Ok so as you all know quite a few of us were lucky enough to receive a professional development bursary from A-N and this week we received the money and so I am, later today advancing with the first part of the plan.

So who am I?  What’s it for?  Is there life on Mars?

Well I’m not too sure about the answers to 2 of those questions but I can tell you what the money’s for……


I run an arts not for profit and I spend so much of my time helping other artists with their careers I often neglect my own, sometimes it feels that I am more of an arts administrator than an artist, but I am not.  I built a not for profit gallery and arts organisation because I am incredibly passionate about the arts and making them accessible, but I am still an artist and I need to take care of my own career too and so I  asked A-N to help me take the next step.

For too long I have been exhibiting in similar kinds of exhibitions (group shows and opens mainly), thinking something will change, but it hasn’t, and if I’m not getting constant wins my confidence gets knocked and I withdraw and stop showing my work…. deciding it’s all crap and that I’m wasting my life….. I’m sure this sounds familiar to many and if not, then you’re lucky.

This year has been quite a successful one so far; I’ve had a huge piece in an MA show and sold it;  had a solo show; been shortlisted for a Clore Fellowship; launched the Art and Culture magazine for the South Central region  and found on Friday that my organisation has been awarded a NADFAS grant to create a heritage trail and do workshops with vulnerable groups…… all pretty good.

However I still feel like things aren’t always progressing as I want and so I was overjoyed when the lovely people here at A-N agreed my professional development bursary.  The bursary is being used to develop my career (rather than that of the organisation).  I am using it to join Be Smart About Art for a year and to also arrange a program of mentoring with Susan Mumford who heads up the organisation.  This is the power package and would consist of 4 one-to-one meetings with her.

I will be reporting back here after each one to share what I learn and then also disseminating anything that may help other artists through the organisation I run.

Onward and upward as my Grandmother would always say



So it’s been a while since I posted here and that is because due to my father being very unwell and my mentor being in the US for two months I had a gap in my mentoring program but on the 10th January I saw my mentor for the penultimate time at London’s RSA.

It has been an awful autumn and winter for me thus far.  My father was very unwell and in hospital for six weeks with heart, liver and kidney failure.  I had had lots of interest in my work immediately after the Panic Room with students from around the UK, studios in Canada and even documentary film makers contacting me about my work but sadly nothing concrete has yet emerged.

There was some good stuff too, I had my Distinction for my MA confirmed with an apparently unusually high grade and during a phone call in October I discovered I had won an award I did not know I’d even been nominated for, the MA Student Achievement Award which was nice and meant I got some cash…. still waiting for my certificate though.


However, on December 6th at 9:34 am my life changed forever.  My mum phoned me to say that my dad, who at this time had been out of hospital for 2 weeks, was very, very ill and an ambulance had been called.  I will not go into all the details of that day but we ended it and began December 7th in intensive care at QA hospital and at 12:36 am on December 7th my beloved dad passed away in the worst way possible.  The death was not quiet but loud, painfully loud. There was screaming, delirium, ripping of drips out and a huge amount of pain that endured for hours and hours and which only quietened 40 or so minutes before the expiration of that last breath.

By the time he died my dad’s mouth was black.


I’ve still not dealt with the death; immediately after I set about organising all the paperwork… there is a huge amount of paperwork involved in death and the funeral which took place just before Christmas with 2 birthdays making up the days inbetween.

Luckily A-N have been great about this and very understanding of the delay in my final blogs; but now I am back and treading water and trying to get on with my life now my dad and best friend is gone.


So on to the mentor……

As I’ve previously mentioned it’s been a while since I’ve seen my mentor and in that time I have seen (on her advice) a coach whose help I found invaluable.

Susan was great and as warm and personable as I remembered her.  Shortly after I entered the RSA she was asking me over a cup of tea what I felt I most needed her help with and how my sessions with Tamara had gone.  I explained how I was seeking advice on who she thought, now being a bit more familiar with my work, she thought I should approach about my work and how she thought I could move on from where I was… the constant merrygoround of applying for mainly group exhibitions and funding and sometimes being selected, sometimes not.


She told me that her job was not to give me specifics but to advise on how I could go about this, which from my other life as running a not for profit art organisation and having a mentor for that, I know is quite true.

She suggested that I start and I would offer this as advice for any other artists too, inviting galleries that I felt best matched my work to the next exhibition I was in and over time, compiling a spreadsheet documenting all my contact with them.  This was something that she responded well to when she ran a London based gallery; and as my next exhibition is in London at the end of the month she suggested that I spend the rest of the week trying to get PERSONAL invites out for that.

