Dear Santa,

For Christmas, I would like a Chopper bike. And the Turner Prize.

The art world is often accused of sexism, but ageism too? There is no valid reason whatsoever why anyone’s gender, race, sexual proclivity, background, physical condition etc., etc., should preclude them from involvement in what ought to be THE most inclusive arena of all. Yet the Turner Prize – arguably the country’s highest profile art prize – is open only to artists under the age of fifty.

As one of those so obviously well and truly past it, I could never be nominated as things stand. And I believe I have every right to be aggrieved. Questioning this arbitrary limit, I looked into the reasons for it. The website states “There was no age limit at first, but in 1991 it was decided to restrict the Prize to artists under fifty, so that younger artists just setting out weren’t pitted against artists at the height of their careers”.

This is laudable, but it is not exactly joined-up thinking, is it? It assumes, wholly incorrectly, that all artists start their careers at a young age. I would think that a quick glance around every single art education institution in the country will quickly prove the need to repudiate this misjudgement. Furthermore, many, many artists are obliged to put their careers on hold for all kinds of perfectly legitimate reasons. Raising a family, to name but one. The latter inevitably increases the weighting in favour of young males. In fact, if we extrapolate perceptions of the effects of tuition fees, weighting will become in favour of young, white, middle-class males. Oops.

I didn’t start my art career until very recently, and, in only a couple of years, I’m doing O.K. thank you very much. I’m going all-out for it, because I am passionate about it. But I, nor anyone else in my position, no matter what we achieve in our practices, could ever be nominated for the Turner Prize.

May I suggest an alternative criterion? How about a maximum career length?


Tuesday is the Winter Solstice – the shortest day. This is one day I always look forward to, simply because it means the days start to get longer. Tough on vampires, I know.

The last few miles of a journey always seem the longest.

The last two days held a few highlights. Firstly I set up in Arc at Aspex on Thursday. Five pieces are on show until the end of January.

Next, I found out that both of the works I donated to the ‘Austerity Xmas Bogof’ have sold. This is a charity event organised by Wilson Williams Gallery, with whom I have exhibited several times during the last two years, including at the Venice Biennale. Proceeds of the sale go to the NSPCC.

Yesterday I had a thoroughly enjoyable chat with an artist friend – someone I always enjoy talking with, and a short while later I found out that the John Moores exhibition has had record visitors – so far 47,000 people have seen my 3D painting. I can’t quite get my head around that. Good stuff.


I was thinking this morning that I haven’t blogged a great deal lately, and I was wondering why. I am aware that much of what I write is not necessarily art related, or at least not obviously so, probably rambling and often irrelevant. Funnily enough, that doesn’t bother me too much – I have said before that this has become more of a journal or a place to note random thoughts. Many other blogs are more professional in their outlook. This is me.

I often write first thing, after I come back from walking the dog. It is such a significant part of my day, in all sorts of ways.

At this time of the year I rarely see anyone else – it is just me, the dog, the seabirds and the sea. It is a good place to reflect. Sometimes, a good time to dream.

It has been so bitterly cold lately that I have been left with little energy to think. The past few days even the pebbles on the beach have frozen together to form a solid, concrete mass.

My days have mostly been occupied with mundane things, writing, filling out forms. Freezing my head.


Studio 22

Good news! I heard yesterday that I have Studio 22 at Art Space for the next few months. This is perfect timing, not least because I need space to make some of the larger pieces I will be working on. It’s weird – I’m going to feel like the new kid.