One of things I really appreciate about spending time here (in London) and there (in Stockholm) is how it insulates me from distraction. It is my nature to get involved in things and sometimes this is detrimental to my own practice. It is also my nature to absorb the atmosphere around me and this too is sometimes detrimental to my practice. With all the stresses and frustrations being felt in the arts in the UK I really appreciate the distance that thinking “internationally” affords me.
I feel guilty admitting that, however I want to be honest. Of course the threats to the arts are serious and demand attention, however after years of attempting to do things about it and seeing minimal results I need time out. I also see that I need to approach it from a different perspective. With the phrase “rats leaving a sinking ship” ringing in my ears I’m making my flat ready to put on the market … and wondering why I grew up thinking those rats were wrong. Rats work damn hard to survive. They adapt and evolve but they also know when enough is enough.
Spending time abroad has shown me different ways of doing things. More than that it has forced me to focus on who I am as an artist – an artist in a broader context. As my context has broadened my practice has focussed. Shedding local concerns (distractions?) has enabled me to do what I need to do and as a result I have made art that operates at a level that seems to give people so much more than the stuff I made when I wanted it to be meaningful. The less I ‘understand’ the more I trust the creative processes. The artwork that comes out of this is more than the sum of the parts, and it therefore has more to offer. The most ‘accessible’ art is not necessarily the easiest to explain, it could be the art that’s the most artistic.
Can I really attribute this shift in approach to working outside the UK? To an extent I think I can say that being away from the intensity of the London art scene has given me space to think about what is important to me at a very fundamental level.
Good quality affordable studios
Hidden agenda free children’s projects
Equality between arts and other professions
Time and space to take risks
Faith in the process