Turning Up is Paying Off!

The second week of being at the studio full-time has been wonderfully productive, it is a long time since I have felt so good about what I am doing and so hopeful about it too. Sometimes it is amazing what can happen over a week …

The sorting and clearing of last week was the start of it. Physically clearing a corner of the studio meant that I quite literally have space for new work. While re-arranging boxes, packages, tools and other stuff I realised how there was nowhere in the studio where I could see the line where the wall meets the floor. I remember how I do not like rooms where I cannot see at least some of this line – maybe it is some kind of horizon line (for me) and when I cannot see it at all I feel hemmed in and suffocated. I now have some clear horizon again.

Looking at unfinished work did not inspire me to finish it however it shifted something in my thinking. Perhaps looking at these ‘resting’ pieces kick-started my thought processes; trying to remember why I started them, what my ambitions for them were, what they were for.

The upshot of those days was the start of something new and I am very excited about it …

Being regularly at the studio I allow myself to do what I want – this week days have been a mix of sketching and note making, gathering materials, reading and looking at artist’s catalogues. This is much more relaxed than when I rush here (to the studio) and feel that I must ‘be productive’ for the three hours that I have.

Completely separately though relatedly I also had a very inspiring evening on the internet. It started with a simple quest to find the starting time of the Olympic opening ceremony. My search question somehow brought up information about the production team rather than a programme schedule. I was surprised to see Catherine Ugwu’s name, I remember her from Live Art Development Agency when I was doing performance art in the late 90s. Seeing her name as Executive Producer made me wonder what other people I used to know are up to. A search for Mark Waddell (the excellent Performance Director at Glasgow’s CCA in the 90s) lead me to his publications about Goat Island performance group who I met when I attended their first ‘summer school’ in 1996. Mark, and his assistant Lisa Kapur, put on brilliantly programmes of internationally acclaimed performance art alongside showcasing experimental and new artists – they gave me my first opportunity to show performance in a truly professional context. Next I searched the name of a performance project I did in 2001 in London. I was really pleased to find that the project director Nic Sandiland has a short recorded excerpt of the performance – Frozen Progress – on his website. It was the first time that I have seen any documentation as after the live performance we all became busy with other things and despite attempts to keep in touch we did not manage it. I watched the three minute clip at least three times.

I returned to Goat Island’s website and looked at the documentation of several of their performances, I really like them. Their summer school was amazing and is till very clear in my mind. I liked the way that they worked as individuals and as “collaborators” (their term).

After that I looked at Desperate Optimists’ website (they studied theatre at Dartington when I studies art and our paths used to cross) and Five Andrews’ website (I was a performer in a project run by two members of the group). All of which reminded me of how much I enjoyed being part of that performance scene and how much I enjoyed working with other people to produce something.

Perhaps that is part of my attraction to working with Ingrid and Anna both of who are involved to differing degrees with the Stockholm performance scene. I would be very happy if our Sandcastles in Greece project becomes live art/ performance …


For the first time in a long time I have been in the studio everyday this week. I am having a hard time making anything at the moment so it has been really good just to be here and to allow myself to feel awkward and frustrated – I tell myself that it is part of ‘the process’.

Today I have mainly been moving things around in order to clear some space. The studio continues to be inhabited by large cardboard boxes that contain the contents of what were my bookshelves, walls and studio in London. Sometimes I feel very aware of the restrictions of subletting a studio rather than it being “mine”, of course this would not be such an issue if I did not add so many of my own things to an already furnished space! However the moving and sorting is good and it feels as though I might soon have space to breath and to make new things.

As a result of moving one of chairs I noticed something immediately outside the studio window that I had not paid attention to before – a flagpole, actually one of a number of flagpoles that run along the boundary of the industrial estate where the studio is. There is no flag flying (I don’t think I have ever seen one), I am thinking about making a one …

For three days my computer could (would?) not pick up the internet connection here. It has been interesting to be here with the distractions it offers – radio, email, Skype, internet. (An internet search on ‘distraction’ produced 41,000,000 hits in 0.23 seconds.). I am going to see if I can get out of the habit of coming here and immediately turning the computer on. Space is not just physical!

Yesterday I un-packed an unfinished patchwork and have put it up on the wall. It was packed up when I moved out my studio in West Norwood (2010). I have also started to polish the additional ring shaped cake tins that I have been collecting since my residency here (2009). I think (hope?!) that my re-engagement with these pieces is a sign that there is some untapped potential in them.

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Had a really good meeting with Anna and Ingrid after Ingrid emailed with details of a residency that would give us the opportunity to develop our Sandcastles in Greece project. I am delighted that they both want to continue with the idea. It has been a long time since I worked on a collaborative project and I think it could be very successful (and enjoyable).

It is good to be back in the studio after a long break. I need to be more disciplined about coming here over the next couple of weeks and while I do not have the structure of a school timetable to order my week.

Things I can get on with:

1. polishing the cake tins that I have collected over the last few months.

2. making some banners from the second hand shirts that I brought from London

3. trying other ‘sun prints’ – the glass decanter stoppers did not make good images. I am rather disappointed about this as they cast great shadows. What would happen if I placed them on photographic paper and used an old fashioned photographic enlarger and developing chemicals??

4. more shadow drawings

5. updating my website!! This really needs to be done but writing a new artists statement is not easy.