Today I spent the afternoon with Sarah, one of the curators at YSP and had a good look around my gallery space (mine for a few weeks of 2011 at any rate). It was brilliant to sit down and find out a few things about timescales, money, materials, and stuff and generally sort out how things will happen a little more. I feel SO much more relaxed having things said out loud. Actually, I’m not sure that relaxed is a word that will ever be right in connection with this exhibtion, but I can’t think of a better one at the moment.

Anyway, I am still rubbish at talking money, but I have promised to get better at asking for help. Sometimes I forget how some things that would take me ages and drive me insane are just daily tasks for staff at the park. Default position is to ask, just incase.

One incredible development is being offered the use of the boat house as a place to work in the run up to the exhibition (starting in November by the looks of things). It’s amazing and there is a little wooden side part that is made for photographing things in (my things at least!). First residential dates are in the diary for November as well a meeting with technical staff to start asking my list of a million questions…. how would I make this like this? Can you help me make this like this? ETC ETC ad infinitum.

I’m so excited that I have almost forgotten I am doing workshops with the public at the park over the next two days. Anyone in West Bretton please come and make a self portrait as a building with me :D


Finding a balance as an artist blog:

There has been a good deal of discussion on the blogs over the last few weeks about ways in which we operate as artists. This covers a vast range of issues from making a living, to subject matter, working intuitively versus politically and the dirty matter of being able to market yourself and retain integrity.

I wanted to add another voice into the discussion. Joanne Mattera is an American artist who writes a great blog, in particular, her Marketing Mondays (MM). Bear in mind that a) she is American, b) her work is very much in the traditional gallery model of making and selling and c) she deals with the US philanthropic way of operating all the time, so many posts deal with auctions and fundraisers – the type that we don’t really have (YET!). Other than that, she offers some great experience, anecdotes, advice and wording for emails and letters. She represents an especially generous type of artist to me; one willing to share so much with her peers.

This MM post looks at changing career tactics (the old argument of the starving artist in a garrett versus sleek marketing artists – In reality I guess most of us sit in the middle). She says

The new breed of artists—and many mid-career and even late-career artists, who are purging themselves of ingrained old-think—are not just working in their studios but presenting themselves to the world.”


I liked anon’s response:

“Anyway, I believe that every artist seeks (and hopefully finds) the balance between promoting the work and not having that promotion interfere with artistic integrity. Each person’s balance is sure to be different, and the main thing is to find what feels right to you–even if it means living with fewer material comforts (which in itself is not a bad thing)”

My position is similar. I want to get paid and I want to have integrity. I believe a balance is totally possible, but I also don’t expect to be 100% pleased all of the time. I also want to be in art for the long haul, so I feel like it’s really important to find my own pace and not worry too much about what everyone else is doing, at what age etc. I still do though, of course! Perhaps the artists shouting the loudest are not the most interesting anyway. I often find that the artists I admire most tend to slip away for periods of time, probably when work overwhelms everything else.

Pragmatic wihout denying the inner drive to make art – Anthony Boswell’s last few posts have pondered some of these issues: www.a-n.co.uk/p/567127

he says in #44:

I have done too much empty talking -just forget what it is to be an artist, ask the questions inside what we want answers to and make the work.”

On that note, I better go and get on with some…



There’s an interesting debate going on in the comments here about the effect of funding cuts, from a practitioner perspective (seeming largely unaffected) and from the independent organisation perspective.

It’s been pointed out several times that regional areas may be the hardest hit as they are unlikely to draw philanthropic support like high profile London venues. Christian Barnes had this to say about local autority funds:

“Public sector and especially local authority support for the arts is so important because it sits so close (in principle if not in recent practice) to democratic accountability and in this respect it has been the Arts Council’s disastrous mistake to approach this period by ‘dis-investing’ the local authorities. This sent a signal to the local authorities that it was OK to dis-invest in a non-statutory service – after all if the Arts Council doesn’t want to support local authority provision why should a local authority? Many authorities here in Cumbria are now feeling that it’s OK to follow suit. At the time of dis-investment local authorities accounted for a high proportion of revenue to the arts so this was always a questionable and risky position, one whose rationale has never been adequately explained to the sector. The Arts Council chose instead to partner with the Regional Development Agencies”


Also wanted to flag up a couple of things:

The foundry looks like it is finally getting knocked down. Has anyone heard the protest that “the development is cashing in on the local art scene at the cost of artists” somewhere before?


Also, an opportunity for artists that made me laugh thinking about the proposals they might get; The House of Lords seeks to commission and artist/designer/craft practitioner for site specific work for its permanent collection. This involves a 6-8 week residency for 2-3 days a week at the Palace of Westminster library with a fee of £10,000. So it’s a well paid opportunity indeed, and their collections of rare books and manuscripts sounds amazing, but it’s such a complex situation at the moment. I guess it’s not a residency in the house of commons – that would be different.

If anyone would like the pdf of application details just ask…


I went to Birmingham today to see the BOOK SHOW, which was great and certainly food for thought… of course there was a talk this evening and I missed it – sod’s law, but then I did get the BOOK and think I may even like that better than the exhibition. I also saw a sumptuous and beautiful video piece at Ikon Eastside and ‘Inbindable Volume’ at VIVID, which was astonishing. It was strange and a little pretentious at points, but beautiful, poetic and laugh out loud funny in parts.



After my brief trip to Edinburgh at the start of the month I had a bit of a revelation about why I left my BA as clueless as I did. Depending on the traditional tourist pound means that Edinburgh just doesn’t have the same kind of art scene as cities like Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester. It’s a bit insular in a way, although vastly improved since I lived there and Martin Creed was fab. Funny to experience the lift piece in Birmingham again today. So I thought I would go to a few more cities and see what they are like. Newcastle is next on my list. It all helps to appreciate what you have at home and Liverpool is fantastic really, despite its flaws.

I am currently being interviewed by an LA based curator via email. This will be published somewhere to accompany my exhibition at Showreel in Milan this autumn.


As questions and answers go back and forth I can recognise this as a really valuable experience. It’s rare to have someone delve so deeply into my work and I have enjoyed being challenged and pushed on things. I have a meeting with the curator at YSP on Monday too and a good look round my space, so things feel stressful and rich and bursting with possibility. I am also terrified, but this is familiar territory…