Times they are a-changing.

Excellent news from the Royal Standard studio group with several people (present and past) going away to study for postgrads in various brilliant places. Other artists I know in Liverpool are also looking to move away or abroad, just bcause the time has come to do further study and expand horizons. Makes me want to do my MA all over again (but please don’t make me!)

I’ve just been reading bits of Art in a City Revisited, a book about the effect of 2008 on Liverpool. It struck me how many of the people who have shaped the events of that year, and those around it, belong to my studio generation (they are in quite a few of the pics as proof!). I worry that the graduates coming out into the city do not have the same confidence or ambition, but mostly that they are not operating in clumps. You need a clump of people to start a studio/gallery space and you need to be solid and have a lot of trust.

There is a plethora of sunday painters in Liverpool. Then there are a level of artists who are serious about what they’re doing, but they’re not quite getting it. That sounds harsh, but what I mean by that is that they aren’t seeing enough or paying enough attention to the wider art world or being really honest with themselves to really make ambitious, engaged work. Then there are a number of artists who are going places, but it’s early days. It is these people that seem to be leaving, perhaps because they need a level of critical engagement that Liverpool can’t always deliver. It can at times and especially during the Biennial, but not always. Then there are a few artists like Paul Rooney and Leo Fitzmaurice who have stayed in Liverpool, but operate internationally. There isn’t much inbetween. As far as I can see, the art school is vital in this city to change this and I breathe a sigh of relief that JMU has announced that Fine Art will be taking admissions again for next year’s intake. Hopefully this year out will be their fresh start.

Personally, I feel like leaving Liverpool and going away somewhere to get my head stuck into 6 months quiet research. It’s not very satisfying when I’m trying to make the best stuff I can for YSP but it feels compromised by the need to work and make money. Art in Education projects are bringing in good rates of pay on paper, but they also drain masses of my energy. I have still not found a good balance.

Anthony Boswell also announced the end of his blog recently


and I will miss his musings, but I also thought -fair enough! Personally, I have been trying to develop a few things (and applying for funding) that will enable a more hands on approach to looking at the ethics and economies of being a working artist. This is Getting Paid in practice rather than text I suppose. With the advent of cuts and change in government, far more people are engaged in these important issues of fair pay and treatment and this blog is becoming less useful – or more commonplace, which is a brilliant thing. I want to stay away from complaining (although it is important) and spend more time looking at ways of uniting artists to insist on better working conditions as standard.

As a-n says in their comment on ACE Funding:

“a-n calls on all these funded galleries to allocate fees and payments to artists in support of the critical mass to guarantee that quality visual arts will emerge in the future.”


More of that please.

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I have been struggling with the lack of unity in my work recently – the fact that this blog and the things I believe in for artists, do not fit neatly with the work I make. In titling the show at YSP ‘Make Shift’, I think I have been starting to see links, but I don’t even know if it’s necessary. I just have the feeling that sometimes people are disappointed my work does not match my blog more overtly.

It’s not that I write off all things relational aesthetic either, but that kind of practice does not come naturally to me and I would rather do things well than for the sake of it.

A Japanese friend gave me a good phrase recently: ‘Hippari dako’ meaning a kite pulled by lots of people in different directions all at the same time. I think I am pulling myself in lots of different directions to be honest.

All of the above doubt and worry probably points to the fact that I am tired! I was down in Cambridge last week building a structure on wheels for ‘Small Scale Survival’, Aid & Abet’s first show. It was fun and somewhat of a prototype – two days to build on my own does not a refined sculpture make! My woodworking skills are self-taught and haphazard to say the least but it works. The video is a test run filmed by Rosalie Schweiker, who is running the Emely Cafe there. One of the best parts of being in this exhibition has been the chance to meet her, engage in discussion about the economics of art and ways in which artists can survive. We have made a series of posters as a conversation, and I think they might appear in a book somewhere sometime….

The work pictured is really a reading room (on wheels). Inside there is a copy of ‘The Box Man’ by Kobe Abe, along with a cup holder for coffee and a little red seat. The idea is to get in, wheel around until you find a spot where you feel safe/content/really able to concentrate and then begin reading and drinking. This is all. I’d like to make it again, althought with some more planning so it becomes more of a flat-pack kit and has a little more longevitiy.




p.s. As itunes is being it’s usual awful piece of software self, I can’t upload the video at the moment. Pics for now, film to follow….