urk. It’s all caught up with me a bit. Got back from hanging at Manchester Contemporary yesterday and just felt rotten. Anyway I sort of fell into a bath, boiled myself for a while and then slept for about 3 hours. It seems to have done the trick. I normally get up with my husband, but today I woke up and plodded downstairs to find him already leaving for work. I got marched back upstairs (dragged by my elbow I might add), shoved back in bed and told to stay there for at least another hour. Tough love eh. So, feeling a bit more human now, I’m looking forward to the opening tonight, especially as I don’t have to drive for a change! The space (although very small) was looking pretty good when I left and I’m very happy to be part of it. Axis are not taking comission as artists brought and hung their own work, I hope someone sells something!

But, generally I feel a bit behind with EVERYTHING. Firstly, my accounts, and then everything else. I have done my usual thing of thinking that I have a couple of months coming up where I can just go to the studio and chill out a bit. What I forget is that nothing is planned that far in advance, so if I don’t keep an eye on things, my diary slowly fills up until there is no time left. I am still not in a position where I want to turn down work, BUT, a promise to myself – put in writing as a reminder – after a couple of days lecturing at the start of December, I am not doing anything other than studio work. Right? Right.

Last night I booked some flights to Geneva for a show I’m in at the start of December (before the lecturing so it’s allowed). It’s part of the ‘Roaming’ project by Ermanno Cristini and curated by Alessandro Castiglioni and Noah Stolz in Lausanne at the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts. There are a lot of things about this project that I like – the theme, the response to the work in the permanent collection (currently curated under the theme of light) and the other artists. Especially Victor Man, whose show at Galleria Zero was fantastc, and Alice Cattaneo, who I met in Milan and whose work I really like.


The most amazing thing about this is that Dan is coming with me! Hooray. I do so much going away for work on my own, that it feels a real treat to have company. Happy days.


Cardboard Folly had a modest launch last week and although the house is still full of paper and cardboard, it was great to have it completed on some level. Now I really must attend to the website and get photographing. The work is on display at the Bluecoat until 14th November, but given it’s vulnerability, I will be impressed if nothing is damaged or stolen before then. I really hope not…

I’ve also been thinking a fair bit about protest and different ways of going about it. I have seen a few discussions going on in quite small groups (certain types of artists). This seems like an easy way to start conversation from common ground, as well as getting a lot done, but on the negatve side, these groups could be in danger of being slightly esoteric and diluting the argument as a whole. There were demonstrations against the cuts on 20th October around the country. Certainly a direct way to protest, but it seems easily forgotten, and there wasn’t much press coverage – the news mentioned it in stories of the day, but it wasn’t headline. I saw most about it on twitter.

Then there are the strikes in France against proposed pension cuts. Cutting off petrol supplies pretty much gets the job done doesn’t it? It hits those people driving massive vehicles pretty hard at least – if your Range Rover tank takes £100 worth of fuel in each pop, then you’re going to feel it very quickly.

Then I saw this this morning:


A residency at the ICA that will result in performances (at the ICA and across London) by the ‘Paid not Played Choir’. The invitation to join asks for people’s complaints. This terminology makes me uneasy because it is really negative – why not a call for ideas for change? Complaints sounds like someone else will be expected to fix it. The advert also states:

Participation is free // Food will be served at each rehearsal // Everybody will receive a complimentary DVD of the performance // No singing skills required!!

I bloody well hope participation is free! It’s a protest about not getting paid for goodness sake. The choir is also therefore inaccurately and misleadingly named isn’t it? Who’s getting paid? I’m sure the question has been asked already of their ‘Dissent ‘ programme, but can you successfully stage a protest within an institution like the ICA? This is an especially pertinent question given the recent contraversy about its funding/financial situation (which involved pouring rather more cash into fancy sponsorship events and marketing budgets than it did artists). There is a very informative piece on the ICA by J.J. Charlesworth here:


in which he says,

“With the ICA facing one of the most serious financial crises in its 63-year existence, its programme for the next year appears to be a radical-sounding ‘experiment in de-institutionalisation’, with radical artists and academics co-opted to provide content on a shoestring budget”

So many things seem to be at odds here that my head is spinning a bit trying to work it all out. For the moment, I am very suspicious and I shall be following it to see what comes out of the final events.

I won’t be volunteering.


When I was in Milan last week I saw a huge demonstration by students against cuts to University budgets. The last time I saw anything like that here was when they brought in fees – at eca we all went and sat in the road at the main traffic lights on Princes Street. It didn’t do any good in the end, but at least it made very visible our opposition to the move.

In Milan the students were being cheered by the passers-by and they were shouting support to the students and joining in the chants. I think most of the public in Edinburgh avoided eye contact to be honest. I saw in Variant magazine that it has also happened in Rome. The public support may be a general feeling of anger towards Berlusconi and an increasing mistrust in the Italian political system, but I can’t imagine students being taken really seriously like that over here. To be honest, the students kind of negated their actions by then going to McDonalds and leaving the Duomo square and the connected streets literally covered (like a blanket) with litter. Support and respect goes two ways and this was kind of rude – just an arrogant gesture of teenagers I suppose, but I felt less inclined to support them afterwards!

