Back in London …

Today I sent the landlords my notice on the studio. I’ve also started to sort out what I want to keep and what I can throw out or re-cycle. This afternoon I recycled two big Ikea bags worth of art theory – and it felt GREAT! When I say art theory I mean photocopies of articles and chapters that I read for my MA – over 12 years ago, I can’t remember ever reading them again – though the titles were still familiar. Why was I hanging on to it? I realise that I must have moved it around London quite a lot between studio and home moves.

I also greatly reduced the amount of paperwork I’d kept from previous shows. I had folders full of correspondence and notes regarding performances made in art centres and with groups that don’t exist any more. How many copies of a programme or flier should one keep?

Which led me to wonder if I should put images of very old work on my website or not. It’s been interesting for me to see what I was making ten or 15 years ago, and I can see a connection with what I made on the residency. But do I want it on the website? Perhaps it is worth putting up some images. So long as I stick to the reverse chronological order it would only be people who are really interested who would ‘find’ them, and, they would be there if I wanted to direct someone to them.

One of things I noticed about the work I made in Sweden was the connection to work I made before John got ill. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that there is much more similarity between the art I’ve made either side of John’s illness. The plates and cake tins from Sweden feel closer to the chairs, traffic cones and hot water bottles of older work.

Looking at what materials I had in the studio, after three months away, I realise that I had quite a few things that refer (directly) to John’s illness; the urine bottles, syringes for liquid food, plastic aprons and latex gloves as well as things that I ‘dumped’ at the studio when I had to clear his house; a blanket chest, large cushions from the day-bed, crockery, towels, a set of wire drawers. It feels like the right time to put away the urine bottle work and even the pieces I made from his shirts. It feels like time to get rid of unused materials that remind me of how awful things became.

John isn’t ‘in’ those things, and the John I want to remember certainly isn’t! So it is with much relief that I’m getting rid of things that are too much part of that time. John had an amazing lust for life, and in my own way I feel as though I’m regaining mine …

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Open Studio & End of wip:sthlm residency

The Open Studio evening was good and I’ve had very good feedback about my presentation. It’s really nice that other artists as well as family and friends have said how much they enjoyed hearing me talk about the work and the residency.

It was only when I was packing up on Friday that I realised that the last day of the residency (the last day of October) is All Saints Day. It feels significant because All Saints Day in Sweden is the day when people remember the dead. It felt particularly significant for me because of John, and how my being here now, of being able to do the residency, is because of my relationship with him.
In many ways the end of the residency feels like the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. It feels like the start of something new in terms of my work. New materials, new ways of working, new ideas, new confidence, new opportunities. I don’t think I want to work with things such as the urine bottles anymore – they belong to the past. And I don’t think I want to ‘think out’ work before I make it anymore. It feels as though I can start working with things that I don’t understand, things that are just what they are. (I’m not sure what I’m writing makes sense but I need to write it anyway.) It feels as though I don’t need to hold on to things quite so tightly, that I can ‘let go’ a little and let things breath again. It feels as though things can live again.

And somehow it feels like the start of something new in terms of my life. Hampus came with me to John’s grave and that felt right too. Perhaps it felt alright because it was All Saints Day. Perhaps because everyone is visiting graves and everyone is remembering those they’ve lost that the whole thing felt more shared and less personal – and that’s a good thing. It made it easier for me to do something I thought I would find a lot harder, it let me remember the past at the same time as embracing the future.

I have a lot to be thankful for and it’s good to remember that.
It’s also good to remember that life is for living and enjoying …

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