She also spoke to me of my need to STOP being so self-deprecating and that even though it was brilliant that I helped many other creatives that I needed to start treating myself ok and start to realise that when you’re doing favours for others, it’s quite ok to ask for one in return.

So she suggested that I actually make something of all my contacts and actually speak to them about my {art} work and talk about projects for them to be involved with outside of organisational stuff.  Of course I realised straight away that this makes perfect sense and that I am once again self-sabotaging by not doing this.


When I mentioned all the people and organisations who’d contacted me in the wake of the panic room’s premiere she asked me if I had contacted them back a second or third time.  I explained that I hadn’t and she asked why…. again it was/is down to my lack of confidence, I had written them off as no longer having interest.  Susan asked if I ever didn’t get back to someone about a works project and I had to admit this happened more often that I like to admit.  She made me see this is the same for everyone and so all I needed to do was just to shoot off another email getting back to them, or even forwarding my original correspondence… why would these people have contacted you if they weren’t interested she mused…

God point.

But why am I so lacking in confidence, she explained it was fine and normal to be (as I am) brimming with belief one minute and completely distraught and destroyed the next, feeling like a failure and questioning every aspect of myself.  This reassurance made me feel a little better.

I left this meeting with pages of notes and a list of 3 things she made me promise I’ll action on before next time…. I felt full of beans straight away  but over the day my doubt crept in again.

Today I am sick in bed and tomorrow I am at a course for social entrepreneurs and then meeting with another artist for tea after but maybe tomorrow night I will start that list and those invites


So I promised you part 2 and here it is


So when I had my next session with Tamara I was feeling incredibly stressed and by the time it ended I had calmed down and resolved to change my life… and actually I think this post may help some of you do the same.


Now please understand this is not because I am inspiring, but actually because I am going to impart from really useful advice given to me by Tamara.


So after pushing for me to see an IP lawyer, this took up quite a lot of time as she was so concerned, again if you know any get in touch…. but actually Tamara being the lovely lady she is, did not stop the rest of our session short because of this.


So Tamara has been very keen to press upon me the need to listen to my intuition and actually, truly use it, instead of listening to my EGO and fighting against it…. your ego is the thing that is basically telling you all that negative crap you don’t need that is ruining your career.


She suggests that each one of us is more connected to one of the 4 main elements than the others, so if you find inspiration in the outdoors that is earth, if you find fire therapeutic, that is fire.

Anyhow you do something that opens up your mind to start to become attuned, so go for a walk, a swim, a bath, sports…. anything and then ask yourself a question, preferably something that is bothering you and listen to the answer.  This question can be a inane as you like.  If it is a big question, break it down into smaller questions.

The voice you hear, or the feeling you get somewhere in your body is your intuition.  This apparently is rarely felt in your head, if it is then it is most likely your ego pushing in.

Your intuition is NEVER judgemental so if you are being told ANYTHING negative, ignore it, that’s you and your ego trying to make you feel bad.  Your intuition will NEVER tell you you SHOULD or SHOULDN’T do something so that’s you too.


I have already started doing this and listening to that voice I get that gives me an answer and instead of ignoring it actually doing it and not putting it off and I am already feeling a bit better and getting more done so try it for yourself, it isn’t just mumbo jumbo and if you give it a chance it may just work for you too!


The last few weeks of my life have been a bit of a nightmare.  Firstly my father was taken seriously ill and nearly a month on is still in hospital, and then a University I contracted (and am still waiting to pay…. I have not received an invoice yet) appeared to try and claim some kind of ownership over my work….. so yes, pretty crappy.


Anyhow, in the middle of all this I had my 2 sessions with the coach Susan Mumford suggested I split my time with, Tamara Gal-On.  I must say this proved to be such a brilliant idea on Susan’s part as even though I only had 2 sessions (and an introductory session, so 3 really) with her I found her to be on completely the same wavelength and really very beneficial.


The sessions were conducted over Skype which I found very, very difficult owing to my Skype phobia (I hate cameras…. not using them of course, but being seen through one; this is to do with my BDD).  However, Tamara soon put me at my ease.

Between my introductory session with her and my first real session she had prepared a visioning mp3 for me which I was to listen to before networking events and she was keen to ask me how it had gone.  Well unbelievably it went very well and the event I used it for I was actually able to talk to people which I am not always great at.


Anyhow…. during our session we discussed my anxiety, perfectionism and my tendency to over think things and to self-sabotage.  It was deduced, as I had long suspected, this is all linked in to  a fear of failure and an ignoring of my intuition.

Tamara is big on listening to your intuition but more about that later.


