Message to Self

Really enjoyed Emily Speed’s list of high and low points for 2011.

Here are mine:


Moving my practice to Deptford, albeit, on a temporary, experimental one-year-basis. Can I afford it? To be reviewed end March 2011.

Meeting new artists in Deptford who are really focussed and serious about their work.

Getting to know Deptford, and watching the art scene change and grow before my eyes. Deptford is the new Hoxton, twenty years later.

Having a studio space again where I can be alone, draw and be quiet [or listen to Mick Jagger singing Faraway Eyes with that cheeky southern lilt in his voice: see U-tube link below. It’s addictive.

Getting work into the 2010 Oriel Davies Open, and the curator, Alex Boyd Saying she really liked my work. Artists need to be valued, rejection is bad for our fragile egos – which definitely need to be stroked from time to time

Taking part in Deptford X & winning a runners-up Deptford X award

Meeting Rosalind Davis, Core Gallery founder & manager

Seeing the Francis Alys at the Tate Modern

Joining the a-n blogging community – a great bonus.

Thinking about the idea of the emerging artist. Is it just a ‘tick-box-funders’ phenomenon, or a real state?

Meeting Jane Boyer through a-n’s artists talking and being invited to partner her in Relay, an exhibition at Core Gallery, Deptford.

Building a website and having 300 hits in 6 weeks

Being offered a tutorial with Graham Crowley. It has thrown my work up in the air, but given me much to think about, and new work starting to emerge as a result.

Thinking: ‘I completed an Open University MA in literature recently [in my spare time, and, of course, just for fun!] – and why am I not using that experience in my visual work? Realising, in terms of inspiration I might turn from fact [newspapers] to fiction [literature].

Having work in this year’s Discerning Eye Show, which is always quite mixed but several friends were in it, so we all enjoyed a glass of wine together, and it was a lovely evening.

Finding the artist Jo Wilton had a studio at the Old Police Station, and spending several hours, since, talking art etc

Amazingly, this week, receiving £58 from the payback dacs fund …. for doing nothing … just having my work featured in a number of magazines and catalogues over the past two/three years. And, wait for it …. I believe you re-apply with the same list plus new ones next year.

Thank you DACS!


Being shortlisted for two shows I would have loved to have taken part in, so tantalisingly close but …….

The number of proposals, opens and exhibitions I entered work for, when you hear nothing. Not even a courteous email – just a PV invite a month later listing all the lucky beggars who got in …

All that waiting ……. to find out whether you have got into something

Jerwood Space – Had an interview in January. They loved a Fritzl piece entitled: 24 Years, [see my website, link below] which consists of 24 hand-made and drawn paper models of the Fritzl family residence. It was going to be shown on a long purpose-built shelf in the Jerwood Project Space [the café!] and I was sooooo excited but, after a few months, I had a phone call saying: they had decided the subject-matter wasn’t appropriate …. I suppose I understood but I was disappointed. Then the next time I visited, and had a coffee in the Project Space, I noticed there was a colourful array of painted magazine collages on the walls, featuring … blood & guts.

Realising I feel a little estranged from my artist colleagues and friends in Hastings, now I spend more time in London

I looked back at my 2009/10 accounts and found I made £4,600 last year from projects and commissions. This year, £350 [!] after purposefully moving my practice 60 miles north from seaside to cityscape.

To look forward to

Message to self: Surprise me!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVEdYYMlOJ4The Rolling Stones/ Faraway Eyes

Emily Speed – Getting Paid. No 237. 17th Dec 2010. www.a-n.co.uk/p/497389/



From there to here

I like this time of the year because it is a chance to start again, or re-invent, finish the old and start the new.

I am beginning to look for inspiration from new subject matter; turning from newspapers to contemporary literature, moving from fact to fiction, and thinking of new ways of making work.

And of course, new ways to emerge?

Following the crit I had three weeks ago with, artist, Graham Crowley. Two things have stayed with me since then: the observation [made about my drawings] that ‘you hold our attention with something fragile and sensitive,’ and the simple phrase: ‘move closer to home’.

fade away

Yesterday I saw fade away at Transition Gallery, curated by Alli Sharma. Very much a show about painting today, and subtitled: ‘painting between representation and abstraction’. A carefully chosen cluster of new, emerging and emerged artists, and hung in a charming sing-song, up and down motion, that leads one eye from work to work, giving them space and rythm. I enjoyed Kaye Donachie’s ‘Under my hand the moonlight lay’, Jo Wilmot’s ‘Burn’, and Mahali O’Hare’s ‘Mickey’. As well as Clem Crosby’s glorious, ‘Picabia’.

So much of the works here, and later, at the Crash Open salon show at the Charlie Dutton Gallery were ambiguous. Seeing the two genres together was helpful, suddenly there seemed less distance between these two opposing positions, making one see new connections, and possibilities.

The idea that this new generation of paintings could be meditations on an uneasy world, might seem rather trite. However, coming in the wake of this summer’s Jerwood painting show, which similarly presented the ambiguous, and the un-obvious, the purposefully ugly and uninhibitedly grim for us to puzzle over, it would seem there is something in the air and leads one to consider if, and how, this work might reflect the uncertain times we live in?


On that theme, I have been re-reading Ian McEwan’s prophetic and quite brilliant [if one is interested in the universal] 2005 novel Saturday. Set in February 2003, it tells the story of one day in the life of Henry Perowne, a mid-forties, well-off, happily married neurosurgeon who lives in central London. When, in the early hours of one Saturday morning, he thinks he sees a burning plane flying over London, it sets off a series of thoughts and feelings about the times he is living through. From the safety of his Georgian home, in an affluent London Square, Henry Perowne stares out from his bedroom window, and thinks:

‘And now, what days are these?’

Reading those words in 2005, when the novel was first published, was for the reader, an instant and recognisable reference to a post 9/11 society, and the global fear of terrorism. The War on Terror was at its height etc, and 7/7 was still to happen – yet the novel, highly prophetic in this respect – still acknowledges the daily fear city-dwellers felt, then, about the threat of a terrorist attack.

However, today, in the wake of a new global crisis and one that is financial, on reading those words: ‘And now, what days are these?’ It seems our anxieties have moved closer to home, and, quite literally, as cut-backs, retrenchment and the age of austerity take hold, people fear losing their jobs and their homes, and with it, a life-style that they have become used to.

If Ian McEwan were to continue the story of Henry Perowne and he was to stand him once more at that tall sash window overlooking Fitzroy Square, that John Adam designed in the eighteenth century, the question could be the same:

‘And, now, what days are these?’

but rhetorical it wouldn’t be, because five years later, Perowne would conclude that as a nation we have moved closer to home, and from the global to the personal – global anxiety to personal fear – from abstract worries about terrorist attacks to doubts about financial security, and the future of home.