Artists need a balance, well several balances – no matter which aspect of creative life I think about there is always a point at which a balance has to be found.  Between reading/researching and actual making;  paid work and studio time for example.

Yesterday I stumbled upon an uplifting element of my current balancing act  –  which makes me realise that I have always got to be on the look out for the moment when things just come together –  and nurture it.

I am helping to organise a group show with college friends taking place in London this October. Because most of the group have just graduated and its holiday time it makes coordinating things difficult –  getting the ACE application done, agreeing on publicity etc via Facebook has its problems!

So after a meeting with just three of us yesterday I came home with my mind bursting – pleased with our progress but aware that its really tricky trying to pull things together like this! And its a constant concern – will we get this grant? will we get a good invite list together? will everyone turn up?!

At the meeting Daisy suggested making a new FaceBook page as a promotional thing where we show out work and ideas and progress as we run up to the show.

I made the page last night and invited the group members to starting posting their current work. And within minutes images started appearing and conversations started happening. And there was a balance – the new page has created a space where we can share our enjoyment of our work not the stresses of the organisational side and it feels like a rush of freedom.

This is what we all do it for isn’t it – to make work and share with like minded people the experience,  to align ourselves and to move our work on. Hopefully the rest of the group will feel supported by this page too  – it feels like a really good addition to the whole project. This rush of freedom has given me fresh energy and I’m feeling excited again.

Our page is called PaperFields  www.facebook.com/PaperFieldsatBurts

and our exhibition runs from 15th – 22nd October at R.K.Burts Gallery London SE1 1SG

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I’m watching my friends graduating and feeling like -‘What moves are they going to make next?’ ‘Whats it going to be like for me next year?’

(I’m involved in a group show with them in October in London so I feel a sense of continuity for the time being.  http://rkburt.com/gallery/index.html )

This post is about creating continuity through periods of transition and about  building connections.

As a student I’m quite preoccupied with the question ‘whats going to happen next?’ I’ve a need for reassurance that I will find work after studying for six years! Its like watching a game or party from afar and not participating . ( I have exhibited and sold work etc over the last 2 years so am not entirely out on a limb – more impatient I think!)

I’m reading Share Your Work (Workman Press) by Austin Kleon author of the bestseller Steal Like an Artist. The book is a kind of ‘light read / inspirational genre’ designed as a self-help tool. Kleon maintains that creative people need to share and show their work to get noticed. Through this process of sharing – both on the internet and in ‘real life’  artists foster interest and understanding with other creatives and the ‘public’. This sharing also leads to interesting collaborations and learning and inevitably to work.

This puts me in mind of Emily Speeds project Work Makes Work –  www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/getting-paid. Emily tracks how her work comes about through spider diagrams and invites other artists to do the same http://workmakesworks.tumblr.com/ . Its a really interesting project and its fascinating how one thing leads to another in an organic, unplanned way. The artists taking part spread their diagrams over a period of at least two years and in that time are involved in several creative activities. Well worth looking at.

An essential part of the sharing that Austin Kleon  and Emily Speed talk about in their respective ways is a generosity of spirit. In order to be open about and share your work you have to be generous. In my limited experience of making and exhibiting work I have been met with this generosity – its been incredibly helpful and I hope I approach others in the same way.

This might be obvious to an established artist but to someone new to the art world its something they have to learn about. I’m pretty sure that you can’t operate this generosity to others with out a sense of confidence and integrity in your own work. You have to be honest and open about your own work first for this generosity to really work.

Creative integrity to the uninitiated is something that takes time to understand. As a new student, unless you have prior experience working creatively, it takes a while to get your head around. Writing a journal and sharing your work with tutors and fellow students helps massively.

So for me reading Kleon’s book, whilst helpful, makes me want to start a few steps back – and think about gaining self-confidence and artistic integrity first. For the first two years of a degree course most of us don’t have a sense of ‘what kind of artist I am’ or a clear idea of ‘what is my work about’ and I think that our creative integrity and our true ability to share can only come after this – at a point  when we begin to recognise our own creative character.

Interesting videos –  http://austinkleon.com/speaking




I ‘m currently exploring ideas about the sense of loss and longing for childhood through the study of personal objects from my own childhood.

Is it a universally held feeling to long for childhood in some way? Or is it felt more intensely for some of us and why? As a mother I am also aware that whilst I sit very closely to the childhood experiences of my own children – their childhood belongs to them – I am, by virtue of being an adult, further denied access to the magic of childhood

The problem I’m finding  is that I’m unable to express a sense of this longing in a clear way visually. I really think its because its all too personal – I get tied up in knots about it. I’ve been reflecting on work I made a couple of years ago about the childhood experiences of WWII Evacuees. I used fragile paper, fabric patterns and toys of the day as a vehicle to express a sense of disruption and loss. I was more objective I guess – I empathised yet could stand back –  and I felt that the work communicated their experiences.

So how do I step back from my own personal story – how do I transform the mediums I’m using into tangible expressions of my own experiences?

Thanks Richard Taylor the a-n Art Student online editor for pointing me in the direction of  Thea Djordjadze whose paired down sculptures eerily ring with the feel of a place and time now gone. Her work has personal connections but its so direct. How can I move forward with my work to crystalise the essence of what I am trying to communicate?

And looking through the a-n News page I discovered an artist selected for the Jerwood Drawing prize who also seems to cut straight to the heart of loss and longing. Recent graduate Zoe Maslen works with presence and absence –  see her beautifully haunting work with hair and  incredible drawings on her blog http://zoemaslen.wordpress.com/blog.

I need to go back and simplify things, to stand back from personal entanglements that are confusing my vision.  

The Welsh have a word hiraeth, with no direct translation into English, but which is best interpreted as a deep longing for a connection with the land of Wales. There is something in the essence of this word that is very important to me with regard work – I need to express my own deep longing for the emotional ‘land’ of my childhood. I’ll keep working on it.



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