It was decided that I needed to action on 3 things before I next spoke to her; these were, contacting the woman who wanted to edit my paper about my groundbreaking (apparently) work; contacting the Canadian organisation who wanted to work with me; and finding people who could act as my magic manager.


What is a magic manager? I hear you ask.  Well it is someone, or a couple of people who are in the same field as you and who “get” your work and you get them to either listen to, or send emails on your behalf.  So for example, say you really want to go for a commission and the organisation it is with have expressed interest in you; but your nagging voice of doubt starts to scream at you and you end up not doing it:


Well, if that sounds like you (it is definitely me) then you need a “magic manager”.  This person does it for you instead and you return the favour.

Coincidentally if anyone is reading this and thinking they could really do with a magic manager then please do get in touch with me as I would like to create a network of those of us who can support each other in this way to supercharge our careers.


So anyhow…….


Tamara wanted me to email her when I had done these things.  I only managed 1 and that was Canada, who coincidentally I have since buggered up possibly through listening to my doubt again…. hopefully it can be rectified.

As I was about to contact the editor I found out that I was possibly being screwed over by a large organisation and that kind of has stressed the hell out of me.  Tamara has suggested I find an IP lawyer and try and get some free advice.  If any of you know one please tell me as I could really do with talking to them.


So I guess I should probably write about Part 2 on a separate post as this is becoming very long……



So Thursday afternoon I had my “discovery” session with Tamara, a creative entrepreneurs and artists coach.  As you may remember it had been suggested by Susan Mumford at my initial “mentoring” session, that I could do with half of my time with her being shared with the coach due to my severe anxiety, impostor syndrome and the fact that due to these things I keep getting in my own way.


Well to be honest a bit of me was sceptical, especially as I hate skype and the like (I won’t go over this all again here but you can read my previous post to understand how this affects me).  However I have to admit I found this initial, shorter session to actually very helpful and we have already drummed down to the root of the problem.


Now a while ago I would not of shared this with you as though I am committed to writing a blog about my experience of the bursary that probably stops short at baring my soul to you.  However, I have spent the last two years of my life producing ONLY work that bares my soul and exposes who I am and so why not keep on with this, terrifying but liberating process.


So, essentially everything boils down to a real, crippling anxiety.  Now this may sound like common sense; however though I suffer an anxiety disorder it had never really occurred to me that this was why I was self-sabotaging my art career.


So as I spoke to Tamara I mentioned that I was going to the launch of BAS8 in Southampton this weekend and thought I should really network a bit, as let’s be honest this is one of the key reasons that previews and launches exist.  However, I am terrible at this; it has been known for me to get my husband to drive an 8 hour round trip to where my work is in a show for a private view and for me to then have a panic attack and insist on leaving within 10 minutes — sad but I have actually done this on more than one occasion.  So the reality of me talking to anyone new is relatively low.


So Tamara started talking to me about visualisation and my intuition and it made me think.  I do have that inner voice that guides me and actually what I just realised I did, was that I completely ignore that voice most of the time and put things off to the point they become pointless… I really was sabotaging myself.


So Tamara wanted to get a move on as soon as possible at tackling this and I suppose in a way, resetting my mentality.


As I was unable to meet with her on Friday due to my schedule she very kindly made me a visualisation audio to use to help me to visualise talking to people, “the right people” and although it was for the events I have coming up this week ( for the arts organisation I co-run I have been accepted onto an SSE program and I have 2 full days with lots of new people this week) it can be applied to any situation.


It arrived this morning and I have already listened to it and thus far I am very impressed and willing to try it and I even feel positive that it will really help!


So I feel I should update everyone as I haven’t written in a while.

The main reason I haven’t written is that nothing’s happened, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to make it to London to see my mentor at a mutually convenient time, or set up a meeting with the coach.


However, today at 3:30pm I have a skype call with this creative professionals coach that Susan wants me to start seeing.  The plan, if she thinks she can help me, if you recall from my last blog, is that we then split my mentor package between the two ladies; so today is called a “Discovery Session”.


What will I discover?  I have no idea to be honest what the real difference is between the two but I think Susan thought it was necessary as I am very stressed and also suffering a crisis of confidence.


What I already know is that I am terrified as I have BDD and hate my face and hate photographs and videos featuring my face.  Now  I know in many ways skype is not that different to being in a room with people (and believe me though I manage it for business meetings it is very hard for me to do that too), but it is on film and how you look is even worse due to lighting and crap camera quality etc and so I cannot deal with it and so I am here in the middle of suffering an absolute crisis and really genuinely terrified of the clock moving forward and my talking to this stranger on skype…. I find it hard enough to skype my own mother and will not even skype a friend or my husband.


I just wanted to share that with you all.