School Workshops

Making the ‘to do’ list to hopefully put my career back on the right path, left me no room to talk about the workshops I ran on Tuesday this week.

I’m back to making the ‘Starflies’ for the church installation, and this time, I was working with years 4 and 6 of a local school.

The morning session went quite well. I had a friend helping me out, but I found the two young teachers (possibly one was an assistant) incredibly helpful. The lead teacher had printed out templates for the starflies and had collected piles of paper (magazines and old school bumf) for us all to use, even though I did also bring my own.

We chatted for 5 mins or so beforehand to check that everyone was clear about the project before started with the year 4’s. All went really well and the morning just flew by, with everyone seeming to enjoy themselves.

Afternoon session with year 6 was slightly different…… my helper had to work elsewhere, so I was on my own. I was ‘greeted’ by two older teachers who hadn’t prepared anything – they even asked what my name was in front of the class! They sat in the corner looking at the pc, playing loud music as ‘it calmed the kids’ while I tried to explain to the class what the project was about.

Although we did achieve quite a lot, it was a difficult session as some of the boys were out of control and I had to ask them several times to try to make something (while the two teachers sat oblivious to it all) To compromise, the boys made a lot of robots, which I have no idea how I will hang.

Am I being naive thinking that this is normal teaching practise, or is this what an artist should expect in a school?


Meet the Curator day

Well, the day finally came round and although I was stupidly nervous at the start I found the hour long chat very useful on so many levels. Thanks to Emily Speed (reasons I will go into later) I met with Sara Jayne Parsons from the Bluecoat today.

A few blog posts back, I said that I name dropped to set up this meeting. It wasn’t actually as cold and calculated as that… I merely said that Emily had made a comment on one of my posts about meeting. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t tried before – Jeez, how many times (!)… but it never even occurred to me that this is a person that I don’t really know and a really good way of introducing myself would be to find common interests or associates ( as you would when meeting people normally!) Ah – so now she knew that I knew Emily and as it turned out, many, many other artists that we shared common ground with.

During our conversation, it turned out that I’d made many assumptions about myself and the people I associate with, but I don’t really know why. I have to work on that now that I’m aware of it. She is going to look at my website when she has time and suggest changes.

I can’t quote all of the things she said ( didn’t make loads of notes as I was thinking about what she was saying) but I’ll list my interpretation of the points she made so that I will be able to refer to them at a later date, and also perhaps they will be useful to other artists reading this.

Some are so bleeding obvious that I don’t know why I wasn’t doing them, some I have been subconsciously doing and not realising it, while others, I simply didn’t want to do!.

1. Make a 3 year plan. What do you want to achieve in this time?

2. Connect/ blog on a-n. ( she was full of praise for a-n)

3. Do mail outs. Now this is something I was dead against a year ago. I had a few really inane updates from artists who were sending them out twice a month and I found them annoying. However……….I had a really interesting one from Claire Weetman recently and my opinion changed. It’s very much the quality, not the quality here.

4. Network ( sigh)

5. Don’t rely on social networking. This is another interesting one as I do post up on facebook and twitter anything new I’m involved in. The problem with both is that you assume that the people ‘who matter’ are looking at daily / hourly, but they are simply not. If it’s not looked at within that hour, it’s gone. If using it though, use it sensibly and with purpose.

There is more, but I’m just going through the scribbles I made after the meeting to try to put them in some sort of order.

It did make me realise though that I have subconsciously already started on a plan. I am more selective about exhibitions and do think about collaborative projects instead (which I do because I enjoy them , not because of any ‘goal’) In the last month or so, I have done a lot of networking – more than I have ever done to be honest, but I still need to go the extra mile.

It’s going to be interesting to see if my work evolves more or my connections improve if I follow the full advice given today. My future blogs will hopefully note these changes.


Today, I have to do some self promotion, even though I’m really not in the mood. But then, if I don’t do it, no one else will. I’ve long given up on the idea that once we exhibit, people will be flocking to see the work.

I did do a quick scan to see if there had been been any reviews anywhere ( wishful thinking!) and I was surprised to find this: http://books-on-books.com/2013/05/19/bookmarking-book-art-wendy-williams/ hmmm… most odd. No idea why he decided to write about me as I don’t know him and he doesn’t appear to live in any of the areas I’ve exhibited in. Got a bit of a shudder over that one.

So….among other things, I’ve sent off a press release to a local paper ( to publicise the Church commission – which I must go back to, now that the shoes are finished!) Its hit and miss if any artists get mentioned as they get inundated with requests, but I’ll try anyway.

The shoes seemed to go down well at the PV on Friday night. It was quite busy and people were asking lots of questions about them. Despite having a brief statement on the wall next to them though, several people were fixated over the fact that they were about the Holocaust. I had been to Auschwitz a few years ago, and although moved by the shoes ( and many other things there) the connection didn’t pop into my head at all when making my shoes.

They are simply a kind of diary for me. Like most people, I pick up a lot of paper in my daily life and most of it is thrown away afterwards. In the installation, is wrapping paper ( from Christmas + my Birthday) Work rotas, magazines and flyers – mostly Tate ones, so they are a personal reflection of the exhibitions I see daily. Nothing sinister or deeply meaningful, other than think about how much we waste. Using ‘Baby shoes’ was depicting naivety over waste.

No doubt I will have the same conversations when I go back.

Yesterday, I went to a talk by photographer Moyra Davey. Her work is amazing, but her presentations are not. It was a very long talk : (

I then picked up my EBay purchase from the Liverpool Art Prize space. They’d asked artists to make an artwork out of a given shape and these were auctioned off on EBay. I was bidding for 5 of them, but because I was working, I couldn’t watch the bidding until the end, so inevitably bid too early. I was really pleased to get one though and it reminded myself that I should try to buy more art!


If I didn’t have dogs, I wouldn’t have moved an inch today. It’s hot and I feel completely lethargic. I suppose also I should be thankful for the day job, from which I’ve taken leave today. After walking the dogs this morning, I can sit, vegetating, knowing that even if I am incapable of doing anything today, I will still be paid.

Yesterday, I installed my work at the Williamson Art Gallery. I got home from work just before 7pm, and after feeding said animals and getting changed, I was at the gallery before 7.30pm. I was able to do this because there was a general meeting on there, which wasn’t due to end until 10pm. Despite the heat, the gallery had no air conditioning and I felt myself wilting after only a short time.

The plinths I’d been given, were badly scuffed and I did think about giving them a quick coat of paint, but 1) I couldn’t be bothered, and 2) it was a recycling exhibition – they will fit in as they are. ( more so reason 1 there)

The plinths weren’t actually big enough so it took longer than expected to try to fit all of the 100 pairs of shoes on. I wish I’d taken a ‘helper’, but I didn’t think I’d need to. I’d chosen to go in the evening because I thought it would be nice to have today not doing anything, but of course because of that, there were only security staff around last night, who couldn’t help.

After two hours, I left…….. completely drained of energy and thinking I am NEVER doing another installation!


I’ve just sent off my invoice to the church and I feel hugely guilty asking for the amount I’ve asked for.

When we first discussed the installation and workshops I gave them a ball park figure, based on what was then requested of me. Since then, extra workshops have been added, plus a few niggly things that have been time consuming.

I almost altered the invoice as it came to a lot more than the original price and sent it off reluctantly.

Why do I still feel bad over asking to be paid??