My practice encompasses installation, object making and live art as well as research and teaching.  In June 2015 I moved my home and studio to Enköping (“Sweden’s nearest town”) where I am also working as assistant to Scandinavia’s only plume-maker!

Your comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated – thank you

www.stuartmayes.com

#stuartmayes on Instagram


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  • Karin’s exhibition in Konstfönster Joar – curator
  • Revolve Performance Art Days: Uppsala – visitor
  • Wiks College open day – visitor
  • Renovating/redecorating the studio – artist
  • Enköping Art Association committee meeting – member
  • Meeting with council to discuss collaborations – committee member
  • ‘Scrap sculpture’ workshop proposal for Enköping arts festival – artist/workshop leader
  • Invitation to participate in a group show, Glasgow (August) – artist

 

I am aware that my posts about the Easter Open House are lacking a conclusion, I will return to this.  However I do want to mention something of a coincidence.  When Klas, whom I now share a studio with, and his family came by on Easter Monday we talked a little about our respective times at Wip:sthlm.  It turns out that we had the same studio – we both sublet from Alex before I formally took over the contract.  In fact I moved in to Alex’s studio immediately after Klas moved out – which means that it was his artworks and tools that I saw when I looked around, Klas wasn’t there.  So without knowing it I had already been in the studio (albeit very briefly) of the artist with whom I now have come to know and share a studio with.  Even allowing for the relative scale of the Swedish art scene this is something of a coincidence. It is as though we we were destined to meet one way or another.

 

ps. working full-time in a non-art related field.

 


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Next to my name and venue number in the guide it says (because that is what I wrote in my entry form): Installation and objects. I wonder if people have been intrigued or confused by that description. From chatting with my visitors it has become clear that I am offering a different type of experience from the majority of the other artists.

My work does require some ‘guiding’ especially for visitors who are not so familiar with contemporary practice. I continue to be fascinated by the stories and topics that come up. And I am incredibly grateful that people give me their time and allow me to tell them about my thought processes and the practical aspects of a wide range of pieces. I made a small printed visitors guide, and there is a stack of them by the door. Sometimes I hand them to visitors before we start the guided tour, and sometimes I do not. I try to gauge from their level of engagement and body language how much time we have to look at the pieces and if there is adequate time for us to have a good discussion. I know my work well enough to acknowledge that it does not give its best to the hurried viewer. Yesterday [Sunday] I ‘hopped over’ presenting Mr Dandy Blue’s robe at least two times – as it requires a considerable shift to begin discussing ‘live’ and project-based work after having been more focused on material objects.


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Just as realised that it was almost time to ‘close’ yesterday my phone rang. It was Eva, who I first met when I visited her studio during last year’s Vår konst, she apologised for being late and wanted to know if it was alright if she and a friend came by. A few minutes later she and her friend were at the door. Eva works with fabric, she also collects and exhibits vintage fabric (mainly Scandinavian designs from the 50s, 60s, and 70s), and she runs workshops and courses in pattern design and dressmaking. She lives and works a little outside of town in two former light-industrial buildings that are the Teda Art Project.

It was good fun showing them what I do and talking about being artists. Our discussion turned to economics and politics – and our shared motivations for moving out of cities in order to pursue our practices without the pressure of high rents. As we were saying goodbye Eva asked if I was free that evening as she was having friends for dinner and would like to me to join them.

I had a lovely evening in great company and with a fantastic Italian dinner. Eva lived in Italy for several years and the friend that was with her early is Italian but moved here to be with his Swedish girlfriend – he now imports and supplies Italian food to restaurants in and around Stockholm, so we had some amazingly good fresh mozzarella cheese as well as the great seafood and pasta dish that Eva made. It was a totally unexpected and absolutely perfect end to the day.

Getting together in each others studios with other artists and friends over good food is, and has been for a long time, a vital part of artists’ lives.  I look forward to similar evenings at our new studio!

 


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What I liked about the pace of visitors on Friday was that I was able to spend time with each of them. There was only one occasion when two groups overlapped. With the kind of work that I make, and with my intentions and ambitions for my practice, it is important to me that we have time and space for discussion. The artworks are often points of departure for thoughts and ideas that unfold and expand in the presence of the on-looker. Sometimes the discussion does not travel so far from the starting point, other times it takes massive leaps. It fascinating to meet people and have the opportunity to have very opened conversations with them. The last visitors yesterday afternoon were a father and his young daughter, they live in a neighbouring building and popped in on their way home from visiting several artists in town. We talked about creative processes and materials – the daughter loves to make things and is particularly good at origami – but also about some of the symbols and references in various works. As our ‘tour’ came to a natural conclusion the father, who introduced himself as not knowing anything about art, said that he really enjoyed visiting me because there were stories with every piece. He could not have said anything more valuable to me – he so neatly and spontaneously validated why I do what I do. I do my best to create things that stimulate interest and invite engagement, and it is always wonderful when it works.

 


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Deciding to participate in the town’s Easter Open Studio weekend has been interesting – and it is only the first of the four days that I am ‘open’. I spent the last week installing my own work throughout my apartment. Play and Odyssey (which I put up almost as soon as I moved in) have been joined by three other pieces in the living room. Some of the ‘curatorial’ decisions were made for purely practical reasons, and as a result some are more successful than others.

 

When initially thinking through what I might like to show I had conveniently forgotten that the majority of the walls are concrete skimmed with no more than four millimetres of plaster – I am very thankful that I have the long-term loan of a SDS drill. Even so it meant that a piece that is pinned to the wall necessarily had to be placed over the bed on the one plasterboard wall in the room. The placement works really well – probably far better than the one that I had had in mind. A large irregular shaped patchwork that is also pinned to a wall could had to be relocated to the hall/library where the only other plaster wall is found. It works well there but left an uncomfortable gap in the living room. Selecting catalogues and publication for the library shelf reminded me of a piece that I had overlooked, that piece now hangs in the living room where I had imagined that the patchwork would be. However it is the placement of that ‘substitute’ piece that I am not one hundred percent happy with – materially and tonally it is very similar to the nine embroidered handkerchiefs hanging over the bed. As a result the living room has become a room of two halves – one half being white and gold textile pieces, the other being black glitter works. Play which is black and glittery hangs in between. The curation is neither wrong nor too bad, but is it a little too easy and I would like it be a little more dynamic.


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