The crit at which I presented my work two weeks ago has continued to play on my mind. Perhaps the anxiety stirred up for me that night hasn’t ever really gone away – all the feelings associated with making a public presentation – feelings of exposure, vulnerability – being not quite good enough, even.

I keep coming back to thoughts about how useful the crit was – for me personally, in terms of helping me understand more about the piece of work I presented. I’m still processing all of that but I did come away with a feeling that on the whole, I’d found a safe space with sensitive and compassionate people – one that I’d be happy to return to.

The past eighteen months or so have been a huge learning curve – the word ‘crit’ hadn’t even entered my vocabulary up until very recently – and yet here I was, taking the plunge to present at one.

I think retrospectively that I could have improved my preparation – but then, if I allow myself to really think about it, I’ll probably feel that I could have improved just about every single aspect of the crit – the way I introduced myself, the way I spoke, the way I responded – and so on. I could go on but I’ve decided to put it down to experience and hold onto the lessons learned – it was my first ever group crit, after all.

It was certainly useful to see how the other three presenters/artists introduced their work and how they responded to the critics’ comments – and to listen generally to the conversations that were going on throughout the course of the evening.

I’ve wondered about my fellow presenters since, naturally curious about how they felt at the end of their presentations. My fantasy certainly, was that they were self-assured and confident and concluded their allocated presentation slots feeling more certain and assured about the direction their work was going in. In reality, of course, I will probably never know whether this was the case or not.

Attending the crit was also an indicator of how immersed I’ve become in learning about what being a practising artist is actually about – how to be an artist, critically engaged with one’s work. It’s clear that speaking out loud, publicly to other people about my work doesn’t come easily to me – especially to a large audience of people and especially when the work’s still in its early stages of development and can be so full of uncertainty.

But that of course is exactly what the crit is for – to open up the work and to encourage conversation and debate around it; to open it up to other artists’ objective insight in order to be better placed to gauge whether the work is moving in the direction you want it to – to be authentic, a sustainable piece, able to stand its ground and so on. Or not, as the case may be.

My curiosity isn’t likely to stop here and having worked in isolation for so long in the past, it’s the recent conversations and information exchanges with other artists I realise, that I’ve grown to value. They’ve become such an integral and important part of my practice and I hope they’ll continue – with people I ultimately trust – here, on Artists Talking, in my new studio space, from my past and in the bigger, wider art community at large.

And I’ll continue to carry on these conversations in the future too, I’m sure – so long as I stay receptive and continue to look outwards; I have no doubt that both my practice and personal development will continue to benefit hugely from such interactions.


I’ve been reflecting on the stimulating conversations I had around the subject of value and worth and barter and exchange in the build up to Christmas. Firstly, with artist/blogger Jean McKewan for her ‘Reciprocity’ zine and then, for an interview with Jane Boyer, artist/blogger and curator of the impending ‘This Me Of Mine’ exhibition in which I have work.

It’s great to have had the opportunity to revisit these issues, particularly in relation to 10×10, reminding me of the project’s continuing relevance – both in a wider, global sense as the recession continues to bite – and on a more personal level, as the narratives build and the stories attached to the exchanged items determine the project’s real worth.

I wrote about the subject of barter on my website when I first launched 10×10 in 2008:

What happens when currency fails? According to the dictionary: ‘In times of monetary crisis, barter usually replaces money as the method of exchange.’ We haven’t quite reached that point yet, but in the current economic climate, it might be as well to prepare ourselves.

Five years on and by all accounts, it seems as if the already struggling economy is set to get worse – a triple dip recession could well be on the cards. There’s a growing awareness of the impact that government cuts are having on people and the resulting increase in poverty. Certainly, it’s a prominent topic of conversations amongst artists – here, on these blogs and in the art community at large. I’m also aware of more people talking about alternative monetary systems and ways of living – it’s all largely about survival.

On the basis of respecting the value I put on the two recent conversations with Jean and Jane respectively, here are links to them:

www.a-n.co.uk/p/2540360 (scroll down to post #7 & 8 dated 7th November 2012:

An additional interview between Jane Boyer and myself was published on Art-Pie in January 2013.

I’ve also ‘re-found’ artist/blogger Alinah Azadeh through her most recent blog ‘Burning the Books‘ over the past couple of months. Alinah’s previous blogs on Artists Talking were amongst some of the first I ever followed some five years or so ago.

Burning the Books‘ is a truly fascinating blog and highly pertinent in terms of addressing issues such as debt and house repossession.

Alinah herself describes her blog in her introduction as ‘narrating the financial crisis at a human level.’ In terms of the gift aspect of her work, Alinah’s resonates with a lot of what I spoke about in the above interviews, especially with Jean for the article in her ‘Recipcrocity’ blog.

Such interactions and cross-referencing are great examples of the amazing community that can exist on this forum. In the past few days, there have already been some lovely exchanges of advice, support and encouragement in response to my write up about the crit, for instance.

Despite huge diversity in the practice and personality of blogger/artists using Artists Talking, the comments and messages of support demonstrate a strong common bond, created through a shared experience, understanding and empathy. That in itself, is worth a lot and deserves to be valued.

You can read more about 10×10 here:

and about Jean’s ‘Reciprocity’ blog here:


and ‘This Me of Mine’ curated by Jane Boyer here: