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It’s been a weird couple of days…
I was at the NSEAD conference on Friday and Saturday. It was great, as I came away feeling more optimistic about Art, Craft and Design education than I have since the election. People have got the bit between their teeth and are determined.

Sunday was planned as a day of rest, but I actually spent it doing a couple of batches of baking (flapjacks and brownies) for the open studio on Saturday 4th. Therapeutic domesticity.

So I started Monday feeling quite chipper… Into the studio to start hanging the work. I suspected there would be things I would want to change as the day wore on, and I was right. What I wasn’t prepared for was getting myself into a state of panic. Suddenly, the wires looked too wiry, too angular, the shapes looked too droopy, they weren’t holding shape. For some reason I had forgotten that “sag and crumple” (Sonia Boué’s words) were kind of the whole point. The absence of the woman meant of course the cups would not be filled! It was as if, during the process of the hang, I had completely forgotten what the work was all about! Madness! I even got as far as padding one of them to round out the cups, yet as soon as I had done it I knew it was wrong. Sonia and Marion Michell, on the end of an email which included a thirty second video of me stomping round the gallery, filming the work and having a tantrum, came to my rescue. They reminded me what I was doing. They told me the work looked exactly as it should… Exactly as I had talked about it being. FFS woman, get a grip, was basically the message, although of course, in a much nicer way!

I left the gallery feeling grumpy, hot and panicky still, grumbling that it was all shit, that I didn’t have enough time before Friday to put it right, and as always, it just wasn’t good enough and I was making an eejit of myself. As well as the install I have to clear the downstairs gallery/workshop as that is where the wine and nibbles will be, that’s where the performance will be. That in itself will be a full day’s work tomorrow. Rehearsal Thursday…. No time no time no time!

This morning, I had my hairdresser’s appointment. At the beginning I sat on the edge of the seat, waiting, literally and figuratively on edge. The appointment had been double booked, they were shuffling clients and I was cross. I would be delayed. After a few minutes, I sat back. There was nothing I could do about it, so I had a cup of tea and a hairdresser biscuit… You know the ones I mean… The individually wrapped ones with a five year shelf life. I read emails, looked at facebook, then before I knew it, it was my turn. My plan for the day had gone out of the window, but I was ok. The sky hadn’t fallen in. A really good head massage and a great haircut later, I felt more able to deal with the day. As I drove across Birmingham and over to Dudley to the studio, I listened to the rehearsal recordings and sang along, checking my memory. When I parked the car, the temperature read 32 degrees. My optimum operating temperature is between 16 and 22, so when I got out of the car I had to get into the shade as soon as possible… Luckily there is a huge canopy over the Artspace windows, so the studio is usually cool. The fates were conspiring against me and so as I walked up the stairs I tried to make myself think objectively… Don’t panic, just look slowly and carefully…

Fresh eyes. And a few hours away, sometimes that is all it takes.
I unlocked the door and walked in… As I looked I could see clearly that a few things needed changing… Hanging heights mainly, a little bit of wire tweaking. But mostly it was fine. Today’s task then was to stitch the elastic into the correct position… Remove the pins. Stand back. As I worked, I played the recordings into the space. The stories enveloped me. The women talked among themselves. Their relationships have developed since I’ve been away. They are talking to each other. Among them are sisters, friends, mothers and daughters. They are telling their tales to each other, and singing each other’s songs. I finished at 4pm. My car park ticket ran out at 4:39. I have about 30 minutes of songs. I made the tea, sat in an armchair, played the songs and watched my girls move in the air currents.

Apart from a frantic bit of vacuuming, the exhibition is installed.

 


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