Open Studio & Presentation

The studio is getting emptier as I prepare for the Open Studio evening. It’s only now that I’m really seeing the absence of colour – and the presence of light – in what I’ve been doing.

On the windowsill are three pairs of wooden candlesticks. Each pair is different shape and different shade of grey. They’ve been sitting on my table at home since I bought them a few weeks ago. They’re not quite right on the windowsill – too domestic, though very Swedish!

As the studio empties out the space around and between the pieces becomes increasingly important. I want each piece to have space to breath. It’s a pleasure to have space to work in, to try things out in, to see the pieces in.

I’ve emailed Jodi and said that I will leave the studio (in London) at the end of the year. It’s been a big decision and I think it’s the right one. I’ve been there for nearly five years. All of us who work there have talked about leaving in the past. It’s always been the other people there (and in the other workshops) that are the reason we’ve stayed. Having a ‘decent’ studio for three months has made me realise just how much my work has been limited by the condition and logistics of the studio. And while the landlord has us on monthly licenses I’m not inclined to spend too much on sorting out the fabric of the building. The particular studio I rent is one of the least attractive as everyone else walks (diagonally) through it to get to the toilet and sink, and the small window is at the end of a narrow corridor between the external and toilet walls. Why do I feel the need to justify myself??

To be honest the condition of the studio is not the only reason for leaving, I want to reduce my spending in London so that I can be away more. And conversely if, after being away again, I want to spend more time in London I want a better studio to do it in.

I’ve made a short slide show presentation and I’ve written notes about what I want to say about the work and my time here. I hope that it strikes the right mix of formality and openness – I don’t want to read a lecture nor to ramble on.

This evening I have a meeting with Alex and Anneli to go through arrangements for Wednesday evening. I’ve no idea how many people will come …


Stockholm Residency – ending soon

One week until the Open Studio and presentation.
I’m very aware that the residency is coming to an end. And I don’t want it to! I’ve had an amazing time – now I see that it has been exactly what I need(ed). It’s allowed me to open things up, it’s been great to have time and space – things that I find hard in London – to just be. It feels as though I’m at the beginning of something new.

It would be fantastic if the Open Studio leads to further opportunities here.

While I’ve been here I’ve just got on with things. Before I came I had an idea that I could re-invent myself – be a really dynamic ‘go-getting’ kind of guy, I’d confidently walk in to galleries and speak with the directors, I’d be at all the openings, I’d be out every night. I haven’t done that, I haven’t re-invented myself, what I’ve done is been myself, and it’s been really good for me. Coming away from London, away from home, has given me the break I needed. The break from old habits and patterns. Three months has been long enough for me to relax into being here and to let things evolve.

Before I came here I imagined that I might have a studio for three months, and that I would have a different experience to previous holidays and short periods here. Having a residency has given me so much more – it’s given me a framework in which to operate. Why do I even question if deciding to spend more time here is a ‘valid’ outcome?

And I should also say that starting a relationship with a Swedish man has been a major part of my life here too. Knowing that I want to the relationship to continue is focusing me on looking forward and looking for ways to be here, rather than falling back in to old habits and patterns.

For the first time in a good few years I realise that I’m thinking about what I want.

ps. found a wonderfully apt title for the collection of polished cake tins. I love it when I discover a word that encompasses so much of what the work is about, and the more I investigated the word the more appropriate it became! “GLORY”


Slow art …

Thinking a lot about the Open Studio:

• it’s an Open Studio NOT an exhibition
• do I show ‘process’ or speak about it in the presentation?
• how do I feel about what I’ve made/done?
• how many people can I expect to come?
• what do I want out of it?
• will curators and gallery directors come?
• should I ask who is on the wip mailing list?
• what about Konstfack/other art schools?

I hope that the evening is a success for me and for wip:sthlm. I’m anxious that my ‘slow art’ might not look much. The openings I went to last week re-assured me somewhat. Although the work was considerably different to mine I really appreciated the quality, and admired the way the work was presented. (Eva Löfdahl at Nordenhake, Worapong Manupipatpong at Roger Björkholm, Denise Grünstein at Gallery Charlotte Lund.)

Am currently settled on a very simple way to show the polished cake tins – propped up on a low shelf. After spending many hours thinking about it, at least one day checking out various shops for possible mounting schemes and devices, and a couple of days playing/stressing in the studio, I’ve realised that it just needs to be something simple. This morning I found some more tins – I should have time to polish these before I have to stop making and start showing.

Yesterday I had the polished tins leaning against the studio wall – the afternoon light reflected off them beautifully – it’s unfortunate that this perfect light only appears for about 20 minutes before fading. It would be great to give a time (of the day) to see the work – it would get progressively earlier as the days shorten. It is noticeable that it starts to get darker earlier and earlier.

Just had a wonderful meeting/chat with Karen Diamond. It was really good to meet here again and to have the opportunity to show her what I’ve been working on here. I feel as though I know her better than I do because I know her (very similar looking and sounding) sister in London –it’s one of my ‘tiny tiny world’ connections.

(The last two mornings I have woken up to snow fall! light little flurries of very wet snow, but snow all the same …)

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wip:sthlm International Artist Residency

Another full day in the studio. After two months here I feel as though I’m getting into my stride. Although I’ve been here since the beginning of August this is actually only my 23rd day in the studio. Other days have been spent in town, visiting museums and galleries, being away from Stockholm, spending time with friends. Why do I feel that I have to account for my time?!

Alex, Anneli (the studio director and the coordinator respectively) and I have started to plan the Open Studio at the end of the residency. With the end in sight perhaps it’s no wonder that I’m beginning to assess what I’ve achieved.

Notes and thoughts from the last week:
Wednesday; Opening at wip Konsthall, artist Märit Runsten, curator BjörnSpringfeldt.

I did say hello to Björn. I’m very glad that I did – he’s a really approachable, generous man. He took time to talk about the show and his interest in the artist, of course his English was brilliant. We also travelled some of the way home together and he chatted about the printer who made the huge prints in the show.
At one point during the opening Anneli drew everyone’s attention and introduced Björn who welcomed everyone to the exhibition and then spoke for a few minutes about Märit and the show. He then introduced Märit who said a few words and thanked everyone for coming. It’s not the sort of thing I’m used to in London. It made me think of all the openings I’ve been to and left without knowing who the artist is let alone the curator. I mean not getting to know who they are, or learning anything about the show I’m seeing – it’s very different to hear someone speak to reading a press release. I liked it – there’s something about accessibility and education in it. It made it all much more personal and approachable. It literally ‘opened’ the show.

Thursday; Investigating options to move here (!). Stockholm has a specific ‘unemployment’ office for cultural workers (artists, actors, writers, designers …). The staff are specialist in their fields do their best to find appropriate jobs and opportunities. AMAZING! If I am unemployed and move here I can claim my UK benefits and register with the Kultur Abetsförmedlingen for up to three months. I need to think about the implications of ‘signing-on’ on my return to London. My contract at UCA ended at the end of May although I’m still registered as self employed – can I claim income support if I can’t find teaching or gallery work? Can ‘income support’ be claimed anywhere in the EU, or is being unemployed different? I’m dreading working all that out – but it might be worth it if I can get help finding work here.
Thursday evening; Planning meeting with Alex and Anneli – Open Studio set for Wednesday 28 October …

Friday; great lunch and chat with Susanne Neuman (wip artist)

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