After just whining on about the fact that I didn’t have anything on after YSP, I had a little flurry of emails for autumn projects. Not that these people read my blog – more likely this is the short turnround that we all have to operate on when there is little budget and precarious situations all round.

I have also been plotting myself as I haven’t organised anything yet this year (well, not strictly true, but….). I almost don’t want to share as it’s not fully formed, but saying things out loud can also mean that they have to happen. Anyway, I have started writing to people to ask them to collaborate on a new publication, so I shall see how it goes. Website is bought/under construction in my head and ISBNs ordered, that’s all I’m saying for now.

After getting my YSP book to the printers yesterday I had a brief respite from the stress that has been interrupting my sleep for the last few weeks. For about ten minutes at least – then the Liverpool Art Prize awards poppped up and slotted into the books’ place in my brain. Now, if I think about tomorrow night I can actually feel my stomach flip. Stupid thing is, I’ll be rushing out of work, trying to get across to Liverpool (from Pontefract) on the bloody M62 and I’ll get there and not win anything. Then I’ll have to drive home (not even a glass of wine as release) and get up at 5am the next morning to come back to Yorkshire. Why is it on a Wednesday night? WHY?

Tonight I am finishing off my cataloguing hours for intute.ac.uk. It is the last lot of work from them ever, so I’m feeling pretty sad about it, although it has always been something that stresses me out at the end of the month! It’s because of funding cuts. Speaking to friend the other weekend, we both said this is the first time we have ever directly felt the government’s actions. She had a commission purchase cancelled because budgets were cut.

Anyway, I’m moaning again. I think I should probably ban myself from bloggin until all this stress is gone. 19th July then…. I’ll try.


‘Time to pull together’

You know how I go on about this kind of thing, well Lyn Gardner has put it pretty well in her latest blog post,she’s writing about theatre, but as is often the case, it can be transferred to visual arts pretty seamlessly. She says,

‘it cannot just be every artist for themselves. It must be every artist for the best possible art for everyone.’



I have just been reading Katriona Beales’ new blog about Linz, and it made me a bit sick.

Now I can’t help but remember last summer, which was a joyous, languid affair on the banks of the Danube, swimming every day, meeting lots of new people and seeing lot of different art. It was fantastic, and hot. I was making things and had the most head space I have known in years. Add to this, crackly pork and beer.

It’s hot here too, but I am working in schools in Yorkshire for the next three weeks solid and am already exhausted! Also brought with me a LOT of cataloguing work and am trying to finish off the YSP book for the printers. The driving doesn’t help a sore neck and my little red van is not happy with the heat and the slowness of the M62 – he overheats pretty easily. I feel a bit akin to my van actually; a bit frazzled.

So this is the life I have chosed I guess … never the same and sometimes awesome and other times just way too much, a big piley-on. In-betweens rarely seem to occur. Even though the end of YSP is not in sight I am already feeling a little black dog at my door – the application one that says I should be looking out for what’s next. There are things lined up, but nothing really meaty and I will need some money at some point! But I can’t write any applications that make sense at the moment, it’ll just have to wait until the book is done, I can only handle one thing with pages at a time.


In reality, being represented by a gallery is not for the many. Hearing lots of curators/collectors talk at the symposium at A Foundation, which was part of The Economy of the Gift exhibition/art fair, was like being in a different world. About 30-40 people attended, all collectors, gallerists and some artists (those in the show). They seemed to be used to operating in their specific circles and a lot of the discussion indicated that unrepresented artists were pretty much invisible to them. It was about wider issues too though, and a very interesting discussion to sit in on. One man (whose name I don’t know as he was a last minute change to the programme), made a bit of a derogatory comment about a-n, their activities, or artists – I’m not sure of the intent entirely, but it made me bristle. I paraphrase, but something like – ‘it’s all very well a-n printing guides to being an artist and trying to ‘professionalise’ the arts, but you either have it or not’.

Anyway, sitting there, as one of those artists without a gallery and finding a-n’s guides pretty useful, indeed, writing about these things myself, I felt belittled. I felt he was basically talking about me, so I could conclude that I do not have it, so may as well go home. But I think he was wrong to generalize like that, and perhaps it says more about his view of where the art world lies. Maybe he is not getting to enough shows/events outside a certain area of the arts? But generally I felt it was unfair and I wanted some recognition for my own position.

