It’s nearly five months since I’ve written here which means that it’s five months since someone responded to one of my tweets in which I promoted my last blog post, alongside the image above (a detail from my ‘Sweet Nothings’ work). Someone I don’t know responded by sharing an image of their own next to mine, the implication being that what I’d posted was crap. It wasn’t clear whether they were referring to my work or what I’d written – no matter, really – everyone’s entitled to their opinion. But what did matter to me was that, out of all the blog posts and images I’ve ever posted and then shared on social media, criticism of this particular one, got to me – and hurt! It came from a deeply personal place.
I did my best to follow advice from the small handful of people I confided in – to ignore it and not give the perpetrator the satisfaction of knowing they’d upset me. My allies were right, I’m sure, but it’s hard to escape the absolute glaring irony of this situation: that work addressing the serious issues of young girls and women being silenced and discouraged to voice their opinions should be met with my own! And so, it feels right to at least acknowledge the comment left on Twitter, if only as a point of reference and to draw a line under it. This space has often provided me with a place to park things and move on.
By complete contrast, I’ve been involved in positive conversations with other artist bloggers, Elena Thomas and Stuart Mayes, over the past few weeks. Elena and Stuart, like myself, have been contributing to the a-n blogging platform for a number of years. In the midst of a massive house move, I’ve been grateful for sporadic snatches of communication with them and the opportunity to reflect on what writing these blog posts has meant (and continue to mean) to me, personally and we three, collectively. It’s led to some interesting questions and responses and with the help of Stephen Palmer, a-n Artists Network has just this week published an online Q&A article derived from these conversations. We celebrate 33 years of blogging between us and the article has prompted a number of comments from other long term bloggers on the a-n platform since it went online. Rob Turner is one of them and his comment caught my attention:
‘The original a-n blogging platform was a nurturing safe environment for artists. People wore their hearts on their sleeves and much valuable capitol was gained from that.’
A ‘nurturing safe environment’ is exactly what the a-n blogging platform has been for me and I’m pleased to be able to share this Q&A article below, outlining my own and Elena and Stuart’s individual take on the benefits of long term blogging. It speaks volumes I think, about the huge advantages to be gained through being a part of the a-n blogging community, both past and present. Some conversations have already come out of it – our hope, collectively is that there might more to come.