I’m sure I repeat myself every time I go away.
When I get home I will:
• prioritise making art
• go to studio more
• just make and not think so much
• go to more openings
• speak to galleries /curators

What happens in those miles above the earth?
Is it the hours I gain or lose that shift something?

January has been tough for me, not least due the thoughts and emotions that attending the bereavement group has brought up. It has been very good though – not always pleasant – and I’m glad that I am doing it. What surprised me most was the anger I felt. I’ve always thought that I ‘didn’t do’ anger, that I could rationalise it away, that I could coolly unpick a situation, keep my distance, and make an intellectual response. How did I think I could make art if I was maintaining such an attitude?

Sketchbook: I need to start carrying it with me again. When did I stop? I have a feeling it was around the anniversary of the John’s death.
Studio: I’m so pleased that I tidied and painted it while I was unable to engage with making anything. Now I have a good clean place to start making again. Ideally I would construct a false wall in front of the defunct and immoveable radiator and over the damp and crumbling bricks. Perhaps I should investigate how much that would cost. I notice that I am starting to get a lot of email advertising studios – a sign of the recession?

Coming to Stockholm has been a necessary extravagance. I am still serious about spending more time here and this week has been useful for that. It has given me time to think about what preparations I need to make. I am aware that despite being a smaller city it will be hard work to make and show art here.

(Pictures for this and other Stockholm posts coming as soon as I find the right cable)


Market & Super Market STOCKHOLM

After visiting Market and Supermarket I am surprised to say that I found Market more interesting, and perhaps more relevant for me. Super Market had a youthful vitality mixed with a certain earnestness that was at once familiar, perhaps too familiar. The majority of the show featured project based artist led space and galleries. The energy and commitment of these projects was almost palpable despite the Scandinavian coolness of it all. The whole place was buzzing with excitement.

Market on the other hand exuded the mature confidence of established galleries, and if I am honest it's where I'd rather be. I like the context these galleries provide*, I like the attitude and I like the space. I like the calmness. Here is seems that there are the conditions for engaging with the art on it's own terms. Here is art for arts sake. Art being what art can and needs to be – art. I'm not sure I fully understand what I'm trying to express, nor am I sure that words are the best way for me to make an attempt. It was as I went around Market I realised what I have to do when I go back to London – I have to make art.

Again I am reminded of the aside made by the guide at Salong Hofman (last year in Berlin): No artist makes serious work before they are 40. It is coincidence that I am 40? Is it significant that, if anything, I want to know less about what I making and want to trust what I am making more?

It was at Market that I found things to inspire me. I found the things I want to aim for now.
I found the world I want to live in – a confident, moneyed, world of art.
Much of what appealed to me was beautiful, conceptual, simple, philosophical. Objects and images that alluded to something, referred to something, things that I knew were essential and intangible. It was that combination that gave me that thrill, that sense of being in the presence of art.

Tuesday / Wednesday – visit Stockholm galleries.

* I do not include the media frenzy surrounding the stand mentioned in my previous post.


Monday 16 February: STOCKHOLM

Monday morning – listening to the radio and even with my very limited Swedish I know that the news programme concerns the controversy sparked by stand at the Market art fair. The stand chose to show work by a recent Konstfack graduate.

The work on display was his final show. The gallery / artist created an exclusive installation for their stand. It featured antique drawing room furniture that still displays its auction house labels, above this and around the four side of the stand the artist has sprayed a continuous ‘tag' in his trademark black. Two large flat-screens amount over the graffiti show footage of the artist tagging on Stockholm's tube trains.

Tagging is a criminal offence in Sweden, and it is taken very seriously (with a possible four year sentence).

On Saturday while the artist was being interviewed on the stand both the Culture Minister and the minister responsible for cleaning up graffiti arrived. The exhibit and the artist suddenly became very big news.

The gallery owner decided to close the stand and on Sunday two white tapes prevented visitors from entering. The installation remained visible though the screens were blank. No notice or explanation was given – none was needed – every news media told the story.

Today the news continues to debate the reactions of the Culture Minister and the Director of Konstfack. The morning radio phone-in programme gives people the opportunity to voice their opinion.

Recently another Konstfack student courted outrage with a performance/live action that saw her ‘attempt' suicide and get herself committed.

In Sweden people take it very seriously when anyone is found to be squandering public money. This is a country where the idea of public and public ownership has meaning. This morning people are asking how an art school can condone a student who commits criminal damage. This is a country that not only funds higher education but also spends a great deal of public money on removing graffiti. It seems incongruous to many people that the state funds both the production and removal of something they are asked to call art. And of course they ask whether it is art at all.

Friends I had dinner with on Saturday evening explained that in Sweden it is not necessarily true that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
Would a similar story make such an impact in the UK?

One of things that attracts me Stockholm and Sweden is that very feeling of the city and the country belonging to the people; that people are collectively responsible, that they take their responsibilities seriously, and that respect for each other and what is collectively owned is a given.

How do I – as an artist, as a person, as a British person, as an admirer of Scandinavian ideals – respond to this?