But then, evidence of his point turned up. and the case for artists was not helped by an audience member who turned up late. After a discussion on the state of public collections in Eastern Europe by the panel, audience member popped his hand up to ask a question. ‘Can you give me some advice on how to get a gallery’ he asked. You could almost see those around him shuffling their chairs away. Eyes rolled. I cringed inside – what was he thinking? Why did he think such a self-centered question was in any way relevent? How did he think this made him (US!!!) come across? It goes back to the respect thing again, if you want some advice or input from these people, surely you need to listen to what they’re saying and respect the situation, decide what’s appropriate.

Interestingly, an artist on the panel showed another gulf in understanding. She was asked a question about some of the issues brought up – something about public collections, and she said that she didn’t know about that, but could talk about her work. She then proceeded to talk about her practice from ten minutes. I was baffled. I think there were some language difficulties, but I suspect the same might have happened regardless.

So why are many artists unable to engage with the bigger issues or add their opinion to debates? I suspect it is the same reason that we are not very good at presenting a united front; because there is a tendancy towards introspection and self-interest. There is no time to read around these issues while you are trying to make work and work. This is often necessary to make a living, to stay on top of everything, but I wonder if it is also embedded a bit at University and is a standard expectation in the field. I do it sometimes I’m sure – just look how quiet my blog has gone since my workload increased! But I hope I will never get to the ridiculous level of feeling entitlement like audience member. Thankfully, Katriona Beales redeemed us artists at the symposium by making a very intelligent and considered plea on behalf of artists outside of London. There was tangible relief in the room as this eloquent artist spoke up and wiped out the memory of the previous question.


Post #200! Yikes.

Back from Yorkshire for a day and just catching up on cataloguing/admin/invoicing and general life. Someone drove into the back of my car on Saturday night so I have a very sore neck and have been pretty fed up about the timing of it all. Going all that way in my little red van has not felt the most reliable way to travel! Anyway, everyone was fine, so that’s all that matters really, insurance should sort out the rest, although my third party managed to give me some dodgy contact details, so hope the debt collectors can find her!

A piece of the art prize work got broken on Friday too, so that didn’t help my mood. It bothered me more than I expected, although I knew having delicate casts on the floor was asking for trouble. Going to replace it today, although the new version is not as good as it’s been made in a rush. Oh well!

I saw this today on a-n: Gallery, dealer and agent agreements.


I thought it was a good read, and importantly stressed the importance of the two way relationship. I felt lucky this year to speak to two gallerists about the way they work: Ceri Hand & Kate MacGarry. They were both keen to demystify the whole process and it was nice to see that they are just people working with other people (artists).

I interviewed Ceri briefly, when she was kind enough to spare a moment during a busy day at the gallery (preparing for imminent art fairs, mid-visit with Rebecca from Saatchi and all on her 40th birthday!). I was pretty distracted by her amazing dress, so was glad I recorded the conversation. She described her relationship with her artists a bit and how they had all developed together since the gallery opened. Kate MacGarry said similar, as most of the artists she represents have been with her from the start. Ceri also talked about studio visits (saying that a lot of artists, especially in the North, seem to have little idea what is expected during one), and the difference of choosing work for art fairs over exhibitions and that a lot of artists need input on this. Sounds good to have such a critical friend/gallerist.

Ceri also stressed the importance of artists knowing what is appropriate and the fact that respect goes two-ways. So, if you want a gallery to look at your work, do your research on them first and don’t rock up asking for a job if you haven’t even set foot in the place. Also, turning up with a portfolio randomly is not the best idea.

In the a-n article, they mention the fact that these relationships are never static – so pretty much the same story as with all other aspects of being an artist! I think I have come to realise since I graduated (in 2001), that having a gallery is not the be all and end all. There are plenty of other ways to make a living or exhibit or work. They may not come with much support or input, but they exist. I may start looking for some more critical friends though – people have asked whether I have had any feedback from the art prize show and I can’t really say I have. Not any that I can 100% believe as most of it was heard at the opening.

I’m going to have to carry this on I think… next post…..