I really enjoyed doing the performance last week. After the madness of setting up, the worry and the sleepless nights it was a great relief from the hard work. I felt I just slipped into the zone and relaxed into the flow. People buzzed around me with glasses of wine, most faces were familiar and friendly. People weren’t afraid to play around with the piece so it was a lively drawing session. I received many compliments and there seemed to be real intrigue in the pieces, but I find it so hard to comment on people’s reception of the work. No one looked bored or uninterested that I saw, so I recon that’s a positive.
St Albans Review did a preview feature on the exhibition last week which my aunty had cut out and bought to the launch for me to take home. It felt strangely comforting, clutching this little newspaper clipping (proof of the show in someone else’s words) as I was slumped in the passenger seat as Q drove me home. Home for egg and chips and ‘Mock the Week’ Just what I needed!
In this new space the work looks new and fresh to me. It feels like I’m looking down on myself a bit, I have a strange feeling of detachment from the whole scene. In this public space the work appears to have ditched me and branched out alone. Even in the performance I felt like part of me was floating off somewhere else (although maybe that is just down to the long periods without sleep!)
So for now I’m just paying frequent visits to the gallery, spending my days chatting to the invigilators and the occasional visitor and processing the whole experience.
Finished putting up yesterday at about 6pm. The whole experience of hanging and organising the work was rather a rollercoaster of emotions. The 3 days seemed like one long blur of frantic drawing, climbing up and down ladders, a bit of um-ing and ah-ing and a very large amount of going home and thinking well into the night about those little niggling worries. But on finishing yesterday a huge wave of relief came over me… I felt happy with it. Of course there are still little things I wish I had more time on and some things I might have done slightly differently. As always this new space teaches me new things and really questions each of the choices I have made. It emphasises to me more the importance of growing more experienced in showing your work and moving it in to unfamiliar spaces. It really helps it to take on new faces, quite often ones that are even strange and new to me.
So performing tonight. I’m quite calm, just keen to enjoy it and hoping those who come do too.
Have I ‘found my practice’? I thought maybe Andrew might have gone mad or emailed the wrong person when he sent me this question. I didn’t really know I was supposed to be looking for it. This particular worry, I have obviously forgotten to worry about, what with all the other things to worry about (until he asked it and now I’m racking my brains as to where and when I might have last seen it!). Shit! Has anyone seen my practice?!!
I was always in the mind set of just ‘keeping it going’ and making things meet somehow, seeing through another year and having a little personal whoop-whoop moment now and again to myself for not throwing in the towel. I’m paddling frantically under here (is this not what we are all doing?) trying to keep the waters in motion.
I think I am probably quite an irresponsible artist in regards to maintaining a practice that is realistic and sustainable. I seem to shy away from the issues of finding funding and applying for grants or anything else that requires me to fit particular criteria. I cling to my part time job because it asks nothing of me as an artist and allows me a clear distinction between when I earn and when I create. This often does make me question if I even have a practice. The money I may earn from my own artwork is usually just a lucky one off and considered a bonus. I know this is not the way to move ‘my practice’ forward for the long term but it helps me, for now work on what I consider ‘my true practice’ (the one that exists to learn rather than earn). The most important thing to me now is creating space, time and freedom to be able to work with as little compromise as possible. I do work very hard trying to ‘get it out there’ and get people interested in my ideas but ultimately my work is not to fulfil anyone else’s expectation. If I focused on what I ‘should’ be doing I fear the results would only be contrived and empty. I guess a lot of it comes down to intuition and allowing yourself space to listen to it. For now I maintain this view but who knows how this may change in the future. I feel like the only way for me to make it work is keep an open mind and be prepared to adapt, yet stay confident and focused on what feels right to me.
continued on previous post…
In terms of how to see myself moving closer to a more sustainable practice, financially, I want to learn more about how to balance it. I find so far looking to other artists that I really admire (not just at their work but how they conduct themselves) gives me some guidance. The a-n blogs have really helped me gain access to what others are doing at ground level. I also often look at other artists C.V and get a feel for what decisions they have made to get where they are.
Mainly I am concentrating on just trying to get on with it, in the way I know how- a little bit of feeling my way in the dark, a little bit trying to pick things up as I go, and a little bit of what feels right. I don’t know if this is an answer to Andrew’s question but it’s the best I can do at this stage. I don’t think I have found my practice for the long term, I’ve just found how it works best for me for now.
Work has been packed up and transported away from the nice cosy studio space that it knows so well and left to grow more accustomed to it’s new home ‘the gallery’. I went along for the first trip over to help unload at the other end and have a nose at the gallery now it’s been set up in position ready for me to install. My initial thought as soon as I walked in….. ‘Shit, this space is big!’ I’ve seen it many times before, but never empty… wow the shock of emptiness!
There was my little pile of bits and pieces whimpering discreetly in the corner, looking at me with pleading (take me home) eyes, almost shrinking and cowering at these huge bare white walls. I wanted to give it a bloody good shake and demand that it ‘grow some balls and stop being so pathetic!’ On Monday we are going to have to take on this space and take charge. So it’s got a few days to settle.
Settling seems to be something I myself am struggling with. Friday was a gap in my schedule and a day to just potter, get a few last bits and relax. I might of felt the benefits if I could just get a proper night sleep. I can’t switch off and am annoying myself as I toss and turn and huff and puff into the early hours. I don’t even feel particularly nervous or worried, just excited. But the more nights that pass without a decent rest the more hysterical I am liable to get…someone give me a bloody good shake and tell me to grow some balls!
Well, tonight is a new night so fingers crossed for the sleep fairy to bring me a nice present.