So Wednesday 3rd August was my first meeting with my new mentor, Susan Mumford.  I was exhausted before I arrived; this was largely due to my inability to sleep when I’m nervous (I was very nervous) and my lovely, but insane husband, thinking it would be a good idea to beat the traffic — I should point out to my husband this means leaving at 7 (he had to be talked down from 5am) to get there for 11:50 for a journey that according to Google takes 1.5-3 hours at most.


Anyhow, back to my meeting.


So luckily for me Susan, or her PA, had double booked my session with a panel she was chairing at Mall Galleries.  Now you might wonder why that is lucky, well it is for this reason: she felt guilty, and I think partly because she knew I’d be writing about it as part of my bursary, and so she asked if we could make the session earlier (midday) and then I would be her VIP guest at the panel event that afternoon.  So of course I jumped at the chance.


Now I was even luckier since due to my being reliant on a wheelchair, and due to this needing to come up to London by car (believe me, public transport is horrendous for disabled people), the lovely Liberty at the Mall Galleries had very kindly arranged with the Royal Parks for me to be able to park in The Slips and I was treated really well by the Mall Galleries all day.


Right back to the session.  Now this session was kind of my getting to know you session and what I wanted; which on that day was advice about how best to deal with promoting myself at the upcoming MA show and my separate installation taking place at University of Portsmouth and I did find it helpful.


You see I am a terrible sufferer of impostor syndrome, and I say “suffer” as I do; I berate everything I create after a couple of weeks; have no confidence in selling myself (my artwork) and have been known to run out of a PV or two having a panic attack.  Now this is quite different to how I am about other people’s work.  As mentioned on other blogs, I co-direct an arts organisation, have created an arts festival, co-run a not for profit gallery and curate various exhibitions.  Where other people are concerned and the organisation I can confidently wax lyrical, it’s just with myself, well it’s a completely different situation.


Susan was great she mentioned impostor syndrome even before I did and we talked about why I’m like that.  Words like “authentic” were offered about my work and why I have trouble blowing my own trumpet.

I talked to her about my two large pieces coming up in exhibition this August and she loved them.

Although my sessions are booked in with Susan she also suggested I would benefit from a coaching session with one of her business coaches so that I can get past this block I have.  As I am seeing her due to the bursary I’ve received she offered to schedule it in as one of my sessions which I have agreed to and I now just need to sort out when that will happen.  Susan has suggested this needs to happen before my MA shows but I do not have the time for this sadly: I am way behind schedule as it is….. but that is a different story.


The only bit of advice I found that did not really work for me, was the idea for me to employ a PA.  When I explained that I could not afford this, it was suggested that they would pay for themselves after the first month.  I could not take a risk like this as my work is not in the least bit commercial, so despite it making sense in many ways it just does not work for me.  I feel this leaves me at a bit of an impasse at the moment.  Will I progress in my career as I’d like if I cannot sort this?  She did however offer an alternative if I didn’t believe this was possible, and in many ways her views reflected my own:  that is that I need to start talking about my own work as I do other people’s and promoting my work in the way I do the shows we exhibit.

After our meeting I ate lunch in the park and then returned for the afternoon session.  It was an intriguing panel event about the value of women only competitions and organisations.  On  the panel was Eliza Gluckman of the New Hall Art Collection; Sue Jelley, artist and president of the Society of Women Artists and Melanie Casoff of the Freelands Foundation (notable for their recent introduction of a £100,000 prize for mid-career women artists); the panel was chaired by Susan herself.


I found the panel really interesting and a consensus was reached that things still need to change for women although they are going in the right direction.  There were surreal moments, such as when Sue Jelley started going off on one about male buttocks, but overall I was really glad I stayed.  I only wish I had more of a chance to network with the other artists and the panellists.


Excuse the title, I like to live my life with an imaginary soundtrack.


Anyhow, you have not heard from me for a while, this is not because I have been sat idly by, watching the world… No! It is because I have been very very busy.


So what has happened, well……


I was shortlisted for the Clore Fellowship and had to attend a panel interview at Sommerset House in May… I think was cinched my not being selected was the weird answer I gave involving allowing people to wear Burkas…. yeah it made no sense at the time and had nothing to do with the Question; my cardboard boxing and tree dancing (no I am not joking I really did this) and my attempts to make a certain sculptor and chairman laugh…. he didn’t.

I was lucky enough to get shortlisted for and accepted for a lovely grant for our arts organisation and a new course to help us deal with the turbulence involved in running a not for profit…. this starts in September…

The organisation has been going from strength to strength and we are nearing the end of our most successful exhibition ever…… part of our remit is making the arts accessible to all and so I came up with the idea of working with a film SFX company, specialising in practical FX (not CGI)  as there is so much artistry and imagination involved and it’s accessible to EVERYONE…. and it has been amazing, most days have been so busy it has been like having a preview every day…. I am NOT joking, I am so proud and happy about it.

