I am enjoying making work – unlimited editions – in preparation for the Christmas Market / Open Studios in just over a week’s time. I am not expecting to sell anything but it would be great to be pleasantly surprised! Not only am I enjoying making the editions … I am feeling almost smug about the actual pieces … they make me smile … they are a good use of existing material … they are ’seasonal’. What are they? They are secondhand jigsaw pussels where I have covered a randomly selected piece with black glitter before putting it back with the other pieces. Christmas 10 years ago I started a jigsaw, something of a tradition in both Sweden and the UK. Working on it only occasionally after the initial Christmas and New Year period the thing took me weeks to complete … actually that depends how you define ’complete’. All of the pieces in the box were used but the picture was not complete – a few pieces were missing. K suggested putting gitter where the pieces were missing. I chose black glitter … and this became the first in a series of works were gaps … holes … in secondhand jigsaw pussels were filled with black glitter. Of course the works took a considerable amount of time to make … I made six, possibly seven or even eight, and then moved on to other things. I had however bought quite a few jigsaw puzzles in anticipation of making a substantial series … an idea which still appeals to me. These as yet un-played (?) puzzles have (been) moved from one studio to another, here at Hospitalet they contribute to mass of materials and past works that I have ’temporarily’ occupied an empty room with. That was until I hit upon the idea of turning them in to a kind of diy art project – which is why I am coating one pussel piece from each box in black glitter. Whoever buys one is guaranteed at least one spot of glitter in their finished … self finished(?) … jigsaw. (It’s entirely up to them if they fill any other potential holes with glitter or not. Each box contains the pieces of the pussel along with a signed ’certificate of authenticity’.
I am even going to offer a gift wrapping service – as I think that they make great Christmas presents! I am very curious as to whether anyone will buy one. My approach to the Christmas Market is somewhat more The Fete Worse than Death than handcraft and watercolours … not that I claim to be anywhere close to Joshua Compston’s brilliance. I do enjoy testing the boundaries, and … or … offering something different to what might be expected at an artists’ open studio … no nicely framed prints … decorative paintings here … though definitely something for the genuinely curious and daring collector!
The unexpected success of my secondhand stall at last year’s Christmas Market has encouraged … inspired … others to do the same this year. There is even talk of a long un-manned table where we all can put our things – labelled with price and telephone number – so that visitors can simply pay by phone for whatever they buy. After a year in my ’new’ apartment with several unopened moving boxes in the basement I can pretty confidently say that there are plenty of things at home that I could try and sell … how many vintage vases, dishes, candlesticks, cutlery sets, table clothes, napkins, storage jars does one single middle-aged man need … even if he is a homosexual and somewhat of a ’collector’?
I am also making small steps towards getting work ready for Vårsalongen (The Spring Exhibition). Last night I visited the Uppsala Makerspace to see if could be somewhere that I could produce the pegs that the ties drape over. The place is very impressive with dedicated rooms for not only wood and metal work but also ceramics, textiles, electronics, and 3D printing. In addition there is a general tools store, a range of materials that members can use, an area for (young) children, shelving and storage boxes where members can leave their on-going projects, and a large general crafting table, library, and lounge next to a large well equipped kitchen. I was very impressed and am definitely keen to join. The simplest and most basic membership allows access on Wednesday evenings and the option to sign-up for any workshops, classes, and courses. It’s a very reasonable £20 for the year. Tomorrow I shall sit with the computer and workout where and how to buy the timber to make a trial transport box for the work. Making the first (prototype) box is a project for next week. Studio colleagues have been telling me that local council arts officers often visit and buy from the exhibition. Some commercial galleries attend as well as collectors, consultants, and agents. I am doing well at not getting my hopes up … and am bracing myself for a good deal of criticism … I am however very excited about the level of exposure that the show offers, and am excited about the potential to meet the two curators from the selection panel/committee – Ashik Zaman and Tawanda Appiah – both of whom are doing fantastic work broadening, extending, deepening, developing, supporting, and exposing contemporary practice in Sweden.
Tuesday I had a lovely … and long overdue … studio chat with Elena Thomas. After a good catch-up about family, friends, and such we spoke about how we might think around … develop … and propose … a two person show. Though our processes and material are distinct there feels to me to be something in our approach and ways of working that speaks to shared concerns … there must be something there – we have been in correspondence for over ten years! Perhaps that’s it – ‘correspondence’!