I want, and need, to work out how I can start getting some exhibition opportunities here in Stockholm. I guess that it is probably no different to anywhere else, so have to admit that I have always found it challenging to promote myself – far easier to promote other people and to be invited to show … One significant difference between here and London for example is that there are still ways to get financial support for art, for example grants that can be used to realise an exhibition, or produce work. This is important for me to remember, as I am not in a position where I am earning money to finance things myself as I often did in London. My pace is somewhat slow, so the sooner I get started the better!

Perhaps unsurprisingly I have been thinking about what kind of space, both literally and conceptually, my work occupies. These questions have come up through the research course, but also possibly because I wonder the same about myself as I become more settled in Sweden. What is my identity as an artist? What do I want it to be? Perhaps if I could start to work that out I might start to see a plan of action. A tighter focus might be just what I need right now, a way to make things manageable.

At the studio’s annual meeting on Wednesday we (Birgitta, Leif and I) received approval for our ‘motion’ that the exhibition space be guaranteed for as long as the studios are here. It has been a question hanging over the space since the private funding for a part-time curator ceased a couple of years ago. We are also the members who now have responsibility to make it happen! It is very exciting and although I think it will be a lot of work I expect to get a lot out of it, not least a far better understanding of how artists and arts venues work here. In addition I want to do as much as I can in Swedish so that my ability to talk about art in Swedish improves – something that I cannot really expect to happen on the language courses that I am doing.

Last night I went tot the opening of a show by artists who last year took the ‘Swedish’ artistic research course as Konstfack (there are two research courses running this year – one in Swedish and one in English! The one in Swedish also ran last year and it was those artists whose show opened yesterday). Many of the artists’ statements were very clear about the personal nature of the works’ content and explained that the research process had been significant to their understanding of their motivations and imagery. The ‘Swedish identity’ seemed to be a thread that ran through many pieces. I tried to imagine some of my work in the show and found it rather difficult. On the way home I wondered what a group show from ‘my’ research course might look like, perhaps I will get the opportunity to find out …


I thought that I was going to write something about the question of why there are so few (if any – according to some people!) internationally known Swedish artists when the level of government support and other types of assistance, subsidies and stipends is so high. However after a couple of attempts at writing a paragraph or two I have decided that just to pose the question is sufficient at the moment.

This morning I met up with some of my fellow students from the Artistic Research (AR) course. It’s the second time that we have met outside of the course time and again the conversation was as fascinating as it was wide ranging. I really appreciate the opportunity to work with such interesting artists, and cannot express my delight that an institution such as Konstfack has the possibility to run “free-standing” courses lead by world class lectures on an open application basis. Although it is a free-standing course it carries a number of credits or points, which if I understand correctly could count toward a degree or other qualification.

As if to drive home the fact that I am no longer in Britain I was reminded that next week is the deadline for submitting an application for the artists’ stipend. The year-long award is a tax-free 100 000 SEK (about 10,000 GBP) which the artist uses to buy themselves time, materials, and or space, for their work. There is also a two-year award (available only to those who have previously received a one-year award) of 120 000SEK per year (also tax-free, which means a lot in Sweden!), and even a five-year award of 134 000SEK per year (that one however is taxable). I am not sure how many awards are made each year but there are at least a few of each and from what I understand the range of artists receiving them is pretty wide.

So in addition to revising for my Swedish exams next week, or perhaps as part of my ‘reading comprehension’ revision, I am going to spending time this weekend reading that application as an award like that would be amazing to receive, and here I feel that, if my work is good, I stand as good a chance of receiving it as anyone else!

Perhaps a meritocracy does not produce the kind of super-star artists that other systems do, but it sure feels good to me!


My Swedish friends think my enthusiasm over the Kultur & Media job centre and unemployment services is highly amusing. I am going to recommend that they take a trip the job centre on Burdett Road.

What they find strange, and so do I now I think about it, is that there are government funded universities offering courses in a subject which other government departments do not recognise as a career and /or identity. I had no counter argument. I think this is symptomatic of the UKs lack of joined up thinking. I could almost accept it more if all art schools were private, but they are not. The Kultur & Media office of the unemployment office here might not ever find me a job but its very existence is a sign of recognition that artists exist, and that they work!

Received positive feedback about my writing for the research course. The tutor suggested that I got the headings around the wrong way, meaning that I described my artwork instead of myself and myself instead of my artwork. Does this perhaps hint at a slightly more worrying possibility that I find it hard to distinguish myself from my practice – to the point where there seems to be some kind of identity confusion … I hope that I simply misunderstood the academic phrasing of the assignment.