If you haven’t seen the news already about the un-capping of tuition fees in England then there are some details here.


Another unbelivable barrier in the way of those from low-income households.

It got me thinking that I have no idea what the best form of protest is, especially as all the save the arts campaigns etc don’t seem to be very far reaching at the moment. The art has been thought provoking and there is a lot of support for it, but I don’t think much of that is from outside the arts. That opinion is only gathered from taking to people I know, so it is a small sample indeed. But it is easy to see that people wouldn’t care too much when everything is being slashed and there are more immediate and personal worries to deal with. I hope it doesn’t get to the stage where people are asking what happened to free museums and all the holiday activities there used to be for kids etc – after it has been cut out of budgets.

Here is the latest great contribution to Save The Arts by Bob and Roberta Smith.


On a personal note, I had a good conversation with Emma Gregory at the Bluecoat yesterday. She is an artist and the print studio manager, and also like a wise bird. I was asking advice on whether I should take up an offer I’ve had from a gallery, something I feel I should take but my gut says no. I had made my decision already I suppose, but wanted to somone to tell me it was the right one. She pointed out that I was talking about the offer like the owner had asked me on a date – i.e. I was worried about turning him down and upsetting him, and ultimately I was flattered by his interest and didn’t want to disappoint.

Correct. It appears I am completely transparent.

I really have to stop seeing things through a personal lens and to disconnect feelings and personal relationships from making the correct decision for the long term. It would be easier to say yes now, but it would be very hard to make it work over time. MUST REMEMBER! Any ideas how anyone?


I just found out that I didn’t get the residency in Japan I applied for – the one I wanted so much it made me sick. Funny thing is, I’m actually quite relieved and I realised that I really just want to concentrate working at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I didn’t know that before so that was a surprise. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to go and work in Japan again, but I’m sure it will happen at another point in my life. Instead, Dan and I shall be going for a holiday instead, which will allow more time for stationery shopping. I guess part of my relief is just that I know what I’m doing for the next six months – wherever I’m spending it! This also means that I can definately be on the panel for a seminar in New York at the end of January. This is not a bad thing by any means!

I also just commented on Susan Francis’ blog, on the subject of open exhibition fees – because I just applied for one and paid £10 for the privilage. I feel a bit dirty and a bit of a hypocrite to be honest; perhaps I should be heeding my own advice. But, then, it’s usually a good exhibition and I wouldn’t mind being in it, but should I have paid to enter? I suspect not….Oh well, it’s too late now – I shall just have to see what they decide and take it from there. If I do get in, it may also be a good chance to ask them how they can justify charging a fee in the first place!


Tiny space blog:

I have just got back from doing the Showreel project in Milan and it has given me much to think about.


Aside from the joy of amazing food and sunshine, the whole experience was a pleasure. The curator, Paola Caravati, has worked on Showreel for at least 18 months alongside her job at Francesca Minini Gallery in Milan. I was the last artist to exhibit out of five, the first four being Teresa Gillespie, Alice Channer, Sinta Werner and Adam Thompson. The work was displayed in a tiny shop window, with a photographer’s studio across the street used as an area to display a slideshow of works along with copies of a commissioned interview and in my case, some artists books.

My interview with curator Ciara Ennis:



This interview was done via email as Ciara is based in L.A. and I really enojyed the whole process. She asked some difficult questions that I don’t normally have to deal with, so I appreciated the chance to get into some issues in my work.

It may have been the way I was treated in Milan, the fact that all the costs were covered, or just the long conversation involved in realising the project that made it such a valuable experience. Paola’s approach was to use the event as an introduction to the artist (rather than a straightforward exhibition), so the opening was mainly peopled by curators and gallery owners. Interestingly there was no alcohol and it was still a busy and engaged evening!

The space used was the window of a workshop in the Isola area of the city (an equivalent to Soho or something I guess), where incredibly intricate baroque parchment roses were made:


The owner, Elena, lived and worked in the space, with this incredibly economic use of space, but also with everything she could need. Her handmade tools and workspace were really inspiring and I am very glad I could see inside it.

The walls in her workshop (the front room that faced onto the street) were clad in marble. A lot of things in Italy are, given that it’s a local material. But this got me thinking about the quality of things, and how investing in better materials often makes more economic sense. Same with the exhibitions, and in retrospect I can see it was far more worthwhile taking so long to make a piece for a space not much bigger than a square metre than many other projects I have done recently. I still haven’t got to the point where I am saying no to things that I know in my gut are probably best avoided. I think this basically boils down to vanity, or insecurity, I’m not sure which, but it is to do with being flattered that people are interested in my work.

Already I have had an email from another curator I met in Milan, about taking part in an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lausanne in December so I am excited to see how this develops. But generally, I am thankful to Paola for making me so welcome and all her hard work on the project. This is also proof that an Axis profile can bring good things, as this is where Paola came across my work.