Autumn has arrived in Stockholm. Yesterday was bright and crisply chilly. The trees turned from green to gold and red overnight, and the flower stand at Slussen has changed from roses, lilies and gladiola to ornamental cabbages, potted heathers and autumnal coloured wreaths. The sun is low and brilliant, in the evening it moves quickly across the studio – illuminating the glitter plates and casting intense shadows on the wall.
Ken sent photographs of Go-Go and the untitled piece in their bedroom.
I’ve had a wonderful email from a college friend whom I respect, admire and like very much – she’s an amazing person and a very generous artist. She has always encouraged me and had far more belief in me than I allow me to have in myself. Her email was perfectly timed and I need to take what she says seriously. I need to find the courage to approach galleries and talk to people about what I want. There’s no point in keeping my aspirations to myself – I can’t achieve them on my own! I need to start talking with people who can help me. I need to remember that some will want to help, and that it is better to find them sooner rather than later!
Why am I so frightened to say hello?
Tonight a show opens in the gallery at the studio. I don’t know the artist but I have heard that the curator is very good and is developing a new project/museum in south of Sweden. I must say hello …
Today I continue to polish the aluminium cake tins. Yesterday’s trip to ‘loppis’ (second-hand and charity shops) didn’t yield any of the little lamps I’d seen previously and that I now want to play with.
Go-Go installed at M2 Gallery …
Back in Stockholm after a week in London installing Go-Go and other work at M2 Gallery and Quay2c House (www.quay2c.com). I really appreciated how much time Ken and Julia gave me over the week, especially considering that they were working and preparing to have two properties in Open House.
Although I stayed at my own place, the week felt very reminiscent of my weeklong residency with Liz and Kjetil at Nordisk Konst Plattform last year. There is something wonderful about being welcomed into people’s homes and lives. I am sure that the final installation/exhibition benefits from the time I spend getting to know them and the building.
I want to thank Ken and Julia for inviting me to show at M2 Gallery and particularly for asking to show over Open House. It is a major event for them and for the Quay2c practice. It was very interesting for me to see how my work sat in their house. Tender looked very different in a corner of their library to how it looked on the 30th floor of Clifford Chance with Canary Wharf and the city far below. (Not better or worse, just different.)
And although I say so myself Go-Go looks amazing! It’s received very positive feedback already. I really like the way that it works both inside and outside of the gallery – it’s surprising just how far a mirror ball reflects light, not only do the splashes of light dance across the pavement below the window but they spin across the buildings opposite too.
It took a bit longer to install than I anticipated, however it all went well and the very simple technology (solar panels, car battery, inverter, dusk till dawn timer) worked as I hoped it would. The inverter is actually a little too sophisticated and has a rather annoying alarm signal when the battery gets low – of course for my purpose I want the battery to go beyond ‘low’ and reach empty. I guess that people run quite sensitive equipment from inverters and they need to know when the power is getting weak to avoid crashes and data loss etc.
Going back to London for a week made me realise that it doesn’t matter where I work or live, what’s important is spending time with people I like and who it is easy to be with – both professionally and personally. Years ago I remember saying that I never wanted a job where I came home and changed my clothes – now I think I was talking about a desire for an integrated life. What I want is to be a full time artist, to have sufficient resources to get on with my work and not to worry about the occasional unexpected bill. I know these three months have to come to an end but I really REALLY don’t want them to …
Go-Go runs until 8 November at M2 Gallery, 2c King’s Grove, London SE15
Of course it’s alright to date on a residency!
I have to keep reminding myself why I wanted to come here and that I arranged all this myself – I have no one else’s expectations to fulfil but my own. I’m getting nervous about going back to London next week. The installation with the solar panels is making me anxious – I wish that I’d got it up and running before I came away, but I didn’t and I can’t change that.
I’m also aware that my trip to London marks the halfway point of my time in Stockholm. So much has happened since I arrived it’s not really surprising that I feel unsettled. Last week’s presentation and the feedback I got reminded me that my life and my work (my art) are inseparable. Yesterday I read an obituary for Miko Cherry (well I translated excerpts of it from Swedish) and there was a sentence that I translated as “ her real art was her whole life”. This idea seems to be message that I need to hear – it keeps cropping up in different ways through the people that I’m meeting here. It’s something that I know and something that frightens me because it opens up so many possibilities … and has so much to do with integrity.
Hampus and I talked about what it meant to be an artist on our way back from visiting a friend (and ex-tutor of his from art school). We seemed to conclude that being artist might well be about how you lead your life, that being an artist is not restricted to having to produce what other people recognise as ‘art’. Of course producing what others recognise as ‘art’ is very seductive and can be very rewarding (in many senses of the word), but perhaps it is only one option.
I came here with an open mind … perhaps I feel open rather than ‘unsettled’ …
My presentation to wip:sthlm artists went well. It was nice that there weren’t too many people – it meant that it could be fairly informal. I was really pleased with the feedback and responses I got.
I enjoy talking about my work and always find it useful to have to think about what to say and how to present my practice.
Finished glittering the plates today – hurrah!
Started polishing a aluminium ring-form cake tin. It’s a lot shinier than before but it’s never going to be ‘mirror-finish’ if I do it by hand.
• what am I doing?
• what is important?
• what is it about?
This time next week I’ll be heading back to London for the show at M2 Gallery. It’ll be strange to be there (I’m avoiding saying ‘home’). I need to work on the new piece I promised Ken and Julia.
Is it okay to date when you’re on a residency?
I feel a bit guilty that I’m not 100% focussed on being The Artist.
On the other hand – I came away to work out what to do next, both professionally and personally …
I have my laptop at the studio today.
This evening I’m making a presentation to the artists who have studios here at wip:sthlm.
There is never an ideal day or time to do this kind of thing. Friday is the end of the week so people may want to get home and relax, but there are openings on Thursdays and Wednesdays, and no-one goes to events or presentations at the beginning of the week. So it’s Friday and I will present to whoever comes along. I think ‘the offer’ is important.
A friend from London visited earlier this week. We had an interesting discussion about studios – the actual physical spaces that we work in. Like me she was impressed with the quality of the wip:sthlm studios. It was inevitable that we made comparisons with studios we know in London. I have begun to wonder if there is a relationship between the condition of artists’ studios and the enthusiasm to sustain practice. Does having poor conditions sort the wheat from the chaff? Does it ensure that only the truly committed keep turning up? It must have some effect. When I think of how much I have to work to pay for the studio that I can afford it makes me realise how much I must REALLY need it. I can easily imagine that when I doubt myself the studio – the actual physical building –does nothing to re-assure me. The building itself (unlike the studio here) does not tell me that I am worthwhile, that what I do there has meaning or value, that I have a place in the world. In fact with the broken toilet and single cold-water tap, with the raining water running down the walls in the winter and the sweltering heat in the summer, the studio building tells me that I belong in a slum.
I’m not saying that creativity can’t be born out of such conditions – obviously it can (and has been for centuries), but is it what I want?
It was good to have the reality check of a good friend. My life here is so different from how I live in London. For one thing I don’t have to earn money, and that means time is my own. I haven’t been in the studio every day, I’ve taken a few long weekends away and some days just been ‘lazy’. I should also mention that I have been seeing someone too. It was always my plan to come here with an open mind (of course I had a plan b too!) but now I’m really having to think about what is important to me and how I want to spend my time – not just the next two months here but beyond that too …
ps. the week 1 project is still going on. I expect to finish it one Monday (which is week 4 I think – oops!) Other projects have and are starting …