This has also led to people who never knew where we were before, of who had ignored us coming in and loving the space and being shocked we’ve been open a year.

I’ve also been busy working on my MA Fine Art and have now 2 shows coming up in August for it instead of the one that everyone else has…… my The Panic Room which I will exhibit during this time is not allowed to be in the venue due to its use of infrasound among other things and so I have to have a separate exhibition if I want it seen.

I’ve taken part in various exhibitions and very happily I have just bee awarded Arts Council funding for The Panic Room which I am hugely excited about as it is quite an original type of piece and I could not afford to do it without help, especially as I need to employ some VR specialists to help make it a reality… exciting stuff!


So yeah… some quite good stuff.  That’s not to say everything is going my way.  I have had many obstacles mainly around my health but for everything that goes badly, something goes ok and occasionally things go great!


Anyhow I am nervous about meeting Susan Mumford next week, what should I expect, will she think I’m a fraud and rubbish and wasting my life…. I quite often wondered this, even when things are going well and I’m making various things happen I wonder.

I think part of the problem is that people liking my work and admiring what I make happen does not translate into material gain, not unless you’re really lucky so I often question myself.  My work is not commercial in the slightest

However I am nothing if not determined so wish me luck!


So I heard back from Susan Mumford’s people and I have got the date for my initial meeting to speak about my work,  my practice and what I want from our sessions…. at least that’s what I think it’s about.

For my professional practice I have 4 meetings with Susan Mumford and a skype session to start.  Now I hate skype, I hate cameras, I have anything and everything that requires me to see my own reflection or to be aware that others can see me (yes I know people can see me all the time but this is quite an issue for me in and of itself).

I am not crazy, well ok I am but I don’t like that word.  I have a very long history of eating disorders, BDD and general self-loathing.  Imagine how you think you look on your worst, most hating yourself day and that is how I feel almost every hour of the day.  This has been made worse by being in a wheelchair for the last 10 years and having children.

Strange then that I spend so much of my time focusing on the image and taking photo after photo…

Anyway enough of the explanations for my neuroticism and back to the professional development bursary, but bear with me because it is all relevant.

I was asked by Kate, the administrator for Be SMart about Art if I wanted the online option (you can have online (skype) mentoring at a subsidised cost) and I explained that I have some issues which means that is impossible for me and would cause me a massive amount of stress.

A few days later Kate gets back to me and tells me that Susan has suggested we meet in person for the initial meeting as well and for an hour instead of the usual 30 mins (which is the time given for the initial skype that everyone does).  I was overjoyed as I was already dreading 30 mins of skype.

So I have my meeting, the 3rd of August.  This is great as it gives me a chance to see her before my final MA show and to gain some much needed advice.

So I may not say so much on here for a while but I will be back soon




So a couple of days ago I completed step one of my professional development bursary plan and joined “Be Smart About Art”.  I also contacted its founder, Susan Mumford to arrange my one-to-one sessions.

Now some of you may be wondering that as someone who runs an arts organisation why I would ask for a bursary that would involve joining another: what would be the point?

Well the reason is this;  it is vastly different running an arts organisation to receiving constructive feedback about your own work and career.

It is in some ways easier to help and support others artists than it is to focus on your own career as an artist.  In fact (sadly) I find so much of my time taken up by trying to make the arts more accessible and supporting others, that  I sometimes get distracted from creating work.

Indeed I have a group show coming up in just over a month and as I wanted it to feature new work and not some of my back catalogue (for want of a better word) I have found myself in a bit of a problem as all my current work is either 3d, multimedia or participatory and the space can only hold 2d work.  I of course knew this a month ago but owing to running Live Art Local CIC, Sticks Gallery, developing a new course/workshops and everything else; I have yet to create this work and now find myself in a stressful situation.

Luckily I have an idea what I’m going to do but that is probably more for my other blog on here than this one.

So yes, I believe joining varied artist organisations is good and I belong to several.  By doing this I feel you open yourself up to the work of so many more people and get to know their practice and how they work,  and this I believe, can only help advance your own work..  You are not the finished article, all you ever are is a student.

I am very happy to admit I know nothing, I am learning all the time and every month or so I find something new that completely turns on its head all I’ve been taught and what I thought I knew.  This is true in all areas of my life.

So after that waffle ( I did warn you before about my tendency) what’s the next step?  Well the next step is waiting for an email from Susan Mumford to arrange my mentoring sessions.

I only joined on Friday and so I am happy to wait a bit longer.