists talking about their practice and how they approach it/manage life, the universe and everything. I am certainly looking forward to a more practical bent.
Good old arts jobs.
I saw this and laughed out loud. Someone else (surely please) understands the sad state of things! Thanks to Rose Smith for reminding me to post this. All over-qualified CVs to Keith as quick as you can:
Job: Cleaner, nottsnewartspace
East Midlands Unpaid (Voluntary) Full time
Artform: dance, interdisciplinary arts, theatre, visual arts
Contact keith Hetherington [email protected]
Gallery Assistant required for cleaning duties at the 'New Art Space' in notts, sneinton. Duties require unblocking gully and vacuum drain daily. Dusting and sweeping exhibition space after pre construction. Would suit recent graduate wishing to gain experience within facilities management.
Please send c.v to Keith Hetherington at [email protected]
Well, it's been three weeks since my last post. That pretty much sums up my life: massive spurts of activity only to be distracted by something else I want to try and swapping for a while. Again, the picture of the octopus artist crops up again as I imagine lots of us are trying to negotiate many tangled paths..
Last weekend was BABE (Bristol Artists' Book Event) at the Arnolfini. The first time I have had a table at a book fair, and I was really quite concerned about the outlay – not just making the books, but the table cost, journey, accomodation. It adds up! I did sell books though, most of them actually, and broke even. But I can't even think about the fact that even though I covered costs, at the end of the day it was like giving all of those books away for nothing! The next book fair I will be doing is Liverpool, so none of those costs involved.. I did, however, sell a book to the Tate collection, so that compensates a little for a lack of money. I think BABE also raised my profile somewhat as my website got so many hits over the weekend it nearly fell over!
On Thursday I am going up to Bishop Auckland for the opening of Art Land,
and although I am dreading the drive, I am really looking forward to the whole thing. It is always great to get a chance to make work somewhere else and most importantly, escape the things that distract me (washing, cooking, making a mess of the flat and depairing at it). When I go elsewhere I am free of these things and that has always meant very productive times for me.