Isn’t providing references an absolute bugger! If you don’t end up with your MA/BA tutor for years (which probably makes you look amateur), it can be really awkward asking for one from someone you have only done a short project with, no matter how well it went. More difficulties of being self-employed and spreading yourself very thinly.

After Hospitalfield, the Director was awesome and provided me with a word file containing a fantastic reference and some sheets of signed headed paper. That solved that for a while. But now… hmm, going to have to email a few people and of course, I have left it all rather late as usual!


Full of a cold and bundled up on the couch looking at application TO DO TODAY!

Just noticed that the debate on the artists talking front page points to my blog at the moment – on the subject of professional v’s amateur following entry #122. Looking through application opps today, this has unexpectedly reared its head again. I had earmarked a few things to apply for but was just doing a last-minute trawl through a-n and axis etc. when a Res-Artis newsletter appeared in my inbox – so off I went to trawl through that as well. Just when did it get so peppered with posh b and b’s masquerading as residencies? These are rural retreats for artists with organic food in highly desirable holiday areas of France and Italy, not exactly residencies as I think of them. I probably started using Res-Artis about 6-7 years ago and I don’t remember it being like that then.

These kinds of ‘residencies’ are, if not exactly a scam, guilty of false advertising. (see also: Lindsay Sunley’s thread ‘scams’ on the forums). Yes, if you go, you will be resident there and they do only invite artists and they have studios, but it still seems more like a holiday. They are quite good value as accomodation however, so might be worth bearing in mind for next summer.

To my mind this is the same problem of some pay-to-enter exhibitions that are just looking to get as many artists in as possible to top up the year’s money, and books being published where artists are invited to be included, for a price. It is taking advantage of artists who want to further their career and aren’t sure what the best way of doing that is. They seems to be aimed specifically at (what is probably an unfair sterotype) semi-professional artists who have come to art late and have money to support their new career/hobby and don’t mind paying. You are essentially renting a studio somewhere amazing.

What I have found the most valuable about residencies in the past is meeting and having dialogue with other artists, having access to great facilities, workshops, lectures and also being asked to provide workshops and lectures. All of these things contribute to professional development and offer support to artists. Basically, I just wish that these places weren’t included in Res Artis listings, or were kept seperate; it would save me a lot of time. I do wonder whether I am being very dogmatic about this though – does it bother other people as much?

So, as an example, I don’t really recommend applying for this residency if you want the above things, although it looks pretty damn good for a bit of a working holiday somewhere lush:



Manchester Artists’ Book Fair yesterday – finally it is done and the flat can stop being covered in paper trimmings and cut off lengths of linen thread.My husband will be very pleased.

It was a really good day; lots of inspiring works, a really interesting lecture from David Faithfull about his Inkubator project, and sales. Of course, sales only just covered costs back to zero – these things can never return a profit. But I sold three books to the Manchester Met collection and five to the University of West England Collection (where Sarah Bodman, Queen of artists’ books is based). 200 ish of my cards went out (although there was a ton of students there getting ideas and making notes/taking photos, so these may just be stuck in sketchbooks!) and my website stats are showing a big peak from yesterday and today already. I also just love chatting about book things with and it is always encouraging when people show an interest in your work.

The costs were £60 for the table, £10 train, £10 subscription to the Blue Notebook from UWE and £15 in M & S on lunch and then dinner stuff too – too tired to cook, I will also count in costs the £30 worth of printing I couldn’t use because it wasn’t good enough – another expensive and valuable lesson learned about not rushing things! So weigh that £125 up against £148 of sales and that leaves me with £23 towards labour and production costs on a lot of books. Still, probably a worthwhile investment in myself when all is considered.

I met Carol Ramsey and Annie Harrison (not Hamilton!) – fellow a-n bloggers who both came over to say hi. Add to that Angie Butler from PET Galerie, who I have had e-contact with in the past (through Artist Book 3.0 community on ning) and it made a really good chance to meet people and have a good natter about what we all had going on. I mentioned an idea I had for a mobile book fair next year to one person and word quickly spread, with people coming over to ask to be added to the mailing list/submit work. Guess I will be doing that then! Sometimes I need that pressure to make sure things happen, but then I often find I have put myself in incredibly stressful situations and I am never sure why I feel the need to do it (over and over). But as I will be moving to the countryside in January, I am thinking a rural tour of artists’ book van may be an option. Watch this space….