The course is becoming more and more interesting. Sometimes I feel so alien, so English, so less than successful English artist … I could keep adding words! What I realised during Friday’s session is that I feel conditioned to be in a state of inferiority, and this is neither healthy nor helpful. I can give all kinds of reasons for my condition, they are almost irrelevant though, as the main thing is to realise that I am now in a situation where it will benefit me to feel equal. Perhaps without consciously realising it somewhere along the way here I lost my sense of equality. It is high time to find again!*

Research might be a good place for me to be. It seems to be a place where there is excitement around connections and my work is always about connections: immediate, distant, conceptual, literal, figurative, material, historic, social, political and cultural – along with the everyday and vulgar connections which keep me childishly amused! It would be wonderful to have a place where I can continue with what I am already doing and develop it, make it better, communicate its significance, contribute to other and more discussions ….

Over the weekend I began to wonder if part of problem with coming to understand ‘research’ is that I am already doing it. By this I mean that I have been looking for this ‘research’ thing as something new and external to myself, where as it is actually very familiar and already rooted in me and my practice. From now I am going to take the position that I already do research and that I am learning to refine and develop processes and methodologies that already exist.

It is counter-productive to spend time worrying about entitlement, authority and permission, especially on the course at Konstfack, as these things are taken for granted – hence the general confusion when I raise them as ‘issues’. Sometimes I do feel so very very foreign! What happens if I look at my practice through the lens of ‘research’? I remember saying here, a few years ago, that I was suspicious of artists claiming that their practice was ‘research’ – I’d like the opportunity to review that statement! Perhaps what I was (and still am) resistant to is the tailoring of practices to fit pre-existing or imagined research methodologies – the practice must always come first …

*Embarking on a grand quest with no route map. The great thing about not knowing where the journey of this sort ends is that it never need end.

ps. at about 5pm on sunny afternoons when I am elsewhere I think of the sparkling door in the studio – the thought of it makes me happy


Oh how wonderful to watch the sun stretch across the glittered door that is now propped up against the studio wall! I had not imagined that the low spring light would extend so far as to cover the entire surface.

The piece needs at least a few more layers of glitter. I am learning how to apply the binder. It is interesting to see how the glitter builds up, my hope is that as the surface becomes denser it will also become less regular and therefore catch more light from different angles. Brushing off the loose glitter after the first coating revealed that nearly all the glitter that stuck fast was lying flat against the door. After the second coat it was noticeable that the glitter was beginning to fasten between and over the first layer which created a slightly more uneven surface, which in turn has improved how it sparkles.

Propping the piece up like this is the first time that I have seen it without an immediate relation to the floor. The intention has always been to wall mount the pieces as ‘landscapes’ so as to defer the moment when they are recognised as doors. The panorama-ness of the proportions is rather pleasing. While sitting back and looking at ‘it’ (I want to stop calling it ‘a door’ now that it is becoming an artwork but I have not quite found the right alternative expression just yet,) the idea of two pieces mounted so that their (respective) right- and left-hand edges meet in the corner of a room crossed my mind …

Yesterday evening I went to the opening of the group show Thinking and Speaking at Nordenhaken. The work was very academic and theoretical, which seemed almost at odds with the incredibly social bustling crowd. It is the kind of show that makes me feel that I need to read (at least) the press release to have a chance at comprehension – I was very glad to find a couple of pieces that ‘worked’ without additional information. It is not that I am against reading, but I have adopted a strategy of going to shows ‘blind’ and seeing how much I can glean from the exhibition without reading about it first. It is an excellent ploy for me as it forces me to look at the work, as opposed to looking for the confirmation of what I have read. At Christian Larsson’s neighbouring gallery Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmusen’s Mobile Mirrors opened. The show includes two performers in mirrored morph suits – the gallery was awash with reflected light splatter from them and three mirrored mannequins. It was both reassuring and unsettling to see this so soon after leaving my own sparkling and light reflecting work in the studio on the other side of town. Seeing another show for the second time, and just before the gallery* closed, I wondered about how the paintings might look in a darkened interior (something like a church), I mentioned this to the gallery director who smiled and invited me to stay while she switched off the lights. I felt immensely privileged to be given this private viewing. In less than half-light the paintings in themselves became even more luminous and ethereal, and the experience of being with them even more intimate. Light became an unexpected subject for the evening.
*(It feels odd not to name the gallery and artist but I do not want to upset anyone by making something inappropriately public.)

Meeting and chatting with another artist/student for lunch yesterday, and with others this morning was really good. It was good to get feedback on what I am writing for the research course, and also to hear what they have been thinking. Much of the discussion was in Swedish and even if I could not express myself as well as I wanted it felt good to see what I could say. I continue to be excited and delighted by the opportunities that there are to meet other artists in this city …