It feels such a long time since I last wrote. I am in the middle to an all-consumingly intensive language course – if I pass it means that I can start the final stage of these courses in autumn and hopefully be finished at the end of the year, rather than this time next year!

A few weeks ago I noticed a poster here at the studio advertising a presentation by Ross Birrell at the invitation of Tris Vonna Michell. The poster had the Royal College (KKH) logo on it. I first met Ross about 20 years ago when we were both doing live art/performance art at the CCA in Glasgow – Ross far more successfully than me – and the last time we met was at the Goat Island Summer School (also at the CCA in 1996). The internet can be a wonderful thing and I quickly discovered that Ross is making and showing beautifully elegant installations and sound pieces across Europe and the US. His presentation of the most recent piece at the Rothko Chapel and the background to it was incredibly inspiring, not simply in terms of achieving such a prestige project (amongst others), but the complexity of the processes through which he develops his work. Listening to him, and speaking with him afterwards, I began to understand more about what artistic research could be. The scale and ambition of Ross’ pieces is fantastic, and I really needed to hear how he develops work through the combination of conceptual and sensual aspects.

Tris Vonna Michell, whose work I first saw at a Tate Triennial a few years ago, made an impression on me not only with his work but also with fact that he was from Southend on Sea – not far from where I grew up – there are not so many internationally acclaimed contemporary artists from that neck of the woods. I also saw his show at Tensta Konsthall here and was fascinated by his use of slide projectors – that’s the kind of technology that I relate to! It was an absolute pleasure to meet him and find out that he has lived in Stockholm for four years and is currently one of the resident artists at KKH.

My own presentation at the end of the research course at Konstfack was on a far more ‘intimate’ scale, which I was very glad about, as the last six months have been rather less than productive on an artistic front. My attention has been firmly fixed on the Swedish language. I received very positive feedback afterwards, however I am aware that I am capable of doing so much more. Which, partly, lead me to the decision to apply for the ‘part two’ course that will be running in the autumn. This time I have a different strategy; I am going to make new work as my participation in the course. Over the current course I applied the things I was learning to existing work, which though useful has a certain retrogressive feel to it. If I am offered a place on the new course I want to experiment with something much more progressive! I am even wondering if I can include aspects to do with learning Swedish … my thinking is that I can take the opportunity of the course to devise a working process that is quite different from my usual habits and routines … take the chance to do something new … allow myself to really engage with learning … allow myself to be (really) open to development!

I have a dilemma, do I renew my a-n subscription or not? I would like to keep supporting a-n but I do not have any income at the moment, not do I use any of the resources that a subscription provides, and as I live in Sweden the ppl insurance does not cover me … after what must be a total of nearly 15 years of subscribing it feels so strange to even consider not renewing ….

Duet 2012, Ross Birrell